AT&T beats Apple, kicks off pre-orders for iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3

ATT iPad Air 2 preorders

AT&T, the nation’s second-largest carrier, on Friday morning started accepting pre-orders for Apple’s iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3, both announced at yesterday’s media event. That came as a bit of surprise as Apple’s own webstore, which went offline more than three hours ago, was late to the game and came back online after AT&T had already started collecting reservations for the new devices.

The carrier is offering tablet shoppers three choices to buy the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3: off-contract, on-contract and with installment plans that spread out the cost of hardware over a period of 20 months.

The benefits of the installment plan include $0 down payment, $0 activation fee, $0 upgrade and no financing fee. The 16-gigabyte iPad Air 2 with Wi-Fi + Cellular will set you back $630 off-contract.

Should you opt for the contract route, AT&T will sweeten the deal by discounting the tablet by a hundred bucks. Note that AT&T is currently citing shipping times between six and tex business days for both new iPads versus 2-4 business days over at the Online Apple Store.

You can pre-order your iPad Air 2 with AT&T here.

For iPad mini 3 preorders, follow this link to AT&T’s website.