Apple has always been playing a game of margins, not volume, in the computer, tablet, smartphone and smartwatch arenas, but over the past few years, we’ve seen a couple of lower-cost iDevices released with a clear target on a wider audience than usual.

While we wouldn’t exactly call the iPhone 5c or SE smash hits, with sequels yet to come and the 2017 iOS handset family more expensive than ever, this year’s 9.7-inch iPad may have silently got Apple’s tablets back on track.

Normally starting at $329, the non-Pro, non-convertible slate topped Cyber Monday’s online list of best-selling gadgets after getting a couple of discounts here and there. Technically following in the footsteps of 2014’s Air 2 model, this is reportedly looking at an even more affordable 9.7-inch follow-up next year.

According to “sources from related upstream suppliers”, anonymously quoted by the hit-and-miss Taiwanese publication Digitimes, the inexpensive next-gen iPad could be priced around $259 and see daylight sometime in the second quarter of 2018.

That would be between April and June, whereas the latest 9.7-inch iPad debuted commercially on March 24, 2017. It’s unclear what (if any) corners Apple is willing to cut to keep the pricing so low, and it’ll also be very interesting to see what happens with the current 9.7-inch generation if a cheaper spin-off is indeed in the works. Will it be discontinued after just one year of availability? What about upgraded iPad Pros, are they coming in Q2 2018 as well?

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