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Apple Drops The iPad Air For A Newer, Cheaper iPad

Eschewing its traditional spring event—at least for now—Apple announced a new 9.7-inch iPad this morning that will replace the iPad Air.

The company also debuted several new Apple Watch bands and a special Product(Red) iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

The new iPad features a 9.7-inch Retina display, A9 chip with 64-bit processing, 10-hour battery life, iOS 10, 8-megapixel back camera with 1080p video, 1.2-megapixel front camera with 720p recording, and Touch ID.  It measures 7.5mm thick and weighs 1 pound. 

Perhaps most appealing, Apple is pricing it at $329 for the 32GB Wi-Fi model and $459 for the Wi-Fi and cellular variant, making it the company’s most affordable iPad. But unlike the iPad Pro, it is incompatible with the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil; lacks some of the more advanced imaging features, such as Live Photos and 4K recording; and has only two speakers, vs. four. 

The tablet will be offered in silver, gold and Space Gray when it becomes available for pre-order this Friday (March 24). It will ship to consumers and be available in stores next week.

Apple also upped the capacity of the iPad Mini 4, now available at $399 for the 128GB Wi-Fi model and $529 for the 128GB Wi-Fi + Cellular version.

The new Apple Watch bands include new designs from Nike and Hermès, as well as a striped woven nylon band. Pricing ranges from $49 to $689. All are available for pre-order today and will be available in stores in late March.

Finally, in keeping with its commitment to (Product)Red and the Global Fund — organizations that provides access and funding to life-saving HIV and AIDS programs — Apple released a special-edition red version of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. It will be available online and in stores on Friday.