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Apple September 2020 Event: Apple Watch & New iPads

Today was Apple's second post-apocalypse keynote delivered from their billionaire-bugout spaceship. I started watching this one with low expectations for anything interesting. Those expectations were shattered at the end of the presentation when they made the 2020 iPad Pro, released six-months ago, obsolete.

Apple Watch 6

The 6th Apple watch was announced today. This is the 6th time Apple has tried to sell a watch to a world that stopped wearing watches decades ago. Undaunted by the purposelessness of the device, Apple continues to push faster processing into this year's model.

Instead of presenting a "killer app", or any reason at all for these things to be a thing, Apple tried to position this as a fitness tool. The watch will be pivotal to tracking your activity with a new subscription service, Fitness+.

Fitness is important, so I won't give them too much shit for this. I will say though that an iPad or iPhone is a much better investment if you're looking for something to keep you entertained doing boring activities like treadmills or stationary bikes. Play a game that keeps your mind occupied and you can keep going for ages. This has been my own trick for years, and I'm still hitting the treadmill every single day; often 2-3 times per day.

iPad Air 4

Today was the day my shiny iPad Air 3 was scheduled for obsolescence. This is something every customer has to come to terms with and accept. Which I did. No one was prepared for the iPad Pro from just six-months ago to also become obsolete today.

The new iPad Air 4 is only 10.9", so the iPad Pro still has 0.1" on it and supports Face ID. Beyond that the new iPad Air 4 is crushing the Pro on specs. The new iPad Air even gets all the Pro features: USB-C, Apple Pencil 2, and even Smart Keyboard support.

The iPad Pro released in March sports an A12Z processor, which I noted was an incremental improvement from the previous Pro's A12X. The new iPad Air comes with an A14 manufactured at 5nm. This lets them pack a hell of a lot of transistors into a tiny, energy efficient, space. The A12Z includes 8 CPU cores, but only 4 of those are full-tier CPUs, while the other half are "efficient cores" according to Apple's marketing department. The A14 includes 2 high-performance CPUs, and 4 efficient cores.

We don't yet know the speed of the CPUs in the A14. They could be faster than the A12Z thanks to the 5nm manufacturing process. Perhaps the 2 extra CPUs in the iPad Pro are superior to the A14's offerings, but calculating the price:performance ratio has gotten complicated. The new Air is $100 more than the previous model. The price gap between a top-tier 256GB iPad Air and a bottom-tier 128GB iPad Pro is now only $50!

The new iPad Air 4 arrives next month in a variety of color options, as $600 64GB and $750 256GB models.

Correction: This article listed the 64GB iPad Air 4 as $700. Thanks to zaubrer for pointing out this typo.

The Verge condensed the whole presentation down to just 12 minutes!

September 15, 2020  | person_outline Tim Webb
"The new Air is $100 more than the previous model. The price gap between a top-tier 256GB iPad Air and a bottom-tier 128GB iPad Pro is now only $50!"

This is so true, it's starting to get a bit confusing now. I think apple wants us to think low, med, high, with regards to the ipad, ipad air, ipad pro. But my bet is that the a14 will be as fast or comparable to the a12z. So I guess if you bought the 12.9" you're still good as that will likely only ever be offered in the pro models.

Still looking forward to the a14x pro models supposedly coming out next year though.
Does anybody know how much RAM is in new iPads? I guess it could be even more important in mobile music context than processor power.
September 15, 2020  | favorite_border eVr
Hmmm…
While the delta between the Air and the Pro will be smaller next month than it is right now, calling the Pro “obsolete” sounds a bit premature, don’t you think?

Sure, someone who wants to buy a new iPad Pro might want to wait six more months (maybe less, depending on post-pandemic production schedules). Yet the extra screen real estate, the better screen (ProMotion is a true Pro feature and increased brightness might matter), the extra camera, the flash, the better front camera, the two extra speakers, FaceID (perceived as a better authentication method by those who use it), the LiDAR scanner, the much larger storage option, and the likely difference in RAM may all justify the extra expense of buying a 12.9" iPad Pro (4th Generation) over an iPad Air (4th Generation). Of course, the case of the 11' iPad Pro (2nd Generation) is a bit more difficult to make since there’s no significant difference in screen real estate. The other features may still remain attractive to some Pro users.
As we’re talking about Pro uses, each of these features may be important for some category of Pro users who could save enough money in terms of their own revenues to make up the difference in price within a day or a week.

As for the processor speed… Not that it’s irrelevant but I have a really hard time thinking that someone would choose an iPad Air based mostly on the A14 specs. Even the A9X chip in my 9.7" iPad Pro keeps up with all sorts of AUv3 plug-ins that people keep describing as power-hungry. RAM probably matters a lot more, as @eVr said. Apple doesn’t make RAM specs public so we’ll have to wait for iFixit to tell us if this new iPad Air has 6GB of RAM like the 2020 iPad Pro models.

On September 15, 2020 - @eVr said:
Does anybody know how much RAM is in new iPads? I guess it could be even more important in mobile music context than processor power.
Fully agreed! Processor power probably matters for some graphic applications. Our beloved AUv3 plugins and other musicking apps typically don’t leverage this kind of processing in part because they need to run on low-spec devices anyway. While differences in RAM do prevent some plugins from running correctly on some devices, they’re mostly a matter of having more instances or loading more samples so that a device with more RAM gets direct benefits without preventing a lower-end model from running the same apps.
September 15, 2020  | favorite_border Enkerli
(So this “MaxiPad” prank is only for comments? Kinda cute, though a bit weird for a site like Discchord.)
September 15, 2020  | favorite_border Enkerli
On September 15, 2020 - @Enkerli said:
(So this “MaxiPad” prank is only for comments? Kinda cute, though a bit weird for a site like Discchord.)
Not really, it’s a rite of passage. Apple releases new products, Tim shits all over them. This one is a bit a more grandiose. ‘... a world that stopped wearing watches decades ago.’? Worn or not, the Swiss are still cashing in on watches in the US. https://www.statista.com/statistics/288198/swiss-watch-export-value-by-country/
September 15, 2020  | person cleanfront
The MaxiPad™ is actually an old bit of code that has been in the site since the original announcement for the Pro. It had a stricter criteria that you had to type out the iWord Pro 12.3" to trigger it.

Just for today I made it less strict by removing the 12.3" requirement.

Here is the thread from when I first added it, back in 2015:
https://discchord.com/appnews/2015/11/11/ipad-pro-released.html#comments
“(So this “MaxiPad” prank is only for comments? Kinda cute, though a bit weird for a site like Discchord.)
Not really, it’s a rite of passage. Apple releases new products, Tim shits all over them. “

To be accurate here, Tim Webb didn’t use the phrase, a commenter did. Tim may have his opinions, but he is not to be accounted for for others’ responses to Apple news.
September 16, 2020  | person_outline Blogger Defender
Ok, I stand corrected, you sly dog Tim. Posting at the same time. Lol!
September 16, 2020  | person_outline Blogger Defender
The price gap between a top-tier 256GB iPad Air and a bottom-tier 128GB iPad Pro is now only $50!

The new iPad Air 4 arrives next month in a variety of color options, as $700 64GB and $750 256GB models.

What pricing are you referring to? Apple lists the 256 GB + Cellular iPad Air 4 for $880 and the small 128GB iPad Pro for $800 which is a difference of 80 bucks. Or did you generously round down?

Also the new iPad starts at $600 (not 700) and you have the option to get 256 GB of storage for $150 and cellular for $130.

I'm definitely looking forward to the benchmarks. Not sure if the iPad Pro is worth the price now. Sure, there are some Pro features which some professionals won't want to miss, but well... for the most part the Air 4 sounds like the way to go.
September 16, 2020  | person zaubrer
Am I missing something, or will this actually not lay flat on a table?
September 16, 2020  | person nottooloud
Apple says a14(air4) is 40%/30% faster than a12(air3) on cpu/gpu, witch means even a12x is still 15%/50% faster than a14.
a12z has the same cpu with a12x, but with a faster gpu about 15% more.
September 16, 2020  | person_outline Reggie
On September 16, 2020 - @zaubrer said:

What pricing are you referring to? Apple lists the 256 GB + Cellular iPad Air 4 for $880 and the small 128GB iPad Pro for $800 which is a difference of 80 bucks. Or did you generously round down?

Also the new iPad starts at $600 (not 700) and you have the option to get 256 GB of storage for $150 and cellular for $130.
SHIT! That $700 for the 64GB version was a terrible typo! Thanks for pointing it out, I wish that got spotted sooner.

The price comparison with the Pro was between WiFi models of both, and those prices are correct:
$750 for the iPad Air 4 256GB versus $800 for the Pro 11" 128GB
I would call iPadPro obsolete from day one. I mean what the hell they thought of? Cpu is same, ram is boosted to 6gb (previous big pro had 6 anyway) lidar is nasty gimmick (as in iPad sensor not generally) Not many will use. So to me it’s just money grabbing scam:D and therefore expect to pay £200 more for next gen pro devices:(
Now since majority of audio apps are using only one core, air would be an natural choice. I just want to know how less ram it has so I know if I should wait for pro or go with air. And I hate the idea of not having headphone jack!!! If they introduced low latency Bluetooth that would’ve been different.
September 16, 2020  | favorite_border Cray23
On September 15, 2020 - @Enkerli said:
Fully agreed! Processor power probably matters for some graphic applications. Our beloved AUv3 plugins and other musicking apps typically don’t leverage this kind of processing in part because they need to run on low-spec devices anyway. While differences in RAM do prevent some plugins from running correctly on some devices, they’re mostly a matter of having more instances or loading more samples so that a device with more RAM gets direct benefits without preventing a lower-end model from running the same apps.

I for instance I’m very centred on cpu, ram too but I’m currently on A10X and I’m maxing it out quite often and since single core performance matters most that A14 should be way faster then A10X in music apps, other things like camera, flash, lidar etc are more of interest of other forums/blogs like photo/video related I think so to me as musician I see last iPad Pro iteration as funding technology development or something but not as step up from previous generation. I Will probably end up waiting for next pro but I’m also thinking why not air. Btw air got 4 speakers too;)
September 16, 2020  | favorite_border Cray23
On September 16, 2020 - @Cray23 said:
Btw air got 4 speakers too;)
Not according to this comparison chart.
https://www.apple.com/ca/ipad/compare/
September 16, 2020  | favorite_border Enkerli
On September 15, 2020 - @cleanfront said:
Worn or not, the Swiss are still cashing in on watches in the US. https://www.statista.com/statistics/288198/swiss-watch-export-value-by-country/
I’m a Swiss citizen. Where do I show my bright red passport to cash in? ;-)
September 16, 2020  | favorite_border Enkerli
On September 16, 2020 - @Enkerli said:
Not according to this comparison chart.
https://www.apple.com/ca/ipad/compare/

https://www.apple.com/ipad-air/specs/ If you scroll down, there is diagram of iPad showing speakers on the top and bottom just like pro;)

Seems to me Apple is loosing their marbles:D
September 17, 2020  | favorite_border Cray23
On September 17, 2020 - @Cray23 said:

https://www.apple.com/ipad-air/specs/ If you scroll down, there is diagram of iPad showing speakers on the top and bottom just like pro;)

Seems to me Apple is loosing their marbles:D
If you look at the equivalent picture here, you’ll notice the difference.
https://www.apple.com/ipad-pro/specs/
September 17, 2020  | favorite_border Enkerli
On September 17, 2020 - @Enkerli said:
If you look at the equivalent picture here, you’ll notice the difference.
https://www.apple.com/ipad-pro/specs/

I see that now, I thought 4 speakers in total. That’s why it sounds that good I guess. Thanks to point that out ;)
September 17, 2020  | favorite_border Cray23
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