The new iPad is new in many ways and yet, one closer look reveals the same age-old idea that helps Apple keep the cash registers flowing for the iPad department. A new design and a bunch of internal upgrades make the Apple iPad 10th Generation a tablet to reckon, especially for those who seek an affordable laptop replacement, or those who want a fancy new tablet. At the same time, it makes enough compromises to make you peek at the iPad Air 5th Gen, which in turn pushes you towards the iPad Pro lineup. Oh Apple!
Keeping aside Apple’s clever marketing strategy, the new iPad brings a couple of major changes compared to its predecessor, which still sells at a lower price. Are these upgrades good enough to make you cough Rs. 44900 for the base 64GB Wi-Fi version?
The new iPad gets the new iPad-like looks. It borrows the basic design from the iPad Air 5th Gen and that assures of a handsome overall fit and finish. It is fairly lightweight and is built superbly. The Touch ID sensor is now on the power key and there’s a USB-C port; the latter being of great help to charge it anywhere. Sadly, Apple wanted to keep the costs low with a non-laminated LCD display and that thickens this iPad.
Similar to the old iPad, the iPad 10th Gen retains its magnetic POGO pins for accessory connectors. It is of no use with the Folio case but is the lifeline to the Magic Keyboard Folio, which costs an extra Rs. 24900. Too pricey for a case with a keyboard and a trackpad but the practicality goes up by several notches. Slapping on the keyboard case adds some heft to the iPad.
Apple offers a 10.9-inch IPS LCD display on this new iPad surrounded by notably thick but uniform bezels. This isn’t the best tablet display in this price segment, considering its lack of support for DCI-P3 colour gamut and a non-laminated panel. Once you settle in though, this display seems good enough for daily iPad chores, such as watching movies, or scrolling through social media apps, or working on a document, or attending video calls. Brightness levels are decent but sunlight legibility is not good. And, it supports the first generation Apple Pencil, which means noticeable latency while scribbling or drawing.
With an increased starting price, the new iPad can’t be happy with just being a simple tablet. It competes with laptops and hence, it needs to perform. In my two weeks with the iPad 10, I am happy to report that this can actually be your laptop replacement, provided your work revolves around documents and basic computing.
The A14 Bionic from the iPhone 12 is employed for duty and under typical iPad loads, it is more than comfortable to deal with everything. I threw some office-level multitasking with the Chrome browser handling 5-6 tabs, a Pages document, and Apple Music streaming in the background – the iPad 10th Gen was happy managing it all. I even play Shadow Fight 4 matches every few hours and it is all handled well.
Of course, the iPadOS 16.1 has a major role to play. The fancy Stage Manager doesn't make it to the base iPad but iPadOS 16.1 gets all the smart sharing goodies from iOS 16 and improved performance. You can run up to three iPad apps simultaneously and with the keyboard case, it feels very macOS-like. The trackpad cursor is odd and I would still like a conventional arrow instead of a circle. I also like the cut-copy function on image subjects, and the smart text copy from photos. And, if you use a MacBook for work, the integration between these two devices is epic – you can use your Mac keyboard and trackpad to control the iPad!
Other than these, the iPad 10th Gen also impresses when it comes to audio performance. There’s a stereo speaker setup here that is loud enough and produces good quality audio at the same time. For most of the time, these speakers are great for movie nights or YouTube channels.
Apple also moved the 12MP FaceTime camera to the horizontal top, which means your video calls will make you look normal with your eyes positioned towards the center; not off-axis. The camera quality is decent although it struggles with harsh lighting exposure. The rear camera is quite good for a tablet and for scanning documents or doing AR stuff, it does the job well enough.
If you opt for the Cellular model, the iPad 10th Gen also supports 5G connectivity alongside 4G LTE connectivity. Hence, if you are planning to get the big 5G upgrade, this iPad can manage your high-speed data needs.
The base iPad has always been about long endurance and if you use it like a regular tablet for 2-3 hours daily, the iPad will last up to 2-3 days easily. That’s the same case with the iPad 10th Generation, provided you stick to Wi-Fi connectivity. With more video calls, the stamina drops massively and you will need that 20W Apple charger within your reach by the day’s end. Or, you can use any USB-C charger to refill it.
The iPad 10th Generation is a mega upgrade over the antique iPad 9th Gen model – its new design coupled to a better display and faster overall performance make a good case for this new kid on the block. However, at its starting price of Rs. 44,900, the iPad 10th Gen just as a tablet is too pricey for what it offers, especially for a device that is a culmination of stuff from the old parts bin. Apple hasn’t done enough to justify the higher price. The display could have been much better, and so could the chipset (the A14 is good but the A15 would make better sense in 2022).
Above all that, Apple persuades you to buy its new Magic Keyboard Folio in order to make it a proper laptop replacement. Adding a Rs. 25,000 accessory to the base iPad 10 puts it almost on par with several Core i5 Windows laptops, and doing the same on a 256GB model pushes it to the MacBook Air category. Even if you want an exorbitantly priced iPad, the iPad Pro M2 makes more sense, and a cheaper Bluetooth keyboard would do the trick instead of the Magic Keyboard accessory. Additionally, the weird case of the 1st Gen Apple Pencil and a new Lightning to USB-C dongle makes it all…aargh!
Why buy the iPad 10th Generation then, especially when the 9th Gen iPad is selling at Rs. 30000? Any sane mind wouldn’t. That older iPad may look old but it does all the same iPad things at a much lower price. Yes, the new iPad 10th Gen is a big upgrade over its predecessor but the higher price tag makes it difficult to justify, even for an iPad fan. I would rather spend more and get the iPad Air for its M1 chip and a much better display.
Maybe when Apple kills the 9th Gen iPad, this iPad 10th Gen becomes the de-facto choice for budget iPad shoppers. But even then, Apple just made it easy for tablet shoppers to look at what Samsung has to offer.
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