The "1-Minute" Review
- Lack of storage options
- No microSD support
- Apple Pen and a case will increase the price
- No smart connector for accessories
The iPad has always been the tablet to beat in the rankings. Between build quality and performance, there are few tablets that can touch the experience. The latest release from Apple is geared toward education -- even holding a press conference in a school -- but does it make sense as an upgrade or budget-conscious choice for everyone else?
If you’ve seen the previous few iPad models, you know what to expect with the iPad 9.7 6th Generation. It’s a thin, light aluminum shell with two bottom firing stereo speakers and the typical minimalist Apple styling. The latest release is available in an array of colors, but there’s a good chance you’ll want to pop it in a protective case anyhow.
Around front, you’ll find the same 9.7-inch display running at 1536-by-2048 pixels that was in the previous model. But this isn’t a bad thing. The screen offers plenty of brightness for outdoor use, great contrast, and good color accuracy.
If you’re planning on using your tablet for graphics or other color-sensitive work, the iPad Pro offers better accuracy. But for the average user, the screen on the 9.7 (2018) is more than enough.
There was a couple issues mentioned by reviewers. There is a noticeable gap between the screen and the glass. Also, while the screen is bright enough for outdoor use, the glossy finish leads to some glare issues.
The processor is one of the biggest upgrades in this latest release. It uses a 2.34Ghz quad-core Apple A10 Fusion processor with 2GB of RAM. The processor offers plenty of power for gaming, media consumption, and even productivity. Reviewers had no trouble with response times and even used the tablet for light video editing.
The previous model was no slouch. But the processor upgrade brings one more trick that reviewers loved -- Apple Pen support. Unfortunately, there’s still no easy way to store it with the iPad. And it’s not included with the tablet. So getting an Apple Pen will add a healthy chunk to the price.
The tablet ships with the latest version of iOS 11. Reviewers expect roughly 4 years of software updates before Apple drops support.
The one downfall to iPads is the lack of storage expansion. To make matters worse, there are only two storage capacity options -- 32 or 128GB. While the price increase for 128GB makes the tablet a little less affordable, it’s a worthy upgrade if you plan to play the latest games, use your iPad as a mobile office, or store media locally for offline viewing.
As with most tablets, the cameras are a rather basic affair. You’ll find an 8MP rear camera and a 1MP front-facing lens. Reviewers found the cameras capable of quick snaps for the web or social sharing. But don’t expect the experience you’ll get in the iPhone. Details get muddy when zoomed in and low-light performance is less than stellar.
Battery life is one area where the tablet shines. The 32.4 watt-hour battery is capable of 10 hours of average usage without breaking a sweat. Many reviewers could squeak out an hour or two more for basic tasks or by dimming the screen.
Simply stated, reviewers loved the iPad 9.7 (2018). Wirecutter called it “the best tablet for most people because it offers the best combination of speed, features (including support for Apple Pencil), screen size, ecosystem, and price.” VentureBeat agreed, labeling it “Apple’s best entry-level iPad to date.”