Apple’s fourth-generation iPad. Photo: John Bradley / Wired
If you own a third-generation iPad, you might be feeling a little burned by Apple this week. You’re fine with the iPad Mini the company announced. You saw that one coming. The fourth-generation iPad, though? And just six months after you bought Apple’s last latest-and-greatest iPad? Not cool. Not only are you now carrying around an iPad that doesn’t have Apple’s fastest mobile processor, what used to be an innocent port for the 30-pin connector is now an ugly scar compared to the little bellybutton of a hole for the fourth-gen iPad’s Lighting connector. Oh, and the new iPad has speedier graphics and a better camera, too.
Good news: You can ignore your buyer’s remorse. Your third-gen iPad is awesome. Hell, even the iPad 2 (which Apple still sells, by the way) is still relevant. So if you’re feeling less enamored with your third-gen iPad, stop. And if you’re thinking about ditching it altogether for the fourth-gen model, don’t.
For one thing, Apple’s iOS updates traditionally run on devices at least two generations old. For example, iOS 6, which was released in September, runs on not only the new iPhone 5 but also the iPhone 4S, 4 and even 3GS. Yes, the first-generation iPad, now a little more than two and a half years old, is stuck at iOS 5. But the fact that the iPad Mini runs on the iPad 2′s A5 processor (now two generations old) is a good sign. Apple won’t leave mini users out of any software updates for at least a couple of years. So your third-gen iPad, which has newer hardware components, is even further away from obsolescence.
Another reason to skip the new iPad is Apple’s pattern of product announcements. Before this week, Apple had always launched its iPads in the spring. The first one went on sale in April 2010, the second in March 2011 and the third in March 2012. If Apple sticks with spring iPad launches, that could mean a fifth-generation iPad early next year, which would leave owners of the fourth-gen model right where you are — contemplating the upgrade game six months after purchase. And if Apple waits until next fall to update the iPad line? Then your iPad 3 will be, at most, a year and a half old. You’d still have at least a year of relevance remaining if Apple were to maintain the shelf life it gave the iPad 1. But the likelihood is that these newer iPads will be much more future-proof than the debut model. Even iPad 2 owners are probably better off skipping the fourth-generation upgrade and waiting for what comes after.
Hopefully you’re convinced by now: Unless you own an iPad 1 or no iPad at all, you can skip this one. But if you are absolutely determined to ditch your third-gen iPad for the latest Apple slate, here are a few suggestions on how to go about it.
If cost isn’t and never was an issue for you, you can take your old iPad to an Apple store and donate it to Teach for America‘s iPads for Classrooms program. Local school districts might have their own iPad donation efforts set up too, such as the Lighthouse in the Community iPad Appeal program going on in Connecticut. There are plenty of kids — and adults — who will be blown away by your hand-me-down augmented reality apps, digital-publishing tools, 3-D maps, and on-the-fly video editing.
If that doesn’t work for you, you can always hawk your iPad on eBay or Craigslist, to someone who sees the value in what you’re about to disregard. There’s also the option of businesses that will resell your gadgets for you too — such as Gazelle, NextWorth and iCracked. But even if you resell your iPad, you’ll be doing so at a loss. Even a pristine third-gen 16GB iPad, with the original box, will fetch only about $250, versus the $500 it would have cost brand new just a couple of weeks ago.
Wait, though. If you bought your third-generation iPad within the last 30 days, you may want to call your local Apple store. Employees at the downtown San Francisco Apple Store told Wired that they will accept exchanges for all third-generation iPads that have been purchased within the last 30 days, as long as they’re free of dings, scratches and other signs of wear. But this departure from Apple’s normal 14-day policy doesn’t seem to be companywide. We’ve called other stores that have said they aren’t making exceptions for the third-gen iPad, which lines up with other reports.