Back in March of 2017, the iPad lineup was a total mess. You had the iPad Pros, which touted Apple Pencil support and the option of a larger screen as primary features, and had the high price tags to match. The iPad Air 2 was far too close to the 9.7″ Pro in both specs and price, crowding the top of the lineup. Then you had the iPad Mini, which was languishing at the bottom of the heap. It was still too expensive for a low-end model and was suffering from neglect.
With the announcement of the new iPad on March 21, 2017, Apple started to change all that. They created a better low-end tablet by updating the processor, but going backward from the Air 2 in terms of size and screen. The result was a more competitive entry price of $329, renewed interest and Apple finally stabilizing tablet sales, which had been in freefall for a couple of years. What we have gotten in the two years since is a slow but steady progression that keeps this value option relevant and quite popular.