It's not a Pro, and it's not an Air, but Apple has continued the rollout of the ever-popular iPad range with the surprise unveiling of a new, improved 9.7-inch model.
On March 21, in comparatively quiet fashion, Apple announced a new iPad would be available from the end of the month. The point of difference? It boasts better credentials than the Air 2, lesser specs than a Pro and comes in at an affordable price tag that sees an entry point of just US$329.
It's a further push by the tech giant to gain even more traction as the world's leading tablet supplier while also continuing their goal to become the primary computing device of choice. So with world domination in mind, what does $329 get you in the ever-evolving world of iPad?
9.7-inch retina display
As noted at last year's unveiling of the Pro 9.7, Apple is well aware of the versatility this size offers, and they're keen to cash in with their latest model.
According to Philip Schiller, senior vice president of Worldwide marketing: "iPad is the world’s most popular tablet. Customers love the large, 9.7-inch display for everything from watching TV and movies, to surfing the web, making FaceTime calls, and enjoying photos, and now it is even more affordable.”
They note the latest incarnation is designed for "unmatched portability", where users can code, watch videos, play games, read, use MS Office, and multitask courtesy of a split-screen. And it’s all in the one convenient device. Designed for stunning videos and images, the display features 3.1 million pixels or 2048 x 1536.
“New customers and anyone looking to upgrade will love this new iPad for use at home, in school, and for work, with its gorgeous Retina display, our powerful A9 chip, and access to the more than 1.3 million apps designed specifically for it,” Mr Schiller further explains.
Capturing images are front and rear-facing cameras, both of which offer excellent low-light performance and feature HD video recording capability. The main camera is 8MP while the FaceTime option is 1.2MP.
Driving the graphics and performance is Apple's A9 chip with 64-bit, desktop class architecture. Sounds impressive, huh? What this means in real terms is fast processing and good graphics performance for apps and games along with multitasking ability.
Apple widely bills the new iPad as an all-day device. It tips the battery to last up to 10 hours without revisiting the power outlet.
The new iPad will run iOS10. They bill this as boasting: "...more expressive and animated ways to communicate in Messages, new ways to use Siri with your favorite apps, beautifully redesigned Maps, Photos, Apple Music and News, and the new Home app, which lets you simply and securely set up, manage and control your home all in one place. Multitasking features including Slide Over, Split View and Picture-in-Picture help you do even more”.
Touch ID is the key to the new iPad. It's used to unlock the device while also offering authorization for Apple Pay so consumers can readily pay in person, via website or through apps.
The 2017 iPad is available in the three colours of Silver, Gold and Space Gray. If you seek Rose Gold, you need to go Pro.
Weighing in at just 1lb with a .29 inch profile, the latest iPad remains true to its slim, lightweight form.
This iPad is tipped as the most affordable 9.7-inch model ever. Prices start at US$329 for the 32GB WiFi option, and US$459 for the WiFi and cellular model. The 128GB variety is US$429 for the base model and $559 for cellular capability.
iPad is available for pre-order now, with devices in-store from the end of March 2017.