After using the sixth-generation iPad for nearly three months, I have opinions.
Back in March, I finally added an iPad to my computer roster. Prior, I wasn’t an iOS user, and never owned a tablet computer. Meanwhile, many of my friends have even went so far to ditch their main desktop (Windows/Mac) computers in favor of a tablet (whether it be an iPad or one of the many Android-flavored tablets available.)
As I noted in my original post, I was against buying a tablet. I’ve always preferred a “conventional” desktop operating system, such as Windows or macOS. I’ve never been a fan of touchscreen computers, especially without an external keyboard.
Nonetheless, I finally did it. I purchased a new iPad – the 9.7” “basic” model. I purchased a Logitech Slim Folio keyboard/case, which I’ll also discuss here as well.
It has been three months. I’ve used the iPad for basic things, such as writing and reading emails, social media, writing posts for this blog (my recent “Jobs” review was written entirely on the iPad) and even working on assignments for class.
Recently, I even wrote a 1,400 word assignment using Google Docs – almost entirely using the iPad. Then I wrote another 500 word assignment, this time completely using the iPad.
The iPad has been very easy to use. Navigating the user interface, installing apps and doing other things are extremely easy. I’ve been impressed with iOS 12.
The iPad is pretty powerful and fast, too. I really haven’t seen any lags, even on more demanding applications. For instance, the iOS version of “Minecraft” runs well with no lag and no strange glitches. (Although, from a use standpoint, I still prefer the desktop version of Minecraft. The graphics in Minecraft in iOS, however, look much better.)
The quality of the iPad hardware is also really good. I haven’t noticed any issues – everything works as it should. The speakers on the iPad are not that loud, but you can plug in headphones (the 9.7” version still has the 3.5mm headphone/line out jack) and get plenty of volume.
The Retina display looks amazing. Graphics are crisp and bright. The touchscreen responsiveness is also good. I have watched Hulu and YouTube on the iPad without any issues, and the image quality is superb.
EDIT (7/1/2019): A couple days after publishing this review, I noticed one issue with the display that I feel may be worth mentioning: the glare. While watching a movie on my my iPad, I noticed a considerable amount of glare. When doing work and other things, I didn’t find it too distracting – but when watching a movie or editing photos with lots of dark colors, I can see the glare being a bit of an issue.
I haven’t taken too many pictures with the camera on the iPad. Those that I have came out decent. The 720p front-facing camera would be considered low image quality for some (in today’s world, where 1080p is standard) but I feel it is more than sufficient for video conferencing and Skype.
But what about the battery life? You can’t do much with your iPad if the battery life is poor. Thankfully, the battery life in the iPad is very good. I’ve found I get many hours of use out of it before the battery is even half-way dead – of course, using it for basic uses like browsing the web, answering emails or scrolling through social media. Standby use is also good – I left the iPad unused for over a week and it still had a good charge on it – despite not even being charged for about a week prior to leaving it unused. Charging the iPad is quick with the stock Apple adapter and USB-to-Lightning cable.
Overall, the 9.7” iPad has served me very well. If you are looking to get into tablet computing or want to upgrade, I highly recommend the 9.7” iPad for budget-minded consumers. (Pricing starts at $309 for the 32 GB model.)
However, if you are a power user and need that extra processing power, or you want to go so far as to possibly even replace your laptop, I’d recommend looking at a more powerful model, such as the iPad Pro.
iPad OS and iOS 13
At WWDC 2019, Apple announced iOS 13 and the iPad-specific version of iOS 13: iPad OS 13.
When reviewing the iPad Pro with iOS 12, many critics pointed out the many limitations of iOS 12. No support for USB devices (such as a flash-drive or external hard drive), no ability to import files right into apps and Safari defaulting to the mobile-friendly version of websites were among the many criticisms.
Apple listened and fixed these problems with iPad OS 13. I discuss iPad OS in my recent WWDC 2019 post, but here’s a simplified version. In addition to adding support for external USB storage devices, enabling users to import files right into apps and Safari now defaulting to desktop versions of sites, there are some other changes. iPad OS introduces improved windowing, allowing users to have two windows of the same app open at the same time. (For instance, two Notes windows open at the same time!) iPad OS also introduces a new gesture system. The Verge’s Dieter Bohn introduced the gesture system in the video below:
Marques Brownlee introduced iPad OS in another video, talking about the new features and taking them for a spin.
A question many have asked (as well as me) is: can an iPad replace my computer?
For many, yes. As I mentioned, some of my own friends have ditched their laptops and desktops and are using the iPad as their primary computer. But the iPad can’t replace the computer for everyone. I’m in the second camp. At work, I use Adobe Creative Cloud apps on a daily basis. (Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Premiere, etc.) As far as I know, Adobe has made mobile-friendly versions of some of those apps. But I, like others, prefer the desktop version of these apps.
Answering that question depends on what you want to do. If you just want to read/write emails, do some light web browsing, social media and watch videos – yes. The iPad will do that and do it quite well. But if you want to use powerful apps that have not been ported to mobile devices, I’m going to have to say “not yet.”
It’s no secret that Cupertino has been wanting to close the gap between macOS and iOS… for instance, one of the many things introduced at WWDC 2019 was a method streamlining porting apps from iOS to macOS. It’s also been mentioned many times that Apple plans to switch from using Intel processors to Apple’s very own ARM processors, like the one found in their iOS devices. I envision even greater integration between iOS and macOS devices in the future.
Slim Folio Keyboard
So, I really like my iPad. But what about the Logitech Slim Folio keyboard that I purchased alongside the iPad?
Apple sells their own keyboard cases (“Smart Keyboard”) for higher-end iPad models. Unfortunately, the 9.7” iPad and iPad Mini are not compatible with Apple’s “Smart Keyboard” – requiring the purchase of a third-party keyboard such as the Slim Folio.
As I mentioned during my unboxing post, I have not had the best luck with Logitech products. I’ve owned multiple Logitech wireless mice that have just “given up” not even a year or two into their tenure. I finally had enough and replaced them with a ThinkPad-branded wired mouse (which has not given me a lick of trouble.)
The Logitech Slim Folio keyboard, thankfully, has been much better and is very decent to use. The Slim Folio’s keyboard has a nice feel and decent travel. It isn’t absolutely silent, but not loud. It has very good tactile response.
As a case, the Slim Folio is also very good. The 9.7” iPad fits securely in the case. The top portion with the iPad secures to the keyboard portion through magnets to provide a very nice and comfortable viewing angle. My biggest complaint about the Slim Folio is the outer material: it seems to attract dog hair and dust/drums/flakes like a magnet.
My other criticism of the Slim Folio is using the iPad in “tablet mode” is slightly uncomfortable, as you always feel like you’re pressing keys. Thankfully, when the iPad portion isn’t connected to the magnets on the base/keyboard portion, the keyboard is turned off to conserve power (a good feature.) So you don’t have to worry about accidentally hitting a key in this mode – but it’s still uncomfortable to use. And removing the iPad from the case is difficult.
In general, the Slim Folio keyboard is a decent option for the 9.7” iPad.
Overall, I highly recommend the 9.7″ iPad to anyone wanting to buy their first mobile device or want to upgrade from a previous model, but don’t need a super powerful model. If you want to do a lot of typing on your new iPad, I’d also recommend buying the $100 Logitech Slim Folio keyboard/case.
But I wouldn’t ditch your conventional desktop/laptop just yet if you either don’t feel comfortable using the iPad as a primary machine, or your applications have not been ported to the iPad yet.