Apple’s Crazy iPad Naming Scheme

| Analysis

When we transitioned from the iPad to the iPad 2, all was well. Then, we had the notorious “new iPad,” and we got the feeling that Apple was just being contrarian and silly. Now, the new iPad is the old iPad.... oh, wait. It gets worse.

When Phil Schiller introduced the latest 9.7-inch iPad, he called it the 4th generation iPad. That makes some sense because even though the so-called” iPad 3” was declared the “new iPad” by Apple, there was some use of the term “3rd generation” at the Apple online store.

To make things perfectly clear, of course.

And what is Apple calling the 4th generation iPad? Looking at the online store comparison chart, we see “iPad with Retina display.” Now that’s helpful, isn’t it, considering that the 3rd generation iPad also has a Retina display.

But Apple isn’t sliding the new iPad (3rd gen) down the line. Nope. It’s still selling the iPad 2 as the middle of the line product. So where does the 3rd gen iPad go? You know, the one with the Retina display? Oblivion.

Today's iPad line. Image Credit: Apple

The net result of all this is vast potential for confusion. We’ll all just throw up our hands and declare that we have iPads, first, second, third and fourth generation (plus the mini) and not even use Apple’s nomenclature. Then, for those readers who are even more confused by the journalist’s attempt at simplification, they’ll check Apple’s website. And we know what will happen then.

More confusion.

Here’s what we have so far:

Generation What Apple calls it What we call it
1st iPad iPad
2nd iPad 2 iPad 2
3rd new iPad iPad 3
4th iPad with
Retina display
iPad 4

Next year, of course, we can look forward to, I presume, the “new iPad mini.”

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Next year, of course, we can look forward to, I presume, the “new iPad mini.”

I suspect the official name will be: The New iPad Mini 2 with Retina Dispaly A6S Mk. VI-B
AppleStore Staff will call it “That One”.


So, how is this different than the iMac? Or the Airport Extreme? Or the MacBook Pro? If anything Apple has just moved the iPad naming to be in line with its other product lines.

(On a side note, who chose Proxima Nova as the font for these text boxes? It’s as bad as Arial! The lowercase eye and the uppercase eye is ridiculously similar to a lowercase ell.)


I don’t find it at all confusing Ted. The idea of adding numbers or second names to a gizmo’s moniker is lame. It is what it is, the latest iPad and it has a nickname, the iPad 4, and the tradition will carry on until there is only the latest iPad and the oldsters will, like to iMac etc, be known by date of make.
I like it. It is plain and simple and elegant. There is elegance in simplicity. The iPad 2 was so named because it was early in iPad history and confusion might have been incurred, especially since the original iPad was now in the bargain basement bin and still had the old new smell attached to it.
It works for iMacs and that is what is has usurped. May its reign be long and healthy.

Scott B in DC

Does it really matter what they name the thing? Or are you looking for something to kvetch about because you have nothing else?


I have a March 2011 iPad (not an L-Pad) and an iMac with a DVD drive. I think will wait for the lpad mini Mark 2 before upgrading. Must go for an eye-test now to find out if I need a Retina Dispaly - whatever that is…... Who’s Ted? And where did you get my photo of SWMBO? ...  Crazy stuff indeed.  grin


We had a glorious day of amazing new products – more than most of us expected – and we’re discussing Apple’s naming scheme?


I understand the discontinued iPad 3(?) will be renamed
Ipad Duped


I understand the discontinued iPad 3(?) will be renamed
Ipad Duped

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