Apple 9.7-inch iPad (2018) first impressions: Faster and now with Apple Pencil

Apple’s new iPad is not only faster than its predecessor, but also comes with support for the Pencil. Here are our first impressions.


Last month at an event in Chicago, Apple launched an affordable iPad aimed at students. While that may not be necessarily true for students in India, the new iPad is nonetheless coming to India. It is set to go on sale from April 25, with prices starting from Rs 28,000. Having spent some time with the new 9.7-inch iPad (2018), here are my first impressions.

Same yet different

The new iPad (2018) is essentially replacing the iPad (2017), and when you take it out of the box, you will be hard pressed to find anything differences – at least on the design front. And that’s because Apple has focused more on the internals, instead of going for a big cosmetic upgrade.

At the time of launch, Apple’s Greg Joswiak summed up the iPad (2018) by saying, “The new 9.7-inch iPad takes everything people love about our most popular iPad and make it even better for inspiring creativity and learning.”

While Apple has retained the 9.7-inch Retina display, it is quite bright, and everything from photos to text look crisp. If you’ve already used the iPad Pro before, you will have to make peace with the thick bezels around the display. Also missing (disappointingly) is the True Tone display that is now found on Apple’s iPhones too.

That aside, Apple has introduced sub-pixel precision to the display that allows for ultra-low latency. This is especially useful when using the Apple Pencil, but more on that later.

The other upgrade is under the hood. The iPad (2018) is now powered by 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. On the software front, it runs iOS 11.3 out-of-the-box. In the little time I have used the iPad, everything seemed smooth as butter.

Apple Pencil support

The talking point on the new iPad (2018) is the support for Apple Pencil. Until now, this was something restricted to power users owning an iPad Pro. But Apple believes the Pencil unlocks the creativity side of students, which is why the support.

The functionality remains the same as what you find on the iPad Pro. Those who enjoy sketching will appreciate the smoothness, and also how it allows for shading. Apple recently also updated its iWork suite of apps that now also come with support for Pencil. Going forward, we can expect more third-party apps to start supporting the stylus. Unfortunately, the Pencil doesn’t come bundled with the iPad. You will have to shell out an additional Rs 7,600 for that.

In the little time that I have spent with the Apple 9.7-inch iPad (2018), things are looking quite interesting. The compact form factor fits well in your hands, apps/games open and close in a jiffy, and the best part is the support for Apple Pencil.

Prices for the Wi-Fi only model starts from Rs 28,000, while for Wi-Fi + Cellular model, it starts from Rs 38,600. We will be spending considerable time with the new iPad (2018) in the coming weeks. So stay tuned for our review.

  • Published Date: April 18, 2018 3:52 PM IST