March 24, 2019

The New iPad Lineup

The iPad 2019 lineup clarity is something I wish for the Mac’s 2020 lineup. Five models: iPad, iPad mini, iPad Air, iPad Pro (11in), iPad Pro (12.9in). Starting at $329 for the iPad 9.7in 1, it increases to $399, $499, $699 and $999 for each base model respectively.

As geeks we lament that inconsistency between technologies: Apple Pencil 2 and FaceID on the Pro versions versus Apple Pencil 1 and TouchID in the rest of the models. Or the biggest gripe for me, the obsolete design language of the bottom devices once you compare with the Pro versions — they’re not different designs, one is old and the other new.

If you don’t get too geeky though, when asked the critical question by a friend or relative: which one should I get?, you’ll actually see consistency. They all support a pencil, yes one is better, but the other one isn’t bad. They all have a good screen, again one better and another one that doesn’t refresh at 120 Hz. You can go on and on with the processor, connector, speakers, etc.

In an age of complex technology, you arrive at a simplified matrix of consistent features with good vs better implementations. With each of the models being a clear response to a corresponding: if you’re willing to spend $X, Y is the best model. Try doing that with a Mac nowadays.

The iPad Pro Air 2019

I’m writing this on my 2017 iPad Pro 10.5 512Gb. It was my family wide birthday gift that year. It’s an amazing machine - two years in, I still haven’t managed to slow it down with anything I throw at it. This iPad Pro es effectively the new iPad Air, with an older processor, faster refresh screen (Pro Motion), better camera, and 4 speakers vs 2 of the new Air. But a week ago the 10.5 Pro was $649, while the remixed Air starts at $499. It’s a simplified version for its target audience. In fact, if you have a gullible geek friend with a 10.5 Pro, bait him/her to upgrade, and get the device at a hefty discount. Or try to find one in a clearance sale, because at the same price, the old 10.5 Pro is a better device than the new Air in my opinion.

Back to the mini

Before the iPad, the iPhone, the Pocket PCs, the iBooks, the Palms, there was a Newton 2100 MessagePad in my heart bag. The Newton 2100 was a powerful 8.3in x 4.7in device with a stylus that could replace your desktop computer for certain tasks, but it wasn’t meant to. The iPad mini 2019 is a 8.0in x 5.3in device that supports the 1st Gen Apple Pencil and can replace your MacBook for certain… you see what I’m getting at?

It took Apple 7690 days to launch a proper replacement, at least on paper. Because even though the iPad mini design is 7 years old, the pencil was needed for it to be considered as viable descendant.

As you might imagine, all this is just me justifying my upcoming purchase. I’m not planing to add an iPad to my gear bag, I’m actually going to replace the iPad Pro 10.5 with the mini. I will miss the bigger screen for watching video, reading comics and books. The magazine size of the iPad 10.5 is the perfect around the house device. It’s true that more than any other previous iPad, I do stuff on it for which I’d pulled out the laptop before, and the laptop sized screen has a lot to do with it.

But when I really need stuff done, or I’m heading out the door for a trip, the MacBook is the one that goes in the bag. Right now, that’s how I work. Here’s where the Moleskine sized device beacons for me. It’s why I still have and use my 2013 iPad mini 2, even though it’s painfully slow. Because for me, there’s less confusion between what a MacBook, a small iPad, and an iPhone are for.

Wildcards: iOS 13 vs ARM MacBooks

There are two nonexclusive scenarios that might make me regret or be glad of replacing the Pro, these are:

  1. iPad specific features in iOS 13: which is rumored and likely. I’ll miss not being able to play with Apple’s vision of pro tablet features on a proper sized” device.
  2. ARM MacBooks: rumored, but less likely in the current year. If Apple announces the current iPad Pro 12.9 hardware, but running macOS — all bets are off.

So this is the state of my iPad mind at the moment. I haven’t ordered the new iPad mini yet, but mostly for logistics reasons. I’m also going to put my iPad Pro for sell in the coming days, and hope not to be left without one or the other for long.

  1. $250 if you search for sales.↩︎

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