Along with announcing an 8 GB iPhone 5c on Tuesday, Apple re-introduced the fourth-generation iPad and finally retired the iPad 2. Buyers don’t get as much choice for this product swap as the fourth-generation iPad is only available in with 16 GB of storage, although it’s available with either Wi-Fi or LTE.
On the Apple Store, the product is simply called iPad with Retina Display to avoid confusion — the newest iPad is the iPad Air — and costs $399 for a Wi-Fi model. If you want an LTE radio for service with one of four major U.S. carriers, it costs $529. All specifications of the iPad with Retina Display are unchanged from when the device launched in 2012: An A6x processor, 9.7-inch display with 2048 x 1536 resolution, FaceTime HD camera, and 5 megapixel rear camera sensor. A big difference between the two is in the weight: the iPad with Retina Display weighs 1.44 pounds compared to the iPad Air, which tips the scales at one pound.
Given that there are two full generations between the iPad 2 and the iPad with Retina Display, getting the latter for the same $399 as the prior model is a great value. Consumers that might have spent $350 to $450 on a competing tablet over the iPad 2 may now give some second thought to that choice.
As a result, Apple could slow down Android tablet sales growth, which last year made big gains: Out of an estimated 195 million tablet sales in 2013, Android accounted for 62 percent of them, according to Gartner. That marks last year as the first time Apple’s iPad didn’t hold majority of tablet market share. As I noted when the Gartner figures were announced, Apple’s still doing just fine when it comes to profits and sells twice as many tablets as its nearest competitor, Samsung.
This product change makes far more sense to me than Apple’s new 8 GB iPhone 5c. For the same money, tablet buyers can get a product that has two years of hardware advancements: More processing power, a better camera and much higher resolution display. In the case of the iPhone 5c, it’s simply last year’s model made cheaper and more constricting due to less storage capacity.