The new 6th Generation iPad 2018 is the cheapest tablet Apple ever released. Starting at just 329 US Dollars we get a full metal body, a fast processor and features like a fingerprint scanner. It also supports the Apple Pencil. I’ve used the iPad for a month now – so how good is it really? I’m Andrzej for MyNextTablet.com and this is my iPad 2018 review.
Design & Build Quality
Let’s start with the design and build quality. Not that much has changed here, even compared to the first iPad. Well, it looks like a standard iPad. That includes a full metal body that is and feels very high-end. It has the same body as the 2017 iPad (review) from last year. Again, it’s made from aluminum and looks elegant.
The tablet weighs 469 grams which is alright. But with 7.5-millimeters it is not as thin as the iPad Air 2. And current iPad Pro versions are thinner as well.
As usual with Apple, we don’t get tons of ports here. On the bottom, we get a lighting connector which you can use to charge the device or connect it to a computer. You can also get adapters to connect SD cards or to get additional ports. There is no microSD card slot built in.
Unlike recent iPhones and the Huawei MediaPad M5 series, we do get a standard headphone jack on the top. Next to it is the power button and there are volume controls on the left side.
Touch ID, Cameras, Speakers
Next to the lightning connector are two speakers. While that are stereo speakers, they are located on one side of the iPad only. So you won’t get any real stereo feeling at all. For a tablet of this price class, the sound is pretty good. However, recent higher-end tablets with four speakers like the iPad Pro, MediaPad M5 10 or Galaxy Tab S3 offer a bit better sound.
Underneath the screen is the standard home button and it features an integrated fingerprint scanner. Apple calls this Touch ID and it is the first version of Touch ID. It is very precise and fast enough – but not the fastest either.
The 2018 iPad features an 8-megapixel camera on the back. And the picture quality of that main camera is really good for a tablet. You cannot record 4K videos, but slow-motion with 120 frames per seconds is supported.
A 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera is located above the screen. Well, the resolution is quite low and because of that, I wouldn’t use it for Instagram selfies. However, the quality itself is certainly fine for video chats. Like usual, the iPad has good cameras for a tablet. But most recent smartphones offer better cameras, especially the premium ones.
The 6th generation iPad has a 9.7-inch screen which is the same size as the first iPad. And it has an aspect ratio of 4:3, so you will see black bars when watching videos. It is an IPS panel with a resolution of 2048 x 1536. While there are some tablets with higher pixel densities out there, the resolution is high enough. The contrast is good too and colors look nice. Texts and icons look sharp and the display is great for watching YouTube or Netflix.
Well, the display is good for the price, but it certainly is not the best one out there. Current iPad Pro models have a higher refresh rate. But they are much pricier, and I don’t expect that from the standard iPad. However, I think it is disappointing that the screen is not laminated.
There is a small air gap between the touchscreen and the IPS panel. Usually, we see that with much cheaper tablets only. Because of that gap, the contrast is not as high as it could be. And it’s much easier to see reflections.
So, how bad is that? I asked a couple of people to evaluate the quality of the screen. And everybody said it is great. Well, you won’t notice the air gap easily if you don’t know about it. But it certainly is noticeable if you have a direct comparison. So, it is disappointing that the display is not laminated. But it’s not a deal breaker either.
Let’s take a look at the Apple Pencil. It is the same stylus we know from the iPad Pro already and it works with the 2018 iPad now. You have to buy the pen separately though and it costs 99 US Dollars. Even though it is mostly a plastic pen, it does feel well made. But unlike the Microsoft Surface Pen or Samsung S-Pen, it does not have any buttons.
On the back, we get a lighting connector. That one is used to charge the pen, for example by connecting it to the tablet. That’s how you set up the Bluetooth connection when using it for the first time too. It looks a bit weird but works without any issues at all. The battery is said to last about 12 hours.
The Apple Pencil is a great stylus. Like with most of its competitors, it is pressure sensitive. That means you can draw a thicker line if you draw harder and a lighter line if you draw lighter. You can also draw shading while holding it at an angle.
On the software side, the pen is well supported. It works great in Apple’s own apps like the notes or mail app. But there are tons of other apps in the App Store that support the stylus too. By the way, that includes the Office apps from Microsoft and a lot more.
The only downside is, again, the not laminated screen. Because of that air gap, it looks like you’re not really touching the screen with the pen. I don’t think that is a downside to most. However, it is not great if you want to make very precise drawings.
Most other tablets with stylus support have laminated screens. That includes the iPad Pro, Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro and the Microsoft Surface Pro.
Alright, all of those are more expensive – at least with the original prices. Prices vary by country, but the cheapest out of those usually are the Galaxy Tab S3 and MediaPad M5 Pro. If you want a laminated screen, it might be worth it to compare prices. But in most countries, the 2018 iPad will be the cheapest solid tablet with pen support.
Hardware & Performance
Inside the Apple iPad 6th generation runs an Apple A10 Fusion quad-core processor, that we’ve seen in the iPhone 7 already. We also get 2GB of RAM and a 32GB or 128GB internal storage. You can get it with LTE as well.
The Apple A10 is a bit older processor and the iPad Pro is a bit faster. However, that is not that bad. Sadly, most manufacturers use older chips in their tablets and that includes the higher-end ones from Samsung and Huawei.
Because of that, the iPad 2018 gets pretty good results in my benchmark comparison, even though it is Apple’s entry-level tablet. As you can see in my comparison chart, the new iPad is faster than the 5th generation from last year. But it is not as fast as the iPad Pro. And as you can see as well, it is faster than most Android tablets.
It is certainly fast enough for everyday tasks. You can surf the web in Safari, watch YouTube or use two apps side by side without any issues at all. I even edited 4k videos in LumaFusion and it worked fine. There are a lot of demanding productivity apps inside the App Store so you can really use the performance, not just for gaming.
For example, Affinity Photo is a complex Photoshop competitor and it runs great. Sometimes I had to wait a bit for effects to load or when working with complex layers. So it is not as fast as a higher end notebook. But still. It’s impressive that you can run such a demanding app.
In my gaming test, the iPad gets very good results too. Obviously, you can play simpler games. But more demanding ones like Fortnite run great too. I also played Asphalt Xtreme, Modern Combat 5 and Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic and they all run smoothly.
Software: iOS 11 on iPad
On the 6th generation iPad runs iOS 11 which is the most recent operating system from Apple. It also runs on the 2017 iPad and the iPad Pro. And it has a huge advantage over Android tablets because Apple is releasing updates for older devices much longer than most Android OEMs are. Windows tablets can get updates longer though since they’re provided by Microsoft directly.
Well, I think most of you know iOS already and I don’t have to go into too much detail. There are some nice features in iOS 11 that are especially useful on iPads. For example, the split-screen-view works great. You can open and use two apps side by side. You can also open a third one but then the other ones are frozen due to the 2GB of RAM.
The new files app and especially the drag & drop feature are useful too. With the drag & drop feature, you can transfer files between two apps easily. I already mentioned the software features for the Apple Pencil which are great too. And I think everybody knows the other ones like Siri.
One major highlight is the App Store with tons of apps that are customized for iPads. Actually, a lot of apps are identical to the Android versions. That includes the Microsoft Office apps or Adobes apps like Lightroom. However, there are some that we cannot get on Android tablets. For example, Affinity Photo and LumaFusion almost work like real desktop apps with great and professional features. We don’t have a real Photoshop alternative on Android.
According to Apple, the battery of the iPad 2018 should last up to 10 hours. And that is very realistic. In fact, in my battery test, the tablet lasted for 11.5 hours. As you can see in my comparison, that is a pretty good result. However, a couple of Android tablets last longer. I’m always looping an HD video at 50 percent brightness and turned on WiFi.
Well, that is my standard battery test. If you play games or render 4k videos than the battery will drain much faster. But with a mix of Safari and Microsoft Word, it will last you a whole working day. So overall the battery life is good but not outstanding either.
iPad 2018 Review: Final Thoughts
Alright, can I recommend the 2018 iPad? Yes, I can indeed. The build quality and performance are great. We also get tons of optimized apps and a solid battery life. iOS has gotten better and better over the last couple of years and you can use it for productive work now. At the same time, the iPad is quite affordable at 329 US Dollars.
However, it is not perfect either. I’m still disappointed by the screen which is not laminated. Because of that, you will see reflections – especially outside. And it’s not perfect for the Apple Pencil. I also wish we would get a speaker on both sides for real stereo sound. But alright, those are minor points. Overall, I think the 2018 iPad is a great tablet.
Let’s take a look at a couple of possible alternatives. If you want to save some money, you could check for deals for the 2017 iPad. It is just a bit slower and does not support the stylus. But it is still great for most.
If you want a better display and better speakers, you have to check out the iPad Pro. While it is much pricier, it does offer a laminated screen and is faster.
A direct competitor running Android is the Huawei MediaPad M5 10 (review). It costs about the same but has four speakers and a laminated screen. However, the stylus works with the Pro version only which is more expensive. Another alternative with a pen is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (review). It is more expensive too but has an outstanding Super AMOLED display.
- Great performance
- Good build quality
- iOS 11 with tons of apps
- Fingerprint scanner
- Good battery life
- Apple Pencil support
- Display not laminated
- Speakers on one side only
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