What is an iPad? It might sound like a silly question, especially when you look at Apple’s sales figures. Since its introduction, the tablet that changed the game has become virtually ubiquitous. We’ve all seen one, used one, and quite possibly own one.
But with the latest incarnation of their popular tablet, Apple has gone further than ever before into the realm previously reserved for laptops and desktops. With an eight-core A12X processor, the company boasts that the 2018 iPad is faster than 92% of laptops sold on the market today. Clearly, Apple wants you to wonder if you still need a computer at all. So what does the latest iPad have to offer that makes it better than previous models? Yes, it’s fast. And as always, it’s pretty. But is the new iPad going to be the future of computing, as Apple CEO Tim Cook hopes?
Great design has become the minimum we expect from Apple. The 5.9mm aluminum shell feels reliably sturdy, and the tapered edges familiar from other iPad models are gone, replaced by a flat bottom. The Retina display is huge and stretches from edge to edge, surrounded by a thin black bezel that’s the same size all the way around. But the most noticeable feature is the lack of a home button. Instead, like the iPhone XS, the iPad uses Face ID to unlock the screen, and it works no matter what orientation you hold the iPad in. It’s a good thing, too, because it’s almost impossible to tell which edge is the top of the device.
Apple isn’t lying when they brag about the performance of their new Ipad. It really is a beast. The eight cores divide the tasks you run between them, giving twice the multi-core performance of earlier models. And the graphics chip has twice the power it used to. All while maintaining the same ten-hour battery life of previous models.
The quad speakers on the latest iPad sound great. But if you’re in the market for a pair of headphones, make sure they’re wireless. You won’t find a headphone jack here. In fact, all you’ll find is a single USB-C charging port which also allows the tablet to connect to accessories such as monitors and cameras. But two accessories steal the show with this iPad model. One is the redesigned Apple Pencil. It magnetically attaches to the side of the iPad and charges automatically, so it’s always ready to be used. Smart and responsive, the Pencil remains the best digital drawing tool out there.
The Smart Keyboard is also much improved. It snaps magnetically to the discreet connector on the back of the tablet and works flawlessly. The keys are well-spaced and have a pleasing click to them that will be familiar to anyone used to typing on a MacBook Pro. It’s a useful addition for anyone thinking about replacing their laptop. But be warned that it won’t sit as well on your knees as a more sturdy computer would.
The Laptop Killer?
With the new iPad, Apple is trying to position their tablet as a replacement for laptops. But in this, they’re only partially successful. The portability and power of the iPad make it shine compared to any other tablet, and most laptops too. And no laptop can compete with the drawing capabilities of the iPad. But all this hardware is hampered by iOS 12. For instance, the iPad can’t talk to external storage. At all. Want to transfer a file from a thumb drive? You’re out of luck. Manipulating spreadsheets in Google is a sluggish and frustrating task, and many common websites treat the iPad’s Safari browser as a mobile browser, which limits functionality. Perhaps it’s not entirely fair to judge the new iPad against laptops. After all, there’s little question that this is the best tablet available. That ought to be enough. But Apple invited the comparison with notebooks, and it’s there that this iPad falls down. The future of computing? Not yet, Apple.