Up until a year ago, there wasn’t an official Apple-endorsed option for connecting iOS devices to the HDMI ports of high-definition televisions; the company instead sold some very expensive composite and component AV cables that were capped at far below the 720p output capabilities of the latest iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches. So Apple released the Digital AV Adapter in March 2011, featuring a male Dock Connector plug at one end and two ports at the other: an HDMI port for audio and video, and a female Dock Connector for charging. The Digital AV Adapter was typically Apple, made from glossy white plastic with gray cabling, and priced at $39—just enough to seem a little too expensive given that you still have to self-supply an HDMI cable in order to do anything with it, and your own wall adapter/Dock Connector cable to be able to charge a device with it.

Last week, with little fanfare, Apple updated the Digital AV Adapter to coincide with the announcement of the third-generation iPad. You can tell that you’re getting the new Adapter because it’s in a box (shown above) rather than a transparent bag. The new packaging specifically references the iPhone 4S, while mentioning that mirroring is “supported by iPad 2 or later,” without naming the third-generation iPad.


And Apple has made a series of tweaks to the Adapter itself. The new Adapter is ever so slightly longer than its predecessor—4 millimeters longer, or roughly 4.5” long.


The cable connecting the male Dock Connector plug and HDMI/female Dock Connector ports is slightly thinner.


The male Dock Connector plug is considerably smaller on the new model than the old one, and therefore more case-compatible.


The new model number is A1422 versus A1388. Apple has also switched the part number from MC953ZM/A to MD098ZM/A.


The male Dock Connector plug now has pressure-sensitive lock and unlock buttons on its sides.


The female HDMI/Dock Connector port housing is now several millimeters taller on the new model than the old one, and the HDMI port hole (on the bottom Adapter shown below) looks a little nicer than before.


Are there electronic differences? We’ll be playing with them more to find out. But the fact that Apple has changed the Digital AV Adapter at all after only a year is interesting. The smaller male Dock Connector plug is definitely welcome given that the original did occasionally present challenges with cases, and though no one’s going to care about the slightly longer length, it’s also a little surprising to see the female port side get bigger. Expect some updates to our review in the near future.