Apple Considered Launching a Low-Cost, Plastic iPad

BY Dave Johnson

Published 24 Oct 2022

Plastic iPad

A recent report suggests that Apple initially planned to launch an entry-level iPad with a plastic design and keyboard for below $500. But the company scrapped the idea. 

Last week Apple introduced its 10th generation iPad with an all-new design, a 10.9-inch display, and a USB-C charging port. Along with a flat-edge design, the new iPad has an aluminum casing that comes in four new colors — yellow, blue, pink, and blue. 

While the new design wasn’t revolutionary, we may have gotten something entirely different. 

According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple considered selling a bundled low-cost plastic iPad and keyboard for under $500. The tech giant had intended to release a cheap, entry-level tablet to take on the Chromebook and possibly become the standard in classrooms. 

Gurman wrote in his Power On newsletter: 

“This is why Apple internally considered launching an iPad with a plastic back and plastic keyboard that ships together in one box for under $500. The idea was seemingly abandoned, but that was probably Apple’s only real hope of ever giving Chromebooks a run for their money in most schools.”

The reason Apple scrapped the plastic iPad idea is unclear. 

Replacing a Plastic iPad with a Premium, Older iPad 

As Gurman points out, most students can’t afford the $700 price tag of 10th generation iPad bundled with a Magic Keyboard Folio. So creating a cheaper iPad would have encouraged more students to switch from Chromebook.  

Nevertheless, Apple still sells the ninth-generation iPad for $329. You’ll get the A13 Bionic chip, 64GB storage, 10.2 inches IPS display, and Apple Pencil support. Besides, the older-generation iPad could cost $508 when combined with a $179 Smart Keyboard. 

Admittedly, the most affordable Chromebooks cost between $120 and $400. So while last year’s iPad may be faster than ChromeOS-powered devices in its price range, it’s still pricier.