After taking all of us on a “field trip” in a high profile ad campaign, Apple has introduced its first product of 2018 in the country, the sixth generation iPad. Aimed at education (the device was launched at a school), the new iPad has been accused of being not so cutting edge when it comes to design and hardware. That said, it still remains the tablet to beat. Here are our first impressions of Apple’s latest tablet.
Looks like…an iPad!
“Haven’t I seen you before?”, is the first question that hit our minds when we saw the device. The iPad line up has been accused many times for playing safe when it comes to design, and not a lot has changed with the latest addition in the family. The device looks exactly like its predecessor, the fifth generation iPad that was launched in 2017. So much so that if you put the two next to each other, you might not be able to tell the difference just by looking at them. The tablet comes with a 9.7-inch Retina display (2048 x 1536) which dominates the front and is surrounded by very well pronounced bezels – before you ask, it is not a True Tone display like the ones you see on the iPad Pro. The bezel on top carries the front facing camera while the one below the screen sports the fingerprint scanner.The base of the device holds the speaker grilles and the lightning port while the top carries the power/lock button and 3.5 mm audio jack. Oh and yes, the display comes with an oleophobic coating but picks up smudges like there’s no tomorrow.
The back is pretty basic, too. We received the Space Grey Wi-Fi and LTE variant of the tablet which has a grey metal back with a black band on the top. Right next to the black band is the primary camera. Right in the middle, the company has placed its dark yet reflective logo and near the base there is the word: “iPad.” As if you could mistake it for anything else.
The sides are relatively plain, with only volume buttons and the SIM slot placed on the right side while the left side is completely bare. The tablet is slim, lightweight and portable. It measures 240 x 169.5 x 7.55 mm. Our unit weighed 478 grams, but the Wi-Fi variant weighs 469 grams.
The device does not come with any surprises in the looks category. It looks the same, feels the same and even measures the same (as the 2013 iPad). So, what’s different?
Scoring A10 with the chip
The difference mainly lies on the inside – the new iPad is powered by A10 Fusion chip with 64-bit architecture embedded M10 coprocessor. The A10 Fusion chip is one of the fastest processors present in the company’s portfolio, even though it is a notch below the A10X Fusion present in the 2017 iPad Pro range. The A10 Fusion chip is the same processor that powers the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, as well. Just for the record, last year’s iPad was powered by the A9 processor. As per the company’s claims, the upgrade would allow the sixth generation iPad to be faster, better at multitasking, smoother and would even allow you to edit 4K videos on the tablet comfortably. Considering that most iPhone 7 and 7 Plus units are still turning in decent service, this might well work out.
Hello, Apple Pencil
If there is one thing which has been completely exclusive to the iPad Pros all this while, it is the Apple Pencil. All the iPad users have missed out on the stylus experience because the Apple Pencil support only came with iPad Pro but with the new iPad, things have changed for good. The new iPad comes with (drum rolls) Apple Pencil support. This allows you to scribble, draw and design, on your documents and presentations, especially when it comes to all the Apple’s in-house apps like Keynote, Pages, iBooks among other apps. Yes, we will be testing it out extensively and getting back to you on how it works, especially as compared with the iPad Pro.
… and more powerful AR
The iPad may be an identical twin of its predecessor on the outside but the company has definitely made some significant changes on the inside. This includes better support for augmented reality apps. As the new iPad is powered by a better processor, the augmented reality experience on the iPad has also taken a step up. We actually compared the performance of the Boulevard app on the new iPad and its predecessor, and the difference was staggering. The new iPad clearly has a softer corner for AR.
Same old great battery life, with some not so great same old things…
iPads have been known for the amount of work they can put in on a single charge. And this stays the same for the new iPad as well. The sixth generation iPad can easily see 10 hours of work on single charge as per the company. That kind of battery life for a tablet this big? Brownie points!
While it may look like Apple has taken a huge jump forward with the latest iPad in hardware terms, there are some things that have not really changed much. The new iPad comes with 8 megapixel primary and 1.2-megapixel secondary camera. While we are not great fans of photography with large tablets, we did expect Apple to bump up the specs here – the rear camera does come with support for slow-motion and time-lapse, though. Things have not changed much in the audio department – the new iPad comes with two built-in stereo speakers, just like its predecessor. Another thing which has not yet changed is the 3.5 mm audio jack. While it may be a becoming a trend to ditch the audio jack (especially in the Apple jungle), the iPad still sports one.
…and same old price too!
The iPad comes in two major variants, the Wi-Fi option and the Wi-Fi+ LTE option and for each, there is a 32 GB and 128 GB model. Prices start at Rs. 28,000, which is the same as the previous edition – not bad when you consider that the new iPad has a shade of its Pro cousin, thanks to the Apple Pencil support. There will be some who will complain about how Apple has used a “2 year old processor, 5 year old design and 6 year old cameras” for the new iPad, and yes, it looks just the same as it always did. That said, there is no denying that the iPad does not have too much competition to speak of. Just how well it performs – especially with that Apple Pencil – will be revealed in our review. Right now, we can safely say that the new iPad is a chip off the old block with a new chip inside. Stay tuned for our review.