I just spent some time with Apple’s latest seventh-generation iPad. It’s not the biggest or fastest model in the lineup, but at $329, it’s probably the most bang for your buck you can get.
The new 10.2-inch iPad, announced today at Apple’s annual iPhone event at its Cupertino headquarters, replaces last year’s entry-level 9.7-inch iPad, and it adds support for the first-generation Apple Pencil (the one with the fiddly cap and silly charging), the Smart Keyboard case, and an A10 processor.
That puts this new iPad in the company of the iPad Air: it has a bigger screen, support for the Pencil and Keyboard, and it will run iPadOS, which adds multitasking upgrades, gesture changes, and other productivity-focused tweaks to the UI coming with its tablet OS overhaul.
But it’s also got years-old A10 Fusion chip inside, and its bezeled design and Touch ID authentication might feel outdated to those who’ve become accustomed to Apple’s flagship edge-to-edge displays and facial recognition tech. This iPad also comes with a Lightning connector instead of the more flexible USB-C port on the iPad Pro. Oh, and there’s a headphone jack.
Using it for a few minutes, it’s pretty clear what Apple’s trying to do here: there are now iPads with Pencil and keyboard support at a huge range of price points, and this new iPad (with, presumably, the added functionality and desktop-class browser in iOS 13) should stack up as a powerful, flexible competitor to a Chromebook or cheap Windows laptop.
But nothing about this design or spec sheet is ultra-cutting edge: it’s a bunch of Apple’s best stuff from years past in a familiar case with a slightly bigger screen. It’s hard to ask for more at $329 — but that’s probably the point.