Without Fanfare, Apple Introduces Two iPads Compatible With Apple Pencil

March 18, 2019, 5:19 PM UTC

Apple today introduced its newest iPad Air and iPad mini, which made their debut, atypically, in a news release.

The latest iPad mini is the first update to the device since 2015, and all new models will support the Apple Pencil, allowing users to draw and take notes directly on their iPad. With the Apple Pencil, available for $99, the iPad mini is described by the company as “the perfect take-anywhere notepad for sketching and jotting down thoughts on the go.”

While Apple usually prefers to introduce its products at splashy events, the tech company instead issued the press announcement, reserving its March 25 annual spring product unveiling to focus attention on a new streaming service, CNN reports.

“Apple wants to get the iPad out of the way so it can hold its first event truly focused on streaming,” Lauren Guenveur, a senior research analyst at the International Data Corporation told CNN Business. “If Apple announced new Pads, it would turn into a hardware event, and that’s not what it wants.”

The iPad Air will come with a bigger display, at 10.5 inches and a starting price of $499 for the WiFi model and $629 for the WiFi and cellular device. It will also be compatible with the company’s Smart Keyboard, which is available for $159. The new iPad mini will keep the same 7.9-inch screen, with its starting price at $399.

Apple’s move to release the new tablets comes at a particularly slow time for the tablet market. With the smartphone market quickly expanding, tablet shipments fell 6.2% last year. Walmart also plans to develop and sell its own line of affordable tablets, as the retailer seeks to compete with other big names in the tech industry.

“Today the iPad family takes two big leaps forward” with the two new devices, Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing said in the company’s press release.

The devices are available to order online Monday, and in stores starting next week.