RIP iPad mini 2: Apple Eliminates Its Cheapest Tablet

Insider Claims Apple Might Soon Kill the iPad mini Lineup

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Apple is officially killing off the iPad mini 2 as part of a quiet refresh of its popular tablet line. As of Tuesday, the company has discontinued sales of its simplest and most affordable iPad, which retailed for $269, and removed it from its website.

iPad mini 2 Alternatives

The only remaining mini on the market is the 7.9-inch iPad mini 4. The mini 4’s base price remains unchanged at $399, but it now comes with an expanded 128 gigabytes of storage, up from 32 gigabytes.

Surprisingly, this means that the cheapest available model in Apple’s revamped tablet line is a full-sized one: namely, the new 9.7-inch iPad, which was announced on Tuesday morning. The new entry-level model starts at $329 for 32 gigabytes, and costs $429 for 128 gigabytes. Online orders start on Friday, March 24 at Apple’s online store and shipments will commence next week.

Apple introduced the newest iPad as a cheaper and faster replacement for the aging iPad Air 2, which has also been given the axe. Not only does the new iPad cost $70 less than the Air 2 (which started at $399), it also swaps out the older model’s A8X processor chip for an A9 processor from 2015, giving it a considerable speed boost. The 9.7-inch iPad is largely identical to its precursor, but it comes with a slightly thicker and heavier frame, brighter Retina display, and does away with an antireflective coating. It’s probably the next best option for a customer looking for a cheap, entry-level iPad, though it’s slightly bigger.

Why the iPad mini 2 Was Popular

Still, the culling of the affordable mini 2 means that it will cost $60 more to enter the iPad ecosystem. The iPad mini 2 debuted back in November 2013 with an original price tag of $399. The 7.9-inch tablet came with an A7 processor, solid battery life, and a sharp Retina display. Originally billed as the “iPad mini with Retina Display”, it was the only small tablet to offer access to Apple’s full iOS ecosystem and App Store at the time, and was widely hailed as the best cheap tablet on the market. Apple renamed it the “mini 2” when the third-generation model dropped a year later.

Its price point bottomed out at an affordable $269 for a 32-gigabyte Wi-Fi model when the mini 4 came out in 2015. Despite the fact that its specs lagged behind newer models and it lacked Touch ID, the mini 2 remained a popular and low-cost workhorse tablet for viewing movies, listening to music, and checking e-mail. If anything, it was seen as an ideal starter tablet for kids.

Apple’s Revamped iPad Lineup

Apple’s low-key iPad refresh and quiet removal of the mini 2 both underscore to the decline of the global tablet market, which has yet to get its groove back. Some observers also see the move as an indication that Apple is preparing to slowly phase out the iPad mini line altogether.

Apple has seen demand for iPad wither away steadily for 12 consecutive quarters despite attempts to revive sales with the introduction of the iPad Pro series. Its iPad sales in the last three months of 2016 marked an 18.8 percent decline compared to the fourth quarter of 2015. Consumers don’t seem all that interested in upgrading their existing iPads that often.

The upside is that, without a viable challenger, Apple maintains a firm grip on the tablet market according to IDC. The company accounted for around 25 percent of global tablet sales and sold 13.1 million iPads in the fourth quarter of 2016.

With the demise of the mini 2, Apple’s iPad line has been winnowed down to the following models:

  • iPad Pro in 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch sizes
  • iPad mini 4
  • New 9.7-inch iPad

Apple is also rumored to be readying the launch of a new 10.5-inch iPad Pro, featuring an edge-to-edge display later this year.

If you want to snag an iPad mini 2, you can turn to third-party retailers like Amazon, though there’s no telling how long supplies will last. You can also buy refurbished iPad mini 2 units, starting at $209 for 16-gigabyte Wi-Fi models, on Apple’s website.

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