Last week alongside the product red iPhone, Apple also made a change to their iPad lineup. This is Apple’s new iPad and I use the term new pretty loosely here. This particular iPad is just called iPad and it’s technically the fifth generation of the standard 9.7 inch variant; not including the iPad Air’s. I’ll go over all the ins and outs of this device of course but right off the bat the main selling point for this thing is its price. At just $329 this is the cheapest any 9.7 inch iPad has ever been at launch. And if you don’t have one yet or are currently using something a bit outdated, now might be an excellent time to not only upgrade but to do without having to pay an arm and a leg. So let’s check out what $329 gets you. As far as the unboxing experience goes, there’s really not too much to see here but I’ve never been one to skip out on an unboxing. Underneath the iPad were greeted by the familiar design by Apple in California packet and paperwork. Also included are the standard lightning cable as well as a large 12 watt power adapter to charge the larger iPad battery. And underneath the last bit of plastic wrap, we have the very familiar 9.7 inch iPad which I chose to get in that nice gold color. For $329 you get 32 gigabytes of storage and have the choice between silver, space grey and gold. And if you do need extra storage Apple does offer a 128 gigabyte model for $100 more. In the iPad lineup, this device fits in between the iPad Mini and iPad Pros and it seems to take the place of the iPad Air at least for now. It’s obviously cheaper than the iPad Air was and offers less features than the iPad Pro 9.7 inch and I’ll go over all those differences in just a minute.
As far as hardware is concerned there’s really nothing unexpected here. You get that 1.2 megapixel facetime camera around front which yes is quite a bit outdated at this point. On the back you’ll find the 8 megapixel F 2.4 aperture shooter which is great and all but please, please don’t take pictures with your iPad in public. As far as buttons go the volume and power buttons are in the same place as always and down at the bottom are dual speakers and the Lightning port in between them. Now this fifth generation iPad is actually housed in the original thicker iPad Air casing and is back being about 0.29 inches thick instead of 0.2 4 inches like the Air 2. Not a huge deal not something most people would even notice but it is worth mentioning as Apple is essentially recycling their parts similar to what they did with the iPhone SE. One of the most important aspects of this iPad is how it performs and I think this is where it really shines. It scored 2548 and 4440 on Geekbench 4 which is only about ten percent slower than the nine point seven inch iPad Pro, something I was really surprised to see. Inside you get an updated A9 processor and an M9 co-processor with 2 gigabytes of RAM. Those specs are more than enough to handle anything from games to side-by-side multitasking and even editing an exporting 4k video through the iMovie app which is pretty impressive.
Unfortunately to keep the cost of this iPad relatively low, Apple did have to cut some corners as far as build quality and features are concerned which are certainly noticeable and might be a deal-breaker for some. The first is touch ID, while we’ve had the much faster second generation touch ID sensor since the iPhone 6s, it hasn’t made its way to the iPad. Touch ID is still good don’t get me wrong but if you’ve been rocking any of the most recent iPhones or the new MacBook for example, you’re going to notice it’s quite a bit slower than you’re probably used to and not necessarily as accurate. Again not a huge deal but something at least worth noting. The other cost-cutting measure has to do with the screen and I think this is the most unfortunate part of this iPad. While the 9.7 inch display definitely looks pretty good, it’s even supposed to be brighter than the iPad Air’s. The screen itself is the non laminated two-piece glass and digitizer setup. What that means is that there’s a noticeable gap between the front glass and LCD digitizer. So around the edges you’ll see sort of a black shadow where it’s obvious that they don’t meet. And when touching on the screen you’ll definitely notice how your finger doesn’t really feel like it’s touching directly on the display. It looks and feels sort of like you’re touching above it. There’s also much less reflective coating on this screen compared to the iPad Air 2, so in bright light and outdoor settings visibility and glare might be an issue.
However with all that being said it’s still a nine point seven inch retina display with a 2048 by 1536 resolution at 264 pixels per inch. And generally speaking it looks really good for the average consumer. One other thing to note though, this iPad will not work with the Apple pencils. So if you’re hoping to use it in that regard, you’ll have to get one of the pro models instead. All in all even with the cost-saving measures Apple took, I still think this is a really great deal at 329 bucks. In fact I honestly think it’s the best iPad you can buy when strictly looking at it from a value perspective. It’s basically an iPad se like the iPhone SE. It’s familiar hardware with upgraded internals. And for people who have been holding out on upgrading their much older iPads or for people who have been reluctant to buy an iPad at all; I think this is a great option overall.