Apple tinkers with iPad, introduces red iPhone
Apple is cutting prices on two iPad models and introducing red iPhones, but the company held back on updating its higher-end iPad Pro tablets.
A much-speculated 10.5inch iPad Pro didn’t materialize, nor did new versions of existing sizes in the Pro lineup, which is aimed at businesses and creative professionals. The new devices are mostly refreshes of existing models. Apple unveiled them through press releases Tuesday rather than a staged event, as it typically does for bigger product releases.
The iPad updates come as the tablet market continues to decline, after a few years of rapid growth. According to IDC, tablet shipments fell 20 percent to 53 million worldwide in the final three months of 2016, compared with the same period in 2015.
The iPad Air 2 is replaced by a new model simply called the iPad. It retains a 9.7-inch screen, but gains a little weight and thickness. The display is brighter and the processor faster. Its price starts at $329 for 32 gigabytes of storage, down from $399.
The 7.9-inch iPad Mini 4 now comes with 128 gigabytes of storage starting at $399, rather than $499 before. Apple is eliminating the 32-gigabyte model, which used to sell for $399.
Apple is also releasing a red edition of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus; for each phone sold, Apple is donating an unspecified amount to HIV and AIDS programs. And Apple is doubling the storage on the smaller iPhone SE while keeping the $399 starting price.
The new iPad Mini 4 is available right away, while the standard-size iPad comes out next week, with orders to begin Friday. The new iPhone SE comes out Friday, while the red iPhones are expected by the end of the month, with advance orders beginning Friday.
Jackdaw Research analyst Jan Dawson said that “there are two very distinct iPad tiers now — the iPad Pro and the basic iPads.”
In the last three months of 2016, iPhones generated 10 times the revenue as iPads. Unit sales of iPads fell 19 percent from the previous year. Yet Apple CEO Tim Cook has expressed optimism because many people were buying iPads for the first time, indicating that the market had yet to reach saturation, the point at which everyone who wants a particular product already has one.
Dawson agrees that the number of tablet owners is still growing, adding that people aren’t upgrading often. He said the new $329 price for the 9.7-inch iPad should help spur sales.