Yesterday I celebrated the arrival of my LTE iPad mini. It's even lighter and more portable than I had imagined — and just what I wanted. Today the iPad mini became available in Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint stores as well as other retail outlets in the U.S. Sprint did warn, however, that supplies were limited. If Sprint runs out, and if you want to be first in line on their waiting list, Sprint is offering the option of selling you a $50 gift card in order to put you on the list. Then when you buy the mini, they'll apply that $50 toward the price.
As before, you won't need to sign a conract to access the cellular data network of these carriers but can pay month by month as you need service. Many people who already have a smartphone will simply be able to add their iPad mini to their shared data plan at a cost of $10 per month. If you're not in that situation, then starting prices are $15 per month for 250MB from AT&T, $15 per month for 300MB from Sprint, and $20 per month for 1GB from Verizon. Alone among the carriers, AT&T is offering a $100 discount for the iPad mini or other iPad models if you sign a two-year contract.
If you're ordering an LTE iPad mini from Apple, supplies are still constrained, and Apple is saying that there's a two-week shipping delay. (But then they had originally said my LTE model would arrive on Nov 23, whereas it arrived on the 15th.)
Unfortunately, we don't have LTE in my town, so I'm stuck with 3G data speeds on my new mini. But Verizon has said that it'll be coming here by the end of this year. So far Verizon has the largest LTE network, and expects to reach 260 million people by the end of this year. AT&T expects to reaach 250 million people by the end of next year. Sprint lags these two carriers but insists that it's catching up.
According to AppleInsider, sales of the iPad mini and iPhone 5 have been stronger than expected. And while many market analysts worried that the iPad mini would impact sales of the full-sized iPad, AppleInsider reported that iPad mini sales were instead having a greater impact the PC market. That conclusion is based on a survey of consumers.
The mini continues to get stellar reviews. VentureBeat says not only is it the best iPad ever, it's the best tablet on the market. After one day, I think I would agree, though my experience is limited to the three tablets that I own. It's just so amazingly portable, yet with a large enough screen to do most things comfortably.