A $500 iPad and keyboard bundle could have happened — but Apple reportedly killed it

iPad 2022 onlilac background
(Image credit: Apple)

The 10.9-inch entry level iPad 2022 will cost you at least $449, plus an additional $249 if you want the new Magic Keyboard Folio to go with it. But what if there was a cheaper option? An iPad and keyboard bundle that came in for under $500?

It’s rumored that such a thing could have happened, but Apple reportedly nixed the idea.

Writing in the latest issue of his ‘Power on’ Newsletter, Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman revealed such a product may have been “internally considered” over at Apple HQ. The idea being that the iPad would have a plastic back, and would ship with a plastic keyboard in the same box. 

$500 isn’t cheap, especially compared to how low prices can go for the best Chromebooks, but it would have been one of the cheapest ways to get a brand new iPad and keyboard for a low price. Well, low for Apple anyway. 

Gurman claims that the project appeared to be abandoned, and “was probably Apple’s only real hope of ever giving Chromebooks a run for their money in most schools.”

It’s not clear exactly where this iPad would have been placed in the existing lineup. It could have launched alongside the iPad 2022, or it could have been released in place of it. 

The reasons for scrapping the idea of a cheap iPad are not clear. Though in this instance it’s likely down to the fact Apple doesn’t want to cheapen its own brand with a plastic-bodied device. Apple products are all about the premium Apple feel, and the use of metal and glass parts help to emphasize that. 

Remember the plastic iPhone 5c and how poorly that was received?

It is possible to class up plastic-bound devices, as Samsung did by offering polycarbonate backs on a number of high-profile devices. Even some of the flagship Galaxy S models, including the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S20 utilized polycarbonate backs.

Apple could have offered its own spin on “premium” plastic, in keeping with what people expect. But it seems such an endeavor never made it to fruition. It probably didn’t help that Samsung abandoned its experiment, and released the Galaxy S22 with a back made from Gorilla Glass Victus.

So for now the cheapest way to purchase an iPad is to pick up the 10.2-inch iPad 2021, which retails for $329. The Smart Keyboard case, while not as impressive as the new Magic Keyboard Folio, can be purchased for $159.

We can hold out some hope that we may see an iPad SE one day, which can undercut the current entry-level iPad. But it doesn’t sound like it’s going to happen anytime soon.

Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.