Apple has launched its market-shaping iPad Air, and it's expected to drive some consumers to trade in older versions for store credit and other consumers to snap up those older models at a deep discount.
The iPad Air is the most significant upgrade to the iconic tablet since the iPad 2. It offers a 9.7-inch Retina display and is 20 percent thinner and 28 percent lighter than the fourth generation iPad. The bezel itself is 43 percent narrower than its predecessor and the device weighs just one pound.
The iPad Air also offers Apple's A7 chip with 64-bit desktop-class architecture, faster built-in Wi-Fi and expanded LTE cellular connectivity . And, of course, it sports the new iOS 7 mobile operating system.
Trade-In Deals Galore
Several retailers are offering trade-in options. Walmart is making the best deal with a $20 discount out of the gate for the entry-level 16 GB model. It is selling for $479. But you can also trade in your existing iPad for up to a $300 value. That means you would walk away with a brand new iPad for $179, at least in theory.
T-Mobile is also offering a deal. You can buy the 4G iPad Air for $629 with payments split up over 24 months and get 200 MB of free cellular service monthly. Or you can buy the iPad Air anywhere and tap into the free data plan with no contract.
AT&T and Verizon let you trade in last year's iPad 4 for a $200 credit. If you want more, you can opt for trade-in sites like NextWorth and Gazelle. At the end of the day, you can get your hands on a bright and shiny new iPad at steep discounts because there's plenty of appetite for older iPads on the resale market.
What's Your iPad Worth?
Beyond the iPad trade in programs, Apple has its own trade in initiative running in the United Kingdom. Apple calls it Reuse and Recycling and it covers iPads, iPods and iPhones.
I tried it out and I could trade in my iPad 2 16 GB Wi-Fi device for 110 Great Britain pounds, which translates to about $130. I'd get about the same trading it in at Walmart.
We caught up with Carl Howe, vice president of Research and Data Sciences at Yankee Group, to get his thoughts on the slew of iPad trade-in programs. He told us he has no data yet on the trade-in program impacts -- which is no surprise since it's only been active for about seven weeks -- so he can't determine how effective Apple's program is.
That said, he's bullish: "I think it's a plus for Apple to offer it, even if only a small fraction of consumers use it, because it helps consumers more easily upgrade."