Apple reshuffled its iPad lineup this week by killing off a few older models, upgrading the base storage for the iPad mini 4, and introducing a new $329 iPad with a 9.7 inch, 2048 x 1536 pixel display.

The new model is definitely the cheapest 9.7 inch iPad Apple has offered to date. But now that it takes the place of the iPad Air 2 in Apple’s lineup, you might be wondering if the new model is actually better than the one it replaces… or if it’s just cheaper.

It turns out the answer isn’t all that straightforward.

On the one hand, the new iPad 9.7 has an Apple A9 processor, compared with the A8X chip used in the iPad Air 2. And Apple says the new tablet has a brighter display.

But it’s possible that part of the reason for the brighter screen is that the iPad 9.7 does not have a fully laminated display with antireflective coating. That makes it the only current-generation iPad to lack those features.

That means the screen might be brighter, but it might also be a bit tougher to view outdoors or under a direct light source, since it might reflect more glare.

The new model is also thicker and heavier than the iPad Air 2:

  • The iPad 9.7 is 7.5mm thick and 1.03 pounds
  • The iPad Air 2 is 6.1mm thick and 0.96 pounds

So the new tablet is faster and brighter, but the thicker, heavier, and maybe harder to use outdoors. The fingerprint sensor has also been switched to a Touch ID sensor like the ones used in the latest iPhones.

But there’s still one major thing the new iPad has going for it: its $329 starting price. The iPad Air 2 had a list price of $499 when it first launched in 2014, although some stores sell it for less than that now.

via PhoneArena


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12 replies on “Is Apple’s new 9.7 inch iPad an upgrade? Or is it just cheaper?”

  1. Makes me laugh at the thought that Apple (may have) spent countless hours deciding on a new price. $299 would have everyone saying budget. The oddly priced $329 is solidly in the $300 range and skirts the line between budget and premium ($400 and up). Special deals and/or resells would still have it at high $200 range, more or less (so people still think $300).

    This pricing thing is such a departure for Apple but their silence re: macOS says a lot more – high prices, weird hardware decisions, dwindling market share and a record number of angry fruit-juice drinkers.

  2. $329 for a brand new 9.7 inch iPad, I can deal with a non-laminated screen and a little extra weight. I actually prefer a thicker tablet. I am seriously considering the 128gb cellular version for $559.00. I still use and iPad 1 as an ereader and media player. The non laminated screen has not bothered me yet. This new iPad could help my photography workflow when I am away from my home computer. My current iPads are now to slow to fill that roll anymore.

  3. Primary thing this iPad had going for it over the Air 2, is that it will be updated for several more years after the Air 2 supports ends.

  4. I spoke to an Apple tech support friend of mine today, and she said the new iPad model may be aimed at the education market — priced to be more attractive for schools to buy in bulk. Young consumers are particularly valuable to businesses since the buying habits they develop often last a lifetime.

    1. Schools already get *huge* discounts on iPads. This is aimed squarely at the parents of those kids who want an iPad each. The parents love it because it’s easier and cheaper than to, you know, actually parent the kids.
      Also, I seem to remember Apple donating a shed load of iPads to Californian schools.. only to have the schools stop using them because kids hacked them, broke them, were simply distracted by them.. and the support costs were too high.

      1. They’re not mutually exclusive, and don’t expect Apple to give up on the schools market, for the reason I gave above.

        1. You didn’t hear nothin’ from me, but the price we’ve been quoted is $300 for education. I agree that’s what they seem to be targeting, but for a lot of reasons, iPads are starting to be more trouble than they’re worth. Our client schools get frustrated at the lack of good filtering or monitoring you can get without expensive third-party software. Everyone’s fed up with the clunky setup that has to be done to get Classroom working properly, and even then it’s a gamble.

          On the other hand, Chromebooks with Android are looking more attractive, cheaper, and way easier to manage. With the current trends, I think Apple’s going to need a lot more up their sleeve to win more education customers.

  5. This has been Apple’s way of [attempting to] maintaining market share for many years now – instead of incorporating [mostly other companies’] technological advances, they produce new form factors (iPhone Plus) or open to new markets (China, etc). Now they’re joining the race to the bottom wrt price.

    Bravo Apple, you’ve now completely become the other manufacturers that your mindless gimps used to troll.

    What are you going to go next? You’re still not going to reverse your market losses.

    1. “What are you going to go next? You’re still not going to reverse your market losses.”

      Well, you know a time comes at every big company’s life when they try to install Android on something when nothing else sells.

    2. They still make more per quarter than Amazon has ever made in the entire existence of their company. I love to hate on them too, but they aren’t losing as much money as you think

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