If you want to buy an iPad today, which is the best one to get?
If you want to replace a laptop, there’s the 12.9″ iPad Pro, that’s the one that hasn’t been updated since 2015. It has really outdated cameras front and back. The 12.9″ also has the largest screen, but it is missing features like true tone and the wide color gamut from the 9.7″ iPad Pro.
If you want to go small, there’s the 4th generation iPad Mini. Like it’s giant brother, the Mini hasn’t been updated in two years and has an A8 chip in it. I’ve got the 2nd generation Mini with an A7, so I don’t feel like that A8 would be an upgrade. At least it’s extremely portable, perfect for reading a virtual book or getting a little bit more work done than on an iPhone.
Maybe you’re looking for something sized in-between 12.9″ Pro and the 7.9″ Mini. Well that choice just got more confusing, too. Apple introduced a new 9.7″ iPad today.
Neither an Air nor a Pro, this model is slightly thicker than the last Air model (that it replaces) and the 9.7″ Pro (that isn’t going away). It will also have a brand-new outdated processor when it ships with an A9 system-on-a-chip next week. That’s two-bumps older than the iPhone 7‘s processor, and one step better than the iPad Air 2. The iPad Pro’s both have A9x chips which are a step up.
The new iPad display is going to be a bit worse off than the iPad Pros and the iPad Air 2, as well. Still missing true tone and other features, it is at least a little bit brighter than the old Air 2.
What else? The Pro models are still the only ones with the smart connector for accessories like keyboards (so they don’t need to do a bluetooth pairing dance) and support for Apple’s stylus, the Pencil.
So what on earth could justify this half-step model of iPad?
The new iPad minus Air and minus Pro is now $329 for the 32GB 9.7 inch base-model. That’s $70 less than yesterday’s base model of iPad Air 2.
To get 128GB on the new iPad you have to go up to $429. Yesterday’s 128GB iPad Air 2 was $499.
It gets more expensive if you’re interested in cellular data connectivity. On the new iPad, it’s $459 for cellular data and 32GB of storage, or $559 for a 128GB cellular iPad.
The 4th generation Pad Mini was also updated today with more storage (128GB vs 32GB) for the same $399 price it had yesterday. Yesterday you could get a 32GB gen 2 Mini (the first one with a retina screen) for $269. That option is gone.
One thing this price shuffling does is open up Apple to possibly update the iPad Mini later this year or next and charge more for a truly updated version of it than the new 9.7 iPad. It used to be that the price scaled down with the size of the device, this feels like Apple is telling us that was a mistake and is changing to meet the demand people have for smaller iPads.
This is the most confusing time to buy an iPad unless you are reasonably price sensitive, in which case it is now the best time to buy an iPad.
Pre-orders go up on Friday with general availability next week.
Goodbye iPad Air, hello iPad Cheap.