Apple today squeezed in a surprise product announcement during its typical iPhone and Apple Watch-focused event: a new iPad. The device is a 10.2-inch variant of the company’s tablet, slotting in at the entry level as a replacement for the $329 9.7-inch iPad, as was rumored over the last few months. It’s officially the first seventh-generation iPad, Apple VP Greg “Joz” Joswiak said today onstage, and it’s available today starting at $329. Apple says education customers can purchase the device for $299.
We knew that there could be quite a few new iPad models coming this year, thanks to regulatory filings, analyst notes and news reports, and leaks dating back to as early as March of this year. But it was largely believed the tablet announcements would occur in the usual October time frame for Apple’s annual iPad event, as the company usually sticks to phones and smartwatches, as well as those devices’ software updates and accessories, during the big September one.
Not the case this time, it seems. The new seventh-generation iPad is compatible with the full-sized Smart Keyboard and the first-generation Apple Pencil, and it comes with the A10 Fusion chip. That processor is slightly less powerful than the A10X Fusion chip found in the second-generation iPad Pro, but it’s still quite powerful for an entry-level tablet. Apple also says, for the first time, this iPad’s enclosure is made from 100 percent recycled aluminum.
It wasn’t immediately clear during the announcement what type of connector this device has, as it’s retaining the larger bezel design with Touch ID that suggests it has a Lightning connector, but with a screen size and Pro accessory support that leaves open the possibility, it does indeed have a USB-C port instead.
Unfortunately, buyers of the new iPad will be stuck with the Lightning connector, as the official product page on Apple’s website confirms. Clever commenters had already pointed out below that because the device was compatible only with the Lightning-based, first-generation Apple Pencil, which needs that port to charge, that this iPad wouldn’t have USB-C after all.
As for other specs, Apple says the device weighs at just over 1 pound (483 grams) for the Wi-Fi model, starts at 32GB of storage and can be expanded to 128GB for $100 more, and comes with an 8-megapixel rear camera and 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera with all the standard iPad recording and photography features you’d expect. Current shipping times are at about three weeks.