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The 5 biggest announcements from the Apple iPad and MacBook event

After a busy fall announcement season, Apple has unveiled what’s expected to be the last of its hardware refreshes this year with the introduction of a new iPad Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini. All new devices are available for preorder today with a ship date of November 7th. Here’s a look at them all.

The MacBook Air finally got a refresh after years of MacBook Pro updates. The 2018 MacBook Air now has 13.3-inch Retina display, third-gen butterfly keyboard, Touch ID, and 50 percent narrower bezels. The trackpad is also 20 percent larger, has stereo speakers that are 25 percent louder, and Siri is built in. The headphone jack remains, along with two USB-C ports.


Apple’s 2018 MacBook Air refresh

Image: Apple

Inside, the new MacBook Air has an 8th Gen Intel dual-core CPU and up to 16GB of RAM and 1.5TB SSD. It weighs just a little less than the current MacBook Air, down from 2.96 pounds to 2.75 pounds.

The new MacBook Air will also be available in the new colors that have been previously available with the latest MacBooks. The laptop costs $1,199 for the 8GB RAM / 128GB SSD configuration. Preorders begin today.

The Mac mini made its return today with 8th Gen 6-core or quad-core processors for up to five times faster performance. It can support up to 64GB RAM or an all-flash storage of up to 2TB SSD, and it comes with a ton of ports, including two USB-A, four Thunderbolt / USB-C ports, and an Ethernet port. Visually, the Mac mini looks pretty similar to the older version from four years ago but with a new space gray finish.

The Mac mini starts at $799 for quad-core Intel Core i3 processor, 8GB RAM, and 128GB of SSD storage. It’s available for preorder today.

While all the other device announcements may have seemed like Apple’s having a throwback Tuesday, it’s also refreshing one of its newer devices: the iPad Pro. As rumored and confirmed today, the home button is now gone, and the new iPad Pro comes with Face ID support that works in both portrait and landscape modes. The device retains its 12.9-inch display, but the body is much smaller and thinner than the predecessor. It supports the new gesture navigations introduced with the iPhone X.

Inside, the new iPad Pro has a souped-up A12X Bionic chip that Apple says makes the iPad 35 percent faster overall with “1,000 times” faster graphics. It also claims “all-day” battery life. With USB-C power going both in and out, you can also use the iPad Pro to charge your iPhone. But alas, there’s no headphone jack.

The new iPad Pro starts at $799 for the 11-inch device and $999 for 12.9-inch with just Wi-Fi. The older, smaller 10.5-inch iPad Pro now starts at $649.


Accessories get upgraded (with price bumps)

Alongside the new iPad Pro, there’s also an updated Apple Pencil 2. Rather than the ridiculous charging mechanism from the first version, the Apple Pencil 2 now attaches magnetically to the iPad Pro, which also charges the accessory.

The iPad Pro will also be available with an optional Smart Keyboard that magnetically connects to the tablet as well. The updated keyboard now offers two angles instead of the one from its older model, following a similar pattern Microsoft started with its own Surface Pro line.

These accessories updates come with their own price bumps. The Apple Pencil 2’s price jumps up to $129 from $99. The Smart Keyboard now starts at $179 for the 11-inch model, up from $159 for the 10.5-inch and $169 for the 12.9-inch folios, respectively.

Apple goes green

Apple has pushed its sustainability initiative for a while now, and today, it took that a bit further by announcing that both new Mac products use 100 percent recycled aluminum for their metal enclosures. Apple claims this makes the new MacBook Air and Mac mini its greenest hardware products that the company produces.

While the 50 percent carbon footprint reduction is good, Apple does have a lot of work to do to boost its repairability scores; late last year, Apple confirmed it throttled the speeds of older iPhones, giving credence to those who believed the company intentionally slows down phones to convince customers to buy new devices rather than opt for a less-expensive battery upgrade.


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