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Apple has a real chance to fix the confusing iPad lineup at its May 7 event

Published May 6th, 2024 12:45PM EDT
iPad lineup 2023
Image: Apple

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Okay, Apple. The event is here so here’s your chance. We’re a few years into a continuously more confusing iPad lineup, so it’s about time we cooled off, realized we made some mistakes, and simplified the lineup back to its glory days.

If you haven’t noticed, Apple’s iPad lineup has gotten more complicated over the last few years. Between the introduction of the 10th generation iPad, keeping the 9th generation iPad around, and introducing even more Apple Pencil and iPad keyboard models, buying an iPad has never been as weird or tough of a decision for consumers as it’s been lately.

The 10th-generation iPad created this mess

The introduction of the 10th-generation iPad is really the thing that created this entire mess. While it was redesigned to match the design language of the iPad Air and the iPad Pro (which is great), it only works with the 1st generation Apple Pencil despite having a USB-C connector. This decision alone created a terrible experience for anyone interested in the latest version of the base model tablet.

iPad 10th generation
Apple’s iPad 10th-Generation tablet. Image source: Apple Inc.

The latest-generation base iPad also doesn’t work with the Magic Keyboard. Instead, Apple has released the Magic Keyboard Folio, a completely new keyboard accessory exclusive to the 10th-generation iPad — no other iPad in the lineup can use this keyboard so it was literally created by necessity since the company didn’t do the smart thing, and just make it compatible with the Magic Keyboard.

The USB-C Apple Pencil didn’t help, either

Due to the Apple Pencil issue that Apple created with the 10th-generation iPad, the company also had to create another model of that product to fix its own problem. Last fall, the company announced a new version of the Apple Pencil that added USB-C for all you 10-gen iPad owners, but the accessory missed out on wireless pairing and charging, pressure sensitivity, and the ability to Double Tap to change tools.

USB-C Apple Pencil launched in October 2023.
USB-C Apple Pencil launched in October 2023. Image source: Apple Inc.

The sacrifices that Apple accepted with the 10th-gen iPad created such a confusing product and accessory lineup that has made buying a base-model iPad nothing short of a mess for anyone who does not follow this stuff religiously. I feel bad for anyone who doesn’t know about this stuff and walks unsuspectingly into an Apple Store right now.

Apple likely made these decisions in order to reach a price point it felt it needed to but, as I pointed out before, sticking with the Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil (2nd gen) would only have cost base model iPad owners an extra $100 compared to the Magic Folio and USB-C Apple Pencil. That’s not much of a difference when the latter would already cost almost $800 if you bundle everything together.

Apple has a chance to fix its mess

I really hope that the company fixes this at its May 7th event. I know most of the event is expected to focus on the iPad Pro and its next-generation Apple Pencil, but I’d love to see a re-simplification of the lower-end models of the lineup. It’s actually pretty crazy that Apple’s base model iPads are a more complicated purchasing decision than its high-end models.

Despite my hope, I’m not sure we’ll see that. The latest rumors indicate that, outside of a new Apple Pencil and next-generation iPad Pro, the only other iPad we might see at the event is a new iPad Air. If that’s the case, we’re going to have to wait until at least October to likely see an update to the base model iPad.

Joe Wituschek Tech News Contributor

Joe Wituschek is a Tech News Contributor for BGR.

With expertise in tech that spans over 10 years, Joe covers the technology industry's breaking news, opinion pieces and reviews.