2022 iPad review: The best one—except for all the others

There was a time when Apple’s focus was on simplicity in its product lineups—on making a one-size-fits-all design for just about every consumer. In other words, it wasn’t too long ago that there was only one iPad.

Today, nothing could be further from reality. The iPad lineup includes six different models, not counting different finish colors or storage configurations, of course. Apple’s new tablet brings some welcome changes to the aging base iPad design, but it doesn’t quite carve out a strong position for itself in a robust iPad lineup.

Nevertheless, it modernizes an aging design and doesn’t shed anything that was great about its predecessor in the process—well, except for one thing, but we’ll get to that.

If the top-and-bottom bezels design of the original iPad seemed too outdated for you to tolerate, then you might consider buying this new 10th-generation model instead of its ninth-generation predecessor. But at least as many potential buyers will be better served by the still-available previous-generation model or the pricier iPad Air.

Specifications

Specs at a glance: 2022 Apple iPad (10th generation)
screen 2,360×1,640 10.9-inch (264 PPI) touchscreen with True Tone
BONE iPadOS 16
CPU Apple A14
GPUs Apple A14
Storage 64GB or 256GB
networking Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2 (5G/LTE optional add-on)
Ports USB-C
Camera 12 MP rear camera, 12 MP wide-angle front camera
Size 9.79×7.07×0.28 inches (248.6×179.5×7mm)
Weight 1.05 pounds (477 g) for Wi-Fi model; 1.06 pounds (481 g) for cellular
Starting price $449 (Wi-Fi only)
Other perks Apple Pencil (first generation) support

Apart from the iPad’s design, not much has changed in terms of specifications over the previous tablet. The device is still offered in two storage configurations (64GB and 256GB), it still has a 12-megapixel front-facing camera that can record 1080p video at up to 60 fps, it still has stereo speakers (in landscape orientation this time) and dual microphones, it manages the same battery life, and the display still offers a pixel density of 264 pixels per inch, with a maximum brightness of 500 nits.

So what’s different? Well, the A14 system-on-a-chip to start. The ninth-generation iPad had the A13, one generation behind this one. Like its predecessor, the A14 has a CPU, a GPU, an NPU, and an ISP, among other things. But it isn’t radically different from the A13; it should offer 10–20 percent faster performance depending on the task. (We’ll test that shortly.)

While the screen has the same pixel density as we saw in the ninth-generation iPad, it has a new resolution: 2,360 by 1,640 pixels. That’s because the screen is bigger—10.9 inches diagonally instead of 10.2—thanks to significant reductions of the top and bottom bezels. The screen design differs from the pricier iPad Air in an important way: There’s an air gap that makes the Apple Pencil peripheral feel just a bit worse to use. That was the case with the ninth-generation iPad, too, so just note that there has been no improvement there with this refresh.

The rear camera has jumped from 8 megapixels to 12, with no optical zoom. It also can capture 4K video at up to 60 fps. It supports Smart HDR 3, Apple’s computational photography solution for taking better photos in some situations, especially in low light. The downside is that some photos have a processed look, as we discussed at length in our most recent iPhone review. We don’t see the iPad as primarily a photography device, so we won’t spend much time on it here, but the basics are there if you need them.

The new iPad supports Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 for connectivity, as well as 5G—a first for this model in all cases. The previous model supported slightly older Wi-Fi and Bluetooth standards and capped out at 4G. That said, most people don’t have Wi-Fi 6 routers, and 5G is only notably faster in certain urban areas, so these connectivity changes needn’t drive most people to upgrade.

Another notable change is the move from a Lightning port to USB-C. Apple had already moved the rest of the iPad lineup apart from the base iPad to the more popular USB-C connection.

The real benefit of moving to USB-C is that since it’s an industry standard, there will likely be better interoperability with a wider variety of chargers and peripherals. The iPad doesn’t always play nice with third-party peripherals anyway, but you’re bound to have more options regardless. You might have to buy some new adapters or cords if you’re coming from a Lightning-equipped iPad, though.

All told, this iPad is a bit of an amalgamation of the previous-generation iPad Air and the previous-generation iPad. It has been called “the FrankeniPad” in the Ars Technica Slack—and that about sums it up.

Oh, and one last note on the specs: The 64GB entry-level configuration is suitable only for devices used in limited contexts like point-of-sale or some educational uses. If you’re going to be loading apps, games, music, or movies onto this device, you’ll want more storage. The next step up is 256GB, for a whopping $150 more. For that reason, we don’t think of this iPad as being quite as affordable as it claims to be for most users. That’s just something to keep in mind.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.