Apple announced the 2022 line of iPads last week, but it seems like the lineup could have been a lot more interesting if the company went through with the plastic-backed version that it was reportedly developing but ultimately scrapped. Apparently, Apple was working on a budget iPad made primarily with plastic that included a detachable keyboard in-box for under $500. If that’s truly the case, then Apple might have scrapped an incredible device that may now never see the light of day.
According to Bloomberg, the canceled iPad would have used a plastic back instead of the aluminum one that all editions of the tablet sport. As big of a shakeup as that may have been, the publication says that the idea has been “seemingly abandoned” in favor of the company’s current offerings. The inclusion of a plastic keyboard, which may have been another new product separate from the other iPad keyboards that Apple currently offers, is also notable as the company doesn’t sell any iPads with keyboards in-box.
Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman speculates that the canceled device’s budget price and bundled plastic keyboard suggest that Apple may have been looking to compete with the ever-popular Chromebooks that have become commonplace in schools over iPads. Since the device is no longer being pursued by Apple, however, Gurman believes that the company has given up any “real hope of ever giving Chromebooks a run for their money in most schools.”
Because there isn’t much in terms of concrete information about the plastic iPad, there’s really no way of knowing how it would fare against the likes of other budget Apple tablets like the iPad Mini. That said, Apple typically does a solid job of outfitting its devices properly for their prices, and the inclusion of a keyboard in-box would have been a big moment for the company’s tablet offerings — especially since iPadOS 16’s big focus is on slimming the line between iPads and Macs.
Regardless of what the plastic iPad could have been, the unfortunate thing is that it doesn’t exist currently. For now, iPad fans will have to be satisfied with Apple’s current roster of tablets and accept that the plastic version might simply be “the one that got away.”