On March 21, 2017, Apple released its iPad Air 2 replacement with the 9.7-inch iPad. This new iPad isn’t the most innovative device that Apple has put out, but there are some significant changes. The biggest change this new iPad brings is the price tag. The 32GB base model starts at $329 for the Wi-Fi version and $459 for the cellular version.
The new iPad looks very similar to the iPad Air line with some subtle changes. The weight and thickness has increased slightly from the older models. It measures in at 1 pound and a thickness of 7.5 mm. The weight increase is due to a slightly larger battery but don’t expect better battery life. The screen features a brighter display and a more powerful A9 processor. These upgrades will use more battery making the battery life similar to the older models. You can expect a battery life of around 10 hours. The LTE model also brings back the old black antenna strip seen on the older iPad 3G.
Another big change includes the lack of anti-reflective coating seen on the iPad Air 2. This is a step back for Apple because it will make the display more reflective. This also means there will be a visible air gap between the glass and display.
The 9.7-inch iPad will not have Apple Pencil or Smart Keyboard support. These functions are still exclusive to the the pro line. You also won’t need to change your accessories because this model still uses the Lightning connector.
Overall, this isn’t really an upgrade from the iPad Air 2. If you have that model, I see no reason to invest in this new iPad. This is more for people who don’t have an iPad at all. The price drop is great news for schools and business who buy iPads in bulk. It seems like every bar I go to in San Diego uses an iPad instead of a cash register.
I own an iPad Pro, but there is nothing I do on that pro version that I couldn’t do on the entry level 9.7-inch iPad. iPads or tablets in general are still mainly used for media consumption and seamless integration with Apple applications such as iMessage. With those functions in mind, you absolutely don’t need the power that the iPad Pro provides.