Over a month ago, Apple introduced the 10th generation base iPad, which brings a full redesign with colors that are more vibrant than those of both the iPad mini and iPad Air. I was initially glad that Apple was willing to bring the same modern design with modern specs. That was until many tech enthusiasts and influencers tested the model out a few weeks later, and it turned out that it was far worse than I expected.
For starters, even though the iPad 10 has the exact display size/resolution as that of the iPad Air, it is not laminated. The rest of the iPad models have had laminated displays with anti-reflective coating for years. It also doesn’t feature the wider P3 color gamut found in those models. Secondly, it was wise for Apple to replace the Lightning port with a USB-C port on this model, except it only supports USB-2 speeds (480 Mbps). Even the latest iPhone 14 Pro’s Lightning port doesn’t support faster transfer speeds. Finally, you’d expect that this iPad works with the Apple Pencil 2 but think twice. As many teardowns of this model show, because of the new placement for the FaceTime camera, there was no room to fit the inductive charging component to support that drawing tool. For this reason, this iPad supports the original Apple Pencil instead. This means that because the original Pencil has a Lightning port to charge the tool, you will need to buy a new adapter to pair and charge to this iPad.
While I can see why so many people don’t like this iPad, I can see why this iPad would be a hard sell for most people given its steeper price of $449. Apple is targeting the standard iPad to schools, and those were the design decisions that Apple would have to make to keep costs down. However, I think Apple could find another way to design this iPad.
First, Apple could retain the A13 chip from the iPad 9 as that chip still offers more than capable performance to run the latest iPadOS features. Apple did something similar when they went from the iPad 6 to the iPad 7 where they retained the A10 chip in favor of the larger display.
Second, why make several design changes if this model was based on the iPad Air? They should keep the same design as that of the Air, but make it slightly thicker to accommodate the non-laminated display. This also means keeping the magnetic connector and the Smart Connector on the back. That way, it would still be compatible with both the Apple Pencil 2 and Magic Keyboard, so Apple wouldn’t need to design the Magic Keyboard Folio in the first place, which would help save the company money from designing a new accessory.
Finally, keep the USB-C port, but with even faster speeds up to 5 Gbps as found on both the mini 6 and iPad Air 4. Now, if Apple were to offer this model to schools, they really should retain Apple Pencil 1 connectivity by including the aforementioned adapter with the iPad itself, not just with the Apple Pencil. That way, education customers wouldn’t need to pay that much for another accessory, especially when buying multiples. This would also lead to less e-waste as they could continue using their existing Pencil for as long as they want.
With all of those features in mind, if Apple were to offer this iPad at $399, it would be more compelling to schools and students alike. However, if you still don’t want this iPad, there’s even a better alternative for you to consider at Apple’s Certified Refurbished Store, which is the iPad Air (4th generation). You’ll get the exact same performance thanks to the A14 chip (also found in iPad 10) plus the same display and resolution. It gets even better when the display is laminated, and it supports a faster USB-C port, Magic Keyboard, and Apple Pencil 2 as well. If you don’t care about the colors, landscape camera, or even optional 5G connectivity, then for $20 more, this is the iPad that most people should get for this year, whether it’s their first iPad or they’re upgrading from an older model.
Do you think the 4th generation iPad Air is still worth it? Let us know in the comments below.