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Apple iPad Review: Still Enough Tablet For Most Folks And More Versatile Than You'd Imagine

By: Vishal Mathur

Last Updated: November 15, 2020, 10:09 IST

Apple iPad

Apple iPad

The 8th generation Apple iPad has much wider potential usage scenarios than you'd imagine. The prices of new Apple iPad start at Rs 29,900 and you can further pair this with the Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard.

The Apple iPad has pretty much had an uninterrupted and an unchallenged run for many years now. It is now in its 8th generation, mind you. Not for the lack of trying over time, but no Android tablet has been able to come close to the overall experience offered by the Apple iPad, the now 10.2-inch one that sits at the doorway into the larger iPad line-up that includes the iPad Pro and the iPad Air. Samsung has valiantly tried with the Galaxy Tab range, but the limitations of Android as a platform still are too overwhelming to match the slickness of the seamless evolution of iOS into iPadOS. Mind you, the most affordable iPad also grew up last year, upsizing from a 9.7-inch display to a 10.2-inch display.

The Apple iPad is available in two storage variants and three colour options. As well as the Wi-Fi and the Wi-Fi + Cellular avatars. The 32GB storage option with Wi-Fi only is priced at Rs 29,900 while the Wi-Fi + Cellular costs Rs 41,900. The 128GB variant with Wi-Fi is priced at Rs 37,900 while the Wi-Fi + Cellular option costs Rs 49,900. It is a pretty steep jump if you want to go for the 4G capabilities in this iPad line, and while it is the same difference as the iPad Air too, this stands out a bit at the more affordable price bands. That being said, for most intents and purposes, the entry spec model priced at Rs 29,900 will be the most versatile pick—for anyone who is buying a tablet for the first time, relies on cloud storage for the most part and just needs a good computing device, simply needs a consistent tablet for their child’s online classes routine or something to give their parents to stay connected in an increasingly online as well as virtual world. And these are just some of the use cases.

As far as the design goes, very little has changed over time. Now that the iPad Air is also adopting an iPad Pro-esque design language, this iPad is the best differentiated in terms of the design. A reminder of the good times too. And simpler as well, for a lot of users. The home button below the display hosts the Touch ID as well. There are fairly thick bezels around the display, but come to think of it, the young and the elderly will find this a lot more convenient to hold without having to worry about accidentally touching something on the display. This weighs about 490 grams for the Wi-Fi edition and another 5 grams if you get the variant with cellular capabilities as well. There are smart connectors on one side spine that let you set this up with a smart keyboard. That is a separate purchase, by the way. The design isn’t really an evolution, much less a revolution. It is about going with something that’s already there. This iPad may not excite you in the way the newer iPad Air or iPad Pros may do, because it doesn’t have a new design language or even fancy colours, but the 8th generation iPad still remains a very consistent pick for pretty a lot of users. This also has a headphone jack, in case that gets you all excited.

Because the design hasn’t changed, the Apple Pencil support remains with the first-generation Pencil—the second-generation Pencil magnetically attaches to the flat sides of the iPad Air and the iPad Pro, something that cannot happen at this time with the 8th generation Apple iPad. Mind you, that means you can optionally charge the Pencil by connecting it with the Lightning port on the iPad too, and all said and done, be careful about not losing the Pencil cap.

The new Apple iPad runs the Apple A12 Bionic chip, also seen on the iPhone XS series a couple of years ago. That replaces the A10 chip which powered the past two generations of the iPad. The headline figures first—this is 40% faster than the chip it replaces and also has the Neural Engine for the machine learning tasks. Handwriting recognition, for instance, is quick. Just scribble into any text input box and the iPad will do the rest of the task of converting that to look like typed words. All in all, this is a significant performance boost for what remains the entry-point into the iPad line-up. Everything will be faster, not that the predecessors were ever short on basic performance. This is, in fact, more than enough power to pretty much have a massive head start on any stuttering and spluttering competition that may arrive belatedly from the world of Android tablets. Mind you, this is more than fast enough for most games and will handle multi-tasking quite well.

A lot of the entertainment and productivity usage is defined by the evolution of iPadOS into a meaningful computing device platform as a simpler alternative to anything is Microsoft Windows 10 can come up with, more versatile than the Google Chrome OS and much less eccentric than Google’s Android. There you have it. The redone home screen with subtle improvements, the widgets and the updated universal search make it easier and faster to get to where it is you need to go, within the expanses of iPadOS 14. Pretty much everything on the software front in the 8th generation iPad is the same as what you would see on more expensive iPads too—the apps, the Pencil functionality, Siri and so on. No compromise at all. Including the new gamut of privacy tools.

The 10.2-inch Retina Display pretty much carries forward the accuracy and realism legacy set by the previous generations of the iPad. This is pretty bright, rated at 500 nits and reproduces colours that are accurate and well distinguished. This does not have the True Tone feature though that automatically alters the display’s colour tone in accordance with the ambient light around you—that means much less strain on the eyes. And this is, perhaps to be expected, not a 120Hz refresh rate display.

As far as the battery life is concerned, this is very much a charge it and leave the adapter behind sort of an experience. Charged 100% in the morning, a considerable amount of web browsing (on Safari—I do not use Chrome unless it’s a matter of life and death), some bit of Apple TV streaming, 45 minutes of a Google Meet call and a few photo edits through the day, this still had 56% battery after 8 hours. Mind you, all this was at around 30%-40% display brightness. A lot of the stamina data will depend on what apps you use, how well they are optimized for power frugality, how many apps you leave open and unattended in the background (I don’t, force of habit), but the 8th generation Apple iPad rocks in terms of battery life.

There are a few things still unticked on the spec sheet. For instance, the 8th generation Apple iPad doesn’t have support for the Wi-Fi 6 standard and neither does it have Bluetooth 5. It would have been good to have had these, but by no means will they ever sway your buying decision either way.

The Last Word: This Apple iPad Has Much Wider Appeal Than You May Imagine

The 8th generation Apple iPad is much more of the same, with critical upgrades where it was needed the most. The new A12 processor being one, which simply puts this in a strong position in terms of longevity. A very consistent display, battery that lasts long, iPadOS is the same on this as the more expensive iPads and well, it is just all very familiar. It will be easy for a lot of us to scoff or whatnot at the consistent design and the fact that “it is just” an A12 processor and that it is “just” 32GB storage for the entry-spec variant—yes, more would have been awesome, but it depends on what you need from the iPad. It will be easy for some to forget that the 8th generation Apple iPad has much wider potential usage scenarios that just an obsessive pursuit of gaming or video editing (you folks have the iPad Pros for that—go get one of those, you won’t be disappointed). Not everyone wants that. A tablet for someone who simply needs a tablet just as a tablet. Something that doesn’t cost a lot. A tablet for the parents so that they can stay connected with their friends and relatives on FaceTime, Google Meet, Zoom and whatever else. A tablet for the children to have their online classes on, manage assignments and simply get in a bit of gaming or watching a movie before mommy takes the iPad away and it is time for bed. A tablet to catch up on some Netflix shows before its time to call it a day. The 8th generation Apple iPad isn’t meant to be a powerhouse. It is all about balance, consistency and longevity. And all indications are, it has ticked off all three.

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first published:November 15, 2020, 10:09 IST
last updated:November 15, 2020, 10:09 IST