Apple iPad 9.7
Apple takes its no-frills tablet and adds… one frill. But with its wide range of apps and build quality, it’s still the mid-price master
Last year, Apple introduced its cheapest non-Mini iPad ever, the iPad 5th-gen. It came with no bells or whistles, but also few flaws. It was a fast, slick, well-built machine for a great price that makes for an ideal entertainment tablet to have lying around the house. A year later, it’s still more than good enough for that job, yet Apple has given us a new version.
More is less
So what improvements has it made? Well, barely any, actually. The new iPad now supports Apple Pencil – the company’s own (very impressive) stylus – and has a faster Apple A10 processor. The price has also come down to a tidy `28,000 (for the 32GB Wi-Fi model).
If you bought last year’s model this one isn’t worth splashing out for, but if you’re upgrading or getting your first iPad, it’s a juicy proposition.
Maybe the single most important part of a tablet is its screen, and though the iPad 9.7’s 2048x1536 display is far from cutting edge, it’s really good. It’s the biggest area of difference from the iPad Pros, despite the addition of Pencil support (which is responsive and precise, though at £89 is not a cheap add-on). You don’t get the Pros’ wide-colour display, HDR support, and 120Hz refresh rate, but given that this is about half the price of the 10.5-inch iPad Pro it feels like a fair trade-off. The only feature of the iPad Pros we’re disappointed not to see here is TrueTone, which conviniently matches the colour temperature of the screen to the ambient light in the room – it’s made to save eyes and offer more comfortable reading, which seems like a good thing to have in a kid-focused tablet.
Performance and responsiveness everywhere else is great. For web browsing, working in documents, gaming, and playing with GarageBand and iMovie, it’s more than fast enough and handles split-screen multitasking well (though the size of screen means it’s not quite a productivity powerhouse). Battery life is great too, as with light use you’ll usually beat Apple’s 10-hour guideline. Also, it barely loses any power in standby, so you’ll rarely find it dead when you want to fire up Netflix.
Actually, movies are one of its weaker points. Why? The screen is nice, but the speaker is weedy. Even the cheap Kindle tablets have stereo. The camera is average, but works well enough for a few snaps here and there.