Nobody should buy an iPad 2 for $399

Nobody should buy an iPad 2 for $399

Apple unveiled a lot of new hardware today. From the new thinner and lighter iPad Air to the iPad Mini with Retina display, from updated MacBook Pro laptops to free iLife, iWork and OS X Mavericks updates, it was a jam-packed 90 minute presentation.

So here's what the new iPad line-up looks like. The iPad Air, with a 9.7-inch Retina display and A7 processor, is $499. The updated iPad Mini, with a 7.9-inch Retina display and A7 processor is $399. That's $70 more than before, but the old first-gen iPad Mini is still hanging around at a reduced price of $299. Decent little tablet, decent (not that little) price.

Also still hanging around, improbably, is the iPad 2. It still has an A5 chip pushing bits around and what today is nowhere near top-of-the-line 1024x768 display. And it's had its price reduced to… nope. No price reduction. The iPad 2 is still around, and it's still $399.

It's no shock to see the iPad 2 still around. It's popular as a less expensive full-size iPad for education, or for people who just can't swallow putting down $499 plus tax for a current generation full-size iOS tablet. What is shocking is that the iPad 2, now two years old, is still selling for $399.

Technology moves at the speed light these days. A two-year-old iPhone 4S costs $200 less than the new iPhone 5s. The iPad 2 at $399 is just $100 less than the newest iPad Air, despite being not two, but three generations removed.

What makes it even worse is that the iPad Mini with Retina display, which has the same chips and likely a more expensive screen than the iPad Air (the Mini's Retina display has the same pixel density as the iPhone, so much smaller pixels but just as many as the Air) is priced the same as the iPad 2. They're both $399. So you can get a big iPad with an old processor, a smidgen of RAM, and a 30-pin dock connector (oh lord…), or you can get one that's slightly smaller with a screen packed with four times the pixels, a modern A7 processor, a bucket of RAM, better Wi-Fi, a thinner build, Lightning connector, and so on.

Just know that I'll brand you as an idiot if you buy an iPad 2 at $399.

It's the same price, you choose. Just know that I'll brand you as an idiot if you buy an iPad 2 at $399. I don't care that it has a bigger screen. So do cheap 15-inch Windows laptops, but you won't be happy with one of those over the long term either.

A bigger and crappier screen and compatibility with your 30-pin dock accessories aren't worth the price.

Here's the thing, though. If Apple had cut the price of the iPad 2 again, say to $299, or even $329, just to keep some price separation between it and the newly-reduced first generation iPad Mini, I might not be so incensed. As it is, this is a boggling move, or lack thereof.

You can say all you want about positioning the iPad 2 as making the $100 step up to the vastly, overwhelmingly, hilariously more powerful, lighter, and all-around-better seem like an amazing deal, but that's like pricing a base trim Toyota Corolla $10,000 higher so the top-of-the-line Avalon seems more reasonable.

I get keeping the iPad Air priced where it is. I get dropping the first generation iPad Mini by only $30 - Apple's margins were never as great with it as they were with the full-size iPad. I even get increasing the price of the iPad Mini with Retina Display to a full $399 - that screen isn't cheap, nor are all of the up-to-date bits behind it, and Apple took enough of a beating from analysts and the market for the iPad Mini's suspected reduced margins.

But the iPad 2 at $399? That's just obscene.

Derek Kessler

Managing Editor of Mobile Nations, Army musician, armchair pundit, and professional ranter.

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Reader comments

Nobody should buy an iPad 2 for $399

46 Comments

Yep, it was a head scratcher for sure. I'd almost say that the iPad4 should take the place of the 2 as their 'entry' option now, but it's no where to be seen now.

I agree. Why the heck would they keep the iPad 2 in production rather than the iPad 4??
That just doesn't make sense...

Production costs on the Retina Display is my guess, they don't wanna drop the price of the ipad 4 and reduce their profit margins.

It is around because it has to have a pretty-maervelous profit margin for Apple. This is Cook's Apple, a profit-first Apple. People, get used to it.

iPhone4 sells here in Europe for 399€. The iPad2 price and availability seem innocent compared to that... even if neither device can quite run iOS7 and have modems that do not even do 3.5G speeds. "My first Apple" -- which these devices now are for many people -- will be "my last Apple."

Well Done Cook.

Yup, I can't understand anyone who would buy an iPad 2 at that price either. I am getting the wife a new mini for Christmas. I'm just a little disappointed at the price increase but completely understand why.

I would.. a few actually.

Great for grandparents who don't need retina and the little ones to play with (drop, spill milk, etc) and not worry about it that much.

yeah, I could see the iPad with Retina (4th gen) sticking around. Or with what they did, just drop it.

But I guess schools love the full size one.

Agree 1 million percent imo not only is the iPad 2 at $399 ridiculous, it's wrong and is criminal. Baffled is an underestimation of what I think of this. Hate branding anyone stupid but you are right in every single way. It's like Apple are just taking advantage now cause they know people will buy it without really knowing that it's not worth it for just the fact it's an apple product. You can almost guarantee the iPad 2 will become slow soon just like the iPhone 4 so to spend 400 on a product that isn't imo future proofed is shocking. There 2nd tier big iPad is 3.generayions behind!!

I have no clue what they were thinking. I figured anything with a 30 pin would be gone. For $200 or $300 I could understand but at the same price as it's much better equipped iPad mini brethren it's mind boggling.

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Oh c'mon .. You know that's not true. If say, there was a glitch on their website that does exactly this, don't tell me you won't be clicking your mouse furiously to buy as many as you could before they discover the glitch...

I'd spend $399 to get 399 units of iPad 2. Just some of the things I'd do with a truckload of $1 ipad2s...

- give them to friends and families this Christmas. I'd save a ton

- sell them for $100 or even $50. These are the range for crappy china-made android tablets which people DO buy as a cheaper alternative. Imagine the profit I'll get
- give them away this Halloween to trick or treaters (will give to the kid with the best costume)
- donate it to charity or schools
- place iPads in every room of my house, build a wall with 12x12 iPads, I'm sure there are apps out there I can use to turn it into a video wall, or at least, play random videos or sideshows
- place 4 iPads on the coffee table to play scrabble, poker, UNO and other board games with my friends when they visit
- use it to pick up girls .
#1 (I'll take their photo with the iPad (yes with the crappy camera), then say "I'm sorry for taking your picture.. You just look so beautuful i couldnt resist... Here, I want you have to have it (hand the iPad to her ). My contact number is there by the way... Hope you'll text me sometime

#2. excuse me ,Miss... do you have an iPhone or an iPad ? I was wondering if it'll be ok to iMessage you sometime.. Oh, you don't have an iOS device...? Well here, you can have this, it's yours! So now can i iMessage you?

- on Christmas day , I'd walk or drive around wearing a santa suit with a giant red bag, handing free iPads to random people and kids, wishing them a Merry Christmas . I'll wrap them in ugly paper or a chocolate box or shirt box. They'd probably think its just candy or a shirt ..and why is it heavy.. Maybe even just a rock or something disgusting ... So they'll open it not expecting much then BAM!! It's a friggin iPad !! (yes, it's an old model iPad, but brand new nonetheless ... Old model or not, you're sure to bring a smile on people's faces that day... All for the meager price of $1 each......

Am I the only one who thinks this is a way to get more ipad mini (with retina) sales? I don't know how to quite explain it...

No, actually. Here is what I think..

I think they want to keep a non-retina in play for the entry level tablet in both the Air and Mini lines. Next year they will do a iPad Mini C and iPad Air C style tablet with non-retina (or retina if costs are finally down)..

The point is.. If you look at the lines, they want a high end and ENTRY level iPad in each of the Air and Mini lines. THATS what this is about.. They just couldn't do a 5c style yet, they had WAY to much to do with the iPhone and iOS 7 this year.. NEXT year I'm betting we see a complete re-alligning of the iPads on the entry level... Just like we have seen it in their higher end line.

Yeah man, I know what you mean.

Everyone is saying that apple should have dropped the price on the 4th gen iPad (never gonna happen), just analyze it as a consumer, except from the freaking new processor both are exactly the same.

Cook would never give us last year (2 days ago) iPad for a lower price. It will never happen why? if I'm a new customer and only want to buy the 16GB iPad, i think it would be a good idea to save a couple of dollars and buy the previous generation instead of the new one, by doing that the sales of the new Air will drop significantly.

Let's be real, the Retina display (at least on the 9.7" iPad) it's not a new technology, so the prices are dropping every year, it's just plain insane to keep selling an 2nd generation on that price,

The second generation only exist so the customer will say this "nah, for the price of an outdated iPad i can buy a new Mini Retina, I'll just buy it", based only on research and advertisement Apple has to recover lots of money, so they should sell their new devices as much as they can.

You can even check the comments of many people saying that they will go for the new Mini Retina because of the price, it's just Apple playing with our minds on a psychological level and it has always worked for them why stop now?

Well I don't see anyone buying it either. That was a mistake by Apple to even leave the iPad 2 in production, my bet is that they will stop its production pretty soon once they notice that people are stupid but not THAT stupid. The best value here is the iPad mini 399 for a perfect size tablet with all the bells and whistles as the bigger brother, sign me up! I always liked mini's size better than the larger iPad and now they are making it on par in terms of specs, I say good job Apple I appreciate you're way of thinking!

Pricing the iPad 2 at $399 is a terrible idea, if Apple wants consumers to buy them. That's the one thing Apple doesn't want, though! They'd far rather have consumers buy the newer models, for a whole host of reasons.

The iPad 2's market now is fleet sales, and those customers need stability, continuity, and homogeneity. They probably also have tons of expensive hardware setup with 30-pin connectors, much of it custom, such as carts, kiosks, POS systems, etc. That's why it's also the only iPad without a Lightning connector.

If Apple priced the iPad 2 lower than that, they'd run the risk of people buying those instead of the newer models. I don't think it's about the profit margins (those would probably still be fine), I think it's about wanting to discourage ordinary customers from buying 2.5-year-old devices.

This sounds spot-on to me. .its not there for the consumer market, its there as a legacy device for the institutional market.

Apple says they want people on the latest versions of their software. Can the iPad 2 even support iOS 7? If it can, should it?!

Exactly! iOS7 pretty much killed any usefulness that was left in the iPad 2. I feel bad for anyone who actually drops $300 on this thing. Laggy OS, crashing apps.. It really blows my mind that for the same money you get a brand new mini, with retina, and an A7. Oh, and all the latest software that runs the way its supposed to.

When there are several hundred dollars between products, I can see why, but when you can get the better device A7 chip, and all for just a little more, that is the better deal. Hard to figure their thinking on this one.

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Keeping the iPad 2 on the market is crazy. Selling it at $399 is even crazier. $100 less than the iPad 5? Are you crazy? A5? That horrendous camera?

Here's the reasoning though:
Apple has a new iPad Air for $499.
It has a new Retina Mini for $399.
Apple really wanted a 9.7" iPad for $399. But it can't knock down the Retina 4th gen to $399, or else it is the same price as the Retina Mini.

Here's what Apple should have done:
$299 Mini with A5
$399 Retina Mini with A7
$399 Non-retina 9.7" iPad with an A6 and improved camera
$499 Retina 9.7" iPad with A7

Interesting thoughts... Unfortunately, having the same design (battery and all), but just slapping in a different chip isn't really possible. Apple would have had to done some level of redesign to this product to make it happen. Then, what do they call it? They couldn't call an A6 based iPad 2 and iPad 2.

What's even more interesting is that Apple seems to be removing the A6 from their lineup where possible. Obviously the 5c still has the A6, but I was very surprised to see the new mini get the A7. I also note that there isn't a A7x chip. I suppose the A7 is the first chip to power the iPad Retina resolution without the need for GPU augmentation. In the long run, this may be more cost effective for Apple due to economies of scale.

"Apple would have had to done some level of redesign to this product to make it happen."

Because the 3rd ipad used an A6X and improved camera, throwing those internals in the iPad 2 non-Retina body would have used very little R&D. Obviously the engineers know more than me, but it would be even less work than making a 5C because even the design of the body is 90% the same. Although you would want to avoid the 30-pin, so really, we would want a 4th gen and 2nd gen amalgam.

"Then, what do they call it? They couldn't call an A6 based iPad 2 and iPad 2."

That's always the challenge for the marketing folks, but naming difficulty is not a reason to avoid a product. Basically, an upgraded iPad 2 would be an iPad 2S, but that is a terrible name. They could have simply called it iPad. Line-up would be iPad Mini, iPad Mini with Retina Display, iPad, iPad Air.

The iPad 2 needs to be more of a 5c in power than an iPhone 4. Can you imagine selling the iPhone 4 today for $99? That's what is happening here with the iPad 2.

Let the consumers speak with their wallets. This is strictly a cash grab by Apple but if consumers are buying them then who can blame Apple. I truly feel only an uninformed customer would buy this though. It seems like Apple may not have been happy with the 3rd or 4th gen iPads.

Seems like the iPad 2 is priced not to move but priced to push you to the new iPads. If the 2 was a great deal to get into iPad people may say I don't need A7 or Retina. With it being 399 people may say hell I may as well get the new one for 100 bucks more. And if they sell some iPad 2's at 399 good for them it more money more money.
I was at a Apple store last week and when I asked the Genius jokingly do you take cash? He said if it's money paper or plastic Apple will take it. Apple could care less if we think the pricing is crazy. It is crazy..... Crazy smart.

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It's smart marketing by Apple. Why keep selling devices that have reasonable performance but are 32 bit when they can discontinue them, give people the choice of a 2 1/2 year old tablet and price it where it is just not as desirable while having much more desirable devices that are running the latest A7 processor with Retina display. People would rather buy a device that has decent performance and will be able to upgrade at least through one or two iterations of iOS than one that is almost definitely on its way out next year and will probably struggle to run iOS 8.

I can bet that people will spent they hard earned money on either the iPad Mini 2 with Retina or the iPad Air. Both 64 bit and both with Retina display.

I was surprised to see the iPad 2 keep the same $399 as well. I know there's a difference between a full-sized iPad and an iPad Mini, but the price Apple is asking for is just insane! If iPad 2 is targeted for education, and if students and schools are smart, they should never get the iPad 2 and instead get an retina iPad Mini or the cheapest iPad available: iPad Mini 1st gen.

You can also get a refurbished iPad 4th gen for $30 cheaper than the iPad 2 which makes it a even more idiotic purchase.

Why apple kept the iPad 2? because they don't want retina competition against the Air! Just like they did with iPhone 5, they kept the 4s because 4s can't compete with the iPhone 5s. Why they kept 399 price ? Because they think we are stupid (and we are) I already read some comments about the iPad 2 excellent choice for kids, grandpas, schools etc. and that is exactly what they know. I wouldn't even think of giving iPad 2 as a gift to anyone since I will feel embarrassing of gifting that old technology. Why they do this , apple, Verizon, AT&T, ripping us off ? Because we do nothing but keep doing businesses with they.

Not that I want to give this company even more business than it already has, but Walmart is currently selling the iPad 2 for $350...will it last, I don't know, but it is tempting...

I've worked in retail and you would be surprised how many people ask for the lower end models of everything and anything. Some people just don't care about staying up to date with the latest and greatest, as long as it is cheaper. And yes, in some instances I also consider them idiots for settling for older technology based on price.

Also keep in mind there is a huge volume of people who buy them for gifts who are not techies themselves. Grandparents, aunts/uncles and clueless parents. YOu might think that these days everyone would know about smartphones and are users themselves, but you'll be surprised. For example, I live outside the US and in my country lots of people work abroad (in the US and other countries). It's customary for them to buy gifts for their loved ones home, and they will get the cheapest thing they can find. :) I've seen some examples of this myself that leads to major disappointment by the receiver which in turn leads to hurt feelings by the giver ("you ungrateful brat..."). LOL

That is a very valid point and I have seen that as well. A majority of customers who shop at retail stores are traveling from other countries. You can usually tell when someone is a tourist right away and so in those cases it's ok to sell them something that may not be so new.

The iPad 2 at 399$ is not meant for consumers, it is meant for schools or other businesses that deploy a lot of them and have an infrastructure that is tailored to devices with the size of the iPad 2-4 and having a Dock Connector.

If a school has 150 iPad 2 and one gets dropped, they can't just buy an iPad Mini Retina instead, because that can't be charged in the iPad carts with their Dock Connector chargers.

It's cheaper for them to buy an old iPad 2 than to replace or modify the infrastructure.

Agreed. Especially when you can get a refurb 4th gen iPad with 16 GB for $379. The refurbs come with a one year warranty. Seriously, what is Apple thinking?