iPad 10.2 review: cheap, productive, and not the one you should buy
Apple recently updated its cheapest iPad and, to our surprise, increased its display size. Alongside that minor upgrade, we also now have support for the Smart Keyboard and the much more capable iPadOS, which split from the base iOS to become its own thing and propel the iPad tablets in the “laptop replacement” category.But, for $330, is this iPad worth your attention? Let’s take a look!
iPad 10.2 (2019)Main TakeawaysDesignIt’s the good old iPad looks with a hint of cheap-ish feelPerformanceRuns great, offers all the perks of iPadOS, but its future is shrouded in uncertaintyCamerasWell… it does have cameras, but they are not there to blow you awayCan it replace a laptop?It can be used as a work machine or a multimedia machine, but compromises are feltConclusionIt might be a great deal but there are better iPads to buy for the same price
Design and display
The new entry-level iPad has a familiar design — nothing crazy like the iPad Pro’s all-around thin frame or Face ID. We’ve got the good old bezels and the good old mechanical home button with Touch ID fingerprint scanning embedded right into it. So, if you have owned a previous generation iPad for a while, you will feel right at home. The rather thick bezels doo look aged, but they still make it easy to handle the tablet with no accidental screen touches, so that’s nice.Upon picking up the iPad 10.2 for the first time, it felt a bit on the cheap side. While most Apple products usually feel like they are densely packed with hardware and shrunken to as small a footprint as possible, this tablet feels light and hollow, implying you might be in economy class.
The display has grown just a little bit – from the 9.7 inches of previous generations to 10.2 inches now. It does make the whole tablet very slightly bigger than before and the increased screen real estate is noticeable.
It is an LCD panel and while it is slightly on the cold side, its colors look great, in typical Apple fashion. A pixel-per-inch density of 265 means that it’s kind of sharp, but if you stick your face closer to the screen, you will make out jagged edges and individual pixels. And the whole panel itself is of the cheaper variety – it’s not the laminated display of the iPad Air, where you feel like the content is ready to pop out of the tablet. Rather, the iPad 10.2’s screen is very visibly “sunk” inside the body, hidden behind the top glass layer. So it kind of, sort of, feels like a cheap-ish iPad.
Hardware and performance
Disappointingly, the iPad 2019 has the same processor as the iPad from last year. That’s the Apple A10 Fusion, which debuted with the iPhone 7. In other words, it’s a 3-year-old chip.
That said, I can’t say that the iPad 2019 shows that its hardware is aging. On the contrary, the A10 is still a very adequate processor, especially when paired with iOS (or, in this case, iPadOS). The tablet runs snappy and fluid, plays Apple Arcade titles just fine, and any of the contemporary games or apps you find in the App Store support it. Sure, if you put it right next to the latest iPad Pro, you will notice that the latter is even faster, but the iPad 2019 can do its thing pretty well.
What may be concerning here is that the entry-level iPad is probably not very future-proof. Apple tends to support its mobile devices for about 4 or 5 years post-release. So, if the A10 is a 3-year-old chip, does that mean that the iPad (2019) will only get updated up to iPadOS 3 or so? We can’t really know what Apple is planning, so there’s a level of uncomfortable uncertainty there. Then again, it’s a $330 tablet, so upgrading it in 2 or 3 years should be a smaller pill to swallow, right?
Actually, it’s worth noting that $330 will only get you an iPad with 32 GB of storage, which is kind of bad in 2019. I only have a few of my favorite productivity apps and a couple of games on the iPad and I’ve already burnt through 20 GB. This means that transferring photos and videos to it in order to do some editing on the tablet will very quickly trigger my no-storage-phobia. We’ll talk about storage and pricing a bit more in the conclusion.
Tablets usually don’t get amazing cameras for a very simple reason — very few users are actually interested in wielding a large slate to record a video or take a picture. Still, they do come in handy for video calls or to take a quick snap of something around you when the tablet is right in your hands.
The cameras remain unchanged for the budget range — that’s an 8 MP main camera on the back and a 1.2 MP Facetime cam…