Why it’s a terrible time to buy an iPad

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iPad Pro bad time to buy
Put that credit card back in your wallet.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

In the market for a new iPad? You might want to hold off for a bit, because new iPad models — and possible price drops — could be on the way.

Apple hasn’t yet made any statements about its 2017 product lineup, but the Silicon Valley tech giant will likely hold an event this spring to introduce new tablets and other goodies. When that event will happen, exactly, remains a mystery, but we should know more in coming weeks.

Last year, Apple announced the 9.7″ iPad Pro, iPhone SE and new Apple Watch bands on March 21. If Apple keeps to this schedule, it shouldn’t be long before we hear about new products. Keep in mind, however, that a spring Apple event isn’t necessarily guaranteed. The company held one in 2016 and 2015, but didn’t in 2014 and 2013.

That being said, rumors indicate that “>Apple has several new products in the pipeline and will indeed hold a spring event featuring new iPads. Here are the details about all iPad updates you could see soon, from new devices to pricing changes.

Know your current iPad options

Apple currently has five models in its tablet lineup, ranging in price from $269 to $1,129. Those are the iPad mini 2, iPad mini 4, iPad Air 2, 9.7-inch iPad Pro and 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

iPad Pro models

The latest and most powerful Apple tablet on the market is the iPad Pro. Apple launched the 12.9-inch version in September 2015 alongside the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, so it’s due for an update. At its spring event last year, Apple added a 9.7-inch version to the Pro family, giving it many of the same features as the larger model. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro currently starts at $599, while the 12.9-inch version is priced from $799.

iPad Air 2 and iPad mini

Those looking for a more affordable Apple tablet currently have three options: the 9.7-inch iPad Air 2, which starts at $399 and was first released in October 2014, and the two 7.9-inch iPad mini models. The iPad mini 4, starting at $399, first hit the market in September 2015; the $269 iPad mini 2 is the oldest of the bunch, first released in November 2013.

3 iPads that could be introduced

iPad Pro True Tone
Will we be getting new iPad Pros in the near future?
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Rumors about Apple’s 2017 iPad lineup have been circulating for months, and are intensifying with each passing week. Here’s the latest on the potential new devices.

iPad Pro in another size

This year, it’s likely that Apple will add another iPad screen size to the mix: 10.5-inch, in the form of a new iPad Pro. Rhoda Alexander, director of tablets and PCs for IHS Markit, recently told Forbes that the new tablet will actually be the same physical size as the standard 9.7-inch model, just with a smaller bezel and larger screen. That means accessories like the Smart Keyboard will still work with the 10.5-inch iPad Pro.

Other widespread rumors indicate that the 10.5-inch iPad Pro will lack a physical Home button in favor of a digital version built into the screen. That falls in line with Apple’s rumored plans to ditch the Touch ID Home button on the so-called iPhone 8 likely to debut this fall.

New budget-friendly iPad and 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2

Also said to be coming is a new, more affordable 9.7-inch iPad, possibly priced from $299, Alexander told Forbes. That information backs up earlier rumors, including one from noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who in August predicted that three new iPads would be released in 2017: a new 10.5-inch iPad Pro, a 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2 and a “low-cost” 9.7-inch model.

Pricing for the 10.5-inch iPad Pro is unclear, but Alexander said Apple may drop the price of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro by $100 to $499 and sell the 10.5-inch version for $599.

Make that four new iPads?

Apple hasn’t updated the iPad mini since fall 2015, so one might surmise that the company is planning to refresh its smallest slate this spring, and some recent rumors support that conjecture.

Japanese blog Mac Otakara, citing “well-placed sources,” reported in October that Apple plans to release a new 7.9-inch iPad Pro in 2017 to replace the current iPad mini. Mac Otakara, which has a decent but not flawless track record with Apple rumors, backed that up last month, reporting that four new iPads could begin shipping soon: a 7.9-inch iPad Pro, 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2 and 9.7-inch iPad Pro 2 at the end of March, and the 10.5-inch iPad Pro in May.

Then again, IHS Markit’s Alexander told Forbes that we may not see a new version of Apple’s scaled-down tablet this spring, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

Apple last tweaked its tablet lineup in September, when it quietly gave the base iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 4 more storage without upping prices. At that time, the company also gave the iPad mini 2 a storage boost and price cut, and dropped the price of larger-capacity iPads by up to $100.

New iPhone and accessory options

Alongside its new iPads, Apple reportedly has some other goodies in store for a spring 2017 reveal. Don’t expect any major iPhone announcements this spring; Apple usually saves them for the fall, and that doesn’t look to be changing this year. Some minor iPhone changes may be on tap, though.

More storage and color choices?

Mac Otakara reported last month that Apple may add a 128GB iPhone SE to its lineup to accommodate those who need more storage than the existing 16GB and 64GB models offer. A new red color option for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus might be available, too — perhaps in collaboration with the (RED) charity — along with some new Apple Watch bands, like we saw last year.

Updated Apple Pencil?

Another product that could get an update this spring is the Apple Pencil, according to Eric Shashoua, Apple expert and the CEO and founder of Kiwi for Gmail. Apple first launched the $99 stylus, which is compatible with iPad Pro models, in fall 2015, so it’s also due for an update.

Readers, which iPad rumors do you hope are true? If Apple holds a spring event this year, what do you think the company will announce? Let us know in the comments below!

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  • timothyhood

    “If Apple keeps to this schedule…”

    Really? What schedule has Apple kept with iPad releases? This is pure speculation at best and should be clearly identified as such. In times past when such claims were made, many people were left waiting and waiting for a new model to be introduced, frozen in fear that a new model was just around the corner. The reality is that if you need an iPad now, buy one. Maybe a new model will be released soon, but probably not. The iPad lifespan seems to be longer than 1 year these days. Besides, there is a delay between announcement and actual availability, and there hasn’t even been an announcement of an event to announce, so any new model is at least a couple of months away. I’ll bet against your imminent release and state that a fall release is more likely.

    • Richard Ludwig

      Well said!

      If you can wait until the end of March, I think it’s probably worth waiting, but I wouldn’t wait much longer than that.

  • Mike Potter

    Why it’s a terrible time to buy an iPad

    Because you could have bought a surface pro. :)

  • M⃠ ⃠S⃠ ⃠i⃠ ⃠N⃠ ⃠L⃠u⃠n⃠d⃠

    Hvergang!