Apple announces iPad Air: Here's what you need to know

Apple announced the long-awaited fifth-generation tablet, the iPad Air, at a media event in San Francisco, California. Here's the run down of what you need to know.

Image: Apple live stream

Apple on Tuesday lifted the lid on its latest creation, the fifth-generation tablet, the iPad Air.

Chief executive Tim Cook took to the stage at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco, California, along with other senior executives and vice presidents, to announce the fifth major refresh of its popular tablet since it first launched in 2010.

In spite of the leaks, the rumors, and the speculation over the past few months, Apple still held it together to lay out a few surprises.

"We designed iPad to be the best tool for the things you do so often," Cook said. "But we could never have imagined the ways in which our customers are using them."

The new iPad Air lands in silver and white, and space grey. The tablet has four storage versions: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB.

The new tablet is priced at $499 for the 16GB, Wi-Fi version, and $629 for the 16GB, cellular version.

As a result, the new iPad Air replaces the full-sized fourth-generation iPad. 

The device ships on November 1, and will be available in the U.S., the U.K., Spain, France, Germany, and now China, among more than two-dozen countries.

The tablet will also come pre-installed with the latest version of its mobile operating system, iOS 7 , which was released on September 18.

Here's what is being served up in the iPad Air:

New design; thinner and lighter: The 9.7-inch Retina display comes with a resolution of 2,048 x 1,536 pixels. It also lands with a narrower side bezel. At just 7.3 millmeters thin, it's about 43 percent thinner than the fourth-generation iPad. The tablet is also lighter, at just 1 pound in weight, or 28 percent lighter than its predecessor. 

64-bit A7 chip: Following on from the iPhone 5s, the world's first 64-bit mobile phone, the iPad Air will now land with the next-generation processor. With over 1 billion transistors, it has 56-times the processing power in the new processor, according to Apple, which can make some apps run as much as five-times faster. The chip also comes with an M6 motion coprocessor.

Image: Apple

Faster Wi-Fi: Now up to twice-as-fast networking, Wi-Fi will run up to 300Mbps. The device also supports MIMO, and uses two antennas to deliver faster and more reliable speeds. iPad Air also supports Bluetooth 4.0.

Expanded LTE support: iPad Air is now supported in additional countries and regions with the addition of more LTE band support.

Improved battery: Despite its thinner and lighter design, the iPad Air will still land with 10-hour battery life on a single charge.

Better 5-megapixel camera: iPad Air lands with a 5-megapixel iSight camera that supports 1080p high-definition video. It also comes with dual microphones for better calling, and an improved backside illumination. The front-facing 1.2-megapixel camera supports 720p high-definition video calling.

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