The bells-and-whistles iPad Air 2, or how to borrow $100 from Apple

Apple’s new iPad Air 2 is all about the bells and whistles. Touch ID. Apple Pay. Super fast microprocessor. It’s the new Cadillac of tablets, but don’t worry Apple fans, because the Toyota of tablets is also straight out of Cupertino. In fact it’s already been under your nose for a year. The original iPad Air, devoid of all the showiness but still plenty capable of doing everything the average consumer wants it to, is selling for $100 less. But look deeper, and what initially feels like a free hundred dollars ends up feeling more like a loan.

Skip the iPad Air 2, buy the iPad Air instead, and you’ll indeed end up with $100 more in your pocket. And, for now, you likely won’t even notice the difference. If you’re eyeing the new top of the line iPad, you probably already got in line last month to scoop up the new iPhone, so you already have Apple Pay. And even if you don’t, you probably don’t want to be “that guy” who pulls his iPad out at the register to make a payment, do you? No one likes the person who uses the iPad for a camera in public. No one will like you if you use your iPad to make payments either.

Aside from that, the original iPad Air will do just everything you want it to do. Its microprocessor, despite running at last year’s speeds, will run every app in the App Store in a perfectly competent manner – and you’ll be sitting on that extra $100 like a champ. But you may regret that decision in the end.

Next year Apple will release iOS 9 with even newer software based bells and whistles. It’ll be a free update for the iPad Air 2 and the original iPad Air. But it’ll run better on the former. And around that time, app developers will begin to assume you have newer faster hardware, and they’ll begin amping up their apps to do more things while taking up more processor power. That’s when you’ll start to wish you’d gotten the iPad Air 2 instead. And that’s before getting to the part where you inevitably end up selling your iPad in a few years to get a new one. That’s when you’ll essentially be giving that $100 back, because the Air 2 will fetch more money than the Air 1.

So in the end you may be better off simply plopping your dollars down on the iPad Air 2 now. It’ll remain a relevant product longer, you’ll be happy with it longer, and in the end you won’t really have paid any more for it; the $100 you’d save by buying the original Air is really more like just borrowing it.