For years, we have celebrated the entry-level iPad as one of the best values in Apple’s lineup. For $329, and often on sale for less, you could buy an iPad sufficient for most things that most people want to do on an iPad: reading, Web browsing, watching videos, and scribbling with an Apple Pencil. The only downsides were the increasingly dated design with thick bezels and a now old-fashioned Home button.
Now, with the tenth-generation iPad, Apple has completely reimagined the iPad. The Home button is no more, and the overall design brings it into harmony with the iPad Air and iPad Pro.
But with all change comes good and bad. The new iPad’s design and specs are impressive upgrades from the previous model:
- A modern, all-screen design in four bright colors: blue, pink, silver, and yellow
- A 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display
- A FaceTime camera on the long side for optimal use in landscape orientation
- Touch ID built into the top button like the iPad Air and iPad mini
- 5G connectivity on cellular models
- USB-C instead of Lightning (see “European Union to Mandate USB-C in Electronic Devices by the End of 2024,” 4 October 2022)
- Fast Wi-Fi 6 connectivity
- The new Magic Keyboard Folio accessory with a built-in trackpad
On the downside:
- The tenth-generation iPad starts at $449, $120 more than prior iterations.
- The Magic Keyboard Folio costs $249, making the total cost nearly $700 if you want to use it as a laptop replacement.
- Bafflingly, it still supports only the first-generation Apple Pencil. We presume that Apple left out the necessary wireless charging technology to reduce costs.
- Since the first-generation Apple Pencil connects to the iPad via Lightning, you now need a special USB-C to Apple Pencil adapter, a separate $9 purchase (and the adapter is now included when you buy an Apple Pencil).
The new iPad has a fresh design and a higher price tag, but how does it compare in terms of specs? Here’s a quick rundown of the new iPad’s specs and how it compares to last year’s model:
- 10.9-inch display versus 10.2-inch in the 2021 model
- A14 Bionic processor instead of the A13 Bionic in the 2021 model. The A14 Bionic was introduced with the iPhone 12.
- Ultra Wide 12 MP rear camera with 4K video recording at up to 60 fps. That’s a big improvement over last year’s model, which had an 8 MP rear camera that only recorded in 1080p at up to 30 fps.
- Ultra Wide 12MP front camera with 1080p video recording at up to 60 fps, just like the previous generation
- Up to 10 hours of Web surfing over Wi-Fi or 9 hours over cellular on a full charge, or about the same as the previous generation
- Support for nano-SIM as well as eSIM
- Storage: 64 or 256 GB, the same as the previous generation
The USB-C connector opens up a host of possibilities, like connecting USB-C thumb drives and hubs. The USB-C connector also makes it easier to connect to external displays. The iPad can connect directly to a USB-C display and, with the right adapters, works with DisplayPort, DVI, and HDMI. It can drive an external display up to 4K at 30 Hz or 1080p at 60 Hz.
Pricing and Availability
The 10.9-inch iPad is available to order now and will arrive on 26 October 2022. It starts at $449 for the 64 GB model and $599 for the 256 GB model. 5G cellular adds another $150 to the price.
Tack on $249 for the Magic Keyboard Folio and $9 if you want to connect a first-generation Apple Pencil. (The Apple Pencil remains $99 and now includes the USB-C adapter.)
Which iPad to Buy?
This new tenth-generation iPad offers many welcome improvements, but its $449 price makes the buying decision harder. If price is paramount, you can still buy the ninth-generation iPad for $329—Apple is keeping it around much as it does with older iPhones to provide a budget option. On the other end of the spectrum, you can spend an extra $150 and get the iPad Air with an M1 processor and Stage Manager support in iPadOS 16. It also makes the sixth-generation iPad mini more compelling, since it supports the second-generation Apple Pencil and now costs only $50 more.
The one technical advantage the tenth-generation iPad has over the rest of the lineup is its landscape front-facing camera, but that’s offset by an Apple Pencil connection that’s even more awkward than before. While this new iPad is an improvement in many ways, it’s less of a home run than its predecessors.