Thanks, Nate, for bringing this to my attention. Today, Apple is retiring the iPad 2. The iPad 4 is now the budget full size iPad. $399 gets you a 16GB version. $529 will get you a cellular version
I think this is a good move for Apple. I sold my iPad 2 around the middle of last year and upgraded to an iPad 4. I’ve not regretted it. Both the display and the speed were a significant improvement over the iPad 2. I was surprised they maintained the older iPad for as long as they did.
Some have complained about there only being a 16GB option, and it’s a fair complaint, but don’t forget this is being marketed as a budget iPad. “Budget” in my mind means trade-offs, like memory. I have a 16GB iPad 4, and as long as I don’t try to download more than about 2-3 hours of video, I’m fine. Since most of the time I’m on WiFi and can stream, that’s generally not been a problem for me.
So buy an iPad 4 and save some money or spring for the iPad Air? I don’t own an Air, so my ability to make a recommendation is limited, but I will say I wasn’t tempted by the Air when it was released, and I’m still not tempted. The iPad 4 does everything I need quite well. My main reason for upgrading from a 2 was to get the Retina display, which has been worthwhile. The iPad isn’t my primary reading device so the Air’s main feature, weight, isn’t a big deal to me. The Air has a better processor, but I’ve never noticed a speed issue with my iPad 4, so that’s not an attraction for me. I prefer a larger bezel (need someplace to put my thumb), so the Air loses there for me.
Here’s a comparison chart from Apple if you want to look for yourself. Beyond size and speed, there’s not much difference between the two, so unless those are vital, I think most will be happy with the iPad 4.