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article imageApple unveils new iPad but it's not what you expected

By James Walker     Mar 21, 2017 in Technology
Apple has officially launched a new iPad model focused on performance and affordability. Contrary to previous rumours, the tablet is not part of the iPad Pro family. It doesn't fall directly into any existing brand, instead wearing plain "iPad" branding.
It was previously anticipated that Apple would expand its range of professional-oriented iPad Pro devices this spring, adding new 7.9-inch, 9.7-inch and 10.5-inch variants. Instead, the company today unveiled a single 9.7-inch tablet, without any of the "Pro" features.
The device replaces the existing iPad Air 2 but doesn't come with the "Air" moniker. It's simply "iPad," starting a new simplistic brand image that makes its position clearer. Priced at $329, "iPad" is intended to appeal to a broad spectrum of Apple customers, from schoolchildren up to content creators.
2017 9.7-inch iPad
2017 9.7-inch iPad
Apple
iPad features Apple's Retina display and is powered by the company's 64-bit A9 processor. Detailed technical specifications haven't been published but RAM is believed to be 2GB. The hardware isn't particularly noteworthy, primarily comprising repurposed parts from older Apple products.
The new device doesn't come with the True Tone display, Apple Pencil or Smart Keyboard of the iPad Pro. Apple is clearly trying to reserve its flagship features for the pricier Pro range, effectively leaving the iPad as a rebranded incremental upgrade over the Air 2.
2017 9.7-inch iPad
2017 9.7-inch iPad
Apple
The comparatively small list of additional hardware includes a Touch ID fingerprint sensor, 8MP rear camera, a headphone jack and the option of cellular connectivity. Storage configurations run from 32GB up to 128GB. Apple claims the tablet has an "all-day battery life" but hasn't elaborated on how many hours it'll last.
Apple is pitching the iPad as the ideal portable computer for people looking for dependable performance and ease-of-use. It said that iPad is being used for an increasingly varied range of workloads, owing in part to the introduction of stronger multitasking features in iOS 10. The company directly stated that it's targeting home, school and work customers with the 2017 9.7-inch iPad, aiming to convert people who would normally buy budget Windows or Chromebook machines.
2017 9.7-inch iPad
2017 9.7-inch iPad
Apple
"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," said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. "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."
Today's iPad announcement is timed to be exactly one year after 2016's iPhone SE unveil. Apple has also confirmed a small but significant change for the budget iPhone. It will now feature 32GB of storage as standard, without any increase to pricing. It finally kills off the 16GB iPhone, giving customers the freedom to download lots of apps and media.
2017 9.7-inch iPad
2017 9.7-inch iPad
Apple
Although not the tablet many had expected, Apple's new iPad reinforces the company's line-up by strengthening the brand image. There's now three distinct product families ranging from the Mini through today's announcement and up to the Pro. People looking for an all-round "iPad" can more easily find the model right for them – in most cases, it's the one labelled "iPad."
The 2017 9.7-inch iPad will be available to pre-order from this Friday in over 20 countries worldwide. Deliveries will begin next week and availability will expand through April and May to include more regions. The 32GB with Wi-Fi model will cost $329. Adding cellular connectivity will raise the price to $459. Colour options are space grey, silver and gold.
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