Apple’s new iPad gets a long-awaited new design and higher price

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Apple surprised many industry observers by not raising the price of its latest iPhones this year.

But just about everything has been feeling at least a little more expensive with inflation lately. Is it any surprise that your next tablet might also be a bit more expensive?

On Tuesday, the Cupertino, California company unveiled a handful of updated products, the most notable of which is a new version of its entry-level tablet — the one it simply calls “iPad,” with no modifications. And here’s arguably the biggest change: The new model costs $449 to start — that’s $120 more than the stock iPad it’ll eventually replace.

(Penny pinchers, note: Apple still sells that older, cheaper iPad for $329, the same as when it first went on sale.)

Charging extra for new models and older models continuing to sell for less isn’t new for Apple: It continues to sell a MacBook Air released in late 2020 for $999, even after launching a slim, potential replacement for $1,199 earlier this year. year.

We blind tested the new MacBook Air. It felt a lot like the old one.

Still, Apple’s latest launch comes at a time when some gadgets — even ones that have been available for months and years — have become more expensive. In early August, Facebook owner Meta began charging an additional $100 for his Quest 2 virtual reality headset — a product that had cost $299 since its launch in Fall 2020. Later that month, Sony announced that the hard-to-find PlayStation 5 would be getting a price hike in select countries outside the United States. And recently, Nothing — a consumer gadget startup headquartered in London — said its $99 Ear (1) wireless earbuds will soon be selling for $149 due to “a rise in costs.”

Apple declined to comment on how it prices its products. Anshel Sag, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, said this was “probably due to the general increase in material and labor costs.”

In all fairness, Apple’s new iPad is significantly different from the low-cost model released last year. Aside from a colorful new design, it has a larger 10.9-inch screen and supports 5G wireless networks (if you pay extra). There’s no Lightning port here either — this new iPad uses USB-C to charge and connect to accessories. And first, this iPad has a front-facing camera mounted on one of the long edges, so some of your video calls, such as when propped up horizontally with a keyboard case, will look less clunky.

Apple’s iPhone 14: reliable and boring, and that’s okay

Still, Apple’s latest under $500 tablet still relies on older parts first seen on other devices. For example, the A14 Bionic processor made its debut in the iPhone 12 around 2020. And if you want to use this iPad to sketch or take notes, you’ll need to use Apple’s original pencil — a long, sleek Bluetooth stylus that isn’t. changed since its release in 2015.

(The kicker: If you already own one of those pencils, you’ll need to buy a $9 adapter to plug it into this iPad.)

Apple seems to be betting that the changes packed into this iPad will get people to cover up the price difference this holiday season, but shifts in the tablet market may prevent that. Demand for tablets shot through the roof during the first full year of the pandemic, which isn’t too surprising — people were locked up at home and trying to keep themselves (and their families) connected.

Since then, however, people’s zeal for tablets has cooled – a recent report from research firm IDC predicts that the market for these types of gadgets will shrink slightly in the coming year. And as costs for essentials like housing, fuel and groceries remain high, people may be more sensitive than ever to how much they spend on their nice-to-haves like tablets.

That could also affect the way people view Apple’s new iPad Pros, also unveiled Tuesday. These new high-end models use the same M2 processor found in some of the company’s recent laptops and include a new “hover” feature for Apple Pencil users. Prices for Apple’s Pro iPad models start at $799 — that’s certainly nothing to sneeze at, but that starting price remains the same as last year.

Our advice? Take a deep breath and wait before you pull the trigger on an expensive tech purchase, especially for the holidays – you never know when a good deal might pop up.

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