It came as quite the surprise when Apple recently introduced a new generation 9.7-inch iPad model at a lower price point than previous generation models, and with more onboard storage to boot. Does Apple just not care about the tablet market as much anymore? That might be the case, as also surprising is a new report that Apple is instructing employees to replace faulty 4th generation iPad models with iPad Air 2 tablets.
An internal memo obtained by 9To5Mac reads, "Starting March 30th, iPad 4th generation whole unit repairs may be substituted to iPad Air 2." The memo also instructs Apple employees to let customers know of the iPad Air 2's color and capacity options. That is relevant to customers seeking an upgrade because the Apple introduced a new gold color option with the iPad Air 2. And more recently, Apple dropped its 16GB and 64GB SKUs, leaving just 32GB and 128GB models.
What all of that ultimately means is that anyone who has a defective 4th generation iPad will essentially receive an upgrade all around. The iPad Air 2 is more powerful than the 4th generation iPad, and because Apple changed the storage options, users would also receive a bump in capacity. Talk about turning a frown upside down—this is nothing short of a win for 4th generation iPad owners in need of a repair.
The iPad Air 2 was introduced in October 2014 and is now discontinued. Apple replaced it with a $329 model dubbed simply "iPad." The new model is slightly thicker than the iPad Air 2, but boasts an upgraded custom Apple A9 SoC and more storage for the money.
While not an official policy, Apple usually supports its products for five years or more after being discontinued. The 4th generation iPad was discontinued in October 2014 with the release of the iPad Air 2. Assuming nothing changes, Apple can be expected to repair, support, and replace (as needed) 4th generation iPad models up through at least around the end of 2019.