It’s hard to believe that the original iPad was launched nearly 10 years ago this year by Steve Jobs. Jobs referred to it as a new category of device and time has proven that he was right.
Although the iPad 7th generation came out in 2019, it has taken me until now to do a full review. Ever since the original, the standard iPad has always been 9.7-inches, but the latest iPad now sports a larger 10.2-inch display. The new iPad also supports the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil (gen1).
Unlike the original iPad, which was mostly sold as an entertainment device, the newer iPads, and not just the ‘Pro’ models, can be used for ‘serious’ work too. I know so many people — from college students who use them for taking notes and annotating PDFs to pilots who use professional-grade navigation software, doctors who use them for advanced medical apps, professional illustrators who use apps like Procreate and professional photographers who use PhotoShop and Lightroom to do ‘real’ work. Yes, of course, you can use an iPad to watch Netflix and browse the internet, but they’re so much more than that now.
The new iPad is powered by the A10 Fusion chip with embedded M10 coprocessor as the previous model, but now it has 3GB of RAM instead of 2GB, which is a welcome improvement. You also get an 8-mp camera with up to 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps and a 1.2-mp FaceTime HD camera.
The speakers sound good and are stereo. However, both are on the bottom edge, so when you’re watching movies, the sound only comes out of one side. This isn’t as big a deal for listening to music or audio just don’t expect the same quality or volume the iPad Pro offers from its quad-speaker setup.
Just like the 6th generation iPad, you get Touch ID and not the newer Face ID found on the Pro 2018 Pro models. It works fast and reliably and is a convenient way of securely logging apps like online banking. You also get a 3.5mm headphone jack, which is something the latest Pro models lack.
The Smart Connector support means you can use the fullsize Smart Keyboard. There’s no question that at €179 the Smart Keyboard Folio is expensive, but it’s amazing to use.
I felt incredibly comfortable right away when using it for the first time. I found I could type fast and accurately despite its small form-factor. There are much cheaper alternatives that connect via Bluetooth but not everyone will require the use of a keyboard.
The slightly larger screen size is nice but isn’t enough of a reason to upgrade from a recent 9.7-inch model. The LCD Retina display is colour accurate, has a max brightness of 500 nits, which is great sunny days and true to tradition, it makes for a fantastic device for media consumption, whether playing games, watching movies or doodling.
Apple Pencil support is massive and really expands the iPad’s capabilities. I love to draw and take notes on an iPad and the slightly larger display is a bonus while still maintaining a sleek and tidy form. It’s so easy to take with you everywhere.
There is a noticeable difference in performance between the iPad and iPad Pro in programs like Procreate, iMovie and in games like Fortnite, but only if you compare them side-by-side. The A10 Fusion chip, which was first introduced in the iPhone 7, is still capable of running all the apps and games.
In the nearly 10 years of iPad, the OS is now more mature and with the release of iPadOS 13, it has become more versatile, powerful and productive than ever. For example, Safari now behaves like a desktop browser rather than pushing you a mobile version of a website.
This makes doing real work more feasible for me and many others. Multitasking is still not perfect but features like slide-over apps and the ability to have split-screen apps helps.
The Files app is now much more useful although, I which Apple would move all of their devices over to USB-C.
Battery life remains great in real-world use, but it will drain faster if you’re playing games and have the brightness at maximum. Also, you get the standard 12w iPad charger in the box, which takes up to four hours to charge from flat to full.
Overall, the iPad offers the most mature platform of any tablet out there. It also has the largest number of apps and games optimised for the large screen as well as the addition of Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard.
The iPad comes in three colours; Silver, Space Grey or Gold. You have a choice of either 32GB or 128GB with WiFi or WiFi + cellular with GPS. Prices start at €399. An added bonus is that you’ll get one year of Apple TV+ included when you buy a new Apple device.