Apple released new iPads on Tuesday that we’ll be talking about in the coming weeks. The new 10th generation iPad is a completely new design that brings it in line with the Air and mini, and the new iPad Pro is the fastest tablet ever made, with an M2 processor and Wi-Fi 6E. In simple terms, Apple’s new tablets are the strongest ever, giving consumers at both ends of the spectrum more options.
But buying an iPad is also more confusing than ever. Apple now has five different iPad lines that start at $329 and go up to over $2,000. This is how the models fall apart:
iPad (9th generation, 64GB): $329
iPad (9th generation, 256GB): $479
iPad (10th generation, 64GB): $479
iPad mini (64GB): $499
iPad (10th generation, 256GB): $599
iPad Air (64GB): $599
iPad mini (256GB): $649
iPad Air (256GB): $749)
iPad Pro (11-inch, 128GB): $799
iPad Pro (11-inch, 256GB): $899
iPad Pro (11-inch, 512GB): $1,099
iPad Pro (12.9-inch, 128GB): $1,099
iPad Pro (12.9-inch, 256GB): $1,199″
iPad Pro (12.9-inch, 512GB): $1,399
iPad Pro (11-inch, 1TB): $1,499
iPad Pro (12.9-inch, 1TB): $1,799
iPad Pro (11-inch, 2TB): $1,899
iPad Pro (12.9-inch, 2TB): $2,199
And those prices don’t even factor in the cellular options, which add $200 to the iPad Pro, $150 to the 10th-generation iPad, iPad Air, and iPad mini, and $130 to the 9th-generation iPad.
So while options are certainly good, they can also be overwhelming. For example, if you have $600 to spare, you can get a new iPad with 256GB of storage or an iPad Air with 64GB of storage, an iPad mini with 64GB of storage, or a 9th-generation iPad with 256GB of storage and cellular connectivity.
But where it gets really confusing is the features. Consider these facts about Apple’s iPad lineup:
Three different iPads have essentially the same 11-inch screen.
Every iPad has a different processor.
The 10th generation iPad is the only model with a selfie camera in landscape orientation.
The iPad Pro has newer Bluetooth (5.3) than the 10th generation iPad (5.2) and the iPad Air and mini (5.0).
The iPad mini is the only model that doesn’t support any of Apple’s keyboard cases.
The 10th generation iPad still does not support the 2nd generation Apple Pencil.
So not only do you have to go through nearly two dozen options to decide which tablet to buy, but you also have to consider minor differences in the various setups that might not be obvious to regular consumers. Most buyers probably couldn’t tell the difference between the 10th-generation iPad’s non-laminated screen and the iPad Air’s laminated screen, or feel the speed of an A15 versus an A13. How should consumers make a smart buying decision when they need to create a spreadsheet and explanation to figure out the different features?
And who is the iPad Air for now? It has an M1 processor and second-generation Apple Pencil support, but if you’re a user who needs these features, you should consider the 11-inch iPad Pro. And if you’re not, just buy the 10th-generation iPad and save $150. And what about the iPad mini? Is it worth spending $50? Lake than the 10th generation iPad for a smaller screen and slightly better processor?
And then there’s the matter of updating. The 10th generation iPad has only just been released, so we don’t know how often it will be updated, but we do know about the other lines:
iPad mini: Last update in September 2021; next expected update March 2023
iPad Air: Last update in March 2022; next expected update September 2023
iPad Pro: Last update in October 2022; next expected update March 2024
So if you’re buying an iPad in February, keep in mind that the iPad mini might be getting an update soon. If you want one in the summer, there’s probably an iPad Air update right around the corner.
The new iPad was supposed to simplify buying options, but it only further clouded the lineup. And it gives the impression that Apple still doesn’t quite understand what to do with its tablet lineup, so it keeps throwing more and more at the wall to see what sticks. And at some point, consumers will just stop trying to figure it out.