iPad Mini Unveiled At Apple Launch Event
Apple has unveiled a smaller version of its iPad tablet computer as it increases its rivalry with Amazon, Google and Samsung.
The iPad mini is about two-thirds of the size of the full-size model and the cheapest option will cost £269, making it more expensive than alternatives.
Marketing chief Phil Schiller launched the new device, which will be available to pre-order from October 26 and sold from November 2, in San Jose, California.
"It's not just a shrunken down iPad, it's an entirely new design," he said. "Others have tried to make tablets smaller than the iPad and they have failed miserably.
"The technology inside is equal to, if not better to, the iPad 2 in every way."
Chief executive Tim Cook presided over the launch of what is considered his first Apple product not bearing the thumbprint of late co-founder Steve Jobs, who derided small tablets.
The gadget is 7.9in (20cm) high and weighs 0.68lbs (0.3kg) - half as much as the normal iPad. At 0.3ins (7.2mm), it is also as thin as a pencil.
The screen resolution is 1024 by 768 pixels, the same as the iPad 2 and a quarter of the resolution of the third-generation iPad.
Experts had expected the smaller tablet to be priced similarly to rival devices the Google Nexus 7 and the Amazon Fire - which are £70 and £110 cheaper respectively.
In another surprise, Apple said it was upgrading its full-size iPad tablet just six months after launching a new model, while doubling the speed of the processor.
Previously, the company has updated the iPad once a year.
The fourth-generation iPad will have a better camera and work on more LTE wireless data networks around the world.
Apple is also replacing the 30-pin dock connector with the new, smaller 'Lightning' connector introduced with the iPhone 5 a month ago.
The US firm has now sold more than 100 million iPads since 2010 and had stuck with its 9.7in screen while rivals introduced lower-price tablets with smaller screens.
Amazon's 7in Kindle Fire has proved popular and a new version was launched last month. A Google Nexus 7 using Android software and the Samsung Galaxy have also been successful.
Independent technology analyst Jeff Kagan said the new, smaller iPad was a gamble for Apple in that it risked cutting into sales of the original iPad.
"Yes this will cannibalise some of the iPad, but pull the camera back and you can see how it will increase the size of the Apple customer base," he said.
"This will open up new segments of the market to Apple - segments that would like an Apple but which prefer a smaller screen or a lower price tag."