Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Contemplating Apple’s updated iPad range

Screenshot of Apple's iPad homepage

Yesterday, Apple quietly updated its iPad and iPhone product range. The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are now available in red, supporting Product (RED), and the budget iPhone SE is available with more built-in storage.

As for Apple’s tablets, there’s a new iPad Air, but with the ‘Air’ moniker dropped. It’s now just known as the iPad, but uses the same form factor as the iPad Air. Externally it looks the same, but the chip has been bumped up from an A8X to an A9, which brings better performance. It’s available with either 32 or 128 gigabytes of storage, and the cheapest model is £339. This is a significant price cut from the £379 iPad Air 2 that it replaces.

The iPad Mini remains at version 4, and, interestingly, is now only available with 128 gigabytes of storage. Consequently, the cheapest iPad Mini is £419, which is only £10 cheaper than the new 128 GB iPad; back in 2014, the difference was £80 between the equivalent 16 GB models. I suspect that Apple plans to stop selling small form-factor tablets in the near future, which would be a shame as I think it’s a nice size.

Replacing my iPad

My current tablet is a 16 GB iPad Mini 2, which was a present for my 30th birthday in 2014. I use it daily, both at home and at work. At home, it’s effectively my primary computer. I use it far more than my Mac, which, being a desktop, is fixed in one place. Being able to use it anywhere in the house is a major advantage when looking after a small child.

At work, it’s useful in meetings as I don’t need to print off reams of documents beforehand. I also find it handy at events, for checking information whilst away from my desk. And it provides entertainment whilst travelling; I can read Pocket articles or magazines whilst commuting to work.

However, its screen is badly cracked. The screen has already been repaired once, for which I paid about £40 to a shop in Bradford. The workmanship wasn’t great and the home button sticks sometimes. In any case, I broke the screen again weeks later. A decent repair job on the screen is likely to cost around £100, or around a third of the cost of a new iPad.

Advantages and disadvantages

There would be several advantages of buying a new, standard-sized iPad:

  • Larger screen, which would suit me as I read a number of digital magazines.
  • Touch ID.
  • Being able to use two apps in split-screen mode (my iPad Mini 2 only supports slide-over).
  • Faster processor.
  • More storage, as I often run out of space with only 16 GB.
  • Being eligible for continued iOS updates, as I suspect Apple may drop support for the iPad Mini 2 after iOS 11.

And some disadvantages:

  • I like the smaller size and lighter weight of the iPad Mini.
  • A new case would be needed – Christine hand-made my current one, but I doubt she will have time to make a new one for me.
  • I would also need a new Bluetooth keyboard, although as Lizzie likes playing with my current one I’m sure she would like to keep it as a toy.

Although the large crack on my iPad’s screen is unsightly, I’m seriously considering holding out with it, until I can afford to buy a new model. Right now, money is tight, and I can’t really justify paying for repairs to my existing model, or for buying a new one.

I could, of course, consider an Android tablet, which may be cheaper. But I’m worried that I would then have the additional expense of buying replacement apps again and getting used to an unfamiliar operating system. The current best Android tablets cost around the same as an iPad, and a cheaper model may not be any better than what I already have.

I’ll revisit this in the summer, when I’ll hopefully have some more money. By then, we will hopefully know more about iOS 11, and which devices it will support. That could sway my decision further.

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