Apple needs to fix the iPad

ipad air 4
Andrew Martonik /

While there were rumors that Apple would introduce a new iPad mini during a “Scary Fast” M3 Mac event on October 30, that never happened. In fact, we haven’t seen any new iPad models come out yet this year, which is quite strange.

While we’re taking a break between iPad releases, I think it’s time to think about how messed up the lineup is and how Apple should reconsider simplifying the portfolio. While the iPad is still one of the best tablets you can buy, a lot should change in 2024, too.

problem with ipad today

Apple iPad Air 5 with flowers.
Andy Boxall/

Currently, Apple sells the following iPad models on its website: iPad mini, iPad 9th generation, iPad 10th generation, iPad Air, 11-inch iPad Pro, and 12.9-inch iPad Pro. That’s a total of six models with five different sizes, using five different processors, two different charging ports, and support for a mix of accessories. And that’s just the iPads.

Now, let’s take a look at the Apple Pencil lineup, which is the stylus accessory that is used for all iPad models. We have the original first generation Apple Pencil, the second generation Apple Pencil, and the new Apple Pencil USB-C. Then there are keyboard accessories: the Magic Keyboard, the Magic Keyboard Folio, or any old Bluetooth keyboard you might already have.

For the average person who is not a tech expert, they will likely be overwhelmed by all the available options for the iPad and will have to ask for a recommendation from someone more knowledgeable based on their needs – or possibly even do their own research through it. . Buying Guide.

An iPad Mini propped up in tent mode.
Adam Doud/

One reason the current iPad lineup may be a bit confusing for some people is the fact that there are two standard iPad models being sold at the same time: the 9th generation and 10th generation iPads. When Apple introduced the 10th generation model, it did not discontinue the 9th generation. Instead, it positioned it as a “budget” iPad, which is also the only iPad with a home button and which still uses a Lightning port instead of USB-C.

There’s also the problem of iPad models that are very similar to each other, like the iPad Air and the 11-inch iPad Pro. They’re roughly the same size (10.9 inches vs. 11 inches) and have a similar build with flat edges. The iPad Pro has an M2 chip, dual camera system, Face ID, and a ProMotion display, while the iPad Air has an older M1 chip, a single camera, no ProMotion, and Touch ID in the top button.

For most people, the iPad Air is probably the better choice since it’s $200 cheaper ($799 vs. $599). But if you’re going to get the iPad Pro, the 12.9-inch version has the better display between the two sizes anyway. I love my old 11-inch iPad Pro from a few years ago, but I also admit that the current one is in a bit of a weird place now.

Accessories aren’t any better

The iPad Pro (2022) sitting in the Magic Keyboard.
Joe Maring/

Even if someone determines which iPad is right for them, there’s also the confusing compatible accessory lineup.

It was a little easier when there were only two Apple Pencils, but now we have three because Apple decided to randomly introduce a new Apple Pencil with USB-C. It’s a hybrid of the second-generation aesthetic, but it connects and charges via USB-C in the same way the first generation uses Lightning. However, it has fewer features than both the first and second generation models. But hey, it’s the cheapest! That’s got to count for something, right?

An iPad (2022) with an Apple Pencil plugged in using a USB-C cable and adapter.
Joe Maring/

On the keyboard front, Apple has the following: Smart Keyboard, Smart Keyboard Folio, Magic Keyboard Folio, and Magic Keyboard. All of these keyboards have compatibility with certain iPad models, some only work on older models, so you’ll need to make sure you get one that’s compatible with your current iPad.

The cheapest option is the Smart Keyboard, which starts at $159, but that’s only good for older iPads. The Smart Keyboard Folio, which is higher for current-generation devices, starts at $179. The Magic Keyboard Folio is $249, and the top-of-the-line Magic Keyboard is $299. These aren’t cheap accessories and will definitely add to the total cost of any iPad model you choose.

Apple needs to simplify the iPad line

The back of the original iPad.
Andy Boxall/

When the iPad originally debuted in 2010, it was simple: there was just the iPad. It remained the only iPad model until Apple added the iPad Mini in 2013, then the iPad Air in 2014, and finally the iPad Pro in 2016. Since then, we have had four variations of the iPad, with the size changing from time to time. Small bezels to reflect and no home button.

Although it’s nice to have different iPad models, it has become complicated and unnecessarily complicated, especially when Apple keeps the previous generation models alongside the new ones (9th and 10th generation iPad) and has multiple sizes for one model. keeps.

I think it’s time for Apple to trim the fat a little when the next iPad refresh comes out. Do we really need two standard iPad models? Is there a real need for an 11-inch iPad Pro when there’s an iPad Air, or vice versa? Did we really need a third Apple Pencil option? No, no, no more.

Apple should go back to the days when its device lineup followed a simple rule: less is more.






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