(Penny pinchers, take note: Apple is still selling this older, cheaper iPad for $329, the same price it cost when it first went on sale.)
Charging extra for new models while continuing to sell old ones at a lower cost is nothing new for Apple: it continues to sell a MacBook Air released in late 2020 for $999, even after launching a sleek and potential replacement for 1 $199 earlier this year.
We blind tested the new MacBook Air. It looked a lot like the old one.
Even so, Apple’s latest launch comes at a time when some gadgets, even those that have been available for months and years, have become more expensive. In early August, Facebook owner Meta began charging an additional $100 for its Quest 2 virtual reality headset — a product that had cost $299 to start since its launch in fall 2020. Later that month , Sony has announced that the hard-to-find PlayStation 5 will get a price hike in select countries outside of the United States. And most recently, Nothing – a London-based consumer gadget start-up – said its $99 Ear(1) wireless headphones will soon sell for $149 due to “increasing costs”.
Apple declined to comment on how it prices its products. Anshel Sag, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, said he was “likely due to the overall increase in material and labor costs.”
In fairness, Apple’s new iPad is notably different from the low-cost model it launched last year. Along with 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 for starters, this iPad has a front-facing camera mounted on one of its long edges to make some of your video calls — for example, those made while propped up horizontally with a keyboard case — seem less troublesome.
Apple’s iPhone 14: reliable and boring, and that’s okay
Even so, Apple’s latest sub-$500 tablet still relies on older parts first seen in other devices. Its A14 Bionic processor, for example, debuted in the iPhone 12 around 2020. And in case you want to use this iPad to draw or take notes, you’ll need to use Apple’s original Pencil – a long Bluetooth stylus and end. which has not changed since its release in 2015.
(The kicker: if you already own one of these pencils, you’ll need to buy a $9 adapter to connect it to this iPad.)
Apple seems to be betting that changes to this iPad will make people hide the price difference this holiday season, but changes in the tablet market might prevent that from happening. Demand for tablets exploded in the first full year of the pandemic, which isn’t all that surprising – people were hunkered down at home and to stay (and their families) connected.
Since then, however, people’s zeal for tablets has cooled – a recent report by research firm IDC predicts that the market for such gadgets will shrink slightly over the next year. And because the costs of necessities like housing, fuel and groceries remain high, people may be more sensitive than ever to how much they spend on small accessories like tablets.
It could also impact how people look at Apple’s new iPad Pro, also unveiled on 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 iPad Pro 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 breath and wait before pulling the trigger on any expensive tech purchase, especially before the holidays – you never know when a good deal might come your way.
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