Apple has announced its first new iPad mini in nearly four years, with support for the firm's Apple Pencil stylus for the first time.
The 7.9-inch screen device has been upgraded with Apple's A12 Bionic chip, giving it three times the performance power of the previous generation, as well as graphics processing that is "nine times faster".
The surprise announcement of the device comes as Huawei and Samsung unveiled their first foldable smartphones, both of which can be opened out to create screens similar in size to the iPad mini.
Apple confirmed it is available to order from today, starting at £399, and will be in Apple stores next week.
The new device was announced alongside an update of another Apple tablet, the iPad Air - a model that was phased out when Apple launched the iPad Pro a few years ago.
Like the new iPad mini, iPad Air has been given Apple Pencil support and the artificial intelligence-powered A12 Bionic chip, which it first launched in the iPhone XS in 2018.
The new iPad Air, starting at £479, also includes a True Tone display screen, which the company said is 20pc larger with over 500,000 more pixels than previous models.
Both come with Touch ID fingerprint sensors and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Apple’s iPad strategy in recent years had been splitting the category into two lines: lower-end models geared toward education and high-end models for business users.
It typically updates the cheaper versions in March and the Pro models in the second half of the year. However, this year the company is pushing its entry-level iPads toward the higher-end of the market.
Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said: “Today the iPad family takes two big leaps forward with an all-new 10.5-inch iPad Air that brings high-end size, features and performance at a breakthrough price, and a major upgrade to the 7.9-inch iPad mini, which also brings Apple Pencil, Retina display and the A12 Bionic chip to the many customers that love its compact size.”
On March 25, Apple is expected to announce its new television streaming service as well as online subscription service for magazines.
Later this year, Apple is expected to announce new iPhones, as well as new Apple Watch, Mac and AirPod models.