Yesterday morning, Apple unveiled a new $329 iPad called simply “iPad,” as a replacement for the iPad Air 2. Apple announced the device in a press release, alongside the (RED) iPhone 7, new Apple Watch bands, and new iPhone cases.
Yesterday, we briefly highlighted some of the differences between the new iPad and the iPad Air 2 it replaces, but read on for a full breakdown of all of the differences…
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There are a couple of things worth noting in terms of the display discrepancies between the new iPad and the previous iPad Air 2. One thing that Apple left unclear was if the new iPad features the same anti-reflective display coating that the iPad Air 2 featured.
The company confirmed to The Verge, however, that the 2017 iPad does indeed lack that display coating and is not laminated to the cover glass. What this means is that there will be a visible air gap between the display and the glass, while the display will also be more reflective than the iPad Air 2 was.
Apple does say, however, that the new iPad features a brighter display than its predecessor, but specific information here is unclear. Nevertheless, it sounds somewhat akin to the 9.7-inch iPad Pro and its display.
The Air 2 was the first iPad to feature anti-reflective coating on the display and lamination directly to the cover glass, so this is very much a step back on Apple’s part, but likely a way to keep the price of the new model as low as possible.
In terms of the power you’ll find inside the new iPad, it’s a notable step up from the iPad Air 2 originally introduced in 2014. The new iPad is powered by Apple’s A9 processor clocked at 1.85GHz. That’s the same processor that’s found in the iPhone SE, though it’s closed at 1.8GHz there.
The iPad Air 2, on other hand, is powered by a 1.5GHz Apple A8X processor. Additionally, iPad Air 2 processor is a triple-core chip with Apple’s M8 coprocessor, while the new iPad is a dual-core processor with Apple’s M9 processor.
In terms of RAM, the iPad Air 2 features 2GB and it’s expected that the 2017 iPad features the same.
All in all, the new $329 iPad should be notably more powerful than the iPad Air 2. It makes sense, too, considering the iPad Air 2 was originally announced back in 2014, so it was lagging behind in terms of processor technology. Either way, you can’t really beat having the A9 and M9 coprocessor in a sub-$400 iPad.
Another difference between the iPad Air 2 and the 2017 iPad comes with the battery size, though Apple doesn’t expect the end user to notice any battery life improvements. Like it did with the iPad Air 2, Apple quotes 10 hours of battery life despite the bigger battery.
The 2017 iPad features a 32.4Wh battery, while the iPad Air 2 featured a 27.62Wh battery. As Apple says, however, noticing any improvements in battery is unlikely here. Because of the brighter display and more powerful processor, the increase in battery size was likely necessary to offset the increased power draw. Although, the drop from three cores to two cores might somewhat help in the battery life department.
One disappointing change with the 2017 iPad comes in terms of design. As our own Benjamin Mayo pointed out yesterday, the new iPad is thicker and heavier than the iPad Air 2.
The iPad Air 2 featured a slim 6.1mm and .96 pounds design, while the new iPad comes in at 7.5mm and 1.03 pounds. This means the new iPad is more than 20 percent thicker than the iPad Air 2, but in the grand scheme of things it’s not a huge deal. It does mean that any cases and accessories made for the iPad Air 2 won’t work, but it’s rare that accessories do work across multiple product iterations.
The new iPad also features the old antenna design on LTE models:
It’s disappointing to see Apple move in the opposite direction in terms of product design, but it was likely a necessary compromise to squeeze in a larger battery and lower the price…
Headlining the changes between this year’s iPad and the iPad Air 2 is a price drop. The 2017 iPad comes in at $329, whereas the iPad Air 2 carried a $399 retail price. The base model of the new iPad will offer 32GB. The cellular model will start at $459.
The price drop means that Apple will hopefully be able to reach a larger segment of the market. The drop comes as Apple faces increased competition from affordable devices such as Chromebooks in education. Apple is also working with IBM to increase the iPad’s enterprise usage, and a price drop will likely help in that area as well.
As Ben Lovejoy noted this morning, the more affordable iPad comes as Apple is seemingly switching its pricing strategy to get its products to the most customers possible.
The new iPad isn’t necessarily the dramatic update to the device that many have called on Apple to make, but it isn’t meant to be that device either. It represents an iterative update from the iPad Air 2 that comes with a notable price drop. While there are some setbacks, ideally the $329 price tag will offset those for most customers.
As for the iPad lineup heading forward, it’s still believed that Apple has a 10.5-inch model in the works, as well as additional changes for 2018. Read our full roundup of what to expect for the iPad lineup here.
What do you think of Apple’s new iPad? Let us know down in the comments.