Lighter at 1 pound than the previous 1.4-pound version and featuring a faster A7 processor chip, iPad Air prices will start at $499 for a 16GB WiFi-only version, the same price as the current model.
Apple's unveiling comes as the tablet market is heating up, with competitors launching new models of their own Tuesday.
At the Nokia World event in Abu Dhabi , Nokia unveiled its first tablet, the Lumia 2520, a Windows 8.1 device with a 10.1-inch display and support for LTE.
Nokia is late to join a crowded market featuring offerings from mobile manufacturers such as Samsung and Motorola, but also faces competition from tablets from traditional PC manufacturers including HP, Dell, and Toshiba.
Microsoft, for its part, announced Tuesday it would start shipping its Surface tablets; the Surface 2 starring at $449, available in 32GB and 64GB configurations, and the high-end Surface Pro 2 with 64GB or 128GB, with a starting price of $899.
Microsoft is hoping the new tablets will do better than its first-generation Surface tablets, which failed to generate much consumer interest or demand, despite discounts intended to move inventory.