March is traditionally debutante season in the world of Apple, and true to form a new iPad model is indeed now available. But while many were expecting a mid-sized 10.5-inch Pro, Apple is targeting the everyday user, adding a new 9.7-inch, no-frills iPad to its lineup of the ever-evolving brand.
Boasting the highly desirable feature of being the most affordable 9.7-inch iPad ever, it's a tilt at further cornering the tablet market while converting PC users.
So why just a normal iPad and what separates it from the pack?
Apple has long known size matters in the world of tablets. The first ever iPad was 9.7-inches and they're more than keen to keep cashing in on the popularity of this compact, yet useable size.
In fact only last year they trimmed down the revised version of the Pro, noting 9.7 was the magic number for many a user. So in a sense it's not surprising they're revisiting it with slightly lesser specs and a more affordable option for the everyday user.
Or in the words of Philip Schiller, senior vice president of Worldwide marketing: "iPad is the world’s most popular tablet. Customers love the large, 9.7-inch display for everything from watching TV and movies, to surfing the web, making FaceTime calls, and enjoying photos, and now it is even more affordable”.
On the cold, hard cash front, the latest iPad comes in at AUD$469 for the 32GB base model. That's more than $100 cheaper than the only available iPad Mini 4 with 128GB and almost a whopping $400 less than the 9.7-inch Pro.
So what's the catch? Well the specs obviously aren't as high as the Pro, but Apple's not going for the high-end user this season anyway. The ideal consumer is your average tablet-toting Joe, who Schiller notes is: “New customers and anyone looking to upgrade."
He continues they "...will love this new iPad for use at home, in school, and for work, with its gorgeous Retina display, our powerful A9 chip, and access to the more than 1.3 million apps designed specifically for it”.
The latest incarnation is all about "unmatched portability", where users can code, watch videos, play games, read, use MS Office, and multitask courtesy of a split-screen all in the one convenient device. Designed for stunning videos and images, the display features 3.1 million pixels or 2048 x 1536.
It's not only 9.7-inches but it's light and it's slim, tipping the scales at just 469g with a profile of just 7.5mm.
As always, the iPad includes front and rear-facing cameras, both of which offer excellent low-light performance and feature HD video recording capability. The main camera is 8MP while the FaceTime option is 1.2MP.
Driving the graphics and performance is Apple's A9 chip with 64-bit, desktop class architecture. Architecture? Yes like any good building it's designed for functionality, which in this case is fast processing and good graphics performance for apps and games along with multitasking ability.
Apple widely bills the new iPad as an all-day device. It tips the battery to last up to 10 hours without revisiting the power outlet.
The new iPad will run iOS10. They state this offers: "...more expressive and animated ways to communicate in Messages, new ways to use Siri with your favorite apps, beautifully redesigned Maps, Photos, Apple Music and News, and the new Home app, which lets you simply and securely set up, manage and control your home all in one place. Multitasking features including Slide Over, Split View and Picture-in-Picture help you do even more”.
Touch ID is the key to the new iPad. It's used to unlock the device while also offering authorisation for Apple Pay so consumers can readily pay in person, via websites or through apps.
The 2017 iPad is available in the three colours of Silver, Gold and Space Gray. If you seek Rose Gold, you need to go Pro but are you willing to splash out almost twice the cash for what is essentially pretty pink?
The Australian launch, pre-sale and availability of the new iPad directly coincides with the US. That means consumers could pre-order from March 24, with stock in stores the following week.