iPad 9.7″ 2018 (6th Gen) Review

Review, tablet
iPad 2018 6th Gen Screen

iPad 9.7″ 2018 (6th Gen) Review Summary

Pros

+ Best value iPad
+ Apple Pencil compatible
+ 3.5mm Headphone connector
+ Great performance
+ Fingerprint sensor

Cons

– Screen not laminated
– No anti-reflective coating
– Large bezels
– Dated design

Our Verdict

Apple’s 2018 offering once again provides an iPad suitable for almost anybody. Faster than ever, still relatively cost effective but the same dated design.

Rating

Design and Build

Measuring 240mm (9.4 inches) high, 169.5mm (6.6 inches) wide and 7.5mm (0.29 inches) deep the 2018 iPad starts where the 2017 model left off. Weight is 469 grams (1.03 pounds) which is also identical to the previous 2017 model, so no changes in those departments.

the same old iPad design which has been used for many years

The outside appearance will also be familiar, that is to say identical. Welcome back the same old iPad design which has been used for many years, including large bezels on all sides, disappointing but predictable.

Regardless, the design still remains functional and the larger bezels do allow for easy handling without obstructing the screen. Touch ID enabled home button is present and correct, allowing for fingerprint unlock. The latter is a feature no longer available on the new Pro range of iPad’s, they rely on Face ID.

iPad 2018 Lightning connector

Lightning power connector and speaker grills

Colour options on the 2018 iPad are familiar with it being offered in Space Grey, Silver and Gold – only the Space Grey has a black bezel, Silver and Gold come with white. We probably didn’t expect any big changes here, plenty of choice in real terms and they should cater for most tastes.

Home button with Touch ID means quick and easy unlocking via your finger or thumb, still the preferred method for many users. Apple were never going to bring Face ID to the entry level iPad but in our opinion this is no bad thing, quite the opposite in fact.

Elsewhere it is business as usual, power and volume buttons in their normal locations, speaker and lightning charge socket at the bottom.

iPad 2018 Volume buttons

Volume up and down buttons, rear camera

Screen

Nothing exciting to report, the 9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit Multi-Touch display with IPS technology features a 2048×1536-pixel resolution at 264 ppi. The 2018 screen does support Apple Pencil again which will be useful for some all be it an expensive addition at £89, this would be more accessible for the average person at a £50 price point.

Sadly the 2018 iPad screen is not laminated, unlike the Air and Pro models.

Once again Apple have chosen to use the same screen panel from 2017 and this is going to divide some people. Sadly the 2018 iPad screen is not laminated, unlike the higher quality panels used in the iPad Air of old and the new iPad Pro range. ‘What does this mean?’ – on screens without lamination there is an air gap between the actual panel and glass at the front. Images, icons and text don’t appear quite so close to the surface, there is also a small amount of flex when touching the screen.

For those who have never seen or used a laminated screen it will be a case of ‘ignorance is bliss’, some might not even notice the difference. Anyone accustomed to a laminated iPad screen though likely won’t appreciate the downgrade. Even the iPad Mini 4 from 2015 and the iPad Air 2 from 2014 had laminated screens so omitting this on the 2018 iPad is poor form.

iPad 2018 9.7" Home Button

Apple decided not to use a laminated screen again in 2018

Performance, real world use

No complaints in this department, the A10 Fusion chip with 64‑bit architecture and Embedded M10 coprocessor means this iPad is fast. You can’t outrun it no matter how quickly you try switching between apps.

Bigger improvements should be seen when editing photos and videos but even standard users will benefit, it’s no fun waiting for an app to open or close. Realistic working life of the 2018 iPad will also be extended with it being able to handle updates further down the line than less powerful models.

iPad 2018 Box and Power Adapter

Apple iPad Power Adapter in packaging

Connectivity

First and foremost we have Wi‑Fi (802.11a/b/g/n/ac); dual band (2.4GHz and 5GHz); HT80 with MIMO, followed closely by Bluetooth 4.2 technology. Both of these will keep your 2018 iPad connected to the internet and any accessories such as Bluetooth speakers and headphones. Historically iPad’s have always performed very well with wifi connectivity and this model is no different.

Unlike the new iPad Pro models, the 2018 iPad does come standard with a 3.5mm headphone jack, seems like paying less sometimes gets you more! For some this will be a welcome sight, others might only ever use the built in speakers and couldn’t care less about headphones. We will have to wait and see if Apple decide to roll out the 2019 iPad with a headphone socket, maybe 2018 will be the last year for that feature.

iPad 2018 3.5mm Headphone Connector

3.5mm Headphone socket, maybe for the last time

What’s it like to use?

Like all iPad’s both past and present the 2018 model is mostly logical in operation, existing iPad owners upgrading will find have no problems here. Everything about this new model is faster than the older releases thanks to the new A10 Chipset, anyone moving from an early iPad will be pleasantly surprised.

We have some complaints about text input and correction on Apple devices

The Touch ID home button seems to work slightly better than the 2017 version which seemed a bit slow and unreliable. We have some complaints about text input and correction on Apple devices in general and nothing seems to improve much in this area – when you mistype a common word even by one letter it often doesn’t auto correct. This is frustrating to say the least, especially from a company the size of Apple who really should have got on top of this by now.

Regardless, Apple still make the best tablets available today, we couldn’t recommend anything else from the likes of Samsung unless your budget can’t stretch to an iPad.

iPad 2018 9.7" Home Button

iPad 2018 screen close up showing Apps

Official accessories for your 2018 iPad

You’ve purchased the new 2018 iPad and would like to get a case and maybe try the Apple Pencil. The latter is easy enough to buy assuming you can stomach the £89.00 retail price, which is substantial to say the least. Purchasing the Apple Pencil and 32GB 2018 iPad totals £408, it turns your £300 iPad into a £400 ipad.

It is pretty poor that Apple don’t make a case for the 2018 iPad.

Protecting your iPad from accidental drops or just general use is something all owners should consider. Out of the box most Apple devices are quite slippery due to the rounded design and metal used for the main body.

Officially Apple only offer one branded ‘Smart Cover’ for the 2018 iPad, this is a £45 extra made from Polyurethane. Important to note that this isn’t a case, simply a magnetic cover which protects only the screen and doubles as a stand.

In the past Apple used to produce proper cases, often made from leather which covered both the front and rear of the iPad, they were very good indeed. It is pretty poor that Apple don’t make a case for the 2018 iPad, sadly they haven’t made any now since around 2015, relying on third party suppliers to fill the void.

iPad 2018 Rear Camera

Rear camera on 2018 iPad 9.7″

Should you buy the 2018 iPad

‘Looking to buy your first iPad?’ then the 2018 model will be a perfect entry point – cost effective, powerful and sensibly sized. For those looking to upgrade from the 2017 9.7″ iPad this is not the model for you, either look at the new 2019 iPad Air or iPad Pro. This 2018 model simply isn’t enough of an upgrade for 2017 owners, so save your money.

Anyone who already owns a 9.7″ iPad Air model either version 1 or 2 could probably pass on this 2018 iPad unless they need Apple Pencil support. The 2013 and 2014 Air models were great iPad’s, featuring laminated screens in a thin form factor.

Owners of much older 9.7″ iPad’s (model years 2010-2012) which are not the Air variant will be perfect candidates for this 2018 iPad, improved screen, massively quick in comparison and Apple Pencil support.

Mini iPad owners who would like a larger screen can also see the iPad 2018 as an option. Caution is required though, owners of iPad Mini 4 with the laminated display might be better looking at the 2019 iPad Air 10.5. Anyone with an iPad Mini (1,2 or 3) would be advised to look at this 2018 iPad assuming they prefer the larger screen size.

There are quite a few iPad’s to choose from, it can get confusing! if none of this makes any sense then drop us a line and we will help you out.

Apple Lightning Cable in Box

Lightning USB cable in original packaging

Summary

Still the best value iPad money can buy, maybe even the best value for money Apple product period. Lack of the better quality laminated screen is still an oversight.

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