Apple’s entry-level iPad is still the best tablet under RM1.5k

One draw of the new iPad is its support of the Apple Pencil making it an intriguing alternative to a dedicated tablet. — Picture courtesy of Apple
One draw of the new iPad is its support of the Apple Pencil making it an intriguing alternative to a dedicated tablet. — Picture courtesy of Apple

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 11 — Apple’s iPads have pretty much defined what a tablet should be.

Unless you absolutely need to run Android on a tablet (but why?) or have less than RM500 to spend, iPads are hard to beat.

Now Apple’s updated its entry-level iPad so it runs a little faster, has a slightly larger screen, longer battery life and supports Smart Keyboards.

We’ll get this one question out of the way — if you bought the last entry-level iPad, don’t bother with this one. There’s not enough of a difference to upgrade.

Now if you’ve been considering an iPad for a long time, maybe read on.

Much has changed, much remains

The most significant change is the slightly bigger display, from the 9.7-inch of the last model to a 10.2 display.

Despite the larger screen, it still runs for a decent amount of time on battery and it lives up to Apple’s claim of 10 hours.

I found the earlier iPad adequate though it did feel sluggish on more resource-intensive apps but this one feels a tiny bit zippier, maybe due to the increased RAM.

It isn’t meant to run apps that require more resources such as video-editing or heavy photo-editing with multiple layers. You’d be better off getting an iPad Air or the Pro, depending on your needs.

What I find slightly odd is that this iPad still uses the same processor as the iPhone 7 like the last iPad.

Not that it’s terrible; just disappointing.

Other cost-cutting measures include not having True Tone, the Apple tech that lets a display adjust its brightness according to ambient light.

It’s not something you’ll miss if you haven’t experienced it so I wouldn’t call that a deal breaker.

The Smart Keyboard connector now allows you to add one of Apple’s snap-on keyboards. Not cheap but they’re handy on the go, don’t need charging and also cover up the screen, protecting it from scratches.

It also still supports the Apple Pencil which is good enough incentive for most amateur artists, or people who just like the Pencil.

There’s an 8MP camera here on the rear and a 1.2MP in the front, nothing particularly great but serviceable.

You’re more likely to use the cameras for AR apps or games or a Skype conversation, both not needing fancy cameras.


The thing about the iPad is that the experience doesn’t differ much within a range, only when you move up or down — like trying out a smaller iPad Mini or the crazy-powerful iPad Pro.

I found the battery living up to its brethren’s reputation for long life though I’d suggest getting a fast charger to juice it quickly.

As for the keyboard, it’s serviceable and I’d suggest you try it out at the store before deciding to get one.

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I like it a whole lot more than the ones on the Microsoft Surface.

As I was also testing Apple’s Arcade, I played a few games and noticed no stuttering or lag and the speakers are adequately loud.

It feels like any other iPad and that is actually a good thing. Though having tried the newer iPad Pros, the Pencil does feel a little clunky but it’s still superior to third-party styluses on the market.

Yay, or nay

If you want a basic iPad to surf, watch media, maybe doodle on, this iPad is adequate as is buying the 32GB version.

It doesn’t make sense paying RM1,849 for the 128GB version when for RM2,199 you could get a 64GB iPad Air instead.

The price difference will get you a lighter tablet, better screen, and more powerful processor.

For around the same amount of money, you might be better off with the iPad Mini if you want a portable, book-sized tablet that uses a far newer processor.

With the new iPad OS supporting external drives and the existence of cloud storage, you could get by just fine on 32GB so long as you don’t fill it up with too many photos or apps.

One thing about iPad build quality is you know the tablets will last you at least a good three years so I’d suggest getting this one instead of its predecessor second-hand.

It’s an iPad, it works great, it’s not world changing. I guess sometimes we just want comfort in the familiar and predictable and maybe, the iPad feeling pretty much the same is a good thing.

The new iPad is already available online and at official retailers with prices starting from RM1,449.

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