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New iPad to be more expensive, but not really. Confused yet?

March 18, 2016

Ever since its debut in 2010, an entry-level 9.7-inch iPad has been priced at $499. If a recent rumor reported by 9to5Mac is correct, that will change with the smaller iPad Pro expected to be unveiled Monday, March 21. According to 9to5Mac’s sources, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro will start at $599 and include 32GB of storage in its Wi-Fi-only configuration. Higher priced versions with 128GB of storage, as well as the ability to connect to LTE cellular networks, will also be offered.

Higher priced, and yet not

The $599 price point may be higher than the starting cost of current-generation iPads in the past, but it actually balances out. The $499 price tag that previous  9.7-inch Apple tablets have started at only got you 16GB of storage, whereas the least expensive 9.7-inch iPad Pro will come with 32GB of storage. Previously, iPads and iPad Air tablets with 32GB of storage have always been priced at $599 for the current generation.

What we expect from the 9.7-inch iPad Pro

The new tablet expected to be announced on March 21 is supposed to be a smaller version of the current iPad Pro. It should have the same four-speaker configuration, along with a Smart Connector for use with accessories. We also expect the tablet to boast expanded display capabilities to support Apple Pencil.

Not a replacement for the iPad Air 2

Supplies of the original iPad Air may be dwindling, but the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is not seen to replace the iPad Air 2 line. That range of products will likely remain in Cupertino’s portfolio at the $499 starting price. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro and the iPad mini 4, both of which launched in fall 2015, should remain unaffected even after the March 21 event.

We'll know for certain in a matter of days

The “Let us loop you in” event is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. PDT on Monday, March 21. We’ll find out for certain what Apple’s plans are for the iPad lineup then, and will report back to you as the news unfolds. For a complete picture of what to expect from the event, check out our roundup. You should also check into our advice on how to stream the event yourself, if you want to watch the presentation live.