March 21, 2017 Last Updated 12:55 pm

Apple launches new 9.7″ iPad model, lowers base price, keeps storage to a minimum

Lower price may attract iPad owners hesitant to upgrade their tablets, but the tablet market has taken a huge hit of late

There are few surprises left in tech these days. Today’s unveiling of the new 9.7-inch iPad was long rumored – though, its lower price, starting at $329, did come as a pleasant surprise, I suppose.

The hope is that iPad users, who have been hesitant to upgrade their iPads, will finally end Apple’s long losing streak of quarters with sales below the year before. A cheaper iPad just might do the trick.

But is it too late? Apple has moved away from seeing its tablets as part of a lifestyle. At first launch, the iPad was the way you would read your newspaper or magazine in the future, the way you would read a book, the way you would watch TV or see a movie. But the vision of Steve Jobs no longer permeates Apple. I don’t know if the problem is that Eddy Cue and Tim Cook aren’t readers, or simply that the accountants now control Apple and corporate just didn’t see the profits with the iPad that they saw with the iPhone. They were certainly not impressed with sales from the publisher’s side of the App Store and stopped supporting the industry.

It doesn’t help that Apple continues to be cheap with storage. 32GB is fine for a few apps, but if you really are going to use your iPad for media it is simply not enough. (Which is why I think a lot of consumers will look at the price for the 128GB model, $429, and choose that one.)

So, with fewer reasons to use an iPad, will consumers decide to give the tablet another look. My own iPads are gathering dust, and I am writing about digital media on a daily basis – that has to mean something.

As for the Apple line of iPads, it is now a confusing mess. There are multiple 9.7″ models, with little to differentiate them. The iPad mini base model now costs more than the 9.7″ model, though to justify that it now 128GB in storage.

But the real problem is that Apple has done nothing to fundamentally change the equation other than price – though price is the number one issue with many buyers. Apple stubbornly keeps things the same year after year, and then makes excuses at earnings time about why iPad sales look weak.

Still, maybe now is the time to buy a new model. I’ll have to think about it. Pre-orders on the new iPad 9.7″ model start this Friday.

Here is Apple’s press release:

CUPERTINO, California — March 21, 2017 — Apple today updated its most popular-sized iPad, featuring a brighter 9.7-inch Retina display and best-in-class performance at its most affordable price ever, starting at $329 (US). Designed for unmatched portability and ease of use, along with incredible performance and all-day battery life, iPad is the world’s most popular tablet and the primary computing device for millions of customers around the world. Through the more than 1.3 million apps designed specifically for iPad, customers can do even more, from learning to code with Swift Playgrounds™ and reading books on the large screen to boosting productivity through Microsoft Office and using multitasking features like Split Screen.

“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.”

iPad features a beautifully bright Retina display with over 3.1 million pixels for stunning pictures and videos, and is enclosed in a sturdy yet thin aluminum unibody enclosure weighing just one pound for great portability and durability. The Apple-designed A9 chip with 64‑bit desktop-class architecture delivers fast processing and graphics performance for apps and games, while maintaining the same all-day battery life1 customers have come to expect from iPad.

The front- and back-facing cameras offer exceptional low-light performance and HD video recording, making it fun and easy to FaceTime with friends and family and capture unforgettable memories using the large Retina display as a viewfinder. Ultrafast wireless means connecting with iPad is quick and easy, and support for LTE cellular bands worldwide helps customers stay connected when traveling.2 Apple SIM makes it even easier to connect to wireless data plans right from your device when traveling in more than 140 countries and regions.

Touch ID gives iPad users a simple and secure way to unlock iPad, keep personal information private within apps and approve purchases from the App Store®, iTunes Store and iBooks Store. With Apple Pay3 on iPad, paying for physical goods and services within apps or on a website in Safari has never been easier.

iPad comes with iOS 10, which brings more expressive and animated ways to communicate in Messages, new ways to use Siri® with your favorite apps, beautifully redesigned Maps, Photos, Apple Music and News, and the new Home app, which lets you simply and securely set up, manage and control your home all in one place. Multitasking features including Slide Over, Split View and Picture-in-Picture help you do even more.

Pricing & Availability

• iPad comes in silver, gold and space gray and starts at $329 (US) for the 32GB with Wi-Fi model and $459 (US) for the 32GB Wi-Fi + Cellular model at and Apple Stores. For more information, please visit

• iPad is available to order beginning Friday, March 24, from and starts delivering to customers and arriving next week in Apple Stores, through select carriers and Apple Authorized Resellers (prices may vary) in the US and more than 20 countries and regions, including Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. Denmark, India, Mexico, Norway, Russia, Turkey and other countries and regions will follow in April. Brazil, Taiwan and other countries and regions will follow in May.

• Polyurethane Smart Covers for iPad are available for $39 (US) in charcoal gray, white, midnight blue, pink sand and (RED) at and Apple Stores.

• iPad mini 4, available in silver, gold and space gray, now offers more capacity for the same price starting at $399 (US) for the 128GB Wi-Fi model and $529 (US) for the 128GB Wi-Fi + Cellular model at and Apple Stores.

• Every customer who buys iPad from Apple will be offered free Personal Setup, in-store or online4, to help them customize their iPad by setting up email, showing them new apps from the App Store and more.

• Anyone who wants to learn the basics or go further with their new iPad can register for a free workshop at any Apple Store.

1. Battery life depends on device settings, usage and other factors. Actual results may vary.
2. LTE is available through select carriers. Network speeds are dependent on carrier networks. Check with your carrier for details.
3. Apple Pay is not available in all markets. For a list of Apple Pay countries, click here.
4. In most countries.

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