iPad 9.7in
Apple has unveiled a new 'affordable' iPad Apple

Apple has retired its slimline iPad Air family and replaced it with an all-new iOS tablet simply known as 'iPad'. The 9.7in device was announced today (21 March) in an unceremonious fashion, appearing on Apple's website after the online store spent several hours offline to accommodate the "affordable" new tablet.

The new iPad starts at £339 in the UK for the base 32GB Wi-Fi model, which is £40 less than the previous entry level iPad Air 2 (£379), and will be available to order in more than 20 countries, including the UK and US, from 24 March. The tablet comes in Silver, Gold and Space Grey colour variants, but notably not Rose Gold; for that there's the 9.7in iPad Pro, which starts at £549.

The new iPad is powered by Apple's A9 chip – previously included in the iPhone 6S range, it runs iOS 10 out of the box. Internal storage options are limited to 32GB or 128GB, and there is a 4G cellular option (starting from £469) for those looking to use their new tablet out and about over a mobile network.

Otherwise, the new iPad appears to share much of the specs and features that made the iPad Air 2 great, including the same 9.7in Retina display. However, it is a little heavier and thicker than the more expensive 9.7in iPad Pro range, weighing in at 469g and –compared to the Pro's 437g – measuring 7.5mm versus the Pro's 6.1mm body.

A Touch ID fingerprint sensor, 8-megapixel rear camera and HD front camera for selfies and FaceTime calls, and the promise of around 10 hours of battery life, round out Apple's latest offering. Apple's extended iPad family now consists of the 12.9in iPad Pro, the 9.7in iPad Pro, the iPad, and the iPad Mini 4.

"iPad is the world's most popular tablet. Customers love the large, 9.7-inch display for everything from watching TV and movies, to surfing the web, making FaceTime calls, and enjoying photos, and now it is even more affordable," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

(Product) Red iPhone 7 and 7 Plus
The (Product) Red iPhone 7 and 7 Plus features a red back and white front Apple

"New customers and anyone looking to upgrade will love this new iPad for use at home, in school, and for work, with its gorgeous Retina display, our powerful A9 chip, and access to the more than 1.3 million apps designed specifically for it."

Apple also revealed a new special edition model of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus in collaboration with (PRODUCT)RED which officially brings a red and white finish to Apple's popular smartphone for the first time. Every red iPhone 7 and 7 Plus purchased will see a donation given to the Global Fund to support HIV / Aids programmes.