iPad 10.9-inch 10th-Gen First Impressions

Pretty coy of Apple to launch a new iPad so stealthily even though this is quite the huge change from the previous generation. The new Apple iPad 10.9-inch 10th-Gen brings a whole new design, complete with new fun colours, repositioning of the front camera and it now also comes with USB-C. Who would've thought! So let's take a look at the newest member to complete the USB-C family.

Design

Right of the bat, we definitely have to mention the new colours available. There's Silver, Yellow, Pink and Blue. Sadly, there isn't a Space Grey option for those of who are shy towards fun and vibrant colours. Now we can't really speak much for the other colours but the Blue that we've had the opportunity to try is really gorgeous in person. If you're asking how blue of a blue it is, we would say it's somewhere between the Blue of the iPhone 13 and the Blue of the current iPhone 14.

But colours aren't the only thing that's new. The entire design has been revamped to put this generation of the base iPad in line with the entire family of iPads. Gone is the now classic iPad look with the huge bezels and tapered chassis and in are the thinner bezels with rounded corners and a flat chassis. Thus, Apple has managed to cram the larger Liquid Retina display in a chassis that has about the same footprint as the 10.2-inch iPad from the previous generation. It's also thinner and lighter, at just 7mm and starts at 477g / 1.05lbs.


As compact as ever, lighter on your back, it's great to carry around. Though we do miss the 3.5mm headphone jack. It's always great to have that around. Just a little though.

Display

But let's talk about the main visual difference, literally.

As mentioned, this is a new Liquid Retina display with the rounded corners and bezels, coming in at 10.9-inches with a resolution of 2,360 x 1,640 providing 264 pixels per inch (ppi) and up to 500 nits of brightness. It might not sound much on paper, for it's providing pretty much almost exactly the same specs as the previous generation. But the new rounded design definitely makes it looks much more modern and fitting with other devices in this day and age and honestly, it's not like the previous display was bad. Far from it.

You're still going to get a great visual experience with good punchy colours and a decent max brightness that makes it suitable to use outdoors except for the sunniest of days. An additional 0.7-inches is also something we believe anyone can appreciate especially if you're binging on your favourite shows on YouTube, Netflix and the likes or getting some action done in Genshin Impact.

One interesting thing to note is that because this new iPad 10.9-inch 10th-Gen utilizes the newer design language found in the other iPads, you no longer have the classic home button with Touch ID. That has now been shifted to be top button just like the others.

Cameras

It's a little hard to see, but it's there!

This change might be the biggest yet. For the first time on any iPad, the front-facing camera is now located along the landscape edge. So whether you're on a FaceTime call, on Zoom, Google Meets or even Discord, you'll be looking a little more naturally towards camera unlike the side look that you'll tend to get from before. It is also worthy to note that it is an Ultra Wide camera with a 12MP sensor and support for Centra Stage and can capture up to 1080p video at 60 fps with smart HDR 3.


For those of you who aren't too versed in the technical jargon, just know this. You're going to get great image quality that will always keep you in focus and in frame and the shot of you is going to look much more natural to the user on the other side of the call. This is a nice change and we wholeheartedly welcome it.

As for the rear camera, it is a 12MP Wide camera that can also shoot up to 4K video or 240 fps slow-mo, though we reckon that most people are going to use this for quickly snapping notes, scanning documents, QR codes and the such.

That USB-C

Scratch the previous, this is the biggest change. Everyone is now going to be able to enjoy the benefits of USB-C with the base iPad. Hooray!

USB-C is just so much more versatile as compared to Lightning. With this new change, you'll now be able to connect a plethora of USB-C accessories such as dongles, adapters, accessories and it'll also support faster charging with high-power USB-C power adapters such as GaN chargers. In addition, it supports a native DisplayPort output and will be able to support one external display up to 4K 30Hz or 1080p 60Hz.


All in all, this is a step in the right direction. Next up, the iPhone please? Apple? Please.

Apple Pencil 1st-Generation...?

But perhaps this is the question everyone is scratching their heads over. Yes indeed, the new iPad 10.9-inch 10th-Gen only supports the Apple Pencil 1st-Generation. That's right, it's the very Pencil that uses the Lightning connector and not USB-C.

To solve that issue, Apple is now selling a USB-C to Apple Pencil Adapter which you'll need to have if you want to use the Apple Pencil 1st-Generation with this new iPad. Now Apple will bundle this very adapter if you were to buy a new Apple Pencil 1st-Generation right now. But if already own the Apple Pencil 1st-Generation, you'll have to get this very adapter that will be sold separately.


Now we aren't dissing the performance of the Apple Pencil 1st-Generation. Far from it. It's still a really good Pencil that can compete with the best of the best from the like of Wacom.


The more pressing question of why would be...


Why take that leap of faith and equip the new iPad with USB-C but yet restrict it to only be able to use the Apple Pencil 1st-Generation? It makes zero sense. With that said, we do understand when looking at the bigger picture. Apple might be utilizing this chance to sell overflow stock of Apple Pencil 1st-Generation and for those of you who already own this Pencil, a simple purchase of an adapter will allow you to use it with this new iPad. But yet, we can't help but feel that support for the Apple Pencil 2nd-Generation should be included.

Magic Keyboard Folio

This on the other hand is a great addition in our opinion. The new Magic Keyboard Folio builds upon the Magic Keyboard, offering the same typing experience with individual hard keycaps and a 1mm key travel distance.

But it goes a step further and offers an entire function row complete with 14 keys. This essentially means that you're now basically getting the same keyboard as you would with a MacBook, which makes this the first ever iPad to be able to do so.

Adjusting your volume, the brightness, muting your mic, the escape key, you name it. You now have them all.


After using it from a few days, we've to say that we've really grown accustomed to it and anyone who've ever used the Magic Keyboard with the iPad Air or iPad Pro will feel just right at home with this, albeit perhaps even better thanks to that new function row. The typing experience is great with that 1mm travel distance with good tactile feedback and the trackpad works just as well.

But there's also another difference in comparison to the Magic Keyboard. It's the fact that the keyboard portion can actually be detached and not only that, is also reversible. Because the keyboard uses the Smart Connector, that means you can detach the keyboard, turn it around and reattach it such that the keys face the back of the iPad, granting a more pleasant experience when holding up the iPad. No longer will you feel the keyboard keys on the back. Alternatively, you can also remove the entire keyboard for the back panel will still remain as that is attached magnetically. A great experience overall.


We only have one question. Why isn't this offered for the iPad Pro (M2) at all?