Supply of the smaller tablet must be limited. First, Apple generally announces when products will go on sale ahead of time. For example, Apple announced on October 22 that the iPad Air would reach stores November 1. That gave people time to prepare for its arrival. Sneaking the iPad mini with Retina Display onto the website in the middle of the night with no prior warning is very un-Apple-like. Second, the tablet isn't being sold at Apple's retail stores. You can order one online for in-store pickup, but that's not the same thing.
A quick look at Apple's website shows that the Wi-Fi iPad mini with Retina Display is shipping in one to three business days. The LTE models are shipping in five to 10 business days. Attempting to order one for in-store pickup shows that it isn't available at this time. In other words, there aren't a whole lot of iPad mini's in the channel yet.
[ Learn more about the iPad Air. Read iPad Air: First Impressions. ]
The iPad mini with Retina Display is an improved version of the original iPad mini. It keeps the same basic design and dimensions in place, but makes several key changes. First, Apple switched out the 1024 x 768 pixel display for a 2048 x 1536 pixel Retina Display. The low-resolution screen was one of the original iPad mini's biggest disappointments. The new tablet also received a major processor upgrade. It jumped a generation from the A5 chip to the A7/M7 combo chip, which Apple also uses in the iPad Air and iPhone 5s. The smaller iPad still comes in 16, 32, 64, and 128-GB variations, and with Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi and LTE. The LTE versions cost $130 extra.
The 16-GB Wi-Fi model starts at $399, but prices range all the way up to $829 for the 128-GB model with LTE.
Aside from the size, the iPad mini with Retina Display is nearly identical to the iPad Air, which has been available since the beginning of the month. Apple has not said how many iPad Airs it has already sold, but it indicated that sales are strong.
"The response to iPad Air has been incredible, and we're excited for customers to experience the new iPad mini with Retina display," said Philip Schiller, Apple's SVP of worldwide marketing. "We think customers will love both of these thin, light, powerful new iPads, and we're working hard to get as many as we can in the hands of our customers."