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Apple Unveils Smaller, Cheaper iPad Pro Tablet Aimed at Windows Laptop Users

Apple unleashed a 9.7-inch version of the iPad Pro weighing in at just under one pound, designed as a replacement for laptops — and targeted in large part at users of old Windows PCs.

The company unveiled the new iPad Pro and the iPhone SE, with a 4-inch screen as a replacement to the 5s, at a “town hall” press event Monday at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters.

Apple launched the 12.9-inch iPad Pro last fall, which includes the Apple Pencil stylus, engineered for business users. But the company found users wanted a smaller-size version of the tablet, according to Phil Schiller, senior VP of worldwide marketing. To date, he said, Apple has sold 200 million iPads with 9.7-inch displays.

The new iPad Pro with 32 Gigabytes of storage lists at $599 (for Wi-Fi-only model) — $200 less than the 12.9-inch-screen model. Apple will begin taking pre-orders for the tablets on Thursday, March 24, and they will start shipping on March 31.

Today, some 600 million PCs in use are more than five years old, according to Schiller: “This is really sad,” he said, adding that many of those Windows users will find the new iPad Pro “the ultimate PC replacement.”

The new device is an effort to reinvigorate iPad sales, which fell 21% year-over-year for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2015. Apple sold 16.1 million iPads during the 2015 holiday quarter, compared with 21.4 million a year earlier.

The new iPad Pro features a 12-megapixel 4K camera (and 5-megapixel front-facing HD camera) and a Retina display, as well as a four-speaker audio system. According to Apple, the tablet’s 64-bit A9X chip “rivals most portable PCs.” In addition to the 32-GB model, the iPad Pro is available with 128 GB of storage for $749 and with 256 GB — the highest of any iOS device to date — for $899 (Wi-Fi only).

“It truly is the future of personal computing,” CEO Tim Cook boasted of the new iPad Pro. Earlier at the event, Cook said Apple recently crossed a milestone with more than 1 billion devices in use around the world.

The smaller iPad Pro is 0.96 pounds (the same weight as the iPad Air 2), compared with 1.57 pounds for the original model. Also Monday, Apple announced that the iPad Air 2 now starts at $399, down from $499 previously.

The tablet comes in four colors: silver, gold, space gray and — for the first time — rose gold. Separately sold accessories for the iPad Pro include the Apple Pencil ($99) and a Smart Keyboard in charcoal gray for $149. The polyurethane iPad Pro Smart Cover and silicone cases for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro are $49 and $69, respectively.

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