Where exactly does the new 10th-generation iPad fit into Apple's iPad lineup?

Week 262 was posted by Charanjit Chana on 2022-10-31.

I'm an Apple fan, so my love for the 6th-generation iPad Mini should come as no suprise. It's a device I use daily and I would argue it's the perfect iPad for most people.

If we're talking about cost, then the 9th-generation, regular, iPad (home button and all) is probably the right iPad for most people. Despite the terrible charging mechanism for the Apple Pencil 1 and its dated design. But those two things aside, it's will still be a powerhouse for most people and you'll still be able to enjoy software updates for a couple more years yet (I would guess).

But just over a week ago, Apple unveiled the new 10th generation iPad that has the same all-screen design language as the rest of the lineup. It no longer has a home button and looks almost exactly the same as the iPad Air. Except it's not as good.

What I find oddest, is that it's not the cheapest but it's not obviously better either than the iPad it doesn't quite replace.

When compared to the iPad Air and it's predecessor these are things that jump out at me as being odd:

Specification iPad Air iPad (10th generation) iPad (9th generation)
Chip M1 A14 A13
What I found odd with the lineup here is that the iPad mini I have has the A15 series chip. My iPad is a year old, but this new 10th-gen iPad has a chip that's two years old. iPad mini also wins in the GPU stakes with an additional core.
Display Fully laminated
Again, the iPad mini has a laminated display but only the Air does in the full size lineup.
Power and Battery 10 hours
Consistent, if nothing else, but when iPhones see additional hours of useable battery life with each new A-series chip, I'd expect the same here at the iPad level. For what it's worth, these figures are the same for the iPad mini. With a year behind me, I can't complain about the battery life too much but I'd be unhappy if my iPad was bigger and didn't last any longer than the iPad mini can.
Apple Pencil Apple Pencil 2 Apple Pencil (with Adapter) Apple Pencil
Looks like dock connectors and camera placement got in the way of Apple Pencil 2 support but I think it's crazy that any new iPad, in this 'new' format, should have support for the Apple Pencil 2. At least it comes with the dongle and can use the same charger as the iPad.
Rear Camera 12 MP 8MP
The camera will be good enough for people taking photos on their iPads. Strange that none of these iPads have a flash on the back, while the iPad mini does have a quad-LED true tone flash.
Front Camera 12MP Ultra Wide 12MP Landscape Ultra Wide 12MP Ultra wide
The best thing about the new iPad is it's front camera placement. I quite like how Stage Manager works, but it's pretty obvious you're not looking at the camera because it's to the side. More people will appreciate this than Apple Pencil 2 support, I would have thought.
Price (WiFi, 256GB) £849 £679 £549
The new iPad sits almost right in the middle between the 9th generation iPad and the iPad Air. If you look at the iPad mini, it sits between the new iPad and the iPad Air. The pricing gets tight once you look past the 'legacy' model.

It's not that this new iPad is bad, it's more that it's odd. If it had replaced the 9th-generation iPad with a modest price update, it would have made more sense. If it had Apple Pencil 2 support. If it had the A15 or A16 chip, rather than the two year old A14. Any of those would have made it feel more like the right product than it currently does.

My advice for anyone looking for a tablet would be to go as cheap as you can if you don't need or want an Apple Pencil. As I mentioned at the top, the iPad mini has been a fantastic device for me. I use it for Procreate and never feel limited by it's size. For an iPad mini with an Apple Pencil you're looking at more than £200 on top of the new iPad's price.

The same package, but with the iPad Air is another £100 on top of that. It's one of the reasons I took so long to get an iPad. The iPad Air always felt too expensive for what it is given you get close to iPad Pro pricing when you go all in. But I do not need an iPad Pro.

A cheaper iPad, with the Pro form factor probably was needed but with the past year behind me it would have been too big for my needs.

If you're a true professional, then by all means go for the Pro models. I coveted one from the minute they announced the new look and feel and the Apple Pencil 2 but they are beginning to feel more like niche devices to me. Genuinely for professionals despite the state of multitasking across the iPad lineup.

For more on this topic, The Talk Show had a good episode on the announcement this past week.


Another oddity is that the new iPad has a slower USB-C port than even the iPad mini as it has USB 2.0 speeds. Maybe this isn't a big deal, I've certainly never had the need to transfer files using a USB cable and only use the port for charging.


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