It looks like Apple’s getting a little bit more budget-friendly.
The company announced today that the fourth-generation iPad, which was the first of the company’s tablets to sport a Retina screen, will now be available at $399 for a 16 GB model, and $529 for a 16 GB tablet with a cellular modem. It will replace the iPad 2 at the low end of the company’s tablet offerings, and means that all of Apple’s iOS devices currently for sale sport the higher-resolution retina screens.
The fourth-gen iPad was discontinued last year following the introduction of the new iPad Air. Apple raised some eyebrows at the time by keeping the aging iPad 2 available as a budget tablet option. The timing of this change implies to me that Apple wanted to make sure that it was producing as many Retina iPad screens as possible for the Air in order to keep up with holiday demands, and didn’t want to risk shortages of its new flagship tablet in exchange for a newer low-cost option.
Overseas, Apple has added an 8 GB iPhone 5c to its stable of products. The new and smaller version of the company’s colorful, plastic-backed mid-range iPhone is currently available for Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Australia and China. It costs about $70 less unlocked than the 16 GB version of the phone, and isn’t available for sale in the U.S. Considering that the 16 GB 5c starts at $99 here in the States, it seems unlikely that Apple would release a cheaper model, at least for now.
While the launch of a cheaper 5c seems like a strange move, especially considering that Apple already has an 8 GB phone in the form of the iPhone 4s, but the 5c boasts a couple of key upgrades that make it an attractive choice. Unlike the 4s, the 5c includes both a LTE modem for higher-speed cellular data connectivity and a higher-quality camera.
Although Apple intended the 5c as a way to attract new iPhone buyers to its products, the colorful phones aren’t selling quite as well as the company would want them to. This lower-priced option, targeted at markets where people are buying unsubsidized phones, could be a way for Apple to kick-start the 5c’s business.
Blair Hanley Frank is GeekWire’s Bay Area Correspondent. He has also worked for Macworld, PCWorld and TechHive. He can be found on Twitter @belril and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.