IPad 10th Gen Review: Better Design, Worse Price

IPad 10th Gen Review: Better Design, Worse Price

The 10th generation iPad added USB-C and finally improved its front camera. But with Pencil, the situation is not pleasant. Scott Stein/CNET © Courtesy of CNET The 10th generation iPad adds a USB-C port and finally fixes the front camera. But with Pencil, the situation is not pleasant. Scott Stein/CNET

I want life to be simple. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. When it comes to Apple's iPad lineup, which previously only had one model called "iPad," choosing which one to buy has been a confusing process.

Among all the models offered by Apple is the perfect iPad, but currently not in a single product.

That's why, as a reviewer, I find it hard to rate Apple's new, redesigned 10th-generation iPad. Starting at $449 (£499, AU$749), this should be everyone's iPad. But from what I've seen so far… no. (This is an ongoing review. As I use it more often, I will give my final opinion.)

Apple may already know this because there are six variants in the iPad lineup: the base 2022 model, last year 's 9th generation iPad, iPad Mini , updated iPad Air and the luxury iPad Pro , which come in two sizes.

So which is better, you ask? “Stop talking about confusion, Scott, and help me. This redesigned iPad has it all: USB-C finally! It has a bigger screen and better speakers like the iPad Air. This is the first iPad where the camera has been moved to the horizontal edge to improve FaceTime and Zoom call quality.

iPad 10th generation and iPad Pro: Which iPad should you buy now?

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Then there is the downside. If you want to use the Apple Pencil with this iPad, you'll need to use the first-generation Pencil, which means using a weird USB-C dongle. It won't work with iPad case accessories made for other models, which means you'll have to buy a new accessory. And the price has gone up. It's $449 for the 64GB version only, but you might want a more powerful model with more storage: 256GB for $599. And with a case or AppleCare, you could be looking at upwards of $700. I'm not even considering that $250 Apple Pencil or Magic Keyboard Folio.

In this economy, your best bet is probably the 2021 9th-gen iPad, which starts at $329, goes up to $479 for the highest storage tiers, and can often be found on sale. Apple took a similar approach with its latest MacBook Air: raising the price and adding features, but keeping older models in the lineup.

Scott Stein/CNET © Contributed by CNET Scott Stein/CNET

And that's a shame, because this iPad, with its bigger screen, better camera, and better processor, is my favorite model, except for the weird situation of the Pencil accessories.

I don't use the Apple Pencil very often, as fun as it is to draw, so it might be fine if I were to use a first generation pencil. But many others do not. And frankly, we don't know why Apple chose not to make this iPad compatible with the Pencil 2 more useful, despite all the other improvements. (You can also get 5G through the connected version.)

For now, I'm going to remove my Pencil 1 from its lock and place it somewhere it won't tip over while I continue this iPad review.

I celebrated that the camera finally looked good by talking to CNET's Dan Ackerman. Scott Stein/CNET © Courtesy of CNET Me noting that the camera ended up looking pretty good while talking to CNET's Dan Ackerman. Scott Stein/CNET

Camera: Yes, finally perfect

One big thing I want from an iPad is like a magic wish come true: the front camera that was awkwardly placed on the iPad is now at the edge of the landscape. Its good. Because it's awesome? Because I'm working on the iPad in landscape mode, the case and keyboard are both docked. When I use Zoom or FaceTime on another iPad, my face tilts and my eyes look away. It is now fixed. Combined with auto-zoom technology to the center of the scene, this video chat camera for iPad is perfect.

That alone makes me want to use this iPad more than anything else. But unfortunately, Apple only changed the camera position for this iPad. It doesn't exist on other models, not even on the new iPad Pro. Why? I have no idea. It's definitely the future of camera setup, so you have a head start if you buy this model.

This iPad shares the appearance of iPad Air and iPad Pro. It's basically good. Scott Stein/CNET © Provided by CNET This iPad shares the appearance of the iPad Air and iPad Pro. It's basically good. Scott Stein/CNET

Design: usually better, but not always

This iPad finally adopted the design style of all other iPads, with USB-C charging replacing Lightning and a flat-edge design with a large 10.9-inch screen with curved corners. This iPad has better speakers than the 9th generation model and the screen feels bigger. The screen lacks the anti-reflective coating and extra color gamut of the iPad Air.

There's no smooth 120Hz ProMotion on the iPad Pro model, but it's more than enough for almost anything. I often have trouble telling the difference between the iPad Air and this iPad on a daily basis.

10th generation iPad (left) next to iPad Air (right) while looking at Prehistoric Planet. It's hard for my family to tell the difference. Scott Stein/CNET © Provided by CNET . 10th generation iPad (left) next to iPad Air (right) while watching the movie Prehistoric Planet. It's hard for my family to tell the difference. Scott Stein/CNET

This iPad is basically the iPad Air 2020 minus a few features. The Air has the same A14 processor, but it's also compatible with the Pencil 2. It also has a smart rear connector that's compatible with the Magic Keyboard case.

The home button is gone and Touch ID has been moved to the small side power button, which is also found on the iPad Mini and iPad Air. I love it and wish it was on the iPhone too. There's no Face ID camera, which is good since I wear a mask a lot and Touch ID has become more convenient these days.

Location of the new smart connector: side. Scott Stein/CNET © Provided by CNET New smart connector location: side. Scott Stein/CNET

The downside to the design is that it's slightly thicker than the current 11-inch iPad Pro and iPad Air, meaning it won't work with both cases. This means buying new accessories. Apple has also created smart connectors with different slots on the side edges that work with the Apple Keyboard Folio designed for iPad. More on that below.

I asked my 14 year old son who uses the iPad all the time what he thought about it. He said, "I don't care, it looks the same."

But there's one thing about the design of this iPad that I can't stand.

This is how you will now stick the pencil. Scott Stein/CNET © Contributed by CNET Here's how you can set up your stylus now. Scott Stein/CNET

Pencil: Really?

The best I can say about this iPad is that it works with the Apple Pencil, but I think that's almost technical. Apple dropped support for the magnetically charged Pencil 2 on this model, so you'll have to opt for the Pencil 1, which swivels a lot, has a cap that slides off easily and has no extras. The sides. touch controls and charge with Lightning.

Too many connectors. Also, the Pencil-to-USB dongle is not included with the iPad. Scott Stein/CNET © Provided by CNET Multiple Connectors. Also, the Pencil-to-USB dongle is not included with the iPad. Scott Stein/CNET

Except that instead of plugging the Pencil into the side of the iPad to charge it, you'll need a separate USB-C dongle and charging cable to charge it. It's not just weird, it's frustrating. The chances of me taking all these things with me when I need them are slim. If you're seriously considering drawing on your iPad with the Apple Pencil, this weird motion is bad enough to ignore this pattern altogether. (Even the iPad Mini works with the Pencil 2.)

Apple's new Magic Keyboard Folio is similar to previous Logitech cases. Scott Stein/CNET © Provided by CNET Apple's new Magic Keyboard Folio is similar to previous Logitech boxes. Scott Stein/CNET

The case of the Magic Keyboard Flip: the imperfect solution

Apple has once again redesigned the plug-in keyboard case for this new iPad, taking a very different approach to the Magic Keyboard case. This case, which works with the iPad Air and Pro, is expensive ($300+), heavy, can't be used as an everyday case due to hard corners, but is great for working on flat surfaces . .

Flip box another $250. It's split into two sections (a side-locking keyboard and a back cover with a stand that attaches to the back of the iPad), works like an everyday bag, and adds a handy row of function keys on the top. But it's not knee-high and it doesn't have a backlit keyboard. I wrote this entire review, but edited it and posted it on my MacBook Air.

I've used type covers from Logitech and other manufacturers , and the Surface Pro has a similar keyboard layout. You can get Logitech cases for less, and they offer even better protection: Apple's cases don't protect the sides of the iPad at all and seem ready to fall off if you drop the iPad. I feel like the keys are a bit different than other Magic or MacBook Air keyboards. I do not like it very much

Also, there is nowhere to put the Apple Pencil. Which, when I checked, was somewhere.

10th generation iPad (left) next to 9th generation iPad (right). The new iPad has a better A14 processor: not as fast as the M1, but good enough. (However, the 9th generation iPad is also pretty cool.) Scott Stein/CNET © Provided by CNET . 10th generation iPad (left) next to 9th generation iPad (right). The new iPad has a better A14 processor: not as fast as the M1, but good enough. (However, the 9th generation iPad is also pretty cool.) Scott Stein/CNET

Performance: more than correct

The A14 processor has been around for a while (it's in the iPhone 12). Here it is with 4GB of RAM, similar to the iPhone 12 and iPad Air 2020 . The results are good: more than fast, but not as good as the M1 i Air or the new M2 Pro.

Need advanced iPad performance? I do not think so. The improvements over last year's ninth-generation iPad are significant, but they're no different from the 2020 iPad Air models. Apple's mobile processors are now so powerful that iPad software must live up to its potential.

iPad next to iPad Mini. The family feels complete. but not all functions converge. Scott Stein/CNET © Courtesy of CNET iPad next to iPad Mini. The family feels complete. but not all functions converge. Scott Stein/CNET

Is it worth the wait? Possible

Apple's iPad lineup has changed recently, with Base and Pro models arriving in the fall (sometimes) and Air models in the spring (sometimes). The iPad Air, released last spring, has a few minor improvements over that iPad: an M1 chip, a slightly improved screen, and Pencil 2 support. But it lacks the new fixed front camera. The same thing happened last year when the base iPad introduced Center Stage Zoom and the iPad Air was deprived of it.

The iPad Air costs $150 more and can be tempting. Apple keeps your updates close at hand, like movie theater-sized popcorn. Suddenly, you find yourself stepping into iPad Pro country and picking up a package worth over a thousand dollars. Stop and ask yourself: will this model go on sale? Would you be happy with last year's iPad? Would you like to have something even better for Water next spring?

My only concern with future updates is that Apple is relying on the M1 chip as a limitation for more advanced software features, although for now that just means better support for external monitors with Stage Manager, a feature that is currently very problematic. that Apple delayed its launch. launch later this year. I'd say you're fine without the M1, especially since the A14 is more than enough.

In the future, with the old Pencil and the sub-M1 chip, this iPad might be on the other side of the future. Again, you will save money. Apple hasn't updated its iPad lineup this year. It seems that the iPad is a product that is still in the process of transformation. However, the ideal form does not exist.

New iPad Pro! iPad10! And television is cheaper!

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