Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

A New Low-Cost Apple Inc. iPad Is Coming Soon

By Ashraf Eassa - Feb 23, 2018 at 9:00AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

It's about time for Apple's cheapest iPad to get an upgrade.

In March of 2017, Apple (AAPL 1.30%) introduced a new member of the iPad family, known simply as iPad. The device wasn't noteworthy for its features, internal specifications, or looks -- it was interesting because it was relatively cheap, starting at just $329

The new low price point of the device helped to accelerate Apple's iPad unit shipments and, ultimately, financial performance, as it allowed Apple to gain share in a declining tablet computer market. 

Apple's low-cost iPad models in silver, gold, and gray.

Image source: Apple.

Apple, like most computer vendors, releases upgraded versions of its existing products every year. Improved products help to spur consumer demand by offering improved features, performance, and/or aesthetics for roughly the same prices as the prior-generation products. 

Since it's been nearly a year since Apple introduced the first low-cost iPad, it shouldn't come as a surprise that an upgraded version seems to be imminent, according to 9to5Mac.

Key upgrades to expect

An upgraded version of the current iPad is likely to be priced roughly in line with the current model, which means $329 for the base model without cellular connectivity. 

This means Apple will need to be judicious in its component choices for the new device; Apple needs to deliver feature improvements, but it needs to keep its cost structure in check. 

To that end, I think Apple will upgrade the applications processor from the A9 to the A10 Fusion. This should enable a significant boost in general-purpose performance, graphics capability, and camera quality. 

Further, I expect Apple to upgrade the rear-facing camera to a 12 megapixel sensor (likely the one used in the iPhone 6s-series of devices) and the front-facing camera to a 5 megapixel sensor. These should be effective marketing points, particularly to users of older iPads like the iPad 2/3/4 and even the first-generation iPad Air.  

It's not clear if Apple will upgrade the display, though if it does, I'd expect the main upgrade to be to a display that supports the wider DCI-P3 color space (this would mean improved color saturation with supported content). 

Such upgrades wouldn't be particularly expensive to implement (all of the components mentioned above are relatively mature and should be inexpensive to produce), but they'd improve the value proposition of the low-cost iPad significantly generation over generation. 

What happens to the current iPad?

A little while back, DigiTimes claimed that Apple was planning to introduce an iPad that starts at just $259 in the second quarter of 2018. Although it's possible that Apple intends to price the upgraded iPad even more aggressively than it did its predecessor, there's another possibility: The current iPad, but sold at a discount. 

Indeed, Apple could keep the current iPad available, but simply lower the price to $259 while also offering the updated iPad. Interestingly, over the last few iPad generations, Apple hasn't kept the older models around. The first-generation iPad Pro models, for example, aren't available from Apple any longer. 

Alternatively, Apple may be planning to introduce the updated iPad in a broader range of storage configurations, up from the current two (32GB and 128GB). The refreshed iPad could come in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB versions, and the 32GB model could start at $259, with the 64GB model taking the place of the current entry-level model at $329. 

It won't be long before we know what Apple's plans are, either way. 

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Apple Inc. Stock Quote
Apple Inc.
$139.23 (1.30%) $1.79

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 06/29/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.