Apple’s new iPad makes cockpit computing more affordable

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The new 9.7-inch iPad features a retina screen, Touch ID, 32GB or 128GB of storage, and the same color choices (silver, gold, and space gray).

Today Apple announced new and refreshed models for its mobile device platform. The announcement brings a new price for the iPad Mini, and an entry level 9.7 inch iPad to replace the aging iPad Air 2.

Unlike in years past, today’s unveiling was devoid of the typical staged media event. Instead, the news was quietly revealed to a few select media outlets and a simple update to the Apple website. This low-key announcement may be due to the fact that the simplified lineup offers very few new features. Most notably, the iPad Air 2 has been replaced by a largely-identical tablet now referred to as simply, iPad. The typical 10-hour battery life is the same but the new iPad does receive the A9 processor from the iPhone 6s. This is hardly a major performance upgrade from the previous iPad Air 2, which was driven by the 8X chip.

While this newly-revealed full size iPad has very little in the way of exciting new features, the cost has been drastically reduced. The 32 GB entry level price has been slashed to $329. For $100 more, storage capacity is quadrupled to 128GB, which is a happy size for any pilot downloading several gigabytes of charts every 56 days. Cellular/GPS will cost you the standard extra $130, but if you’re still flying with a wifi-only iPad Air, this new lower price may make now the perfect time to upgrade.

If the 9.7″ iPad is just too big for your cockpit, Apple didn’t offer too many options in the way of a new iPad Mini. In fact, they killed the bargain-priced $269 iPad mini 2. And though the Mini 4 is still for sale unchanged it only comes with one storage option, 128GB for the same price of $399. That puts the iPad Mini at a slightly better price for a similarly spec’d full size iPad, but it seems Apple is making a marketing push for the larger iPad. That doesn’t bode well for all the Mooney pilots who want more options to equip their cramped cockpits.

The bottom line is if you’re already flying with an iPad that does the job, then there’s no need to update. If you’re looking to expand your storage or add an internal GPS to an older model, now may be a good time to consider an upgrade. Or, if you’re trying to get started with an iPad in the cockpit on a budget, or maybe you want an inexpensive backup, we think the new lower priced iPad would be a great option.

The new iPad will go on sale Friday, March 24 in the U.S. and more the 20 countries. Full details are available from Apple’s website.

4 COMMENTS

  1. FWIW, just this last Fall I went from the original Mini with only 32 GB (which I kept as a backup) to a 128 GB Mini 4, and the difference in refresh speed for Foreflight is dramatic. Both are cell-capable so they have the built in GPS, but I only have the Mini 4 connected to Verizon. The Retina screen of the Mini 4 is a bit better–handles glare better, and the colors are more vibrant, but it won’t knock anyone’s socks off. For both the Mini and the Mini 4, I installed MyGoFlight’s anti-glare glass screen protectors, which are really the best out there as far as I can determine, and they make the screens of both of them entirely usable even in bright sunlight. For mounting on a yoke, the Mini width is perfect, and the Mini 4’s additional 1/8″ height isn’t noticeable (other than having to make a slight modification to the forpilotsonly iPro Navigator to accommodate the height).

  2. The new iPad does not seem to have the anti-reflective coating feature. Both Pros and the mini 4 have this feature. I think without the anti-reflective coating, this new budget model would not be very use-able except at night.

  3. Y’all, I’m afraid this iPad is a big step back for Pilots. It lacks an anti-reflective, laminated display which is a huge issue for pilots in terms of reflected light. Contrast ratio takes a hit, batery life, really a number of things. I still think picking up a used Air 2 or finding some left over stock is the way to go over this new “iPad”.

    The iPad Pro 9.7″ is my opinion the best overall solution for pilots today. It’s an amazing tablet with a beautifully enhanced LCD display. It has the least reflective display of any tablet or mobile phone out there and it really shows in high ambient light. Just my 2 cents.

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