Apple iPad (2018) Lightning Review: A Tablet You’d Actually Want to Buy

There are plenty of capable tablets out in the market now, but in the sub-RM2,000 price range, there are only a couple of truly exceptional ones – the 2018 Apple iPad is one of them. Not only is it the most affordable iPad yet, it’s also faster and more feature-packed than last year’s model.

Of course, there are a few caveats here and there, but for all intents and purposes, the 2018 iPad is really one of the best sub-RM2,000 tablets you can buy now.

What Is It?

The 2018 iPad is very similar to last year’s model. In fact, it has the same 9.7-inch 2048 x 1536 Retina display, 32GB or 128GB of internal storage, optional LTE support, an 8MP rear camera, and a 1.2MP front-facing shooter.

But there are two new features on this iPad. Not only does it come with a faster Apple A10 Fusion chip, it now supports the Apple Pencil too. For most users, the Pencil support is really just icing on the cake, though creative professionals may appreciate it.

Is It Any Good?

Considering its retail price and feature set, the 2018 iPad is an excellent tablet. It has a bright, vibrant display, and the A10 Fusion chip is certainly fast enough for everyday tasks. The iPad does not feel sluggish at all, and gaming on it is very enjoyable – especially for a couple rounds of Fortnite.

As much as the Apple ecosystem isn’t to everyone’s taste, iOS does offer one distinct advantage: optimisation. Unlike the fragmented nature of Android devices, apps for iOS devices are usually very well-optimised for the platform. This reason alone gives the iPad a superior user experience in a wide array of apps.

MORE: The 2018 9.7-inch Apple iPad Now Officially Available In Malaysia

Speaking of which, we can’t ignore Windows tablets either, which are – in my opinion – far more practical for folks who are looking to get a proper productivity machine. However, sub-RM2,000 Windows tablets are…well, not very good. Even though you may not be able to do as much with the iPad, you’ll likely enjoy using it more.

Beyond the operating system, other aspects of the iPad are very good too. Its 32.4Whr cell can return great battery life (Apple says the tablet has 10 hours of battery life, which is close to what I got), and I’m really impressed with iOS’ responsiveness and refinement. Not many Android tablets – and to some extent, affordable Windows tablets – are as pleasant to use as the iPad.

As far as affordable tablets go – emphasis on the affordability – the 2018 iPad offers a compelling feature set. That being said, there are still some aspects of the tablet that can be improved upon.

The Bad Stuff. Tell Me.

One distinct difference between this standard iPad and the iPad Pro lies in their displays. Unlike the Pro’s more impressive 120Hz display with wider colour gamut, the iPad has a more conventional IPS panel with a lower refresh rate. It still looks good, of course, but it’s not as impressive as the Pro’s display. On top of that, the iPad’s screen has a noticeable air gap too.

But given the iPad’s much lower asking price, it’s not exactly fair to compare it to the higher-end iPad Pro. These two tablets are, after all, made for different types of consumers.

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besides the display, the Apple Pencil is also another pain point. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed using the Pencil to scribble some notes and do some annotations on the iPad, but if you want to do the same, it will cost you a whopping RM419. That’s quite a hefty price tag.

Should I Buy It?

If you want to get your hands on an affordable tablet that offers a refined, polished user experience, the sixth generation Apple iPad is one of the best – if not the best – tablets you can get at this price point. Retailing from only RM1,449 for the 32GB non-cellular model – RM1,849 for the 128GB variant – it is Apple’s most affordable iPad yet.

Needless to say, the price does go up if you want LTE support: the 32GB and 128GB cellular models retail at RM1,999 and RM2,399 respectively. It’s not quite as affordable as the non-cellular model, of course, but it’s still more affordable than the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, which starts from RM2,999.

Photography by Soh Li Jin.

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