Apple unveils iPad Air tablet

Apple has released “the lightest full size tablet” onto the market in time for Christmas, the iPad Air.

The technology company has named the device, weighing just 1lb, the iPad Air. It features a 9.7in Retina display along with “a new, thinner and lighter design” and Apple said the tablet is 20% thinner and 28% lighter than the fourth generation iPad.

Apple vice-president Phil Schiller has called the tablet a "screaming fast iPad” and claimed the new device is eight times faster than the original iPad that came out in 2010.

The iPad Air will go on sale on 1st November, priced £399. The tablet price is reinstating Apple’s drive to go after the higher-end tablet market, while Amazon and Google, for example, target the lower end. Apple also announced the new tablet shortly after Amazon and Google revealed new tablet models—the Kindle Fire HDX and Nexus 7—with similar high definition displays.

At the same time, the company revealed an updated iPad mini, which now has a Retina display “with all the pixels from the 9.7in iPad to its 7.9in screen.” The iPad Air also carries the same A7 chip found in the company’s iPhone 5S. The company also revealed 475,000 apps had been designed specifically for iPad and more than 60 billion apps had been downloaded from the App Store.

Tech research company Gartner said that while Apple's iOS operating system accounted for 53.9% of all tablets shipped in 2012, the Android operating system is predicted to become the market leader with a 49.6% share, versus Apple's 48.6% this year. The gap is likely to increase further during 2014, the BBC has reported.

According to Apple’s most recent results, the iPad range accounted for $25.8bn (£17.6bn) worth of sales in the nine months leading up to July, which accounted for 19% of its revenue for the period. However, the company has acknowledged many customers were opting for its cheaper-range iPad Mini and iPad 2 models rather than its top-of-the -range "retina display" versions.

This autumn has also seen the launch of cut-price tablets from Tesco and Argos.