The new iPad got a major makeover, and it’s worth the extra $120

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iPad (10th generation).
Sofia Pitt
Apple‘s new iPad hits store shelves on Wednesday. I’ve been testing it for the past several days, and if you’re looking for an entry-level iPad, I think it’s worth spending the extra $120 on this year’s version.

The debut of the 10th generation iPad comes at a crucial time for Apple: right ahead of the all-important holiday shopping season. IPad sales fell 14% during Apple’s last holiday quarter, and dropped 2% during the company’s fiscal third quarter, which ended in July. Apple’s two newest iPad models, which also includes the highest-end Pro model, could help boost holiday tablet sales.

This year’s iPad got a major redesign with a faster processing chip, a better camera, and other features. It’s a bit more expensive than last year’s iPad, starting at $449, versus last year’s 9th generation model, which starts at $329.

That comes with a caveat: If you already have a 2021 entry-level iPad, don’t bother buying this year’s model. The differences aren’t stark enough to justify the upgrade.

Here’s what you need to know about Apple’s new entry-level iPad.

What’s good

iPad (10th generation)
Sofia Pitt

Let’s start with the upgraded design. Apple’s new iPad has a 10.9-inch screen, which is slightly larger than the last generation’s 10.2-inch display. It has flat edges, and a more squared look, similar to the higher-end iPad Air or Pro. You can say goodbye to the home button at the bottom of the screen. Instead, there is a fingerprint reader in the power button.

There are two other important upgrades: a new USB-C connector, instead of the Lightning connector, which means faster charging and transfer speeds for things like big video files.

One of the upgrades I’m most excited about is the new placement of the front-facing camera. It’s now on the long side of the tablet, instead of the short side, which should help you look more centered on the camera during video chats. It’s also more flattering.

When FaceTiming on my 2021 iPad, my eyes are constantly drawn to the side of the screen, rather than the person I’m talking to because the camera feels like it’s capturing me at an odd angle. The new placement of the iPad’s front-facing camera corrects that problem and makes it easier to focus on the person I’m trying to talk to.

The new iPad is powered by a slightly older A14 Bionic chip, but I noticed slightly faster performance and longer-lasting battery life when compared with its predecessor. Switching between apps such as Safari and Pinterest, for example, felt smoother, and I was able to make it through an entire day of streaming and surfing the web before needing to charge at night.

The screen was clear when I watched “Emily the Criminal” over the weekend. The picture quality in the car chase scenes was sharp and the colors were vivid, though not as bright as what you’d get on one of Apple’s higher-end iPads.

The camera on the new iPad is noticeably better. The front-facing selfie-cam was clearer for video calls when compared with last year’s iPad and my 2021 MacBook.

iPad front facing camera.
Sofia Pitt

The new colors are also exciting and I have a feeling they’ll make this entry-level iPad more popular for the holiday season. This year’s lineup comes in blue, pink, silver and yellow.

The new iPad
Apple

The iPad I’ve been testing has 5G cellular, which costs an extra $150. If you commute or use your iPad on the go like me, it’s worth the extra cost since you can stream without being connected to Wi-Fi.

What’s bad

The new iPad requires a $9 dongle if you want to use the Apple Pencil.
Sofia Pitt

One thing about the new iPad is that it doesn’t support the latest second-generation Apple Pencil. It only works with the first-generation Apple Pencil, which is seven years old and isn’t as comfortable to use. Adding insult to injury, since the iPad now has a USB-C port instead of a Lightning connector, the older Apple Pencil requires a $9 dongle to use with this tablet.

Also, Apple sells a new $249 Magic Keyboard Folio case that has a kickstand and a multitouch trackpad, which is useful if you need to type out some emails or get quick work done.

I don’t like this new Magic Keyboard Folio as much as the version that works with the iPad Pro, because I often stream shows and keep my iPad on my lap, couch or bed and this case doesn’t prop up the iPad as well on soft surfaces. I found myself having to hold the iPad with one hand to keep it in place while watching shows.

iPad (10th generation)
Sofia Pitt

Should you buy it?

The newest entry-level iPad is perfect for basic tablet needs such as streaming movies, reading, catching up on emails, browsing the internet, scrolling social media and FaceTiming. The upgrades, when compared with last year’s iPad, are noticeable. It looks more modern, is slightly faster, and the screen is larger.

If you don’t currently have the 9th generation iPad and you’re looking for an entry-level iPad, it’s worth spending the extra $120 on this year’s model.

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