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In October 2022, as expected, Apple announced new product updates, just in time for the all important year end shopping season. What is unexpected is the updates (or lack thereof) in the new products that it is announced. While some expect Apple will update their flagship iPad Pro to use the new M2 chips, what is unexpected is the new direction that Apple took with their new “base” iPad.
If you have seens the iPad 10 before, you will be right. From a consumer point of view, Apple took out the iPad Air 4, made a few modifications, slapped a new price and rebranded it as iPad 10. We compare the iPad 10 and the OG iPad Air 4 to see what Apple changed. Spoilers: new is not always good.
- Apple announced the new iPad 10 in October 2022 through a press conference.
- At a glance, Apple took the iPad Air 4, made modifications and rebrand the new device as iPad 10
- We took an iPad Air 4 and compare what changes that Apple made
- Major changes is Apple move the camera from the top of the iPad to the right side so it will have the correct orientation in landscape mode
- The Smart Connector is moved from the back to the bottom of the iPad, which necessitates a new accessory for the iPad
- The major downgrade is Apple dropped support for Apple Pencil 2 and instead decided to use Apple Pencil 1 which rife with design problems. To actually charge the Apple Pencil 1 which has a lightning male port, you have to buy an extra device to charge it, making it very inconvenient to do so.
- Furthermore, the pricing, which starts at around $450 is considered very high since Apple traditionally sells the iPad at around $330 for the entry level version. You can basically get a refurbished iPad Air 4 with very similar specs, but without the drawback of the Apple Pencil 1 at similar price.
iPad Air 4
Here are some of the key facts of the iPad Air 4.
Design: The iPad Air 4 design was a big departure over its predecessor. The iPad Air 4 was launched in October 2020 and follows the same design language that was first introduced in the iPad Pro 2018.
Capabilities: Designed to be a iPad Pro Lite, the iPad Air 4 held some features that the iPad Pro sports, but some of the performance is reduced to fit the pricing and product placement.
iPad Pro like features: The iPad Air 4 has some of the features that was exclusive to the iPad Pro at that time, like Apple Pencil 4 support and Magic Keyboard folio support
Reduced Performance: While the iPad Pro has desktop quality chips like the A12Z (and later M1), the iPad Air 4 made do with A14 Bionic chip which powers the iPhone 12 line up. Despite having a mobile chip, the iPad Air 4 is up to the task. Instead of the FaceID on the iPad Pro, the iPad Air 4 has TouchID which Apple cleverly incorporated in the side button. Speakers is the other area that Apple tweaked which Apple only put two speakers on the iPad Air 4 instead of 4 on the iPad Pro.
Conclusion: So, in conclusion, Apple put 90% of iPad Pro performance in the iPad Air while charging 75% of its price. A good deal for people who seeks more utility from their iPad but don’t want to pay a steep price for an iPad Pro.
Apple announced the iPad 10th generation in October 2022, around 2 years after the announcement of iPad Air 4. Unlike other Apple products before, there has been scant rumors about the new design of the iPad 10, perhaps it is because Apple hardly made any changes on the iPad despite it’s revolutionary change design wise
Design: Generation-wise, the iPad 10 is a big departure from its predecessor. However, looking at the iPad line up in general, Apple basically got the iPad 4 chassis, made some tweaks and rebranded it as iPad 10. Apple made few changes over the iPad Air 4, but boy, those changes were controversial.
Retained over iPad Air 4: Some features from the iPad Air 4 are carried over to the iPad 10. TouchID on the side button and using the A14 Bionic chip are a few of them. The screen is basically the same at 10.5”.
USB-C: This is the first iPad that uses USB-C instead of a Lightning port. It is also the last in the entire line up to ditch Lighting for USB-C. Some say it is because of regulations, but the Lighting port which was introduced 2010 has shown its age.
Landscape camera: Traditionally, the iPad front camera is put at the top of the iPad just like their iPhone counterparts. This results in the camera at the side of the iPad when viewed in landscape mode. The iPad is large enough that the picture becomes off centered during video calls. Apple moved the camera to the side and called this “innovation” Landscape Camera. The front camera is an ultrawide and features Apple’s Stage Manager, which the video feed is artificially cropped and follows your face.
SmartConnector: SmartConnector are the 3 contacts on the iPad which allows the iPad to connect to compatible devices instantly. Apple uses SmartConnector to design and sell keyboards and mice that plug into the iPads. On the iPad 10, Apple moved the SmartConnector from the back of the iPad Air 4 to the side, which becomes the bottom when the iPad is put in landscape mode.
Because of this, the iPad 10 cannot use the Magic Keyboard that was designed for the iPad Air or iPad Pro. Don’t worry, Apple has a new keyboard called Magic Keyboard Folio which costs $249. It’s cheaper than the Magic Keyboard, but considering the Magic Keyboard Folio is more than half the price of the iPad, it is one expensive accessory.
Apple Pencil support: This is the major source of controversy. Apple in their wisdom decided to use Apple Pencil 1 support for the iPad. It is very hilarious because the iPad Air 4 which this iPad 10 is based on supports Apple Pencil 2. One might argue because Apple decided to put a camera where it usually has the charging port for the Apple pencil, but Apple hires world class engineers. So having a landscape camera and ports to charge the Apple Pencil 2 is not an insurmountable problem for Apple.
So the Apple Pencil uses the Lighting port to charge and there isn’t one in the iPad 10, so how does one charge the Apple Pencil? Apple sells a USB-C to Lighting adapter for $9 (which is sold separately from either the iPad 10 or Apple Pencil), which is crazy. So basically to charge your and use your Apple Pencil, you have to take out your USB-C charging cable, connect to the adapter and then connect to the Apple Pencil itself. It’s a unApple like mess.
Pricing: This is where things get a bit dicey. One of the reasons why Apple corner the tablet market is at a base price of $329, Apple offers the best tablet money can buy. Now, the iPad 10 which has a new design language now starts at $450. One might argue that it’s a new design for the iPad, but Apple has had this design since they introduced it on the iPad Pro 11” way back in 2018. Apple should have nailed down the production yield and cost by now.
Now with the $250 Smart Keyboard Folio, the base price for the iPad is now $700, which is not exactly a budget option. For comparison, the 9th generation iPad which starts at $330 and a Smart Keyboard Folio at $160 which brings the price to $490, a big difference.
Furthermore, you can get what is considered a superior product, the iPad Air 4 at iPad 10 prices. On Amazon, a refurbished iPad Air 4 costs $430 (correct at press time). On Apple’s own website, you can get a refurbished iPad Air 4 at $470 (correct at press time) a $20 difference.
The major deal-breaker of the iPad 10 is Apple’s insistence of using the original Apple Pencil, which has a slew of problems on the iPad 10. The Apple Pencil itself is great when using it, but the annoyance of having to charge it via the Lighting Port (which isn’t there on the iPad) just adds unnecessary pain on the iPad 10.
Furthermore, changes that Apple made ensure that you can’t use existing accessories on the iPad Pro / Air lineup. Which could give some people a mental breakdown on why Apple did the things that they did?
So in conclusion, it is better to get the iPad Air 4 because you can actually use iPad Pro stuff and the most important feature: Apple Pencil 2 support, which in every metric, is a superior product than the Apple Pencil. Apple rarely makes mistakes, but the iPad 10 is a major flop, unless Apple knows something that we don’t.
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