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Forget the new iPad Air and iPad Pro, the $349 base iPad is the one to beat

Published May 7th, 2024 4:34PM EDT
iPad 10
Image: Apple

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There’s no denying that Apple’s latest-generation iPad Air and iPad Pro models are impressive. They’re bigger, faster, stronger, harder — but with something as simple as a price cut, I think the company just made its base model iPad the one to beat.

Today, Apple officially kicked off its long-awaited “Let Loose” event and revealed the next-generation iPad Pro and iPad Air as well as its new Apple Pencil Pro and next-generation Magic Keyboard. In addition, the company announced new versions of Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro.

M2 iPad Air in two new sizes
The new 11-inch and 13-inch iPad Air. Image source: Apple Inc.

While the new iPad Air and iPad Pro models were certainly the showstoppers, as almost an afterthought, the company quickly mentioned that the base model 10th-generation iPad was getting a price cut and would not start at $349 instead of $449. Then, the event was over, and Apple threw up press releases about everything except its entry-level iPad.

Despite the company really wanting to highlight the features of its new iPad instead of the price cut it is giving an existing one, I couldn’t help but walk away from the event thinking that a starting price of $349 for the 10th-gen iPad has now made it the iPad to beat: iPad Airs and iPad Pros and all.

The base model iPad has a lot going for it

While the new iPad Air and iPad Pro have all of the fancier features, there’s a lot that the base model iPad has going for it. It already features the same industrial, rounded-off design that the iPad Air and iPad Pro have. It left behind the 9th-generation iPad design which is very timely considering that Apple just killed off that incredibly old model.

While the display on the base model iPad isn’t an OLED iPad Pro, it doesn’t need to be. It’s a basic iPad! There are a lot of people who just want an iPad for what you get with iPadOS more than what you get with the hardware features like OLED and better cameras (who takes pictures with their iPad, anyway?). The screen size is similar to the iPad Air — plenty for most people who are using the iPad for some basic tasks and entertainment.

The new 11-inch and 13-inch iPad Pro.

The 10th-generation iPad also comes with some decent speakers and a decent camera that is already in landscape position — something that the iPad Pro JUST got updated to do…in 2024. The base model also comes with a USB-C port, and since all of Apple’s devices are making the switch, it’ll be ready to charge with your iPhone cable — no carrying different cables for different devices!

You could also argue that the base model iPad has the best colors…because it does. The colors of the base model are just more fun than the colors you get with the iPad Air, especially the iPad Pro.

The base model iPad has the best price, too

While all of the above already makes the base model iPad a great option, what really sets it apart from the iPad Air and the iPad Pro is the new price. When it initially launched, it was priced at $449, a huge increase compared to the 9th-generation iPad’s base price of $329.

Thankfully, Apple seems to have learned that lesson and now dropped the price of the 10th-generation iPad to $349, a much more reasonable and reachable price for an entry-level iPad. With the base configuration iPad Air coming in at $599 and the base configuration iPad Pro now coming in at a whopping $999, the base model iPad is now almost twice as cheap as any other iPad with a similar-sized screen.

iPad 10th generation
The 10th-generation iPad with the Magic Keyboard Folio. Image source: Apple Inc.

If there’s one thing that does make the iPad Air or iPad Pro a better buy, outside of needing specific performance or features, is that the base model iPad still doesn’t support the best Apple Pencil or Magic Keyboard. Those products are currently reserved for the more expensive iPads, so if you want the Apple Pencil Pro or new Magic Keyboard, you’re going to need to make the jump to the Air or the Pro.

However, if you don’t need those kinds of accessories or can live with the USB-C Apple Pencil or Magic Keyboard Folio that Apple makes for the 10th-generation iPad, the value you get with the 10th-generation iPad just can’t be beaten.

I think a lot of people are about to buy an iPad, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if a lot of those people buy an existing but cheaper iPad than the new ones. Once again, I think the iPad just became the iPad for most people — just by making it $100 cheaper.

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.