Apple Inc. announced a revamp to the iPad Air that makes the tablet look like the pricer iPad Pro line by removing long-time features such as the Home Button and adding an edge-to-edge screen.
The updated iPad Air has a 10.9-inch edge-to-edge screen similar to the iPad Pro. That’s up from 10.5-inches on last year’s models. Prices start at $599, an increase from $499. The iPad Pro with a larger screen starts at $799.
To keep costs down, the iPad Air keeps a Touch ID fingerprint scanner instead of the Face ID facial recognition system used on the iPad Pro. Now that the Home Button is gone, the fingerprint sensor has been moved to the power button on the top of the iPad Air.
A new mid-tier iPad could continue to juice Apple sales as consumers look for devices to help them work and learn from home during the pandemic. A tablet that looks similar to the iPad Pro but at a lower price could make the new iPad Air a hot holiday season seller. In the fiscal third quarter this year, Apple made $6.6 billion in sales from the iPad, the most since the 2018 holiday season.
The new model also adds a connector on the back with support for the Magic Keyboard, the trackpad and keyboard case Apple launched earlier this year, and support for the second-generation Apple Pencil introduced in 2018.
The latest iPad Air comes in new gold and sky blue color options. It also uses the USB-C connector from the iPad Pro instead of the Lightning port used on the previous iPad Air. It has a 12 megapixel back camera and stereo speakers.
The Cupertino, California-based technology giant has also added the A14 processor to the iPad Air, an upgrade from the A12 chip in last year’s model. The company said the new model is 40% faster than its predecessor.
Apple on Tuesday also updated the entry-level $329 iPad geared toward students with an A12 chip, up from the A10. The new iPads go on sale Thursday, Apple said.
Apple launched the first iPad Air in 2013 as the fifth version of the full-sized iPad, but then shifted away from the line in recent years as it focused on the iPad Pro. It brought back the iPad Air in March 2019 alongside the iPad mini, which was not updated on Tuesday.
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