(Scrooge take note: Apple still sells that older, cheaper iPad for $329, the same as it was when it first went on sale.)
Charging more for new models and still selling older ones for less isn’t new for Apple: It continues to sell a MacBook Air released in late 2020 for $999, even after launching a fancy replacement for $1,199 earlier this year.
We blindly tested the new MacBook Air. It looked a lot like the old one.
Still, Apple’s latest release comes at a time when some devices, even those that have been around for months and years, have gotten more expensive. In early August, Facebook owner Meta began charging an extra $100 for its Quest 2 virtual reality headset, a product that had cost $299 since its launch in the fall of 2020. Later that month, Sony announced than the hard-to-find PlayStation 5. would get a price increase in certain countries outside of the United States. And more recently, Nothing, a London-based consumer device startup, has said that 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 it was “likely due to general increases in material and labor costs.”
To be fair, Apple’s new iPad is markedly different from the low-cost model it launched last year. In addition to a new colorful design, it has a larger 10.9-inch screen and is compatible with 5G wireless networks (if you pay more). There’s no Lightning port here, either: this new iPad uses USB-C for charging and connecting to accessories. And, for the first time, 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 when lying flat with a keyboard case — look less awkward.
Apple’s iPhone 14: Reliable and boring, and that’s okay
Even so, Apple’s latest sub-$500 tablet is still based on older parts first seen in other devices. Its A14 Bionic processor, for example, made its debut in the iPhone 12 around 2020. And in case you want to use this iPad to draw or take notes, you’ll have to use Apple’s original pencil, a long and thin Bluetooth stylus. . that hasn’t changed since its release in 2015.
(The kicker: If you already have one of those pencils, you’ll need to buy a $9 adapter to connect it to this iPad.)
Apple seems to be betting that the changes included in this iPad will make people overlook the price difference this holiday season, but changes in the tablet market may prevent that from happening. Tablet demand skyrocketed during the first full year of the pandemic, which isn’t all that surprising: People were huddled at home to stay (and their families) connected.
Since then, though, people’s enthusiasm for tablets has cooled: A recent report from research firm IDC predicts the tablet market will shrink slightly over the next year. And because the costs of essentials like housing, fuel and groceries remain high, people may be more sensitive than ever to how much they spend on supplies like tablets.
That could also affect how people view Apple’s new iPad Pro, 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 “scroll” 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 is still the same as it was 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 along.
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