Apple’s new 9.7-inch iPad is designed for students and anyone on the go who wants to get stuff done without carrying a bulkier laptop.
Other highlights include more than 10 hours of battery life and a new iWork suite that makes the iPad a good productivity tool. But in an age of ultra-affordable Chromebooks and Windows machines, Apple’s refreshed tablet is more of a satisfying niche device than it is a PC for the masses.
The iPad still packs a sharp, 9.7-inch display into a compact and lightweight aluminum package. But the overall aesthetic is a bit tired in an age of shrinking bezels on phones; the thick black border around the screen feels somewhat antiquated even for the iPad’s relatively low price.
Nevertheless, the design feels solid, and I didn’t feel that much strain when holding the device up to browse the web, check my email and play with AR apps for long stretches. The iPad weighs a very manageable 1.03 pounds for the Wi-Fi version (the LTE model weighs 1.05 pounds), and it measures just 0.29 inches thick.
The trusty old Home button sits beneath the screen to handle Touch ID for logging in, and there’s a Lightning connector on the bottom for charging and a headphone jack up top.
Because the iPad is essentially naked, you’ll want to protect it with a case. Apple’s Smart Cover costs $39, but you’ll want something more durable if you give this tablet to a child.
The 9.7-inch display on the iPad packs 2048 x 1536 pixels, so it’s plenty sharp for watching movies, playing games and working on reports. It’s also bright and colorful; as I watched the trailer for Avengers: Infinity War on this panel, I could make out individual wisps of the Scarlet Witch’s red hair dappled in sunlight, and the details of her leather jacket didn’t get lost in the shadows.