Why I'm cashing in my iPad Air today

Another year, another round of tablet upgrades.
Written by Jason Perlow, Senior Contributing Writer
The market value of a pristine iPad Air 128GB Wi-Fi as of October 11, 2014.

October cometh, and with that is the latest round of iPad upgrades. We don't know for sure what will be in the next version, although I took a stab at it around this time last year, so we'll find out in very short order whether I came close or not with my predictions.

See a pattern here? There are more and more iPads on the secondary market and thus the value of the current model depreciates more and more the same time every year.

When I heard just before I left on my vacation to Mexico last week that Apple was going to have an iPad event on the 16th, I immediately logged into Amazon Trade-In and put my iPad Air 128GB up for cash. They offered me a cool $407.

Gazelle and a few other companies do the same thing, but I find that Amazon is usually the best way to go, as their offers tend to be more generous and I spend a lot of money with them as a Prime customer anyway, so it doesn't matter much to me that it is for store credit.

If you decided that you were going to do the same thing today, assuming your device is in pristine, "like new" condition, you'd get $361. So in the course of a week, right after it was known a new version was going to be announced, the value of a used iPad Air depreciated $47.

That's a lot of dough.

My device of course has always lived in an OtterBox or some other heavy-duty protective case, so it's perfect. I've kept the original packaging, cable, and charger, so I expect that Amazon will give me the full $407. I sent it off via UPS today.

See also: OtterBox Defender for iPhone 6

I am officially iPad-free, at least temporarily. My Surface 2 and Surface Pro will have to hold me over for a bit, and my iPhone 6 can fill the app gap.

Keep in mind that the iPad Air 128GB Wi-Fi was $799.00 brand new, so even with my $407.00 store credit offer from Amazon, that's a net loss of $392.00, or the equivalent of leasing an iPad at $32.66 a month over the course of a year.

It sounds nutty, but I do this every single year. Why? Because it's better than the device becoming absolutely worthless for current-generation apps within 2 or 3 years if I were to keep it. 

Last year, I traded in my iPad 4th Generation 64GB for $387.50. And the year before that, I got $575.00 for my 3rd Generation 64GB.

See a pattern here? There are more and more iPads on the secondary market and thus the value of the current model depreciates more and more the same time every year.

I did actually consider keeping the current iPad Air and giving it to my wife, but she rebuffed my advances, preferring her Windows Phone and her touchscreen laptop. 

Why not keep my iPads for as long as possible? Sure, plenty of people do that. They hand them down to their kids, maybe they don't need the latest and greatest stuff. But I'm a technology writer and I need to keep up with this junk, and I can easily make up the price of a new one with a few articles covering accessories and the like.

Still, it's not just keeping up with the latest and greatest. I bought the iPad Air, but I did not... love the thing.

I used it a lot, sure. I used it every day. I played games on it constantly. But it seemed to me beyond the basic form factor changes and the usual processor rev, the iPad Air was not a massive improvement over the iPad 4th Generation.

We did not get a fundamental display improvement over the 4th Generation with the iPad Air. We did not get magnetic induction charging. We did not get Touch ID. And frankly the stereo sound output on the iPad still kind of bites compared to some of its competitors.  

Now, if you waited two generations, maybe three generations until you upgraded, you might have noticed a big difference. But for those of us lunatics that need to have the latest model every year, the iPad Air was a bit of a letdown.

Sure, you could argue the move towards a 64-bit CPU and a discrete motion sensor processor is a big deal, but I actually haven't noticed tangible benefits of 64-bit processing yet, particularly with business applications like Microsoft Office or Apple iWork. 

There were only a few games that I played over the course of that last year that I could have said that they worked fundamentally better than on the previous device. Perhaps they had graphic enhancements I wasn't able to examine side-by-side with the old model.

So maybe I'm getting a bit jaded.

You could also argue how much thinner and lighter the device was over previous versions. That's fine and good until you throw it in an OtterBox that adds an extra pound of weight to protect it from getting damaged, considering how fragile a device it is.

You know what I really want in the new model? Other than not making it out of eggshells and potato chips so I don't have to put armor plating on it? Besides adding inductive charging and Touch ID?

A much larger screen, like the rumored iPad Pro is supposed to have.

I'm getting older, I just got progressive lenses and I'm tired of looking at little screens with tiny fonts. I want 4K resolution with an active stylus so I can draw hyper-realistic paintings of my poodles and actually read something in the Kindle app without squinting.

I used to think it was enough, and I was really impressed with it when the iPad 3 came out, but 9.7" and 2560 pixels wide at 267ppi doesn't cut it anymore. My glasses prescription just went up over 2 diopters. I want in excess of 400ppi on a 13" display. Is that too much to ask?

Tank, I need business intelligence dashboards! LOTS OF DASHBOARDS!

Although it's not a hard requirement, what I would like to see from Apple is a heterogeneous multi-core SoC using big.LITTLE ARM architecture so the device conserves battery for apps that don't need all the horsepower, so we can get closer to 20 hours of battery life out of the tablet.

Of course, instead we'll probably get some souped-up version of the A8 with some better GPU than what the iPhone 6 uses, so I doubt it.

And I'd like some more RAM, please. 2GB would not be bad, it would beat the 1GB on the Air, but 4GB would be so, so much better. I mean how many times have you crashed an app on iOS because of a resource deficit?

Oh well. At least I have some more spending money now for whatever comes next.

Have you cashed in your iPad yet, hoping the new model will be better? Talk Back and Let Me Know. 

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