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December 10, 2012

Apple iPad Version Changes Confuse Buyers

Filed under: Computers,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:20 am

Last week, one retail chain was offering the iPad “3” for only $399.99 — $100 off the regular price. [Hint: if you run to Micro Center, you might get one. Ends 12/12.] MrConsumer’s friend who had just purchased an iPad 2 for the same price was not too happy, but he wondered how in the world this chain could be selling the iPad “3” for $100 less than the full list price knowing that Apple closely controlled advertised retail prices.

As it turns out, Apple had recently discontinued the iPad “3” and had quietly introduced an iPad “4”, which might explain the discount. Much of the confusion, however, has to do with Apple’s decision not to explicitly name each new iPad by number. There was the original iPad, then iPad 2, then iPad (no number, but referred to by retailers as “third generation”), and now iPad with Retina Display (again no number, but referred to by retailers as “fourth generation”).

So if you are looking for the latest “iPad”, you might wind up with either the “iPad 3” or the “iPad 4” because they are both just called iPad (sans number). What is the difference between the two? You have to look at the fine print.


iPad 3 and 4

They both have the same gorgeous Retina display. The primary differences are three for the iPad 4: the Facetime camera is better, the processor they say goes twice as fast, and iPad 4 has that new obnoxious connector that makes all your old i-accessories obsolete.

So, if you are shopping for an iPad, and you pick up a box, how do you know if it is an iPad 3 or 4? You have to look at the tiny label to find the model number.


ipad 3 label

One 16-gig white iPad 3 has a model number of MD336LL/A for example, while a similar iPad 4 has a model number of MD513LL/A.

In our view, Apple made a big mistake to not clearly identify iPads after the iPad 2 by number to avoid consumer confusion.

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  1. Or just look at the specs and be at least do a little research in to what you are buying? Or at least ask the sales person?

    Comment by Tina — December 10, 2012 @ 7:35 am
  2. I don’t like it when manufacturers make customers rely on model numbers to figure out which version they are buying, but a little research goes a long way.

    Comment by Wayne R — December 10, 2012 @ 8:55 am
  3. And Apple didn’t exactly “quietly” introduce the iPad “4”.

    And the boxes of both of these iPads show a lot more than just a model number.

    So, you are buying some high tech piece of electronics and you can’t even look at a box to see the specs or ask the salesperson? I think that is a little ironic, give me high tech but not only do I know nothing about it, I won’t even take 30 seconds to find out. But I gotta have it.

    Edgar replies: Susan, the iPad “3” box, STATES NOTHING. There is a picture of the tablet and the words iPad on the side, and UPC sticker shown above. Nothing more. In stores like Micro Center, the product box is not on the sales floor, but you pick it up at the pay counter after placing your order. For all know from what was on the box I was handed last week, it could have been an Ipad “1”. I had to come home to Google the model number.

    Comment by Tina — December 10, 2012 @ 9:54 am
  4. Edgar and everyone, this is true about the lack of description on the packaging. The week after Thanksgiving, I went to Walmart to purchase an iPad 2, as it would be my first tablet, and I’d be perfectly happy with an older model. It rang up $50 more than the Black Friday price, but I was OK with that, figuring the big sale was over.

    Got it home, noticed the packaging was vague, looked it up, and sure enough, it was a 3.

    If it were a 1, I would be upset at Walmart for not knowing exactly what they had (hypocritical of me, but true nonetheless), and at Apple, for not labeling their products more clearly. The “white space” motif has gone a little too far of late.

    Comment by Tommy — December 10, 2012 @ 2:04 pm
  5. The key phrase is “to avoid consumer confusion”.
    I believe consumer confusion was their goal all along. With an ambiguous description, a consumer may purchase an obsolete tablet.
    That’s exactly what they’re hoping will happen.

    Comment by Jack — December 11, 2012 @ 1:25 am
  6. Just wait a week or two and a new version will be out.

    Comment by Rick — December 13, 2012 @ 10:52 am
  7. When I saw your display of the specs above, I thought that was on the box and all that was missing was the printing of the “generation”, I hadn’t realized that the boxes were very plain (I’ve never bought Apple products).

    Even so, I still think for such a “major” purchase, someone would at least ask an employee.

    Then again, get home, don’t like it, just take it back.

    But I still argue that Apple didn’t “quietly” introduce the iPad 4.

    Comment by Tina — December 14, 2012 @ 2:03 pm

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