Apple's newest tablet is a bit of a curiosity. Especially when the company already has two very capable tablets: the iPad Pro is a productivity beast while the iPad Air is more for leisure browsing.
The just-announced iPad is Apple's latest entry-level tablet. It's more than $100 cheaper than the iPad Air and, depending on which model you get, at least $1,000 less than an iPad Pro. I'm leading with the price of the iPad, because, to be blunt, that's its greatest advantage over the other iPads. Yes, it has a larger 10.2" display and it can use a Smart Keyboard, but other than those two things, this new iPad is just an upsized 6th Gen iPad. It has the same A10 chip, the same 128GB max storage, the same 8mp camera. It's just bigger.
When you look at it side-by-side with the iPad Air, it's hard to justify not paying the extra $170 for the better tablet. The older chip in the iPad is already showing its age with iPadOS, whereas the A12 in the Pro still has plenty of life. This is truly an entry-level device, meant for play and very, very light productivity.
I'll never understand Apple nomenclature. The iPad Air was released as a slimmed-down successor to the original iPad, until the iPad got more power and took the title back. Whereas MacBook Air models are thinner, decidedly underpowered versions of the laptops they occupy an ecosystem with.
Currently, the iPad Air is actually superior to the just-announced iPad. It boasts an A12 chip (almost as good as the Pro’s A12X) and an impressively large 10.5" screen. It supports Apple's Smart Keyboard (but not the Folio) and the 1st Gen Apple Pencil (which makes sense since the Air has a Lightning port). Its Retina display is almost the same as the iPad, but with an anti-reflective coating and TrueTone capabilities. The 8mp camera can capture crystal clear images and HD video. Since it keeps Touch ID, it doesn't need the enhanced front-facing camera of the Pro, so no Portrait Mode here. But, really, when you look at the specs, the iPad Air is almost like an iPad Pro Light—it can do just about everything the Pro can do, but for hundreds of dollars less. For $499, the iPad Air is a very attractive mid-range tablet for those who have explored what a tablet can do and want to do more.
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If you just want to see if an Apple iPad will work for you, by all means, get the latest iPad. The large screen is definitely an improvement over its predecessor. But if you're looking to get a more capable tablet that will go the distance, don't get sucked in by the iPad's newness, get the iPad Air instead.
I’ve been writing about technology, gadgets, and pop culture for the past two decades. I’ve seen the rise and fall (and rise again) of Apple. I've watched c-beams glitt
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