The Apple iPad 8 is the newest simple iPad that’s aimed at people who don’t want to spend crazy amounts for an iPad Air or iPad Pro. And if you care about performance alone, you might be well off with the cheapest version because we’re getting a super-fast Apple A12 Bionic processor now. In this review, you’ll learn everything there is to know about the iPad 8.
Hardware & Performance
Let’s check out the internal hardware first. The Apple iPad 8 ships with an Apple A12 Bionic processor that is supported by 3GB of RAM. If you want 32GB of internal storage, you’ve got to pay 329 dollars and if you need more, you can pay 100 dollars more for 128GB.
There’s no microSD card slot, so you’ll need to know from the beginning how much storage you need. If you mostly want to surf the web, watch YouTube and Netflix, or do some office work, 32GB should be fine. But if you want to install lots of games, maybe even store photos or videos, then you’re probably better off with 128GB.
Apple’s A12 Bionic processor is an amazing chipset. You can see in my benchmark comparison that it is much faster than the iPad 7 with the A10 Fusion processor. So, if you upgrade, you certainly do get more performance. In fact, with the A12, the graphics performance is even better than the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 which costs twice as much and is the fastest Android tablet out there.
For my reviews, I always render a 9-minute 4K video in Adobe Premiere Rush. And, here again, the iPad 8 is much faster than its predecessor. And much faster than the Galaxy Tab S7 and faster than the Microsoft Surface Pro 7.
Needless to say that all standard tasks and heavy multitasking run super smooth on here. I’ve had no problems when working with Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop or when watching YouTube on one side and surfing the web on the other. With these basic tasks, I didn’t notice a real difference compared to the predecessor either. So, unless you need lots of performance, it’s not worth it to upgrade from the iPad 6 or 7.
I did notice a real difference when playing some games though. In PUBG Mobile you can set the graphics to Ultra HD and with these settings, it looks very nice and runs very smoothly. On the iPad 7, HD or HDR are supported only.
The iPad Air 3 has the same processor and on that one, I was able to play Fortnite with the highest epic graphic settings. So, if Fortnite ever returns to the Apple App Store, I’m guessing it’ll run great on the iPad 8 too.
Other games run fantastic as well. Call Of Duty looks very nice with the highest graphics and it makes lots of fun to play Asphalt 9 which looks very beautiful here. So, especially when considering the price, I think the iPad 8 is a fantastic gaming tablet. The price to performance ratio is amazing.
Display: Not Laminated
While the screen is good overall, it’s not as amazing as the performance. The iPad 8 has a 10.2-inch IPS display with wide viewing angles, good color reproduction, and with 500 nits, it’s brighter than most Android tablets. It has a resolution of 2160 x 1620 pixels which means that texts look very sharp.
But the screen continues to be not laminated. That means there’s a small visible air gap between the touchscreen and the IPS layer. In this price range, the iPad 8 is the only tablet where the screen is not laminated. In fact, to get another non-laminated tablet, you have to get an old one from eBay or get a cheap Android tablet for under 100 dollars.
I’m guessing that the only reason why the iPads screen is not laminated is to differentiate itself from the iPad Air. Otherwise, it makes almost no sense for most people to get an iPad Air because the performance of the simple iPad 8 is so amazing already.
On a positive note, it seems like most people don’t notice that the screen is not laminated. Every time I show the iPad 8 or its predecessors to friends that are not into tech, they say the screen looks amazing. If people don’t know about it, they usually don’t care. So, if you’ve never noticed it before, I’m sorry to point it out but that’s part of a fair review.
On one of its shorter sides, the tablet has two speakers which are very good for its price. The speakers are better than most competitors. But there’s a downside here too. Since the speakers are located on just one side, you don’t hear any real stereo separation when watching movies. Not a huge issue, but something I immediately notice when I watch a movie on the iPad 8 instead of an iPad Pro.
For an additional 99 dollars, you can get the first-generation Apple Pencil to use with the iPad 8. It’s the same pen that’s compatible with the iPad 6 and 7, as well as the iPad Mini and the first couple of iPad Pro models. But the current iPad Pro generation and the newest iPad Air 4 support the Apple Pencil 2 only and these are not interchangeable. So, make sure that you get the correct one.
Now, the Apple Pencil works fantastic just as it did with the predecessors. It’s a pressure-sensitive pen that can also recognize if you tilt it. The stylus reacts fast and is very well supported in iPadOS and lots of third-party apps like Adobe Photoshop, for instance.
With iPadOS 14, Apple introduced a couple of new features for the pen. The most interesting one is called Scribble. It allows you to use handwriting in any text field – in the browser, for example. That works surprisingly well and I’ve used it a lot. It’s very useful.
Handwriting recognition is built into Apple’s Notes app now. That works great as well. And while it does not have as many features as Samsung offers for their tablets, you can take screenshots fast using gestures and also start a new note from the lock screen. If you want to write down notes while watching a presentation or so, you can do that just fine using the split-screen view or a pop-up.
The Apple Pencil does need to be charged regularly. You do that by plugging the stylus into the Lightning port of the iPad. But you can also use an adapter that’s included with the Pencil.
So, the stylus works great. The only downside is the non-laminated screen again. Because of this air gap, it can look like you’re not directly touching the screen. So, if you want to draw super precisely, you might need to get an iPad Air or iPad Pro.
Design & Built
The basic design of the iPad 8 almost did not change at all since the first couple of generations. It’s a bit bigger since Apple decided to use a 10.2-inch screen instead of a 9.7-inch one starting with the iPad 7. But that’s it. And that means that we still get big black screen bezels – especially at the top and bottom.
As usual, we’re getting a full metal body which is 7.5mm thick. It weighs 490 grams and Apple is selling it in silver, space gray, and gold.
The older design means that we still get the Touch ID fingerprint scanner that’s integrated into the home button below the screen. It works very fast and is reliable. On the bottom between the two speakers, we also have to live with the old Lightning connector. I wish it would be USB C but if you own an iPhone, you can use the same charger with both.
On the sides are a power button, volume controls, and unlike the iPad Pro, it has a standard headphone jack. Apple included a Smart Connector for an optional keyboard cover as well.
The 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera is a bit disappointing because the resolution is too low for full HD videos. I also don’t like that it’s located on the side when holding it in landscape orientation. The 8-megapixel main camera takes decent photos and videos. Nothing has changed here compared to last year.
Apple Smart Keyboard Folio
If you want to work with the iPad 8, you should be able to connect almost every keyboard. Even touchpads are supported now.
The iPad 8 supports the same Apple Smart Keyboard Folio that was developed for the old 10.5-inch iPad Pro, the iPad Air 3, and iPad 7. The keyboards for the current iPad Pro generation are not supported.
While I prefer the design of the new versions, this keyboard works fine and I can recommend it if you’re looking for a good compromise of comfort and portability. The keyboard is connected magnetically and acts as a stand for the tablet. Folded up, it protects the screen but the back and sides are free.
The keys don’t offer much travel. But after a couple of hours, you can get used to it. I wrote quite a bit with this keyboard since it’s the same one I used with the iPad 7. I like it. But again, you can use almost every standard keyboard and that’s what I would recommend if you mostly work at home. A proper desktop-class keyboard is more comfortable in the long-run.
Software: iPadOS 14
The Apple iPad 8 is the first iPad to directly ship with iPadOS 14 out of the box. But the predecessor got updates already, so it’s not that special. That Apple updates their tablets for a long time is special, though. I’m guessing that the iPad 8 will get lots of updates for three and maybe up to five years since the A12 is so powerful. But as usual, I can’t promise anything.
In the past, I always thought that iOS is a bit restrictive. But that has changed in the last couple of years. Now, in 2020, I think that iPadOS is an amazing operating system for tablets. That’s because Apple has fixed every problem I had with the software in the past.
Multitasking works great now thanks to a good split-screen view and you can even open a third app on top. Lots of accessories including external storage are supported now. Yes, there even is a proper files app where you can have download folders, copy and paste files, and so on. I also love that Safari behaves like a real desktop browser now. Better than Chrome does on Android. And I mentioned the new features for the Apple Pencil already.
A major highlight of iPads continues the huge amount of apps that are optimized for tablets. You can get lots of apps that don’t exist like this for Android. Among these are Adobe Photoshop and even alternatives to Adobe’s apps like the video-editor LumaFusion, Affinity Photo, and Illustrator. And lots of note-taking apps, banking apps, and much more.
When streaming an HD video at maximum brightness on YouTube, the battery lasts 5.5 hours. That doesn’t sound that much at first sight. But keep in mind that the screen is brighter than most Android tablets. So, the battery life is not outstanding but okay.
Apple iPad 8 Review: Final Verdict
So, that’s the end of my Apple iPad 8 review. I can highly recommend it, of course. With a price tag of just 329 dollars, it offers an amazing value. Especially if you need lots of performance. This is a fantastic gaming tablet. The Apple Pencil and the official keyboard cover are good accessories too. And while the non-laminated screen is a downside, at least it’s very bright and most people don’t seem to care anyway.
This is the perfect tablet for many. But yes, if you prefer a laminated screen, speakers with real stereo separation, and maybe more keyboard options, you might want to check out its competition.
Let’s take a look at the alternatives.
The first one that comes to mind is the Apple iPad Air 4, of course, which I will review soon but haven’t yet. Its performance is much better on paper, but I don’t think you’ll actually notice that in real life. But it does have a laminated screen, has four speakers, works with the Apple Pencil 2, and also the fantastic Apple Magic Keyboard.
If you prefer an Android tablet, you should check out the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite. That’s a great choice if you’re looking for a tablet with an active stylus because the S Pen is included. And once you factor in the pen, it’s a bit cheaper than the iPad 8. The screen is laminated here but the performance is much weaker.
- Outstanding performance
- Good speakers
- Bright screen
- Metal body
- Fingerprint scanner
- Apple Pencil support
- Optional keyboard cover
- Up to date iPadOS
- Screen not laminated
- Old design
- Lightning port instead of USB C
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