The Fall has been an important season for Apple. First the company launched its new round of iPhones with the 5s and the 5c, proving it can still create a consumer craze most companies would love to have. But 10/22 was iPad day and it was none too soon.
The tablet market has been biting heavily at Apple's heels, launching less expensive tablets that offer specs and features that are just as good, if not better (eg. Google Nexus 7, Gen 2 vs. iPad Mini). But that all changed today, as Apple launched it's new models of iPad and iPad Mini with much needed upgrades. We're just not sure they got the memo about pricing.
The latest iPad Mini, due out in November 1st, corrects some of the deficiencies it had against its main contender, the 2nd gen Google Nexus 7. This 7"Android tablet is faster than than the original mini, has a better display and is a lot cheaper, starting at $229 vs. Mini's starting price of $329. Now the Mini has bettered its game, adopting the 2048 x 1536 Retina display, a faster 64-bit A7 processor and a dual WiFi antenna that uses MIMO technology, which claims to improve WiFi reception. This, combined with the durable metal casing, makes the mini one of the better tablets out there. The problem is the pricing, which starts at $399 for a 16GB mini. Compare that to $229 for a 16GB Google Nexus tablet, which is still a match for the new Mini, and the value proposition becomes clear. It's not in iPad Mini's favor, especially if you are PC/Mac agnostic. And, while Apple dropped the price or the original Mini, $299 is still higher than the much better Google Nexus tablet. No one should be getting excited about this new, lower price point.
Instead of calling it the iPad 5, Apple decided to follow the branding success of it's Macbook Air and call this one, iPad Air. This is partly because it's 20% thinner than its predecessor and 28% lighter, weighing in at 1 pound. It too, gets some internal upgrading, including the 64-bit A7 processor, an improved motion sensor, dual WiFi antenna with MIMO technology and dual microphones. Interestingly enough, Apple did not include the fingerprint recognition feature that the iPhone 5s has. There was no change here in the pricing, either. The Air will start at $499 for a 16GB WiFi model, the same price at which the iPad 4 debuted, which is, again, $100 more expensive than a comparable Android tablet.
As most Apple fans know full well (and often lament), discounts on Apple products are few and far between, however, there will be some places to keep an eye on.
For starters, the Apple Store will have its usual 5% off happening on Black Friday. But there will be other places to look. Make sure to check out Best Buy's Trade-in Center. They were offering some pretty good discounts with the new iPhone launch and they may do the same with the new iPads. Another source for good deals my be Walmart. Apple has allowed the retail giant to offer discounts, sometimes to the tune of $20 to $30 off list on iPads. Whether this will be the case with the new iPads right away remains to be seen, but given that they have been selling the iPhone 5c for $55 off the list price for the past few weeks, this might mean some holiday bargains on iPad, too.
UPDATE! Walmart announced that it will be selling the iPad Air for $479 upon its release on November 1st, even before Black Friday.
The biggest place to checkout, though, is the Apple Store's refurbished section. This is where you can score some of the best deals on Apple products. In fact, prices have already dropped: the first gen iPad Mini is $249 refurbished, $70 less than a new one. And this is one place where you can trust the refurbished label. Apple puts its reburb gear through rigorous testing and often the quality of the products is very close to brand new. In fact, Apple re-cases its refurbished iPads, so you don't even have to worry about dents or scratches, and the same "as new" 1-year warranty applies, as well as the option to purchase 3-year Apple Care. We predict you'll be seeing some refurb price drops on iPads come November 1st, so be sure to check back there.
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