Ap­ple iPad

The Irish Times - Business - - BUSINESS TECHNOLOGY - CiaraO’Brien

Take a good look at the sixth-gen­er­a­tion iPad. Go­ing on aes­thet­ics alone, you won’t be able to tell the new ver­sion from its pre­de­ces­sor. It has the same size screen at 9.7 ins. It is the same size and weight, and still has a phys­i­cal home but­ton rather than opt­ing for the solid touch-en­abled panel of the iPhone 7 and 8.

The cru­cial dif­fer­ences are under the hood. Ex­tra power, thanks to a new A10 Fu­sion chip and sup­port for Ap­ple Pen­cil, the com­pany’s dig­i­tal pen which has un­til now been limited to the iPad Pro.

This opens up a new mar­ket for the Pen­cil, with Ap­ple go­ing heav­ily on the ed­u­ca­tional ben­e­fits. I’m a reg­u­lar iPad Pro user; I’ve re­placed reg­u­lar note­books with the tablet, Pen­cil and a cou­ple of apps. It’s a sys­tem that works, as long as I re­mem­ber to keep ev­ery­thing charged.

Ap­ple has made some cal­cu­lated sac­ri­fices, al­though for the most part un­less you have a higher spec iPad to com­pare it with side by side, it’s un­likely you will be able to tell.

They are mainly around the dis­play. Al­though the sixth-gen­er­a­tion iPad has the same pixel per inch count as the Pro at 264ppi, the key dif­fer­ences are the Pro’s True Tone dis­play, which re­acts to am­bi­ent light and changes the white bal­ance ac­cord­ingly, the Pro­Mo­tion tech­nol­ogy the lat­est iPad Pro uses to make vi­su­als faster and smoother, and the ide colour dis­play.

You also sac­ri­fice the quad speak­ers of the iPad Pro for reg­u­lar stereo speak­ers, and the smart con­nec­tor that gives you key­board cov­ers.

There is one other dif­fer­ence be­tween the iPad Pro and the 2018 de­vice, and it’s the screen again. Ap­ple is us­ing a non-lam­i­nated screen in the new iPad; the Pro ver­sions use a fully lam­i­nated screen that is thin­ner, elim­i­nates any air gap, and has a non-re­flec­tive coat­ing.

The most no­tice­able im­pact of the non-lam­i­nated screen oc­curs when you use the Pen­cil. There’s lit­tle dif­fer­ence in per­for­mance, but tap at the screen and there’s the slight­est dif­fer­ence in sound – it’s a touch louder – and you’ll see a lit­tle give or visual dis­tur­bance at the point of im­pact.

But aside from that, the Pen­cil works as well in prac­ti­cally any cir­cum­stance. If the Pen­cil sup­port is why you’re buy­ing the new iPad, its per­for­mance is not some­thing to worry about. Add into that the up­dated com­pat­i­bil­ity with apps like Pages, and the Pen­cil could be­come an im­por­tant tool for more users.

The lack of an anti-re­flec­tive coat­ing means you’ll see your own face a lit­tle more of­ten than you’d like, par­tic­u­larly as it gets darker. But these are the trade­offs of the cheaper price point, and as an iPad Pro user, it’s not a deal breaker for me.

The up­grade to the A10 Fu­sion chip is a bit of a half­way house. It’s more pow­er­ful than last year’s iPad but not at the same level as the Pro. Still, it took ev­ery­thing I threw at it, in­clud­ing some fairly in­ten­sive games.

De­spite the ex­tra power, Ap­ple says the bat­tery life is the same at about 10 hours, and so far, that claim seems to be borne out by ex­pe­ri­ence of a few days with the tablet.

Aside from the ob­vi­ous ed­u­ca­tion mar­ket, it is aimed at al­most any­one who needs – or rather, wants – a tablet. The iPad in its 9.7 ins form is a tried and tested prod­uct, and Ap­ple has only im­proved it with the lat­est up­grades.

Pro users would find it dif­fi­cult to go back to this de­sign and miss out that ex­tra screen space and the quad speak­ers. But you’re not go­ing to swap from an iPad Pro to the lower-spec de­vice un­less there has been a dire ac­ci­dent that in­volves a re­pair bill com­pa­ra­ble to buy­ing a re­place­ment.

The good

It’s hard to beat this iPad on price. It’s cheaper than the iPad Mini, and with the ex­tra power Ap­ple has in­cluded as an up­grade, it is worth the money. The sup­port for Ap­ple Pen­cil may not be ne­ces­sity for some, but if you plan on us­ing this tablet for busi­ness or ed­u­ca­tion, the sty­lus opens up new pos­si­bil­i­ties.

The not so good

The tablet may sup­port Ap­ple Pen­cil, but you still have to pay ex­tra to get the sty­lus – and €99 isn’t cheap. The non-lam­i­nated screen means it isn’t quite as slick as the iPad Pro, but it’s not mas­sively no­tice­able.

The rest

The 2018 iPad keeps its phys­i­cal home but­ton, and also hangs on to the head­phone jack – two things that Ap­ple has now ditched from its smart­phones.

The ver­dict ★★★★

If the iPad Pro is too rich for your bud­get, the sixth-gen iPad will do nicely.

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