Despite reports to the contrary, there is no official Apple policy mandating that iPad 4 owners coming into Apple Retail for service receive an iPad Air 2 for the cost of service — but stores have been allowed to make the swap if they have no service stock, and have been for some time.
Reports started circulating on Saturday about an Apple-wide policy mandating that the older iPads coming in for service be replaced with iPad Air 2 repair stock. However, AppleInsider has learned that this is neither new, nor completely accurate.
Guidance promulgated for the last two weeks do note a declining amount of iPad 4 stock — but do not require the exchange for iPad Air 2 in particular. Store managers are at their discretion to replace an iPad 4 with in-stock iPad 4, iPad Air, iPad Air 2, and in particularly rare cases, the 2017 iPad.
A spot-check of 20 Apple Retail store Genius Bars on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday showed adequate supply of the iPad 4 at all of the stores. However, sources inside the stores have told us that iPad 4 service units arrive in "fits and spurts" after depletion.
Apple for at least two decades has historically upgraded a customer's order or service replacement if a lack of stock would result in a long wait without a device.
Apple charges $299 for a screen repair, or other out-of-warranty repair on the iPad 4. A battery replacement costs $99.
The 2017 iPad fifth generation with wi-fi retails for $329 with 32GB of storage, with a 32GB LTE version selling for $459 and up.