How Good is Apple’s Newest 9.7-Inch iPad? What’s Different from the 2017 Version?

Apple has unveiled its education-focussed 2018 iPad with a couple of great additions | Otherwise, everything else remains more or less the same including the price point

Apple held its first event of the year – one that was education-focussed and aptly dubbed as the “Let’s Take a Field Trip” event – on March 27th at the Lane Tech College Prep School in Chicago, IL.

Not only did the tech giant come out with several useful software enhancements but also unveiled a refreshed version of last year’s 9.7-inch tablet.

Well, if you were expecting sweeping changes to it, you’d probably be a tad disappointed as it still looks, feels and behaves very much like an iPad – a bit snappier than its predecessor, though; thanks to the stronger A10 Fusion processor – the one we got to see on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

And, of course, the support for the Apple pencil is a great new feature for the tablet. It’s the first time we’re seeing the Apple pencil work with an iPad device outside of the Pro line.

So, go ahead and use it to take notes, draw, as well as use it on apps that offer Apple pencil support, but be prepared to shell out $99 extra for the pencil as it is not included in the box.

The good thing is, you can still use your finger to make those all-important annotations if you are looking to avoid the additional $100 expenditure.

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On a serious note, Apple is aware of this extra burden, because, don’t forget that the new iPad is being touted as an education-friendly product and, therefore, should be made a bit easier on the students’ pockets.

In that regard, the company announced a cheaper Logitech Crayon designed to work equally well with all iPad devices.

The $49 stylus will have an 8-hour battery life, and work with updated apps, including Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, Microsoft Office and Explain Everything.

The downside to this, however, is the fact that it is being made available only through Apple’s education channels and, hence, won’t be for the general consumer to benefit from.

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“Logitech Crayon is the first digital pencil designed for the new iPad and leverages technology found in Apple Pencil to deliver sub-pixel precision, low latency and support for tilt in a design that’s perfect for students,” the company said in a Monday press release.

“iPad features palm-rejection technology and can tell the difference between Logitech Crayon and a hand resting on the display, so students can write and draw naturally, just as they would with traditional pencil and paper,” added the release.

Apple has made further concessions for students and educators by offering them the new 9.7-inch iPad for $299 – that is $30 less than what the average consumer would be paying for it.

At $329, it still is a pretty good bargain for consumers as it remains unchanged from the previous 9.7-inch iPad price.

The completely revamped iWork suite is pretty impressive and complements this new education-oriented iPad and the Apple pencil very well indeed.

So, go ahead and create great presentations with the help of your upgraded iWork suite, and draw and animate them with the Apple pencil, and do even more.

It has touch ID on the Home button on the portrait chin of the tablet, with a speaker on the bottom portrait edge, and of course the lightning port alongside it.

Then you have your front-facing camera, your rear-facing camera and of course the famous Apple logo on the back. And, because this is an LTE equipped device, you have the panel on the back as well.

A lot of stuff shown during the Apple presentation, such as things related to your class assignments and the likes, do involve a lot of typing.

So, a smart connector on the side-edge (portrait position) would have really been a great addition, because it would have allowed you the flexibility of connecting a smarter, slimmer and easier to use with the iPad keyboard, as opposed to the ungainly looking keyboard case that Logitech is making for the iPad.

The new iPad continues to be relatively light and portable and boasts the same 10-hour battery life as last year’s model.

Apart from the few improvements and additions discussed, most of the features and attributes remain unchanged.

It is fundamentally the same iPad we’ve been seeing for the past couple of years, but with a couple of clever tweaks to it.

While the 9.7-inch Retina display is impressive in itself, a fully laminated screen, like the one seen on iPad Pros, would have been good, but one can understand that it would have made the device costlier, thereby killing the main purpose of keeping it within the reach of students and consumers alike.

The 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with ƒ/2.4 aperture, HDR, and Full HD video capabilities

is still very much the same we saw on last year’s model.

The front-facing camera is a 1.2-megapixel HD camera designed mainly for video calls.

To sum it up, barring two major differentiating points – which are: one, support for the Apple pencil as well as third-party styluses, and two, it’s relatively more powerful with the beefed-up A10 Fusion chipset and the M10 motion coprocessor – everything else remains almost identical to the old-gen 9.7-inch iPad

The 2018 iPad is being made available in three color options – gold, silver, and space grey, and is available for pre-order with immediate effect, and will start shipping this week itself.

While Apple has made it clear that the $329 tablet will be made available for students and educators at a discounted price of $299, it remains to be seen whether the Apple generosity extends to the UK and other overseas markets as well.

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