Apple is rumored to be hosting an event later this month, and all rumors are currently pointing to the company releasing an updated version of the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro. While an upgrade to the iPad Pro is always welcome and could in fact bring to existence some really exciting possibilities, I don't think we need this upgrade nearly as much as another iPad in Apple's lineup.
Instead of placating the needs of the few, Apple should go all-in on a completely new base model iPad — hear me out.
The iPad Pro lineup, as it currently stands, blows away the competition in the tablet space in terms of hardware and software. There's really no competition that stands up when you combine those two things together. When comparing the iPad Pro to the rest of the market, there's just no need right now to keep scoring goals when you have an insurmountable lead. Especially when you have another iPad that is just begging for a major leap.
Even when looking at the iPad experience contained within Apple itself, there's only so much left to do with the iPad Pro as technology allows right now. Sure, Mini-LED is the future and the screen will undeniably be better. 5G connectivity will enable new workflows for some people that were not possible before. Perhaps most importantly, a new processor could actually bring Apple's professional applications like Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro to the iPad. Finally!
However, these are all needs of the few rather than the many and, despite them being important breakthroughs, we're starting to see diminishing returns with each update.
The base model iPad, in comparison, is just primed for a big leap from the current generation and would be a massive upgrade for the vast majority of customers who do just fine with Apple's basic, entry-level tablet. I had picked up the 7th-generation iPad when it was announced at that shocking new price of just $329. It was an incredible value at the time — the experience of iPadOS and all of those apps at a very accessible price. It also brought customers into the iPad's hardware ecosystem like the Smart Keyboard and the 1st-generation Apple Pencil.
However, it's been a few years now, and those accessories, and that iPad, and just starting to look and feel out of date. Apple has moved on to a new design language for the rest of the iPad lineup and even released the Magic Keyboard for iPad and 2nd-generation Apple Pencil. All of these, while fantastic, have left the regular iPad customers in the dust.
Instead of spending time on the small hops that are gained with the iPad Pro, Apple has an opportunity to bring a massive jump to the vast majority of iPad customers. Imagine what a base model iPad with the same design as the iPad Pro and iPad Air would mean. Not only would it be a better tablet right off the gate, but it would enable regular iPad customers to experience Apple's latest offerings like the Magic Keyboard and 2nd-generation Apple Pencil — two key accessories that take the iPad experience to the next level.
Of course, that upgrade doesn't need to come with all of the other bells and whistles of the iPads above it. A single-camera system, like the iPad Air, is perfectly acceptable. An older processor is also just fine, as regular iPad users don't have workflows that require such performance. There are sacrifices Apple can make to the hardware that hits a sweet spot in allowing the rest of us to join that hardware ecosystem that has had such an impact on the experience of the iPad.
If you're in need of an iPad now - like right now - and don't need to wait for a new iPad Pro or iPad to make its way onto the scene, check out our list of the Best iPad of 2021.
In the end, we may just have to wait. Apple already made some of those sacrifices with the iPad Air and the price still starts at $600. A truly next-generation iPad may require more time for the cost to fit the price that the company would want to aim for. An iPad with an iPad Pro design with a price point close to $300 is a big ask.
Don't get me wrong, I am excited about the new iPad Pro models. It's the next step. There's just an even bigger opportunity that exists right now for the rest of us who just need an iPad.