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The iPad Air is everything that’s wrong with Apple’s tablet

With the surprise update of the iPad Mini at its Streaming event in California, Apple's tablet lineup is now full of powerful products, from the base of the 9th generation iPad to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. At first glance, it seems there is something for everyone, but on closer inspection, cracks begin to show.
The high-end and low-end lines are already pretty clear: no one in the $329 iPad market is seriously considering a high-end iPad Pro, and vice versa. In the middle, however, things get trickier, especially on the iPad Air. In part, that's because of a disconnect in the tablet lineup, as Apple's update schedules for different models have varied widely over the past year or two.
Will 2022 present an opportunity for Apple to launch a tablet? Maybe, but if so, it has some tough decisions to make first.
Apple regularly updates its iPhone and Apple Watch in the fall. Sure, there are occasional off-cycle spring releases, like the iPhone SE or the Purple iPhone 12, but when it comes to new models, you can count on them coming out in September (or October, rarely). The reason is not surprising: The holiday shopping season is typically Apple's biggest quarter, and the iPhone is its biggest product.
The iPad, on the other hand, has been a bit scattershot, developing more closely like the Mac. Last year, we got an iPad Air update (fall 2020), aN iPad Support update (spring 2021), two updates to the base level iPad(fall 2020 and Fall 2021), and an update to the iPad Mini (fall 2021).

In addition to launching different products at different points in time, they also have different update cycles. For example, the iPad Base has been updated every fall since September 2019, and the iPad Pro has been updated twice since spring 2020, but the iPad Air and iPad Mini haven't been updated since March 2019 until their latest updates in September 2020 and September 2021, respectively.
Of course, Apple can update its products whenever it suits it best, but with several new pads a year, that means the lineup will always be uneven somewhere.
When the fourth-generation iPad Air hit the market last fall, it was in a special position. Thanks to the A14 processor, it easily eclipsed the A12Z in the most advanced iPad Pro at the time and was cheaper. Similarly, the Air adds many features previously only available in the Pro, such as support for a magic keyboard and second-generation Apple Pencil, as well as USB-C ports. Although it has limited storage and a less-than-great camera, it costs $749 for 256GB, $150 less than the slower 11-inch iPad Pro with the same storage space.
The iPad Mini is now in a similar situation. At its core, it looks like it wants to be the iPad Air Mini, with similar features like second-generation pencil integration, Touch ID on the home button, and USB-C connector. But it also beats the Air in some ways, like its A15 processor, 5G support, and a better center-stage front-facing camera.
Even if the Mini isn't cheap, it's still $100 cheaper than its stellar Air. If screen size is the main factor, there is no substitute, but for those who don't mind the convenience of a smaller screen without the need for an attached keyboard, they are right to wonder why they should pay more for less.

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