iPad 2 bids us farewell, is replaced by fourth-generation Retina model

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Sayonara, iPad 2—you had a good run. On Tuesday, Apple announced that it’s replacing the iPad 2 in its iPad line-up with the iPad with Retina display, finally retiring the 9.7-inch model first introduced in 2011.

Its successor, the fourth-generation iPad introduced in late 2012, boasts an A6X processor, a 5MP iSight camera, a FaceTime HD camera, support for LTE cellular networking (on Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, or T-Mobile), 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi support on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz, Bluetooth 4.0, and—as the name suggests—a Retina display with 2048-by-1536 resolution. Available only in 16GB configurations with and without wireless networking, the Retina iPad retains the same $399/$529 price points as its predecessor, and provides much more bang for one’s buck.

There are plenty of advantages to this upgrade for both consumers and Apple. Consumers get a faster product for the same price, as well as better support for iOS 7. Certain features unavailable on the iPad 2—AirDrop, Siri, video sharing, and more—will work just fine on the speedy fourth-generation iPad. And it also means there’s now only a single iOS device without a Retina display—the iPad mini. That’s no small thing when it comes to developers looking to target iOS software releases.

The elimination of the iPad 2 also standardizes a second line of iOS devices on the Lightning connector; the iPhone 4s is now the lone holdout in Apple’s line-up. That gives accessory makers another reason to move away from the legacy 30-pin dock connector.

Perhaps the biggest question is how this shift will affect the bottom line for Apple’s tablet offerings. The iPad 2 was, by many accounts, a popular selling chunk of the product line, and even coming in at $399, the three-year-old tablet was likely bringing in a decent profit margin. The fourth-generation iPad, on the other hand, is less than eighteen months from its launch, and though it’s been superseded by last year’s iPad Air, it’s still probably a more expensive device to manufacture than the iPad 2 was.

That said, continuing to manufacture three-year-old technology does have its downsides, and the replacement of the iPad 2 helps bring users a newer product with a better experience.

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