The 2017 iPad Value Equation

What happens when an iPad Air and iPad Air 2 have a baby? You get the new iPad.
The new 9.7” iPad that Apple recently released is a product that I am happy Apple has released. Even though I don’t agree with many of Apple’s recent decisions (including the discontinuation of the 32 GB iPad mini), I have to admit that I am surprised by how much value the new iPad provides while bringing the price of a full size iPad down even further.

In my mind, the new iPad is to iPad Air as the Mac LC III was to the Mac LC II. It took the basic body design of a very popular product, upgraded the internals significantly, lowered the price, and made a very successful product in the process.

Yes, there will be critics who will say that the new iPad is heavier than the Air 2 and complain that the display isn’t laminated and doesn’t contain the anti-glare coating like the Air 2 did. Those are technically valid points, but let’s think about this logically for a minute. The difference between the two is 6/100ths of an inch in thickness and less than an ounce (22.68 grams to be exact) in weight. The only people that will care about such insignificant differences are the same people who like to bash the MacBook Pro because it doesn’t have as good of a GPU as their 12 lb. Alienware laptop that gets 45 minutes of battery life. Pay them no attention.

How does it stack up against the iPad Air 2?

The recently discontinued iPad Air 2 did not receive a price cut, and Apple is currently selling refurbished 16 GB iPad Air 2s for $319. Considering the new iPad has twice as much storage and a faster processor, I think the obvious choice would be to spend the additional US$10 and get the new iPad. Yes, it is insignificantly thicker and heavier, but the additional power and capacity more than make up for those “shortcomings”.

How does it stack up against the 9.7″ iPad Pro?

The iPad Pro has a number of advantages over the new iPad, but do they warrant spending nearly twice as much? I think that depends on your needs. The base model 32 GB iPad Pro costs US$599, the 2017 32 GB iPad costs US$329. For most users I would say the answer is no, unless you really want to use the Apple Pencil or a Smart Connector type Keyboard. But if you really care about Laminated True Tone displays, P3 Color Gamuts, Quad Speakers, or insignificant thickness and weight differences you just might want to shell out the extra cash for the iPad Pro.

The Bottom Line

The new iPad represents some of the best value we’ve seen come from Apple in a long time. It is a powerful consumer product and should sell very well. Whether you’re in the market for your first tablet or you’re just looking to upgrade from an old one, you should definitely put this one on your list.