Apple’s redesigned iPad is mostly worth the higher price | Engadget

In 2017, Apple released the $329 iPad, and ever since the company has said that this basic tablet is the most popular. It’s easy to see why: When I reviewed last year’s model last fall, I discovered that this relatively modest device could do just about everything I normally do with the more expensive 11-inch iPad Pro. However, in a world where Apple has ditched the Home button and clipped the edges on all of its tablets, the basic iPad is starting to feel lost.

Therefore, this year Apple, for its tenth generation, redesigned the iPad, clearly inspired by the iPad Air. It has a similar-sized screen, cameras, a USB-C port, optional 5G, and a power button with Touch ID, all of which are improvements over last year’s model. It also has an A14 chip, which doesn’t match the M1 in the iPad Air and the M2 in the new iPad Pro, but it’s still a capable piece of silicon. Apple even designed a new keyboard and trackpad, the company’s first iPad keyboard with a function key row.

Of course, Apple had to cut some corners to distinguish this iPad from the Air. The usual compromises here – namely, the screen isn’t quite as good as the one on the Air, with no full lamination on the windshield, anti-reflective coating or support for the P3’s wider color gamut. It also still only supports the first generation Apple Pencil, which is a huge problem for anyone looking for an improved pen experience.

Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

And all of Apple’s changes mean the iPad isn’t the huge value it used to be — it now costs $449, while last year’s 9th-generation iPad remains in the lineup at its original $329 price tag. I’ll be giving a full review of the new iPad soon, but in the meantime, here are my first impressions after spending a few days with it.

Although the new iPad is slightly larger and thicker than the Air, my first feeling of picking it up was one of complete familiarity. It looks exactly like the Air, but it’s clearly a very different experience than using last year’s model with the old home button. While the 10.9-inch screen isn’t much larger than the old 10.2-inch screen, it’s large enough to make multitasking more comfortable. I miss things like the iPad Pro’s fully laminated screen and ProMotion 120Hz refresh rate, but I’ve noticed that there’s less “air gap” between the screen and the front glass on this iPad than on any of the older base models. While the iPad Air technically has a better screen than this tablet, the difference between the two models has been greatly reduced.

Between the larger screen and the new trackpad-equipped Magic Keyboard Folio, I feel more productive on the new iPad than I did on last year’s model. The trackpad may be small, but when you use the iPad with a keyboard, it’s much more convenient to use it than tap the screen every time you want to move the cursor or switch apps. The description of the function keys that Apple included in the Smart Keyboard Folio is something that should have been included in every other iPad keyboard the company has made, so I can’t give them much credit for getting things here in the end.

iPad (2022) and folio with kickstand

Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

However, it’s still easy to have an escape key and a handful of other useful shortcuts there when you need them. Between that and the trackpad, you can get away without touching the screen for longer periods than ever (this might lead you to wonder why you used the iPad in the first place, but I’ll save these philosophical questions for my full review). Meanwhile, the typing experience is much better than that offered by the old Smart Keyboard cover, and the keys feel just like the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro and Air. I’m more likely to use this iPad for long typing sessions than I did with last year’s model. As with most Apple products, this comes at a price – this new keyboard costs $249.

I’ve been using a 12.9-inch iPad Pro running the M1 for the past four months as a test device for iPadOS 16, so I had some concerns about the A14 chip on my new iPad. I should not have worried; While occasional things like swiping up to see all of my open apps felt less fluid than I’d like, overall, the new iPad holds up very well so far. I can scroll through my library of RAW images in Lightroom with no lag, and games I’ve tried so far (including Skate City, Spire Blast And the mini highways) They all work perfectly and apps load quickly when I switch between them or drag a few different apps simultaneously in Split View and Slide Over modes.

The only real catch I’ve noticed with the A14 compared to more powerful chips like the M1 is that apps often have to reload their content, possibly due to the lack of RAM here. For example, if I move away from the file where I’m writing this, I usually have to reopen it when I go back to Google Docs; The file has not been loaded in memory.

Before I can fully evaluate this new iPad, I need to push the A14 forward with more intense tasks; Try the new cameras (including the landscape front camera!); Find out more in the new features in iPadOS 16; Relive my frustration with the first generation Apple Pencil. But at first glance, I’m a little upset about the price hike, but I realize these updates are a huge improvement to the iPad experience. My thoughts so far are that spending an extra $120 to get this iPad instead of last year’s model is worth it, and that most people would rather it over the $600 iPad Air.

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