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Review

Apple 9.7-inch iPad (2018) Review: Almost a Pro

If you want to see what the future of education could be like, look no further than Apple’s new 9.7-inch iPad (2018). Here’s my review.

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Apple 9.7-inch iPad (2018) 4 5
BGR Rating :
4/5

Highlights

  • Apple 9.7-inch iPad (2018) is aimed at students.

  • The new iPad comes with Apple Pencil support.

  • Prices for the iPad (2018) start from Rs 28,000.

The jury is still out on whether we really need a tablet in our day-to-day lives. But that isn’t stopping Apple from coming out with new iPads. And yes, that’s a good thing. The iPad Pro 2 really impressed us, and I had been waiting to try out the new and affordable 9.7-inch iPad (2018) since Apple launched it at an event in Chicago. Having spent the past couple of weeks with it, here’s my review.

The same ol’ design

The new Apple 9.7-inch iPad (2018) looks exactly like last year’s iPad, which incidentally it is replacing. With mobile devices these days flaunting displays that stretch to the very edges, some will no doubt find fault with the thick bezels on the new iPad. Others will also point out how the new iPad is thicker than the iPad Pro.

But when you take into consideration who this iPad is meant for, you will see logic behind Apple’s decisions. The new iPad is meant for first-time users, and students who will use it in their classrooms everyday. For them the aesthetics do not matter much. Instead, what is important is that their tablet is sturdy, and easy enough to hold with one hand.

And trust me, when using the iPad during commutes in Mumbai’s local trains, thick bezels are the least of my concerns. I’m just happy there is enough space on the side of the tablet to hold on to without really obstructing the screen.

Power and performance

The new iPad may look like its predecessor, but it is not entirely the same. Under the hood is a 64-bit A10 Fusion chip. This is basically the same chipset powering the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. There is also an accompanying M10 Motion co-processor.

In the days I have been using the iPad, there’s nothing that the tablet hasn’t been able to handle. From high-definition videos, graphic-intensive games to having multiple tabs open on Safari, the iPad is able to handle them with ease. Even when using Augmented Reality (AR) apps, and multiple apps in split-window mode, the iPad didn’t stutter. The only indication of how hard the iPad is working is when the back heats up a bit after extended use.

If you’re among those who don’t mind using a tablet for photography, there’s an 8-megapixel camera at the back. While I’m not a fan of holding up a massive tablet to click a photo, the iPad’s camera did surprise me. It is decent enough to shoot photos in ideal lighting conditions. The front camera is also more than capable enough to handle video chats through FaceTime and other third-party apps.

Apple claims that the battery on the new iPad is good enough to last up to 10 hours, and I concur. Despite heavy usage and being connected to a LTE network, the iPad was able to sail through an entire day. Only towards the end of the day do you need to plug it in.

The ability to write

Now to what really differentiates the new iPad from its predecessor. With the iPad (2018) aimed at students, Apple has added support for the Pencil. This is the first time an iPad that is not a part of the Pro series is getting the Pencil support. Unfortunately, the stylus is not bundled in the box, and you will have to pay Rs 7,600 to buy it.

In terms of functionality, the Apple Pencil works exactly the way it does on the iPad Pro. The experience too is almost the same. Almost. The latency is a bit more noticeable on the cheaper iPad when compared to the iPad Pro. For example, when you drag the Pencil across the screen, you will notice that the ink flow is just a tad behind the tip, instead of being beneath it. But, this is something that will be visible to the trained eye, and chances are most won’t notice it at all.

The Apple Pencil though is not just to doodle. Apple has also optimized its iWork apps to work with the Pencil. While highlighting sentences or making annotations are not something new, it is the manner in which Apple has introduced these features is downright futuristic.

With the Pencil, you will be able to highlight words/sentences, or point out mistakes and make notes. And all these edits are tied to that particular word or sentence. So when you scroll, these edits move with them. When you share the document with someone, these edits are shared as well. It is also really easy to insert diagrams or charts into documents, and make annotations on them as well.

Imagine a classroom where student share their homework or coursework via AirDrop with a teacher. The teacher then makes changes or points out mistakes, and immediately reverts to the students. Why then would we need paper or pen? All these work so seamlessly, you tend to think why they have not yet become part of our education system.

Is the Apple 9.7-inch iPad (2018) for you?

If you have a kid in the house, this is certainly an iPad that you should buy for them. While the Indian education system doesn’t ask for a tablet, there is no harm in making your kid learn using the best tools (not a lot) money can buy. Period.

My only grouches are that the iPad doesn’t come with a Pencil bundled in, and there is no iPad Pro-like Smart Connector for Apple’s smart keyboard. You will again have to invest in a third-party Bluetooth keyboard.

But if you look beyond all the talk about education, you still see a very good tablet. In fact there is no other tablet that comes to mind, if you are on the hunt for something that is more portable than a laptop. While it may not have the magic of an iPad Pro, remember the massive price difference.

The new iPad (2018) is priced at Rs 28,000 for the Wi-Fi only model, and Rs 38,600 for the Wi-Fi+Cellular model. For this money you get an iPad that performs well, lasts long, and comes with Apple Pencil support. There is little to find fault with. Then again, Apple is yet to make a bad iPad.

  • Published Date: May 5, 2018 1:59 PM IST