Apple Tuesday announced an all-new version of its entry-level iPad with a slew of dramatic improvements: a new home button design, a significantly larger screen, improved processor and cameras, and a USB-C port. However, all that novelty also brings a new higher price starting at $449.
A serious screen
At 10.9 inches, the screen of the new iPad matches that of the current iPad Air. With a gain of 0.7 inches over the previous 10.2-inch model, this is the biggest jump in screen size Apple has ever announced for its baseline iPad. The 7th through 9th generations measure 10.2 inches and all previous models were 9.7 inches.
Impressively, the larger screen doesn’t come with a corresponding increase in the case, as Apple removed the Home button and placed Touch ID in the power button. The new iPad is slightly wider than its predecessor (179.5mm, higher than 174.1mm), but it’s a fraction shorter and thinner and weighs 10 grams or 17 grams less, depending on whether you go for the mobile model.
It’s worth noting that Apple also markets the display differently for this generation, giving it the Liquid Retina branding instead of the regular Retina branding, meaning it has rounded corners. However, it is still the standard LED technology and although the resolution is higher, it is spread over a larger area so that the pixel density remains the same as with the 9th generation model. And it still doesn’t have a fully laminated design, so the glass isn’t as thin or close to the screen.
A small processor bump
The processor has bumped from last year’s A13 Bionic to an A14 Bionic, which has twice as many cores in its Neural Engine, and you can expect a noticeable performance boost over an 8th-generation model. It won’t match up with the more expensive Apple tablets, of course: the iPad mini moved to the A15 as early as September, and the iPads Air and Pro now use M-class Mac chips. But for everyday use, this should not disappoint you.
Cameras are getting smarter
The cameras have also been improved. The rear camera has increased from 8MP to 12MP, while aperture exposure has also increased from f/2.4 to f/1.8. The iPad now features Smart HDR 3, Apple’s technology designed to compose elements of multiple exposures using AI to tackle challenging lighting conditions. (We were impressed when testing the various iterations of Smart HDR for iPhone reviews, and it can be transformative when shooting a detailed subject in the shadows with a bright background. But again, it’s worth checking out. to mention that this isn’t cutting edge technology, with the iPhones being upgraded to Smart HDR 4 in 2021.) The iPad can now record 4K video for the first time too.
What else? There are new colors: the 10th generation iPad is available in bright pink, blue and yellow, as well as in silver. These are the brightest colors we’ve seen on an iPad yet, eclipsing the more muted purples and pinks offered with the latest iPad Air and mini. (It’s also curiously the first iPad we can remember that didn’t offer a black or gray finish. Apple is really committed to the colorful philosophy for these new tablets.)
The mobile options now feature 5G instead of LTE, and Apple has completed the set when it comes to transitioning the iPad range to USB-C. The entry-level 9th-generation iPad was the last Lightning holdout (at least among the iPads)…although technically it still is, as Apple keeps it on sale in the US for the same price of $329.
It also still uses the first-generation Apple Pencil, which poses a problem. Since the new iPad uses USB-C for charging and the original Apple Pencil has a Lightning port, you’ll need a USB-C to Apple Pencil Adapter for charging. Apple graciously adds one in the Apple Pencil purchase box, but if you inevitably lose it, it costs $9. There’s also a new Magic Keyboard Folio with a full keyboard and built-in trackpad for $249.
A painful price increase
Now we come to the thorny issue of price. And prudish readers may want to look away now, as the numbers have gone up a lot, especially for UK customers. 319. That’s a 36 percent increase in the US, and 56 percent in the United Kingdom. Even with a bigger screen, that’s hard to swallow.
It’s long been a tradition at Apple’s headquarters that new iPhones arrive in September and iPads in October, and this announcement comes as no surprise. What was less expected, until a warning from Mark Gurman in late September, was that Apple’s launches would be announced in October. gently: Instead of the expected press event, the company simply emailed the media with the details of the new products.
This is especially surprising because Apple doesn’t seem to be short of things to talk about: Along with this new iPad, there’s a new iPad Pro and a new Apple TV, and there are rumors of new Macs to follow. Gurman’s theory was that none of the new products are interesting or groundbreaking enough to warrant an event, but as we’ve argued elsewhere, even a dull Apple event is better than no event at all. And the changes outlined here are quite substantial and would definitely come in handy at an event.