Ever since the first iPad Pro was released, Apple’s tablet lineup have been kind of a jumbled up mess. You had models that were too close together in price and specs, like the iPad Air 2 and original iPad Pro. You had the iPad Air 2 on closeout while Apple was selling the new 9.7″ iPad Pro. The two tablets looked exactly the same and were only separated by Pencil support and a few other specs.
Then you had the inverted pricing of the iPad and iPad Mini, which was the biggest bit of nonsense, but still lasted for two whole years. It just hasn’t been clear for a long time.
As of today, this has finally changed for the better. Now the entire iPad lineup is organized and makes sense. I have seen some argue that there could just be the iPad Pro and iPad in various sizes, and that is valid. however, because the devices really are unique unto themselves, I think this new lineup works.
You have the Pro models alone at the top. They have the thinnest bezels, Face ID, new Smart Connector and the 2nd Gen Apple Pencil to set them apart. The new iPad Air slots in just underneath, taking the spot previously held by the iPad Pro 10.5. Apple subtracted enough to cut the price of the new device, making it a logical fit between the Pros and the bottom of the lineup. So there is a legitimate mid-tier iPad for the first time in a LONG time.
The new iPad Mini fits in nicely underneath the Air, as it now has good enough specs to warrant its $399 price tag. It also has its smaller size to differentiate it. Then you have the iPad keeping its place at the bottom of the lineup at $329. With its larger size and more modest feature set, it still fits well in that role. However, it is also still capable and still very popular. This overall lineup structure is a lot less likely to confuse potential customers than what Apple had up until today.
Here are a few other notes about the new iPads:
- It’s great that all iPads now support the Apple Pencil. However, Apple had better be careful in its marketing and sales. They need to make sure customers know which Pencil to buy for which iPad model, as they really aren’t differentiated that well to someone who isn’t familiar with them. That could result in confusion.
- The new iPad Air and iPad Mini are both compatible with the Logitech Crayon. So this accessory now works with all but the iPad Pros. While it was originally just for education, it is now available at retail due to popular demand. If you are looking for a cheaper Pencil alternative, it will work with the new iPad models.
- All iPad Pro 10.5″ cases and accessories will work with the new iPad Air, as they use the same basic chassis. Since the new Air has a Smart Connector, this includes Apple’s 10.5″ Smart Keyboard. You may just have a couple of speaker openings that aren’t needed if you use an existing 10.5″ case.
- iPad Mini buyers may not be as lucky. No Mini 3 or earlier accessories will work with the new Mini and only certain Mini 4 accessories will.
- Apple is now offering AppleCare on Apple Pencils. They do not have to be purchased with an iPad to qualify.