APPLE IPAD (10TH GENERATION)
A great update with tangible improvements, but it’s dragged down by a premium price.
Price 64GB, $719 | from apple.com/au
It’s too much to call the 2022 iPad a reinvention, but it’s certainly a modernisation. Out go all the design elements we’ve had for over a decade – the chunky bezels, the Home button, the Lightning port – and in come familiar features previously reserved for the iPad Pro and iPad Air, with a slimmer, flat-edged design, an edge-to-edge display, a Touch ID power button and a USB-C port on the bottom edge. Better still, like so many of Apple’s best-loved devices, it comes in a range of colours.
Like the iPad Air, the new iPad feels good in the hand. It’s roughly the same size and just under 1mm thicker, while weighing only 16g more. As with the Air there are still fairly sizeable black bezels, but nothing to seriously distract you from the screen. This isn’t as good as the screen on the iPad Air. It doesn’t hold up as well in bright sunlight, even though we measured the maximum brightness at a respectable 504cd/m2, and where the Air covers 80 percent of the DCI-P3 spectrum, the iPad reaches only 72 percent.
This isn’t a serious problem; the screen still covers 100 pecent of the less demanding sRGB spectrum and, in normal lighting, it’s great for streaming Netflix and Disney+ (or playing games), helped by the excellent stereo speakers. These are as loud and clear as you could hope for.
Like the previous iPad, the 10th gen model supports the Apple Pencil. Unfortunately, it’s the same Apple Pencil, namely the first-gen stylus with a Lightning port. It’s still one of the best styluses around, capable of tracking tiny movements and handling nuance when you’re drawing, but to charge it you’ll need the Lightning to USB-C adapter Apple now bundles with the Pencil.
It makes you wonder why the new iPad doesn’t simply support the superior Pencil 2, but the answer is surely to leave some clear water between the plain iPad and the Air. However, at least this iPad gets its own folio-style Magic Keyboard. It doesn’t have the Air Magic Keyboard’s ingenious floating design, but it’s stable and the keyboard has plenty of travel, along with some nice tactile feedback.
Connectivity is basic. While it charges via USB-C, the port only supports USB 2 data transfer speeds, which is the kind of thing we expect from budget tablets. You can still connect to an external display, but only at a maximum 30Hz at 4K. However, you do get Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 support.
Apple has upgraded the 8MP rear camera to a new 12MP module. This produces fine results in most lighting, but grain increases in dimmer conditions. Better still, the 12MP front-facing camera has been moved to a position on the long edge, which is exactly where you want it for video calls and meetings. It’s sharp, with good control over exposure, so you won’t have any complaints there.
Apple reserves its flagship M-series chips for the higher-end iPads, but the A14 Bionic in the new iPad still puts the processors in most Android tablets to shame. Its scores in Geekbench put it towards the top of the table, above the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 and S8 Ultra, and it’s a similar story with WebXPRT 4 and our 3D benchmarks. If you’re in the market for a gaming tablet and can’t stretch to the iPad Air, we’d point you to the iPad or the mini every time.
As for battery life, Apple promises around ten hours and in our rundown tests we comfortably exceeded that. What’s more, the bundled 20W charger can get you back to 26 percent from zero in 30 minutes.
The biggest issue facing the new iPad is its price. At around $720 for the base model, the outgoing iPad was easy to recommend. Any serious Android competitors tended to be either underpowered or more expensive, and the strength of Apple’s ecosystem helped make up for any shortcomings. This iPad is no longer a budget option; it’s going up against high-quality tablets from Samsung and Lenovo that beat it on features and screen quality.
The iPad’s advantages – speed and software – still make it worthy of your consideration, but it’s no longer the slam-dunk tablet that everyone should buy.