Earlier today, we predicted that Apple had plans to bring the previous-generation iPad 4th gen back into production to replace the aging iPad 2. As expected, the fourth-gen iPad is now available once again on Apple’s website, this time with only an 16 GB capacity. Aside from the single capacity choice, there aren’t any changes to the device. This new model replaces the iPad 2, which has been around since the days of the 30-pin connector.
Now all iPads in the lineup are shipping with the new Lightning connector, which leaves the iPhone 4S as the only remaining iOS device with a 30-pin Dock connector available for purchase today. Come October, the 30-pin Dock connector will probably disappear from the lineup entirely.
And speaking of October: since the original iPad mini shares the same internals as the iPad 2, my guess is it’s probably going away too. Besides, the original mini is now the only remaining iOS device without a Retina display, which is another strong reason for Apple to replace it as soon as they can. Getting Retina displays to finally be a standard across all iOS devices would greatly simplify things for 3rd-party developers, and would remove quite a lot of complexity from iOS itself.
I find it impressive that Apple managed to get iOS 7 running smoothly on 3-year-old hardware, but it was clearly pushing it. Considering iOS devices tend to get at least two years' worth of OS updates, I wonder how they’ll manage to squeeze iOS 8 into the original mini without compromising the experience too much. Actually, I wonder, and have for some time, whether this aging hardware is holding iOS back a little bit as a platform.
The original iPad mini, much like the original iPad and the original iPhone before it, was all about compromise. Apple has never been scared of replacing the old to make way for the new, which is why the iPad 2 was an abnormally long-lasting product for Apple. If the past is anything to go by, I fully expect them to go back to their usual pattern soon.