By Dan Moren
March 21, 2017 6:07 AM PT
New 9.7-inch iPad replaces Air 2; iPad mini 4 increases capacities
In addition to a red iPhone, Apple also introduced a new version of the 9.7-inch iPad—no, not the iPad Pro. Called simply “iPad”, this low-cost model appears to replace the iPad Air 2, and starts at a cheaper $329 price point for 32GB and $429 for 128GB. (As usual, cellular-enabled models are $130 extra.) It comes in silver, gold, and space gray versions and will be available this Friday, March 24.
Though this new model is the same height and width as the iPad Air 2, it’s slightly thicker—0.29 inches compared to 0.24 for the iPad Air 2—and slightly heavier, weighing in at 1.03 lbs, compared to the iPad Air 2’s 0.96. It has a Retina display, which Apple describes as “brighter” (presumably compared to the Air 2) and the same A9 chip found in the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus; that’s an improvement over the A8X in the Air 2, if not quite as powerful as the A9X in the Pro line. It features no Smart Connector, so no compatibility with the Smart Keyboard, and it won’t work with the Apple Pencil either.
There’s an 8-megapixel camera, that is probably the same unit found in the 12.9 inch iPad Pro and the iPad mini 4, with no support for Live Photos and no True Tone flash, and it can record video at 1080p. There’s also a standard 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD camera, two speakers, Touch ID (no indication if it’s the first or second generation of that sensor), and support for Apple Pay.
The new iPad is clearly intended as a budget model, in the same way that Apple long kept around the iPad 2. While it has most of the “standard” features of the iPad, the line gets drawn between the Pro models, which have the Smart Connector, Apple Pencil support, even better displays, and faster processors.
As with the iPhone SE, Apple also snuck in a capacity bump for the iPad mini 4, which is now available in only a 128GB configuration for $399 (or with cellular for $539). That replaces the previous $399 model, which offered just 32GB of storage.
New Smart Covers round out the announcement, in charcoal gray, white, midnight blue, pink, and Product (RED) colors.
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