For those who simply must have one, Apple iPad 10.2 is more than enough iPad

The Apple iPad 10.2 is a bit of an outlier in the iPad line-up. It stands out, and perhaps that was not the intent. This can be identified as the most inexpensive iPad. Inexpensive is a relative term, but this is the only one that now still clings on to the older design language, complete with the home button below the screen. Yet, by avoiding wholesale changes and therefore not registering a significant possible inflation on the price tag, this may just have kept that trump card (or two) up its sleeve. This is still a great iPad for anyone who does not want to spend more on the Air or the Pro lines, for someone buying an iPad for the first time, a second screen alongside the work laptop for video calls or perhaps for the kids as classes on Zoom and Microsoft Teams continue to be the norm.

You can, as always, have this in the Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + Cellular variants. The Wi-Fi only option costs 30,900 (64GB) and 44,900 (256GB). If you want mobile data as well, that will set you back by 42,900 (64GB) and 56,900 (256GB). It is all very similar to last year’s price tags, something seen in this year’s Apple iPhone 13 series as well. There is a slight overlap on certain variants with the latest generation iPad Mini (prices start 46,900) but largely hands over the baton to the iPad Air (prices start 54,900) as the price stakes become more serious.

The headline improvements, compared with last year’s iPad, include a new 12-megapixel ultrawide FaceTime camera with the ability to follow you around a bit, more storage for the base variant now at 64GB instead of 32GB and a True Tone display which alters the visual tone according to the ambient lighting. The processor has been given a boost as well, albeit it is now the A13 Bionic which succeeds the A12 Bionic.

A13 Bionic was first seen in the Apple iPhone 11 series in 2019. It is not the latest generation processor. But why is it now being used for the new iPad? It is not difficult to understand that for the sort of workflow and tasks this iPad is being positioned for, it will likely be more than enough. After all, no one is complaining that their iPhone 11 has slowed down. There is a definite longevity about Apple’s own chips.

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As an entry-spec iPad, it is still quite powerful. This will have more than enough grunt, and hold steady for the next few years, as a tool for your child’s online classroom, your second screen for Zoom calls through the day, a Netflix binging or an occasional gaming device and can make do as a laptop replacement considering its compatible with the Smart Keyboard as well. As a first iPad for many users, it will make absolute sense. There is no dramatic power upgrade to be felt, but scenarios such as switching apps or jumping between Safari tabs is snappier. And you will feel these changes the more you integrate the iPad into your routine.

Yet, this is bringing perhaps unnecessary complication of diversity in the iPad line-up. This runs the A13 Bionic, the iPad Air runs the A14 Bionic, the latest iPad Mini is powered by the A15 Bionic while the latest iPad Pro options have the M1 chip as their beating heart. It is possibly confusing for anyone who must make a pick. But it in a way gives an iPad at every step of the price and value ladder, a different processor to play with. How this makes any difference to optimisation for third-party apps remains to be seen, but Apple’s complete control over iOS updates will ensure there are no feature and compatibility hitches there.

If you want an iPad with the very best display and the latest hardware under the hood, you should be looking at the iPad Air. It is not convincing that 64GB is the base storage spec, which though more than before, may just be a bit restrictive a few years down the line. There is also no 128GB option, which is a bit disappointing, and the jump to 256GB carries its own premium on the price tag.

This iPad line grew up from a 9.7-inch display to a 10.2-inch display a few years ago, but still maintains enough of a gap to the 10.9-inch real estate that the Apple iPad Air offers. That is Liquid Retina display, while this is the less fancy Retina display. Unlike the iPad Air and indeed the new iPad Mini, the 9th generation iPad retains the familiar look of the past. Thinner frame around the screen, and you also get the Touch ID fingerprint sensor below the display. There is an anti-reflective coating and the first time the entry-level iPad gets True Tone to alter how the display looks to reduce eye strain—we would recommend leaving this on, it is just easier on your eyes.

The front camera, the FaceTime camera is now a 12-megapixel sensor. In fact, the optical hardware upgrade is not the only thing you would be noticing on video calls. Center Stage, the face tracking feature first seen in the more expensive iPad Pro series, is here. The camera moves around to keep you in the frame of a video call, as you may be moving around. It works well on the Apple iPad 9th generation as well as it does on the more expensive iPad options. What continues to impress is how smooth the camera panning is. There is not an unnerving hurry up in case you dart out of view.

Splurge or not?

In more ways than one, the Apple iPad now in its 9th generation, still has a similar appeal that its predecessors have had, over the last couple of iterations. Uncomplicated, comparatively affordable and to the point, at least for a lot of tasks it is expected to partake in at home and at work. Unlike the iPad Mini, it is not getting a new personality this time around. Consistent battery life as before, better FaceTime camera, identical footprint, and complete support for iOS 15 keeps this at pace with the annual upgrade requirements. As long as you are not expecting an iPad Air-esque experience, you will absolutely not be disappointed. That said, if you already own last year’s iPad, you may just not need to order one of these immediately. It is not that big a leap forward.

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