Aside from launching an all-new iPad Air model in an ultra-thin 10.5-inch design, Apple this mornin also quietly refreshed its popular iPad mini via a press release.

The fifth-generation iPad mini has replaced iPad mini 4, which is no longer on sale, at the same starting price of $499. It brings Apple Pencil support to that form factor for the first time:

With Apple Pencil support, the new iPad mini is the perfect take-anywhere notepad for sketching and jotting down thoughts on the go.

Apple Pencil opens up new creativity and productivity possibilities for iPad mini and iPad Air users, from drawing and writing down thoughts to marking up documents and retouching photos.

The must-have tool among students, professionals and creatives delivers a remarkably fluid and natural drawing experience and provides pixel-perfect accuracy and low latency for activities within popular apps including Procreate, Notability, Pixelmator Photo (coming soon) and Microsoft Office.

Despite its miniature form factor, the new iPad mini packs in Apple’s latest A12 Bionic processor with the second-generation Neural Engine which is ten times faster than before in terms of hardware acceleration of machine learning and artificial intelligence tasks.

According to Apple, the chip delivers three times the performance and nine times faster graphics over iPad mini 4, which was powered by the now outdated Apple A8 chip.

The 9.7-inch LED-backlit display rocks the same 2,048×1,536 pixel resolution like the previous iPad minis, but is now 25 percent brighter and features both True Tone and wide color support. It’s rated at 500 nits of brightness and 1.8 percent reflectivity.

This is basically the same display like the one shipping in the new iPad Air.

With True Tone, the display continually adjusts brightness and contrast to match current lighting conditions. Wide color support (the DCI-P3 display profile) brings greener greens and redder reds when enjoying your iPhone photos and other compatible content.

Phils Schiller, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing:

iPad continues to provide magical new experiences for a growing range of uses where it is the absolute best device, from playing games in augmented reality to note-taking and drawing with Apple Pencil, from streaming HD movies and editing 4K films to learning to develop apps with Swift Playgrounds.

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.

Due to its pixel count and small form factor, the new iPad mini has the highest pixel density of any iPad at 326 pixels per inch. The cameras have been upgraded, too.

The front-facing camera has gone from the meager 1.2-megapixel shooter with 720p video recording to a seven-megapixel sensor with 1080p video recording at 30 frames per second.

The back camera has been upgraded from the eight-megapixel sensor from the previous model. The new one still takes eight megapixel photos but is now faster and performs better in low-light conditions. It supports 1080p video recording at 30 frames per second, video image stabilization, slo-mo video capture at 120 frames per second and time-lapse with stabilization.

Both cameras can capture wide color images and Live Photos.

The 19.1 watt-hour battery is rated at up to ten hours of surfing the web on Wi‑Fi, watching video or listening to music or up to 9 hours of Internet time when using cellular data network.

Other notable perks include Bluetooth 5, the Home button with Touch ID, the 3.5mm headphone jack, built-in stereo speakers, the Lighting port, dual microphones and the same Wi-Fi performance, eSim technology and Gigabit‑class LTE connectivity like the latest iPad Pro series.

Nothing beats the iPad mini form factor: at less than a pound and just 6.1 mm thin, it’s easy to carry around in one hand or take out of a pocket or bag whenever inspiration strikes.

iPad mini 5 is available starting today in Silver, Space Gray and Gold. The 64/256GB versions will set you back $399/$529, or an extra $130 if you need cellular connectivity.

The new iPads will be available in stores next week.

Thoughts on the new iPad mini?