Apple iPad review: minor upgrades may hold hints about its future

The 2022 model is a very good entry-level tablet, especially for pupils and those who are not users of content that requires a lot of storage

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Apple's new iPad is ready to roll, and the 10th iteration of the iPhone maker's original tablet has some attractive propositions for current and potential users.

The launch of the device is meant to solidify Apple's position in the global tablet market. As of the third quarter of 2022, Cupertino-based Apple held a market share of about 51 per cent, almost double that of Samsung's 29 per cent, according to Statcounter data.

SPEC SHEET: APPLE IPAD (2022)

Display: 10.9-inch Liquid Retina IPS LCD, 2,360 x 1,640, 264ppi, wide colour, True Tone, Apple Pencil 1 support

Chip: Apple A14 Bionic, 6-core CPU, 4-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine

Storage: 64GB/256GB

Platform: iPadOS 16

Main camera: 12-megapixel wide, f/1.8, 5x digital, Smart HDR 3

Video: 4K @ 24/25/30/60fps, full HD @ 25/30/60fps, slo-mo @ 120/240fps

Front camera: 12MP ultra-wide, f/2.4, 2x, Smart HDR 3, Centre Stage; full HD @ 25/30/60fps

Audio: Stereo speakers

Biometrics: Touch ID

I/O: USB-C, smart connector (for folio/keyboard)

Battery: Up to 10 hours on Wi-Fi; up to 9 hours on cellular

Finish: Blue, pink, silver, yellow

In the box: iPad, USB-C-to-USB-C cable, 20W power adapter

Price: Wi-Fi — Dh1,849 (64GB) / Dh2,449 (256GB); cellular — Dh2,449 (64GB) / Dh3,049 (256GB)

Apple has made sure its standard iPad keeps pace with its other products, with this update coming a year after its ninth generation. However, there are some surprising features, or lack thereof. Let's begin.

2022 iPad vs 2021 iPad: what's the difference?

There are three notable physical updates to the new iPad, all of which transition Apple's entire tablet portfolio to a more consistent look and functionality.

First, is the design. The new iPad has a rounded-edge and flat-side design akin to the latest iPhones, meaning all the latest models in each iPad line-up now sport this look. It is reminiscent of when the original iPad was launched in 2010, when it was described as a supersized iPhone.

Next is Apple's proprietary Lightning connector, which has been replaced by a USB-C port. This was widely anticipated and not a surprise, and probably should have been done in the iPad's 2021 iteration. If you have the other new iPads in your stash, cables will not be a problem.

Could the 2023 iPhones follow suit, given the iPad's complete transition? That rumour has been around for a long time, but we will only find out next year.

The third is the removal of the home button, which results in slimmer bezels all around. But Touch ID lives on, having been shifted to the top button, as with the rest of the new iPads.

Meanwhile, its display now uses a Liquid Retina display at a slightly bigger 10.9 inches (27.68 centimetres), compared with last year's 10.2-inch Retina screen, with its resolution slightly higher and brightness unmoved at 500 nits.

Surprisingly, Apple decided to keep the same two storage options, 64 gigabytes and 256GB, both of which will not be enough especially if you intend to use it for content that is heavy on file size. A 512GB device would have been great.

Given all these — and other details still coming — it seems that the new iPad has a striking resemblance to the latest iPad Air, but without the presence of an M chip.

Performance as you would expect

The one major knock that comes with the new iPad is that it uses the A14 Bionic, which is a two-year-old chip that was used in 2020's iPhone 12 series.

Split view on the 10th-generation Apple iPad. Photo: Apple

This is a bit of a mystery: the newest iPad Air uses the M1. Using the M2 on the newly introduced iPad Pros, meanwhile, is understandable given their stature as the premium versions of the lot, but when you see that the latest iPad mini from last year uses the A15, there is an argument to be made as to why.

It is possible that Apple is positioning the iPad as the entry-level tablet, given that the mini is more expensive, size notwithstanding.

Despite all these, the new iPad still works as smooth as you can expect and works really well with the first-generation Apple Pencil. For video, the new iPad supports 4K and extended dynamic range, which weren't in last year's version.

USB-C functionality also allows for greater compatibility with other devices and increases the chances of you finding a cable for it — which is pretty much standard nowadays — in the instance you forget to bring yours along.

However, these bring us to one disadvantage: you won't be able to charge the Pencil on the iPad because Apple's stylus uses a Lightning connector. This is quite perplexing.

There are two solutions for this: if you already have an original Pencil, you can grab an adapter (Dh39); if you are buying a new one, Apple has now bundled a USB-C-to-Pencil adapter with it (Dh399).

The 10th-generation Apple iPad with the new Magic Keyboard Folio. Photo: Apple

Going further into accessories, the new iPad works with Apple's Magic Keyboard Folio — specifically designed for the device — which has a trackpad, doubles as a nice cover and does not require charging. This is a bump-up from the trackpad-less smart keyboard on the ninth-generation iPad.

Apple also updated the new iPad with Wi-Fi 6 support, and the technology company says it results in connections that are about a third faster compared to last year's model.

And another first for any iPad: the front camera is now located on its right landscape edge — on the right if you are holding it vertically and on top if you have a keyboard attached — for a better view. It also supports Apple's Centre Stage, which makes the camera automatically pan or zoom to keep you within the frame.

Given its features and those new vibrant colours, we are convinced that Apple is trying to win over more of the education market: pupils, especially those in the lower levels, do not require a heavy-duty learning machine to go through the school day.

An entry-level iPad can help pupils get a grasp of what tablet technology has to offer, and prepare them to gradually rise up the iPad ladder when the time comes to upgrade — or maybe even start a career early on.

All-day battery

The new iPad remains at par with its predecessor: Apple lists up to 10 hours of video or up to nine hours of web surfing. In our one-hour YouTube-at-full-brightness test, the device lost 18 per cent, pretty much in line with our other expectations.

It was also enough to last for an entire day but it goes without saying that you should take it easy when it comes to videos and games, both of which can drain the battery fast. One notable thing is that it does not heat up no matter how much you stress it out.

Meanwhile, charging is not as fast as an iPhone. Using the 20-watt adapter provided in the box, the new iPad crawled its way to about half full in one hour, then about three quarters 30 minutes later. The iPad typically goes to full power after more than two hours plugged in, and the time it will take to peak will depend on whether you use it while charging or anything running in the background.

Verdict

All things said, the 10th-generation Apple iPad remains a solid starting point for tablet users. It definitely has its market — in particular, those who need a digital companion minus top-tier specifications and those who would use it for activities that do not involve storage-hungry files.

We can also consider that Apple declining to use an M chip — or at least the A16 Bionic — is a signal that the tech company is positioning the regular iPad as the entry point for new, potential users, and will very much appeal to young education users as we pointed out earlier.

But they could have at least considered the A15, to make it more consistent with what they did with the iPhone 14 line-up, in which they reserved the latest A16 for the Pro models.

We are also of the opinion that the very token upgrades to the iPad could be a signal that Apple may be planning to consolidate its tablet line-up in the next round, given the similarities between this new device and the latest iPad Air.

If Apple does not update the iPad Air early next year, and the fact that there was no iPad mini introduced this year, this thought may well come into fruition.

And as a parting thought: since this is effectively the “iPad X”, we wished Apple would have given it more flair, much in the same way it did with the iPhone X.

Updated: October 25, 2022, 8:11 AM
SPEC SHEET: APPLE IPAD (2022)

Display: 10.9-inch Liquid Retina IPS LCD, 2,360 x 1,640, 264ppi, wide colour, True Tone, Apple Pencil 1 support

Chip: Apple A14 Bionic, 6-core CPU, 4-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine

Storage: 64GB/256GB

Platform: iPadOS 16

Main camera: 12-megapixel wide, f/1.8, 5x digital, Smart HDR 3

Video: 4K @ 24/25/30/60fps, full HD @ 25/30/60fps, slo-mo @ 120/240fps

Front camera: 12MP ultra-wide, f/2.4, 2x, Smart HDR 3, Centre Stage; full HD @ 25/30/60fps

Audio: Stereo speakers

Biometrics: Touch ID

I/O: USB-C, smart connector (for folio/keyboard)

Battery: Up to 10 hours on Wi-Fi; up to 9 hours on cellular

Finish: Blue, pink, silver, yellow

In the box: iPad, USB-C-to-USB-C cable, 20W power adapter

Price: Wi-Fi — Dh1,849 (64GB) / Dh2,449 (256GB); cellular — Dh2,449 (64GB) / Dh3,049 (256GB)

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