The First Apple Product Drop of the Year May Be Two Entry-Level Devices

Apple could be gearing up to offer something for budget consumers.

Apple may be gearing up to launch two new entry-level iPads in the first half of this year, according to a report published Thursday. The standard iPad may receive an upgrade, while the iPad Mini could see its first upgrade in nearly four years. The two releases could form the first Apple product launches of 2019.

The DigiTimes report claims that General Interface Solution and TPK Holding, two Taiwanese touch panel manufacturers, will see a steady flow of shipments thanks to these two new products. It would be the first upgrade to the standard iPad since the fifth-generation $329 9.7-inch model launched in March 2018, and the first for the iPad Mini since the fourth-generation $399 7.9-inch model launched in September 2015. The latter product has maintained the same price point since its introduction, but Apple has boosted the base storage from 16GB to 128GB. Apple refreshed its iPad lineup on the high-end in November 2018 with the launch of the $799 11-inch and $999 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

The iPad Mini is ideal for tucking into a small bag.
The iPad Mini is ideal for tucking into a small bag.

See more: Apple 2018 iPad Lineup Will Feature Four Devices, Report Claims

Apple’s iPad Pro lineup could offer some clues about how the company may upgrade its entry-level tablets. The new models switched from the Lightning connector to the more widely-used USB-C standard, which enables connectivity with a wider range of devices. They also dropped the curved edge design to straighter edges that resemble the iPhone 4.

However, Apple has kept a number of features exclusive to the iPad Pro to push for further differentiation. The standard iPad supports the Apple Pencil but has no Smart Connector for keyboards, while the iPad Mini supports neither. While it introduced Face ID to the iPad Pro this year, on last year’s iPhone lineup it used the feature as a differentiator between the fingerprint-scanning iPhone 8 and the flagship iPhone X.

With the report claiming the tablets will launch in the first half of this year, Apple may provide more details sometime in the next five months.

Related video: 5 Reasons The iPad Pro Is Your Next Computer