New in OS X: Get MacRumors Push Notifications on your Mac

Resubscribe Now Close

The New iPad vs. 9.7-inch iPad Pro and iPad Air 2

Apple yesterday announced the newest addition to its iPad lineup, somewhat confusingly called the "iPad" and known officially as the "5th-generation iPad," following in the footsteps of the fourth-generation model that was released before the iPad Air.

Designed to replace the iPad Air, the iPad comes with a tantalizingly low price tag: $329. It is Apple's most affordable tablet to date and it's a competitive price point that will allow the iPad to better compete with lower-priced Android offerings.

What do you get for $329? As it turns out, quite a lot. The iPad is a little bit iPhone 6s, a little bit iPad Air, and a little bit iPad Air 2.


In a nutshell, compared to the iPad Air 2, the iPad has a brighter display and a faster A9 processor (first introduced in the iPhone 6s). Other internal hardware seems to be very similar to what's included in the iPad Air 2, with the exception of the display and the casing. Camera, battery life, Wi-Fi, LTE, and other sensors are all nearly the same.

The iPad does not include a laminated display, and is thus thicker, much like the original iPad Air. It measures in at 7.5mm thick, compared to the 6.1mm iPad Air 2. The thickness and accompanying weight discrepancy is noticeable and the one downside between the new iPad and its predecessor.

Compared to the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, the new iPad is, of course, significantly inferior, which is why it's priced at $329 and not $599. It does not support the Apple Pencil or the Smart Keyboard (no Smart Connector), and it lacks many of the display improvements, including True Tone color shifting and wide color gamut.

The iPad has a slower processor than the iPad Pro, an inferior camera (8-megapixel vs. 12-megapixel rear and 1.2-megapixel vs. 5-megapixel front), two speakers instead of four, a slower LTE modem, and of course, since the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is the same size as the iPad Air 2, the iPad is noticeably thicker and heavier.

If you're looking for top of the line hardware and accessory support, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is the tablet to buy, but if you don't need the bells and whistles, the iPad is a steal at its price point.

Performance wise, it's going to run all the latest games and apps, it'll take decent pictures, it still has a high-quality Retina display, and it features a 10 hour battery life, so it will hold up for several years, especially when doing basic tasks like web browsing and emailing.



Click for larger version

For those looking for a bit more, Apple is rumored to be planning to introduce an updated ~10-inch iPad Pro model that's going to replace the existing 9.7-inch iPad Pro. The ~10-inch model is said to have smaller bezels and perhaps an edge-to-edge display, allowing it to feature a bigger screen in a 9.7-inch-sized body.

That tablet was originally rumored to be coming in the spring, but now it's looking like we won't see it until later in the year. Based on rumors, it may be worth the wait for those willing to shell out more money for the best technology.

Apple plans to start selling the new iPad on Friday, March 24. The entry-level 32GB Wi-Fi only model will be priced at $329, and a 128GB model is available for $429. Wi-Fi + Cellular models are available at a $130 premium, so $459 for 32GB and $559 for 128GB.

For more details on Apple's new iPad, make sure to check out our official iPad roundup. And for details on the upcoming iPad Pro updates, check out our iPad Pro roundup.

Related Roundups: iPad Pro, iPad
Buyer's Guide: 9.7" iPad Pro (Don't Buy), iPad (Buy Now)


Top Rated Comments

(View all)

5 weeks ago
A good low cost option and a no-brainer for someone who wants a cheap tablet that will last years.
Rating: 35 Votes
5 weeks ago
I'm already lost.. now who is on 1st?

Seriously Apple you blew it by having all these confusing products.
Rating: 29 Votes
5 weeks ago
New iPad is too thick and heavy, size and weight are everything when it comes to hand held devices that you spend a long time holding, especially an iPad, doesn't matter quite as much with a phone but still important.

Apple have got it wrong again, just like with the red iPhone having a white front.

They never quite get it right and give you what you want.
Rating: 17 Votes
5 weeks ago
Seems like the refurbished iPad Air 2 is the best value now, more than ever.
Rating: 17 Votes
5 weeks ago
I was going to make a snarky comment about the camera quality (or lack thereof) in the latest iPad; but then I remembered that Apple still has the balls to ship a $2,800 notebook with a 720p FaceTime camera.
Rating: 16 Votes
5 weeks ago
prefer the mini size. mini is easy to use when you are laying down on the couch on your side and using one hand to operate it
Rating: 13 Votes
5 weeks ago

Apple seems a little confused right now. Ditch the Air, but the thickness doesn't provide us with let's say more battery life or other advantages. Why not keep it as thin then?

Just because we don't want a thin MBP and full functionality on these laptops doesn't mean they have to reverse the iPad?!?


Seems like keeping the price down drove most of the design decisions here. I'm guessing the laminated display was too pricy.
Rating: 13 Votes
5 weeks ago

Apple seems a little confused right now. Ditch the Air, but the thickness doesn't provide us with let's say more battery life or other advantages. Why not keep it as thin then?

Just because we don't want a thin MBP and we do want full functionality on these laptops doesn't mean they have to reverse the iPad?!?


They seem like they are undoing some confusion to me. The 'Air' moniker is outdated and no longer in line with the rest of their products. An iPad Mini, iPad, and iPad Pro lineup is logical. While the 'new' iPad is thicker than the iPad Air 2 its replacing, its the same size the original iPad Air.

They just need to apply this to the rest of their product lineup. The Macbook Air no longer makes sense when the Macbook is lighter and smaller. You can criticize their individual products, but I think ditching the 'Air' name makes too much sense.
Rating: 10 Votes
5 weeks ago

New iPad is too thick and heavy, size and weight are everything when it comes to hand held devices that you spend a long time holding, especially an iPad, doesn't matter quite as much with a phone but still important.

Apple have got it wrong again, just like with the red iPhone having a white front.

They never quite get it right and give you what you want.


Guess they forgot to run it past you, huh?

Apple isn't about pleasing one loser on one forum. It's about making something the masses like. That's pretty much business 101.

Anyways, not really shocking that people are complaining about this pretty awesome product.

People complain about the "Apple Tax" - Apple releases a very nice entry tablet for a cheaper price, people complain about features. Yea specs are gonna cost you sweetheart.

People complain about Apple making devices thinner - Apple releases a thicker device, people complain. Err mur gawd its heavier how am I Gonna use this ****? I like thin devices now!!!!!
Rating: 10 Votes
5 weeks ago
Apple seems a little confused right now. Ditch the Air, but the thickness doesn't provide us with let's say more battery life or other advantages. Why not keep it as thin then?

Just because we don't want a thin MBP and we do want full functionality on these laptops doesn't mean they have to reverse the iPad?!?
Rating: 8 Votes

[ Read All Comments ]