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Apple unveils updated iPad with lowest-ever price, new red iPhones

Tuesday morning Apple fans were jolted out of bed when the tech giant made the unexpected announcement of iPhone, iPad, app and accessory releases.

Available in both 128GB and 256GB configurations, the special edition iPhone 7 (RED) is basically the same iPhone 7 but with a striking new red skin and with each purchase helping support HIV/AIDS prevention and research.

while there was no update on its higher-end iPad Pro tablets, Apple decided to cut prices on two iPad models.

Breaking with their regular product announcement protocol, Apple quietly dropped the news on its website and spoke to only a handful of media outlets.

A much-speculated 10.5-inch iPad Pro didn't materialise, nor did new versions of existing sizes in the Pro lineup, which is aimed at businesses and creative professionals. The new devices are mostly refreshes of existing models. Apple unveiled them through press releases on Tuesday, rather than a staged event, as it typically does for bigger product releases.

The iPad updates come as the tablet market continues to decline, after a few years of rapid growth. According to IDC, tablet shipments fell 20 per cent to 53 million worldwide in the final three months of 2016, compared with the same period in 2015.

The new iPad model starts at 32GB of storage and replaces the iPad Air 2. It will be slightly less expensive than the smaller iPad Mini 4, which starts at US$399 for a 128GB model.

The iPad Air 2 is replaced by a new model simply called the iPad. It retains a 9.7-inch (24.6cm) screen, but the display is brighter and the processor faster. Its price starts at US$329 (NZ$467) for 32GB of storage, down from US$399 (NZ$566). The standard-size iPad is now cheaper than the smaller Mini model.

The 7.9-inch (20cm) iPad Mini 4 now comes with 128GB of storage starting at US$399, rather than US$499 (NZ$708) before. Apple is eliminating the 32GB model. Nothing else is changing.

Apple is also releasing a red edition of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus; for each phone sold, Apple is donating an unspecified amount to HIV and AIDS programmes. And Apple is doubling the storage on the smaller iPhone SE while keeping the US$399 starting price.

The new iPad Mini 4 is available right away, while the standard-size iPad comes out next week. The new iPhone SE comes out later in the week, while the red iPhones are expected by the end of the month, with advance orders beginning soon.