Apple has officially discontinued the iPad Air 2, and in its place, it announced a new 9.7-inch iPad with a brighter Retina display and a powerful A9 chip.

The new 9.7-inch Apple tablet is simply called "iPad," and it's the new entry-level model in the company's lineup. The new iPad starts at $329 for the base model with 32 GB of storage and goes up to $429 for the 128 GB variant.

Most Popular iPad Size At Its Lowest Price Ever

At this attractive price point, Apple says that it's bringing its most popular iPad size at its most affordable price ever while also delivering top performance and a brighter Retina display.

The company further touts that the latest 9.7-inch iPad offers great battery life that lasts for a full day of use, as well as powerful performance and great portability to complement the wide ecosystem of iOS apps for all needs and preferences.

Philip Schiller, Apple's SVP of Worldwide Marketing, points out that the iPad is the most popular tablet in the world, and the 9.7-inch form factor is widely appreciated for a slew of tasks and applications from making FaceTime calls to watching movies and TV shows, surfing the web, or more.

"New customers and anyone looking to upgrade will love this new iPad for use at home, in school, and for work, with its gorgeous Retina display, our powerful A9 chip, and access to the more than 1.3 million apps designed specifically for it," says Schiller.

New 9.7-Inch iPad Replacing iPad Air 2

Apple's latest 9.7-inch iPad is similar in many respects to the iPad Air 2 it replaces, but it's more affordable and has a beefier processor. The iPad Air 2 launched at a $399 starting price and packed an Apple A8 chip under the hood, so the new model is not only cheaper but also more powerful.

On the other hand, the new iPad is thicker and heavier than the iPad Air 2, and it doesn't seem to sport a fully laminated display or anti-reflective coating.

New 9.7-Inch iPad Specs Highlights

The new iPad features a 9.7-inch Retina display with a resolution of 2,048 x 1,536 pixels at a pixel density of 264 pixels per inch, an 8-megapixel iSight camera on its back, a 1.2-megapixell front-facing FaceTime camera, a Lightning connector, two speakers, a 3.5 mm headphone jack, a Touch ID fingerprint scanner with Apple Pay, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, and Bluetooth 4.2.

New 9.7-Inch iPad Release Details

The new iPad will be available in Gold, Silver, and Space Gray color options and will start at $329 for the 32 GB Wi-Fi-only model and $459 for the 32 GB Wi-Fi + cellular version. The tablet will go on sale this Friday, March 24, on Apple's website and will start reaching customers and physical Apple Stores next week.

The new 9.7-inch iPad will also be available through select carriers and Apple Authorized Resellers across the United States and more than 20 other countries and regions, albeit prices may vary depending on the seller. Apple will expand the new iPad's market availability in the following months, adding more countries in April and May.

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