Apple is bringing back its fourth-generation iPad, but it is dropping the iPad 2. The iPad 4 was originally launched in 2012 but became hard to find last fall at the same time that the iPad Air came out.
The company had continued to sell the iPad 2, even though the second-gen, more powerful iPad mini with Retina display became available for the same $399 price tag. But the iPad 2's appeal has dwindled. In the quarter ending in September 2013, iPad 2 represented 22 percent of all iPads. In the previous six months, it was about a third of all iPad sales.
The fourth-gen model with 16 GB of storage, an A6X processor, a five-megapixel camera and Wi-Fi goes for $399. The 4G LTE version is expected to be $529, although some reports are pegging it at $559. The device will be available through the four major U.S. carriers: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless.
According to news reports, schools and colleges continue to buy the iPad 2 in bulk for classrooms and computer labs, so the company keeps selling them. The iPad 2's 9.7-inch screen is somewhat easier for viewing textbook pages and sharing a tablet between several students, compared with the screen of the 7.9-inch mini.
The iPad 2 was the last Apple tablet with the legacy 30-pin dock connector. As it retires, all of Apple's iOS products will be using the Lightning connector.
Both the iPad Air, released last fall, and the mini use the A7 processor and both have the same screen resolution, but the Air, with a 9.7-inch screen, goes for $500 and up.
The mini is easier to handle with one hand because of the size and the weight. On the other hand, so to speak, the Air was seen as more of a productivity device, especially when used with a Bluetooth keyboard or a stylus.
Not Much Storage
In addition to the iPad shuffle, Apple has also launched an iPhone 5C with 8 GB of storage in the UK, France, Australia, China and Germany. No release plans have been announced for the U.S.
However, 8 GB is a minimal amount of storage these days. A single HD movie, for instance, is about 4.8 GB, while a standard resolution version is slightly more than 2 GB.
Apple has had trouble moving the 5C, and reports from last fall indicate the company had cut back on its 5C orders from manufacturers.
The 8 GB 5C is currently available in Apple stores in the UK for about $712 unsubsidized. In the U.S., the 16GB 5C is $549 without a contract. The going price in the U.S. for the 16GB 5C is $99 with a contract, so expectations are that the 8 GB would be somewhat below that if it goes on sale in the U.S. -- which would make it the cheapest iPhone in the market.