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Apple replaces iPad Air 2 with cheaper 9.7-inch iPad

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The new iPad has an A9 chip and starts at $329

Apple has refreshed its iPad lineup, dropping the 9.7-inch iPad Air 2 and replacing it with a device simply called the iPad. The specs of the tablet remain largely the same as that of the Air 2, but with the old A8X chip replaced with the 64-bit A9, first seen in the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. The price of the iPad has also been dropped in comparison to its predecessor, with a 32GB Wi-Fi model starting at $329, and 32GB Wi-Fi and Cellular model going for $459.

The new iPad appeared on Apple’s store this morning, along with a couple other minor updates. The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are now available in a red aluminum finish, and the iPhone SE now has storage options of 32GB and 128GB — double its previous specs. The company also announced a new app for making social videos.

The new 9.7-inch iPad does have some limitations, though. For a start, you can’t buy it in rose gold — that color option is only available for iPad Pro models. And its case is slightly larger than that of the iPad Air 2. Instead, it’s reverting to the dimensions of the original iPad Air. So, 7.5mm thick instead of 6.1mm thick, and 469 grams (Wi-Fi only) instead of 437 grams. The height and width remain the same.

In a press statement, Apple exec Phil Schiller said that customers would welcome the new “even more affordable” 9.7-inch iPad. “New customers and anyone looking to upgrade will love this new iPad for use at home, in school, and for work, with its gorgeous Retina display, our powerful A9 chip, and access to the more than 1.3 million apps designed specifically for it,” said Schiller.

The new price point is certainly aggressive, and it’s no doubt Apple’s attempt to buoy up falling tablet sales and revenue. The hardware on the new 9.7-inch iPad may be relatively old, but $329 will certainly get people’s attention. And as well as killing off the iPad Air, the company has dropped the iPad mini 2 from its site. (The mini 4, meanwhile, starts at $399 for 128GB — more than the cheapest 9.7-inch iPad.) We’ve also seen rumors that the company is planning three new iPad Pro devices this year, so expect more iPad changes in 2017.