December 1, 2022

Apple iPad (10th generation): good entry-level device, confusing pencil connection

Over the past two years, Apple’s entry-level iPad has received mostly spec bumps.

It was starting to look outdated with its large bezels and anachronistic Touch ID button. This year, however, Apple finally decided to give its most affordable iPad a thorough makeover, with a new design, new accessories and the A14 Bionic chip.

The bezels are thinner, the Touch ID sensor has been integrated into the power button, and the chassis now has flat sides. It’s a look that brings it in line with Apple’s current line of products. The screen is also larger, at 10.9 inches (instead of 10.2). In short, it’s almost indistinguishable from the iPad Air.

The front camera has been moved to the long side of the iPad. This means that the camera now sits above the screen when you put the iPad in landscape orientation.

This is good news for those who use their iPad for video calls. The Smart Connector has been moved to one of the edges instead of the back. Additionally, the iPad is available in more vibrant colors. Besides silver, there are now pink, blue and yellow.

The display is quite similar to that of the iPad Air. They are the same size, support the same resolution of 2360 x 1640 pixels, and neither supports ProMotion technology. However, the iPad screen is not fully laminated, has no anti-reflective coating, and only supports sRGB color space (not P3).

Even then, it’s a pretty good-looking display. It looks crisp and clean, and the colors are rich and natural. Glare is only annoying if you look at the screen from odd angles.

Another big update is that this is the first iPad to finally have proper stereo speakers on both sides of the screen when in landscape mode. Previous iPads had stereo speakers, but they flanked the Lightning port, so when watching videos in landscape mode, sound only comes from one side. The sound lacks low-end punch, but is good enough for casual viewing.

The woes of USB-C and the Apple Pencil

The new iPad also ditches the Lightning port for a USB-C port. Even though it only supports USB and not Thunderbolt, it can still drive a single external display at up to 4K resolution and 30Hz. welcomed, it also poses some problems. This is mainly because this iPad is only compatible with the first generation Apple Pencil, which requires a Lightning port not only to charge but also to pair.

Apple’s solution is to sell a dongle it calls the USB-C to Apple Pencil Adapter. But you need more than this little dongle to charge because it’s a female USB-C port and a female Lightning port. This means you still need a USB-C cable to connect this dongle to the iPad before you can pair and charge your Apple Pencil.

Why Apple didn’t just make it a USB-C male to Lightning female port cable is puzzling. Now the integration with the Apple Pencil is terribly convoluted. This could have been completely avoided if it supported the new second-generation Apple Pencil.

Once you get over the clunky pairing and charging process, the first-generation Apple Pencil works well with this iPad. It doesn’t have the cool new hover feature that’s only available on the new iPad Pro, but it’s responsive, smooth, and intuitive.

Don’t worry, this new iPad doesn’t have a ProMotion display – any input lag is barely noticeable.

Magic Keyboard Folio

This is a brand new accessory for the iPad and it is similar to how Logitech’s iPad Combo Touch keyboards work. Unlike the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro and iPad Air, which is a one-piece unit, the new Magic Keyboard Folio includes two components that attach to the iPad. The keyboard attaches to the Smart Connector, while a separate protective panel doubles as an adjustable stand.

The obvious advantage is that you can detach the keyboard when you don’t need it and reduce its clutter. The downside is that you have to remember that there is an adjustable stand that you have to deploy before you can start typing. This is not a problem with the old Magic Keyboard because the stand is an integral part of the keyboard.

The new Magic Keyboard Folio has a row of function keys that the old Magic Keyboard didn’t have. But the keys don’t have backlighting, unlike the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro and iPad Air.

Like all of Apple’s Magic accessories, the Magic Keyboard Folio costs $379. Comparatively, Logitech’s Combo Touch keyboard case for this new iPad costs $229.