Apple Seems a Little Confused About Its New, More Expensive iPad Lineup

It's not really satisfying anyone

  • Apple has new iPads and iPad Pros to sell. 
  • The only change in the Pro is the M2 chip.
  • The entry-level iPad is no longer the cheapest one.
person working on the new M2 iPad Pro with magic keyboard


Apple has a new M2 iPad Pro and has replaced its entry-level iPad with an all-screen, home-buttonless model that adopts the slab-sided design language of almost all of Apple's other products and comes in non-boring colors.

Sounds amazing, right? Except, it's the very opposite, making it hard to know which model to buy. Many, if not most, users might even be better off with the outgoing models. And that's before we get to how the new iPad still uses the older Apple Pencil.

"The prices are really going crazy. I was starting to invest into the iOS ecosystem for music, but now [I'm beginning] to have second thoughts. My iPad is a [7th gen], and I don't really want to think about the day I'll have to replace it," said iPad-based musician fxdfxd in a forum thread participated in by Lifewire.

Entry Level

Let's start at the bottom. Or rather, just above the bottom. The new, plain, non-adjective iPad looks great. As mentioned above, it does away with the old-fashioned big bezel, the home-button design adds USB-C, and also adds a neat two-part keyboard accessory, the Magic Keyboard Folio. At the same time, it does away with the headphone jack and also ditches the most important feature of an entry-level product: the low price.

Last week, if you wanted a regular non-Pro, non-Air iPad, you could get one starting at $329. Now, you'll have to pay at least $449. That's a huge increase that takes the iPad into iPad Air territory. One could argue this doesn't really replace the old iPad but instead slips a new model into the lineup. And Apple seems to think the same thing because it's keeping the old model around at the same $329 price.

person using 10th gen iPad with Apple Pencil


The iPad Air is only $150 more, and is better in almost every way, from its M1 chip, to Apple Pencil 2 support, to a better screen and double the RAM. And about that pencil…

Flat-sided iPads use the Apple Pencil 2, snaps onto the edge with magnets and charges while stored. But the new iPad still uses the original Apple Pencil, which charges via Lightning—possibly the most awkward charging method of any device ever, sticking directly into the Lightning port like a lollipop stick. The extra catch is that the iPad no longer has a Lightning port, so you have to use an adapter that, yes, has to be purchased separately for $9.

But then things start to get really weird.

Pro Not Pro

The new M2 iPad Pro can mostly be defined by what it's not. The only changes are the move from an M1 to an M2 system-on-a-chip, Bluetooth 5.3 (up from 5.0), different lettering on the back, a braided charging cable in the box, and… that's it. It's even the same price—in the US, at least.

But now we get to a few extra features from the new plain iPad that should really be present in the top-of-the-line Pro. First, the "cheap" iPad moves its FaceTime camera to the long edge of the screen to better fit landscape-orientation video calls.

10th gen iPad with magic keyboard folio


But odder still is that the new Magic Keyboard Folio for the plain iPad comes with a row of function keys, just like a Mac, with buttons for volume, brightness, media playback controls, and so on. The iPad Pro's own Magic Keyboard with trackpad still doesn't have these keys.

"It's a very weird situation to be in when the low-end iPad is showing the way to a new front-facing camera position, and an embracing of function keys, but the high-end iPad Pro is stuck in the past," writes long-time Apple journalist Jason Snell on his Six Colors blog.


Next up is the overall pricing of the iPad range. The entry-level model we’ve already mentioned; its price has increased by more than a third. The iPad Pro keeps its price in the US, but in the rest of the world, the prices have leapt by an almost absurd degree, likely in part due to the strong dollar.

For example, the plain new iPad starts at $449, but in Europe, it will cost €579, or $565. And while the 512GB cellular 12.9-inch iPad Pro is $1,599 in the US, it has jumped to over $2,000 in Europe. That puts it in the range of the MacBook Pro, which also comes with a keyboard, trackpad, and a better OS for actually getting stuff done.

So what do you do? Well, right now, you can still buy the previous models. Apple sells the old iPad at its old price, and Amazon (and other retail outlets) still have the M1 Pro models in stock, often at discounted prices. If you want an iPad Pro, then the M1 model is probably your best option, and if you live outside the US, then for some, it might be the only affordable option.

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