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2018 iPad review: More of the same, but in the best possible way

Apple’s unveiling of a new 9.7-inch base level iPad in March was met with mixed reactions, but it shouldn’t have been.

Fans expecting a revolutionary device were disappointed to see the company release a fairly familiar tablet without a radical redesign, however, we’re here to tell you the latest iPad is everything it should be.

Think about it: Apple already caters to the high-end market with the iPad Pro, while the base model delivers everything the average consumer could want in a tablet. Considering the success of the 2017 iPad, there was no reason for the tech giant to take leaps and bounds in their latest release.

The improvements Apple did decide to make are absolutely spot on.

Before we get stuck into how the 2018 iPad measures up to the 2017 iPad and the iPad Pro, we’ll let you sink your teeth into the new tablet’s specifications.

Specifications

  • A10 Fusion processor
  • iOS 11
  • Apple Pencil support
  • Home/Touch ID sensor
  • 8Mp camera with 1080p HD video
  • 10-hour battery
  • 3.5-mm headphone jack
  • Built‑in stereo speakers
  • Lightning connector
  • Choice of 32GB or 129GB model
  • Choice of silver, gold or space grey
  • 9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit Multi-Touch display with IPS technology
  • 2048-by-1536-pixel resolution at 264 ppi
  • Dimensions: 240mm x 169.6mm x 7.5mm
  • Weight: 469 g

What’s the difference between the 2018 iPad and the 2017 iPad?

The short answer: not much. If you’re an Apple geek, you’ll probably notice there’s only a handful of major differences between the specifications of the 2018 iPad and those of the 2017 model.

Ultimately, the 2018 iPad is a more robust version of the 2017 model, with the major points of difference being the upgraded processor, iOS 11 and Apple Pencil support.

Apple claims the A10 Fusion processor delivers 40% faster CPU and 50% faster graphics performance than the A9 processor in the 2017 iPad. Indeed, the new iPad is quick and powerful whether you’re taking advantage of the latest iOS 11 features or running a visually intensive augmented reality (AR) game on the highest graphics settings.

2018 iPad with Apple Pencil

Apple’s latest iPad (2018) delivers everything a tablet should.

To put it simply, the new iPad is a faster, more powerful version of the 2017 model that retails at the same starting price (from A$469). Different hardware? A little bit. Worth the price? Absolutely.

How does the 2018 iPad compare with the 2017 iPad Pro?

The iPad Pro is still Apple’s premium tablet, so it outperforms the 2018 iPad in almost every aspect. The Pro has a better chip (A10X), a bigger display (10.5 or 12.9) and various other handy features like smart keyboard support, but all that comes at a much higher price (from A$979). Plus, the iPad Pro is a little less portable given its size and weight.

James Daly, our trusty product designer, does a lot of creative work on his iPad Pro using an Apple Pencil. He had no issue sketching with the Apple Pencil on the new iPad, although his only complaint was that it doesn’t have the TrueTone display of the Pro. That said, you would never notice the difference unless you had both devices in front of you.

Creatives and other professionals who rely on top-tier tablet performance may still prefer the premium features and performance of the iPad Pro, but we can’t fault the new base level tablet for everyday use. Looking at the market, there is no safer option for those wanting a slick and powerful tablet at an affordable price.

Should I get the Apple Pencil for my 2018 iPad?

The addition of Apple Pencil support might not seem particularly relevant to casual users – especially if you don’t commit to using it – but it’s more significant than you might think.

First, using the Pencil literally puts a range of incredible app interactions at your fingertips. iOS 11 allows app developers to introduce features specific to the Pencil, such as retouching photos, sketching designs and dissecting frogs (yes, really).

The Apple Pencil is also fully pressure- and tilt-sensitive, making it one of the most natural styluses I have ever used. Take it from someone who used to find a stylus awkward and cumbersome: once you give the Pencil a proper chance, it’s effortless to use.

More importantly, Apple is making a statement by bringing the Pencil to the base level iPad. This tablet is no longer a device deaigned for purely for consumption; it encourages you to create, share and make it your own.

The two issues with the Pencil, however, are the price tag (A$145) and the fact it doesn’t attach to the iPad without a specially designed case. The Pencil might be worth the investment – just don’t lose it.

The bottom line

The 2018 iPad is an iPad. It does everything you would expect an iPad to do. The 2017 iPad was excellent for an entry-level tablet, so we’re happy with Apple’s decision to give it an unpretentious upgrade this year.

What’s most impressive is how they have managed to combine relatively familiar hardware with cutting-edge software to deliver a truly excellent tablet.

If you want a reasonably priced tablet that runs your favourite apps, delivers exceptional gaming performance, looks great and is a joy to use, the 2018 iPad is the tablet for you. With the iPad Pro available for those who want the extra oomph, this tablet is perfect for the rest of us.

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