Apple starts taking orders for the new model on Friday. The iPad Mini will be competing for the attention of gadget shoppers with the release that same day of computers and tablets running Windows 8, Microsoft's new operating system.
Wi-Fi-only models will ship on Nov. 2. Later, the company will add models capable of accessing cellular, LTE data networks.
The screen of the iPad Mini is 7.9 inches on the diagonal, making it larger than the 7-inch screens of the competitors. It also sports two cameras, on the front and on the back, which the competitors don't.
The iPad Mini is as thin as a pencil and weighs 0.68 pounds, half as much as the full-size iPad with its 9.7-inch screen.
The screen resolution is 1024 by 768 pixels, the same as the iPad 2 and a quarter of the resolution of the flagship iPad, which starts at $499.
The new model has better apps and is easier to use than competitors such as Google's Nexus, said Avi Greengart, a consumer electronics analyst with Current Analysis.
"This really is not in the same category as some of the other 7-inch tablets," he said. "And that's before you consider that it has a premium design â¿¿ it's made of metal that's extremely lightweight."
Jobs attacked the whole idea of smaller tablets in his last appearance on a conference call with analysts in October 2010.
"The reason we wouldn't make a 7-inch tablet isn't because we don't want to hit a price point. It's because we don't think you can make a great tablet with a 7-inch screen," Jobs said. "The 7-inch tablets are tweeners, too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with an iPad."
Job's chief objection was that a smaller screen would make it hard to hit buttons on the screen with the fingers â¿¿ never mind that Apple's iPhone, with an even smaller screen, was already a hit at the time.