Apple has updated its iPad line, dropping the “Air” branding as it boosts the specs on its mid-tier product. The new hardware launches alongside another colour for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, and an unusually timed announcement of a new video app, Clips.
Starting at £339 for a 32GB model with wifi only, and rising to £559 for a 128GB model with 4G, the new iPad, an update to the iPad Air 2, solidifies Apple’s intentions to split the line into three: an expensive iPad Pro, available in two sizes, for those needing a laptop replacement; a cheap iPad mini for those needing a small portable tablet; and the iPad sitting in between the two.
The new iPad sees its innards bumped from an A8X chip to the A9, previously used in the iPhones 6S and SE. The more-powerful A9X chip, introduced for the two sizes of iPad Pro, remains exclusive to that product line. Following the lead of the Mac lineup, Apple also dropped the “Air” branding from the series.
Other than the speed boost, most features in the iPad remain untouched: the device has the same camera specs as its predecessor, the same screen specs and the same rated battery life. But the differences between the iPad Pro and iPad are more stark, particularly in form factor: the retention of the eight megapixel camera means the new iPad doesn’t have the unsightly camera nubbin that graces its more expensive sibling. Perhaps not coincidentally, Apple’s tagline for the product is “Flat-out fun”.
Alongside the iPad, Apple also announced a new colour, red, for its iPhone 7devices. Some of the proceeds from sales of the device, alongside other red products sold by Apple, will go to supporting the Product Red initiative to fight HIV and Aids. The company has also doubled the storage on its cheaper, smaller iPhone SE: the phone will now ship in 32GB and 128GB configurations, for the same price as before (starting at £379).
Unusually, Apple paired the hardware launch with the announcement of a new app, Clips. The app, which allows users to “make and share fun videos with text, effects, graphics and more”, will debut alongside iOS 10.3, the next major update to its operating system for iPhones, iPods and iPads, in April.