Surprise! Apple's Retina-equipped iPad Mini hits stores today.

Apple's Retina iPad Mini starts at $399. But the company warns of a possible supply shortage. 

Reuters
Philip W. Schiller of Apple introduces the new iPad mini with Retina display during an Apple event in San Francisco late last month. The Retina iPad Mini launches today.

Back in October, Apple took the wraps off the latest iPad Mini, a pint-sized tablet with a high-resolution "Retina" display. 

Today, with no particular fanfare – the exact release date of the Retina Mini was never announced – Apple officially put the device on sale. 

The Retina Mini will sell at eight different price points: the Wi-Fi-only models start at $399 while the cellular-equipped offerings start at $529. But for a small tablet, the new Mini can get mighty expensive, mighty quick: a 128GB model with a cellular antenna will set you back a hefty $829. Compare that to the most expensive Kindle Fire HDX tablet, which retails for $409, with all the bells and whistles. 

Still, the specs are impressive: An A7 processor; a display with a 2048-by-1536 resolution at 326 pixels per inch; a 5-megapixel back-facing camera and a 1.2-megapixel front-facing snapper. 

So how does the Retina iPad Mini handle? Well, Chris Taylor of Mashable got a hands-on with the device, and he was impressed with the robust display. But he said the best proof of the capabilities of the new Mini is the video game Infinity Blade III, which caused the previous model Mini to run at turtle-slow speeds. 

"But the iPad mini Retina gobbles the game up, putting you through your sword-fighting paces with incredible speed, while the old Mini is still working on its load screen," Mr. Taylor writes. "Those monsters you're fighting? They're kind of like what this tablet has under the hood. Throw in the 128GB of storage on the high-end model, and what you're effectively looking at is a slimmed-down iPad Air. In short, 7-inch tablets have never looked this appealing." 

The big question now is whether Apple will be able to meet demand for the Retina Mini. Since late in October, rumors have swirled about a possible shortage in the supply chain, possibly having to do with the display. "It's unclear whether we'll have enough for the quarter or not," Cook said during Apple's earnings conference call last month, according to CNET. 

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