The latest iPad base model is a solid update that includes an updated chassis and improved components. But compromises in Apple Pencil functionality, an expensive keyboard accessory, and higher price make the iPad 10th Gen hard to recommend.
The iPad 10th Gen sports an A14 Bionic processor, larger 10.9-inch LED display, 12MP Wide rear camera, landscape 12MP Ultra Wide front camera, landscape stereo speakers, Touch ID power button, and USB-C connectivity.
The A14 Bionic, updated from the prior A14, helps the iPad to speed along most tasks uninterrupted, and is more than enough to handle both productivity and gaming.
Display quality is near identical to the prior generation base model with an unlaminated display that retains a slight gap between the glass and the panel. Still, the same 500 nits of brightness and higher 2360 x 1640 resolution provide an excellent viewing experience from all angles.
The new 12MP Wide rear camera can now capture 4K video and the new landscape-oriented 12MP Ultra Wide front camera is more suitable for FaceTime and Zoom calls with users no longer peering off to the side.
Touch ID, which can be used to unlock the device and use Apple Pay, is now integrated into the power button to retain the biometric authentication found in the 9th Gen iPad.
Stereo speakers sound great with four landscape grills that funnel plenty of sound directly to the user.
Functionality falls apart with the use of the Apple Pencil 1st Gen. The iPad 10th Gen, which now supports USB-C, is relegated to use of the Lightning-based Apple Pencil and requires the purchase of the $9 USB-C to Apple Pencil Adapter. To make matters worse, the Apple Pencil can’t plug directly into the adapter and requires a USB-C cable. This three-part setup, which is required to sync and charge the Apple Pencil, is clumsy and outdated.
Another accessory, the $249 Magic Keyboard Folio, is a two-piece kickstand and keyboard that attaches magnetically to the new iPad. While the keyboard itself is high-grade and includes a function key row, the kickstand has a limited recline and can’t be positioned for writing or drawing.
At $449, the iPad 10th Gen is $120 more than the 9th Gen version. Add the Magic Keyboard Folio and the setup nears $700. The former base model, which sells beside the new model, is still a completely suitable entry-level device at a reasonable price. This updated model is the exact opposite. It’s overpriced for what it includes, outdated in Apple Pencil support, and struggles to differentiate itself in an already crowded iPad lineup.