In a surprise move, Apple announced Tuesday that the iPad mini 2 with a retina display is now available for purchase.
However, the device is only available for order through Apple's online store, not its retail stores.
Apple's website says, depending on the model, it will be shipped anywhere from one to 10 business days. The device can be shipped to your home or for pickup at an Apple Store.
The second generation of Apple's smaller iPad was unveiled at an event last month in San Francisco, along with the larger iPad Air. While the iPad Air went on sale in early November and drew the customary lines of fans at stores, the company had been vague about when the iPad mini would go on sale.
Until recently, the company had said "sometime in November," and speculation put the sale date closer to Thanksgiving and the holiday shopping season.
While it appears the iPad Air, the fifth generation of the larger tablet, is off to a strong start, Apple has not disclosed official sales figures.
But since the introduction of the iPad mini last year, the smaller device has become the more popular choice between the two sizes for consumers. And as such, fans and investors have projected that interest in the second iPad mini, with the sharper retina display, will be huge.
"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 senior vice president of worldwide marketing, in a news release. "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."
Still, it remains to be seen whether Apple will be able to meet the demand for the device.
In a recent earnings call, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said: "It's not clear that everyone who wants one will be able to find one" this holiday shopping season.
Brian White, a Cantor Fitzgerald analyst, said in a note to clients Tuesday that he expects the new device to be hard to find for awhile.
"In our view, if you want an iPad mini with retina display in the near term, you had better order soon, as we expect shortages this holiday season," he wrote. "We believe today's stealth pre-order launch of the iPad mini speaks to the supply constraints around this new device as we have previously discussed."
Prices for the new iPad mini start at $399 for a 16-GB Wi-Fi model and go up to $829 for a 128-GB unit with cellular connectivity.
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