Since releasing the first iPad in 2010, Apple has dominated the tablet market with a now near insurmountable lead. But for a company whose identity has largely been that of a leading innovator in their field, they have in recent years made very few actual innovations, content to play it safe and enjoy their status at the top of the food chain.
This is where the recently announced successor to the iPad Air 2 comes in, simply known as the ‘iPad’. Firstly, regardless of specs, it’s already cheaper than the iPad Air 2 it replaces, starting at just $469 AUD for the 32GB base model. It comes with the same A9 processor and M9 graphics processor found inside the iPhone 6s and 6s plus, so you can expect performance to be buttery smooth for basic day-to-day tasks such as web browsing, media consumption and gaming.
It also retains the fingerprint reader from the previous model as well as the 8MP camera, should you require a 9.7 inch device to take photos. It also drops the laminated display the Air 2 had, which not only makes it thicker but harder to see in high light environments.
In terms of performance it’s only a marginal step up from the iPad Air 2 and any increases in battery life will only be a result of the increased efficiency of the A9 chip. This minor leap forward isn’t inherently a bad thing, particularly with the welcomed drop in price, however since the iPad Air 2 was released in October 2014 (a lifetime in the tech sphere), it does force you to question who this iPad is aimed at.
Potentially it’s trying to target the education market as a capable but cheaper alternative to a laptop. More and more schools, particularly in Australia, are now forcing parents to splash cash on a tablet as part of the “bring your own device” initiative.
However, it could also be a similar move to that of the much-maligned removal of the headphone jack in the iPhone 7; a change that, though bold, was hardly innovative. But in the wake of Apple’s acquisition of Beats and the announcement of their own wireless Airpods, it became apparent that their decision was based more around increasing the sales of their wireless accessories than breaking new ground.
Apple’s new iPad is an interesting proposition. The drop in price should be a welcome change and its internals should, in theory, be able to handle nearly everything you throw at them without slowing down. But it’s still only a minor upgrade on nearly two-and-a–half-year-old technology and if you’re considering an iPad for any kind of professional use then Apple are forcing you toward their own far superior iPad Pro. Either way it’s a win-win for the California tech giants.
You can buy the new iPad here. Shipping commences April 5.