With a new iPad Air now available, the days of the 11-inch iPad Pro are numbered
Source: Christine Romero-Chan / ComoHow
In recent years, Apple has become very adept at offering products in its lineup at a variety of price points. As such, Apple offers an iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, or Mac at a broad price. Given Apple’s history of cannibalizing its sales and current CEO Tim Cook’s previous role as chief operating officer, it’s no surprise that Apple has reached this point. However, after Apple’s event this month, there’s a particularly problematic product overlap in the iPad lineup that doesn’t make sense to me.
Table of Contents:
- collision points
- Abandonment of the 11-inch iPad Pro
- We have to go
There are four different lines of iPad: iPad, iPad Air, iPad mini, and iPad Pro. The entry-level iPad is an affordable option that works great for browsing, emailing, watching videos, and other everyday tasks. The Pro is perfectly positioned for those who want the most power possible, and the mini is the best iPad to buy if portability is your number one priority.
The iPad Air 5’s purpose in the lineup is a little less clear. It has a bigger and better screen than the base model with a more modern edge-to-edge design. It’s also much more powerful, supports the second-generation Apple Pencil, and has better cameras and speakers. It offers an enhanced experience for every function the 10.2-inch iPad could do, but it may not be worth the almost $300 price increase for many people.
Most people are looking for the cheapest model that meets their needs.
On the other hand, the iPad Air 5 is even closer to the iPad Pro 2021, at least the 11-inch variant. Not only are the sizes almost identical, but the M1 chip that powers both devices offers the same level of power, and the accessories are compatible with each other.
Again, that’s a decent price jump for the 11-inch iPad Pro — $200 in this case — but you get double the storage, plus a more advanced ProMotion display, Thunderbolt connectivity, an AR-ready camera module , quad speakers and more. On the other hand, if you consider the $749 iPad Air 5 256GB, it’s only $50 less than the 11-inch 128GB iPad Pro, which makes the decision even more delicate.
Apple may intend to have those points of failure in its iPad lineup where those decisions are made, and consumers have the option of spending a little more money with the company. However, since most everyday shoppers will be looking for the cheapest model that meets their needs, the iPad Air 5 will struggle to appeal to those considering the base iPad at nearly half the price. However, mid-range buyers may be torn between the pretty good feature set of the iPad Air 5 and the added extras of the 11-inch iPad Pro, which isn’t much more expensive.
Abandonment of the 11-inch iPad Pro
Source: Daniel Bader / ComoHow
When Apple released the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models in 2018 and 2020, they were identical in every way except size. But in 2021, Apple gave arguably the best iPad Pro feature to the 12.9-inch model alone: mini-LED display technology. Whether due to a limitation in technology, price, or supply, this was the first time iPad Pro sizes had diverged so significantly on a particular feature, with the larger model offering a much better experience.
As it stands, the iPad Air 5 and 11-inch iPad Pro allow for a close spec sheet comparison where it counts.
An 11-inch mini-LED iPad Pro is now said to be off the cards for this year, or not at all. Maybe Apple can’t get the price down enough or feels like an improved screen isn’t a priority. Still, this is one area where the 11-inch iPad Pro could differ more from the similarly sized iPad Air 5.
As it stands, the iPad Air 5 and iPad Pro 11-inch allow for a very close comparison of specs in the areas that matter. They offer the same M1 chip, the same 12MP front-facing camera with Center Stage, the same accessory support, and nearly identical dimensions. So essentially, the iPad Air is like an iPad Pro with only the fancier features stripped away. And those high-end features like ProMotion, Thunderbolt, dual cameras, LiDAR, and faster 5G are only appreciated by professionals who also want the biggest and best screen possible.
Given last year’s flop for the best screen and the possibility of a lackluster 11-inch upgrade this year, Apple seems to be keeping the smaller iPad Pro at one price point right now.
We have to go
It’s clear to me that the iPad Air 5 and 11-inch iPad Pro are fighting for many of the same customers, and it’s not the best experience for anyone buying a midsize tablet.
I think we’ll eventually see this issue resolved with the demise of one of Apple’s roughly 11-inch tablets. However, given that the iPad Air has just been updated, the days of the smaller iPad Pro may be numbered.
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