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Apple Replaces iPad Air 2 with New 9.7-inch iPad

Apple has introduced a new, non-Pro 9.7-inch iPad to replace the iPad Air 2, fiddling with the specs slightly and dropping the price by $70. The new model is called just “iPad” again, but is officially dubbed “iPad (5th generation)” for support purposes.

It comes in silver, gold, and space gray colors, and is available with either 32 GB of storage for $329 or 128 GB for $429. Cellular models cost $459 for 32 GB of storage or $559 for 128 GB. It became available to order on 24 March 2017.

The new iPad measures 9.4 inches high by 6.6 inches wide by 0.29 inches deep (240 x 169.5 x 7.5 mm), which is almost the same as the iPad Air 2, although it’s 1.4 mm thicker, which could pose a problem for some cases. The new iPad is also slightly heavier than the iPad Air 2 at 1.03 pounds (469 grams) for the Wi-Fi-only model; the corresponding iPad Air 2 weighed 0.96 pounds (437 grams).

While the iPad Air 2 featured an A8X processor, the new iPad boasts a faster A9 chip, the same processor used in the iPhone 6s. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the A10 Fusion chip that powers the iPhone 7 or even the iPad Pro’s A9X.

The new iPad’s cameras are essentially the same as those in the iPad Air 2. The new model features an 8-megapixel f/2.4 aperture rear camera that can capture 1080p video at 30 frames per second — the only improvements we can see are Apple saying that the new model includes auto image stabilization and a hybrid IR filter, which should improve clarity and sharpness somewhat. The front-facing FaceTime HD camera captures 1.2-megapixel photos with an f/2.2 aperture and 720p video. Like the iPad Air 2, the new iPad features stereo speakers, and yes, a 3.5 mm headphone jack.

While the new iPad’s screen is the same 2048-by-1536 resolution found in the iPad Air 2, it lacks the laminated display and anti-reflective coating that the iPad Air 2 used to reduce reflections and increase picture clarity. That alone may account for the $70 price drop.

You also shouldn’t expect to see any of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro’s niceties in the new iPad. It doesn’t feature the wide-color True Tone display, True Tone camera flash, Live Photos support, 4K video capture, or support for the Apple Pencil and Smart Connector accessories like the Smart Keyboard. However, the new iPad is nearly half the price of the equivalent 32 GB iPad Pro, which costs $599. We hope to see some announcements surrounding the iPad Pro line soon.

At $329, Apple has priced the new iPad aggressively; it’s even more attractive for the education market at $299. It’s also the new low-end iPad, now that Apple has dropped the $269 iPad mini 2. The iPad mini 4 remains available, but in only a single 128 GB storage tier for $399.

Nevertheless, we can’t see many people upgrading from an iPad Air 2 or even an iPad Air to this new iPad. The improvements just aren’t sufficiently compelling, as nice as the new model is as an entry-level iPad.

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