Apple iPad 2019 review: The tablet for everybody

Posted: 24 October 2019 12:37 pm
News

Apple iPad 2019

Apple's cheapest iPad isn't as flashy as an iPad Pro, but for the uses most folks have for a tablet, it's more than powerful enough.

Quick Verdict

The Apple iPad 2019 is essentially only a specifications update to the 2018 model, but it remains our pick as the best iPad – and indeed the best media consumption tablet – that money can buy.

The good

  • iPadOS is a joy to use
  • Wide range of available apps
  • Apple Pencil support
  • Keyboard support

The bad

  • Still running on the A10 chip
  • Keyboard is pricey
  • 32GB is a stupidly small amount of storage

Apple is slowly shifting its iPad line into the productivity space, especially with the iPad Pro line, but even arguably with the Apple iPad Air and the one iPad that doesn't actually qualify for a suffix, the regular iPad.

Updated for 2019 with a larger display and support for the iPad Keyboard, the Apple iPad remains a great option for anyone who wants a tablet for a mix of content consumption and some light content creation work. Apple has clearly put the brakes on its productivity to keep the Pro and Air lines relevant, but still, this is the tablet that most buyers will be best suited for.

Apple iPad 2019

Design

  • 10.2 inch display
  • No true tone support
  • Still has a headphone jack
  • Lightning connected, not USB C

The basic style of the iPad hasn't really changed a lick in years. You can get the Apple iPad 2019 in Space Grey, Silver or Gold finishes. The Silver and Gold models have white front bezels, while the Space Grey as tested has a black front bezel. So far, so very iPad.

What's changed this year is the size of the display screen, up to 10.2 inches and 2,160 x 1,620 pixels from 2018's 9.7-inch display. That half inch actually does make more impact on your overall screen real estate than you might think, particularly when you remember that screen sizes are measured on the diagonal. It's still marginally smaller than the 10.5-inch display you'd find on the iPad Air or 11 inches you'd find on the entry level iPad Pro, however.

The iPad 2019 display is nicely vibrant, but it's not quite the best that Apple has to offer. If you opt for an iPad Air or iPad Pro, you get one of Apple's "True Tone" displays, which are just that little bit more vibrant, and potentially that little bit more useful if you're using them for, say, photo editing work.

It's not that the iPad display is bad to speak of. It's just consumer grade, and for the vast majority of users that's more than good enough. Put it side by side with an iPad Air or an iPad Pro and the differences are easily spotted, but in isolation, and especially if you're upgrading from an older iPad you'd probably never notice it at all.

Where Apple has gone all-in on FaceID for the iPhone line and the iPad Pro, the regular old iPad still has a TouchID sensor on board. It's a little slower than FaceID, but it does mean you've always got a regular home button that you can tap on. The other feature that iPad owners get that iPad Pro owners don't is a regular 3.5mm headphone jack, located at the top left hand side of the tablet when viewed vertically. Of course, it will also work just fine with Bluetooth headphones as well.

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Camera

  • Single rear 12MP camera delivers ordinary photos
  • Front-facing 1.2MP camera is good for video calls
  • Big and awkward for most photo purposes

Switching from the excellent Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max to the Apple iPad 2019 for camera purposes was rather eye opening, but not in a good way. The iPad 2019 has a single, very ordinary 12MP rear-facing camera, and an even more ordinary front-facing 1.2MP selfie camera.

Apple clearly realises this, because the default camera app is very limited in the scope of shots you can take with it. You can add motion to your shots if you like, and take rudimentary video, including slo-mo if you really must. Compared to what it's doing with iPhone photography, it's very much a second, or possibly even third-run option.

It's long been the case that tablets aren't a great option for photo taking anyway, and this is especially true of a 10.2 inch tablet. It's big and unwieldy to hold, and while you do get a massive viewfinder to play with, you're still holding a rather unstable device that delivers pictures of the quality that we'd expect these days out of a budget phone.

Which is not to say that the cameras have no purpose, because the one area where the iPad's cameras do shine is in video calls. Apple would obviously prefer you use Facetime, but even across Skype or Google Duo it's a good way to keep in touch for either professional or personal reasons, or both.

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Apple iPad 2019

Performance

  • A10 processor is a less powerful than other iPads, but this probably doesn't matter
  • 32GB model is not worth buying
  • iPadOS has a learning curve now
  • Apple Keyboard support comes at a price

While the display on the iPad 2019 has been upgraded, and it's running iPadOS rather than iOS, as all new iPads do, the one area where Apple hasn't made a significant change is in the underlying processor. The iPad 2019 runs on the Apple A10 Fusion processor, and that's the exact same processor as found in last year's iPad. Apple rarely talks internal specifications, but iFixit's teardown of the new iPad reveals it's rocking 3GB of RAM, up from the 2GB of RAM found in the 2018 iPad.

Still, that puts it in distinct last place in the iPad heirarchy, with newer models such as the 2019 iPad Air and 2019 iPad Mini running on the A12 Bionic instead. So what kind of difference does that actually make?

To quantify that in one sense, I ran Geekbench 5's CPU test over the Apple iPad 2019 and an Apple iPad Air 2019. Here's how their CPU performance compared:

There's a significant amount of extra power available to the iPad Air, and you could expect even more for an iPad Pro, but power only really matters in the way that you use it.

For everyday tasks, putting the Air and iPad side to side, the Air was marginally quicker, but only at a level where I noticed it precisely because I was watching them side by side.

Using the Apple iPad 2019 standalone I rarely felt as though it was being sluggish, even when throwing more complex Apple Arcade games such as Shinsekai Into the Depths at it.

The iPad 2019 ships with iPadOS 13 installed, which means you get access to all of its multi-tasking goodness, as well as a widgetised sidebar on the home screen, and even sidecar access if you've updated your Mac to macOS Catalina. There's a distinct learning curve to how iPadOS differs from iOS, and it's clear to see how Apple is starting to really differentiate the two platforms.

Where the 2018 iPad brought Apple Pencil compatibility into the fold, the 2019 iteration adds support for Apple's side-mounted connector, which means that the standard Apple Smart Keyboard can clip on and be used for typing purposes. The Apple Keyboard is amongst my favourite tablet keyboards with good key response and enough space between the keys for some essential typing action.

However, it's not cheap, and this is most stark when you pair it up with an Apple iPad 2019. At $235, it's nearly half the price again of the cheapest iPad model, which feels rather painful. Of course, if you've got the keyboard already for pairing with an iPad Air, it's just another added benefit.

Apple only sells the Apple iPad 2019 in two storage capacities. The baseline is a 32GB model, or for a $160 premium you can bump it up to 128GB.

Apple's got a long history of overcharging for memory, and while it hurts to suggest you should pay $160 for an additional 96GB of memory (the same amount in MicroSD storage would cost you around $40 or so) it's undeniably a good idea.

Frankly, 32GB is an insultingly small quantity of storage for a device that Apple wants you to stuff with video, photo and game content. Sure, you can access external storage via the new Files app, but for that you'll also need a Lightning to USB connector. Apple understands that USB C is a concept, but only for iPad Pro owners.

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Apple iPad 2019

Battery life

  • 10 hours battery life is entirely achievable

Apple never really officially speaks in terms of battery capacity for its iOS-derived devices, and that's the case for the Apple iPad 2019 as well. Officially speaking, it has the same "up to 10 hours" battery life we've seen for iPads for a while now. Any figure that starts with "up to" is building in some cushioning, because technically a single minute is "up to" 10 hours by definition.

That being said, it's a fair enough figure. Your usage of the Apple iPad 2019 will determine just how long you get out of it, but over multiple days I've pretty easily hit that 10 hour mark with web browsing, video watching and music playback. Adding gaming to the mix can predictably sap it a lot faster, especially for more visually intensive games.

Charging is via lightning cable only, and if you do run it flat, you'll have to wait a while before it will respond at all.

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Apple iPad 2019

Should you buy the Apple iPad 2019?

  • A good option for those updating from much older iPads

Apple has shifted rather quickly from having just two iPad lines – the regular iPads and the Pro lines – to having four, with the high-end iPad Pro, iPad Air, iPad Mini and regular iPad to contend with.

It's pretty clear that it's holding back some key features for the lowest-cost iPad family. The processor is a little slower, and the storage capacities are equally constrained. The display isn't quite as nice as on the more expensive models.

Still, for the full-sized iPad group, it's still the iPad that most folks should buy if they're looking for an upgrade. Naturally, if you purchased a 2018 iPad there's not much point in shifting that quickly, but if you're on an older iPad generation, and especially one that won't take iPadOS well (or at all) it's a good way to stay current with a tablet platform that offers top-quality content consumption experiences.

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Apple iPad 2019: Pricing and availability

The Apple iPad 2019 sells outright with 32GB of storage for $499 or 128GB for $659 in Space Grey, Silver or Gold finishes.

If you want the LTE-capable models, they add a $200 premium, so the 32GB LTE model will cost you $699 and the 128GB model will cost $859.

Buy the Apple iPad 2019 (7th gen)

Buy the Apple iPad 2019 (7th gen) from The Good Guys

Stream video, play games and stay entertained on the go with the larger, more powerful Apple iPad 2019.

View details

Apple iPad 2019: Alternatives

Within the iPadOS world, you could spend from $569 on the 2019 Apple iPad Mini. That's an iPad with a faster processor and better screen quality, but it is notably smaller, and it's the only iPad model currently available with no Apple keyboard support.

Stepping up in the range, you could opt for the Apple iPad Air, with pricing starting at $749. Again, the processor and screen quality is better, and it's also got a slightly larger display.

Switching into the professional space, there's the Apple iPad Pro family, with pricing for the 11 inch model starting at $1,149.

Apple iPad 2019 Specifications

Product Name
Apple iPad 2019/7th Generation
Display Size
10.2 inches.
Resolution
2160 x 1620
PPI
264ppi
Processor
Apple A10 Fusion
RAM
3GB RAM
Storage
32GB/128GB
Operating System
iPadOS 13
Front camera
1.2MP
Rear camera
8MP
Dimensions
250.6 x 174.1 x 7.5mm
Weight
483g (Wi-Fi)/493g(LTE)
Price
From $499
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