Even since the introduction of the iPad back in 2010, Apple touted the device as a great device for consumption. Whether it was apps or games to watching movies and TV shows, the iPad was great for all of that.

But now, Apple is reshaping what the iPad can be used for. With the latest 9.7-inch iPad (which is technically the 6th generation), Apple is aiming is not just aiming it at consumers but also towards teachers and students with a renewed emphasis on education.

I’ve been using the new 9.7-inch iPad for about a week, and while it’s great, there’s still some left to be desired.

Design & Hardware

The new iPad has a 9.7-inch Retina Display which is the same screen size that Apple has kept for the past 8 years. The resolution is 2048-by-1536 to give is a 264 ppi. Videos look good but nothing compared to the screen on the iPad Pro with their ProMotion technology.

The iPad is still around the same thickness as its outgoing model and weighs around 1 pound. The device is being powered by the A10 Fusion chip, which is a variation of the chip introduced with the iPad Pro 10.5 last year.

In terms of battery life, I was able to get around 8-10 hours of usage on the iPad. Like other Apple devices, the iPad has good standby time, so if you left it for a while, it would still have a lot of its charge.

The new iPad has a Lightning port, volume buttons, headphone jack and stereo speakers. The speakers do the job but nothing like the four speaker setup on the iPad Pro. The new iPad does have Touch ID but I did find it to be slow and not as quick as other Apple products with Touch ID.

Apple also added support of the Apple Pencil in this latest iPad which is a welcome addition. Not only is the Apple Pencil is a great accessory to use but it means that you won’t have to spend $900-1000 CAD on an iPad Pro to get the same experience. The Apple Pencil still costs $129 CAD and is sold separately.

Apple will be releasing more third-party accessories for the new iPad later this summer, including the Logitech Crayon stylus and a keyboard case, both of which be available through Apple’s education channel and not available for the general public. The Logitech Crayon will retail for around $49 USD.

Here are some sketches I made using the Apple Pencil on the new iPad.

The iPad is available in three colours, Silver, Space Gray and Gold. It comes in two storage options, 32GB and 128GB.

The pricing for the new iPad is as follows:

  • 32GB (Wi-Fi) – $429 CAD
  • 128GB (Wi-Fi) – $549 CAD
  • 32GB (Wi-Fi & Cellular) – $599 CAD
  • 128GB (Wi-Fi & Cellular) – $719 CAD*

* The model I tested

The new iPad is available from Apple’s website.

While $429 CAD might not seem like too expensive for an iPad. It’s still definitely cheaper than the iPad. The other thing is that Apple is promoting this iPad to be used in classrooms, and paying almost $500-600 if you add the cost of the Apple Pencil and a keyboard.

Another thing to note is that Apple is offering a slight discount to schools. The new iPad starts at $399 CAD for schools and the Apple Pencil for $115 CAD. While it’s nice to get some kind of discount, it’s still relatively pricey compared to cheaper and some more powerful Chromebooks.

Meanwhile, you could get a Chromebook or a decent Windows 10 laptop for around $200-300 and you could do some much more. With the iPad, you’re still somewhat restricted of what you can do in iOS. Sure you can create stuff but if you wanted to actually work done, then you’ll need something more powerful and useful.

Software

The new iPad is running iOS 11.3, I’ve talked about iOS 11 in my review of it and in my iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X reviews.

With iOS 11 on the iPad, you can use the Apple Pencil in a number of apps including Pages, Numbers and Keynote. iOS 11 also supports handwritten notes and sketching with the Notes and Mail apps as well as annotation of photos, PDFs and screenshots.

iOS 11 brought a new way to navigate the OS with the addition of the Dock on the iPad. You can just swipe up from the bottom to access your favourite and most recent apps.

iOS 11 is an overall improvement over previous versions with stuff like a more natural sounding Siri, a Files app and better performance.

Another big feature of iOS 11 is the addition of AR. Essentially, you’ll be able to run augmented reality apps and games using your iOS devices. AR is probably my favourite feature of iOS 11, it’s one that I’ve had the most fun with.

With the addition of AR, it opens up the possibilities of the classroom. Some educational AR apps that I tested include:

  • Froggipedia
  • WWF Free Rivers
  • BBC Civilizations AR
  • JigSpace

Froggipedia also you to see the anatomy of a frog in AR and WWF Free Rivers puts “an entire landscape in your hands,” where you’ll be able to see how river flow through people’s lives and wildlife. There are also AR apps that teach kids how to code, see mathematical equations in 3D models and learn better in 3D.

You will also find the usual creative apps like iMovie, GarageBand and more. There’s no shortage of great apps for iOS on the iPad.

Camera

The camera on the new iPad is nothing too amazing. It’s 8-megapixels and stuff like body and face detection and auto image stabilization. It also records 1080p video at 30 fps and slow-motion video at up to 120fps.

Pictures and videos look good but I wouldn’t rely heavily on the iPad’s camera. The camera is great to be used in conjunction with some of the AR apps that I mentioned earlier.

The front-facing camera is a FaceTime HD camera that can take 1.2-megapixel photos and 720p videos. It’s good for video calls and not much else.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the new iPad is a solid device but it may seem pricey especially for schools when a Chromebook could be had for the same cost or much less than the new iPad and can do more. Apple does offer discounts for schools for the iPad and Apple Pencil but that still doesn’t bring the price point down to Chromebooks price range of $200-300.

However, the new iPad still makes a great media consumption device for everything from games and apps to movies and TV shows.

Pros

  • Apple Pencil Support
  • Lots of apps, including a great selection of AR apps
  • Great battery life
  • iOS 11 really shines on the iPad

Cons

  • Touch ID sensor is a bit slow
  • Design needs an update
  • Slightly pricey for schools (even with discount)

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