I owned an iPad 2 for all of two months before deciding I didn’t actually need it. Between my phone and laptop, I realized it didn’t fit in with my setup, despite enjoying its utility. So, I returned it.
Then the iPad Pro was revealed. The Pencil-toting device broke the iPad mold by offering a more focused experience as a productivity powerhouse. It was the ideal iPad, complete with fancy display technology and Smart Connector.
The problem was it was expensive. Really expensive. As badly as I wanted one for doodling, I couldn’t justify the price, or the extra $99 for the Pencil. A pen and paper would have to do.
Now, Apple is offering a compromise. The newest 9.7-inch iPad offers Pro features with a very un-Pro price of $329. For context, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro announced in 2016 started at $599, almost double the price of Apple’s latest slate.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted by the price. If you purchase the base model and add an Apple Pencil, you’re looking at around $450 with taxes factored in. That’s not exactly throwaway money, but it’s more affordable than an iPad Pro by a large margin.
For this reason alone, the new iPad, more than any other iPad Apple has released, is the quintessential iPad. It features a tantalizing price without many compromises, allowing the device to reasonably compete among the cheaper Android market.
I don’t know if Apple’s new device will be a hit among teachers and students—at least beyond the carefully curated diorama Apple presented at Lane Tech in Chicago. But it’s easy to see the tablet becoming incredibly popular among the average consumer, myself included.
The iPad 2 I owned didn’t prove to be particularly useful among my setup, though I admit it was great for watching Netflix and playing games. I nearly got an iPad Pro after reviewing the 12.9-inch model, but I wasn’t comfortable with the price—not when my previous iPad sat unloved for such long periods.
With the newest iPad, however, the lower price offers a much friendlier entry point, and after experiencing how simple it is to create content with the device, I’m thinking of giving it another shot.
The regular iPad and iPad Pro have always been targeted for very specific things. One is for consuming content and the other is for creating content. With the new iPad, Apple has struck an attractive balance, finding that Goldilocks Zone of functionality and price.
It sure as hell beats the iPad mini 4, which for some inexplicable reason you can purchase new for $399.