Hands on: New iPad 10.2 (2020) review

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The new iPad 2020 is Apple’s best version yet of its entry-level iPad, and even though it hasn’t changed much from last year’s iPad 2019, it remains an important tablet.

Value, not just price, is the key reason to buy the 10.2-inch iPad 2020. This is because it shares a lot of features with more expensive iPads: access to the same games and apps, compatibility with an Apple Pencil, and compatibility with Smart Keyboards.  

It stands in stark contrast to October’s iPad Air 4, which sports a refreshed design, artist-friendly 10.9-inch laminated screen, and superior performance. All that seems tempting, but price gap between the two iPad classes has widen. So while the new iPad 2020 looks more tired, it remains wholly value-driven.

There are new perks to what’s technically the ‘iPad 8’ from being a complete rerun. In the box this generation is a 20W power adapter for fast charging via a USB-C-to-Lightning cable, and the entire iPad is being powered by the A12 Bionic chipset. That offers a solid specs bump that should see this iPad last for several years to come.

Apple’s Smart Keyboard (sold separately) extends the value of the iPad 2020, as does its stellar ten-hour battery life. We don’t get it all at this price; storage start at a weak 32GB. You’ll want to buy the 128GB version if you store and edit photos and videos.

Although the iPadOS 14 update is on some older iPads now, it’s a standout software update that deserves recognition. New features – Scribble in particular – help make the Apple Pencil 1 worth the extra fee. 

It’s still hard not to be impressed with this ‘basic’ iPad if the iPad Pro or iPad Air are out of your budget.

(Image credit: Future)New  iPad 2020 price and release date

The iPad (2020) starts at $329 / £329 / AU$499 for 32GB storage, but the prices go up quite a bit if you want 128GB storage, or an LTE connection, or both.

These are the cheapest prices you’ll see for a new tablet, though, if you shop around for older models from third-party retailers you could pick up a cheaper slate, especially with Black Friday coming up.

The new iPad 10.2 (2020) release date was Friday, September 18, so if you want to head out and buy you, you can do so right now.

(Image credit: Future)More of the same

Your perspective on the new iPad 10.2 (2020) will depend on how much you follow the iPad evolution over the years. True Apple fans will lament the fact that the cheapest iPad hasn’t been given much of an upgrade aside from a more powerful and efficient chipset.

They’ll find that frustrating as they hanker for new, revolutionary changes every time – and while that’s fair for the flagship iPad Pro range, which costs over a thousand dollars in some cases, the new iPad 10.2 isn’t designed for that market.

This is an iPad for someone that hasn’t bought an iPad in a while, and wants to get a replacement on the cheap. Apple’s goal is to make sure that person buys the latest model, rather than going for a previous model on sale at another retailer – and to do so, it’s added the aforementioned faster chipset and thrown in a fast charger.

That may not seem like much year-over-year, but for someone who didn’t buy last year’s iPad (7th-generation), this version is attractive for its compatibility with the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil. Those extra features, at this price, are excellent additions for something that’s on the cheaper end of the scale.

The upgrades aren’t that ground-breaking with the modern version – testing the graphical capabilities of the new iPad against the most powerful iPad Pro 2020 showed that it didn’t have the same power under the hood – but it had more than enough if you’re not going to be doing professional-grade video editing or multi-tasking with many apps side by side at one time.

But the was enough power to get through most tasks in our very early testing, with apps downloading and installing swiftly, and working swiftly and easily on the screen.

Combine the might of the Apple App Store’s wares with the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil, and we feel like the new iPad 10.2 packs more than enough functionality for most people to do what they’d like.

(Image credit: Future)New iPad 2020 design and display

We should point out that we’ve been regularly using the iPad Pro 2020 of late, and there’s a clear difference between that top-of-the-line Apple tablet and the new iPad 10.2 in terms of design and ‘premium quality’ in the hand.

That manifests through tapping the screen itself, where it feels more hollow than the Pro range. That’s to be expected, and we’re not saying it feels cheap in construction – just that you’ll be able to tell the difference.

The screen on the new iPad 10.2 (2020) doesn’t have the same technology inside that we’ve seen on more expensive models, but for those upgrading from a previous lower-end iPad, you’ll see a clear and sharp screen – which you’d still expect at this price point.

If it sounds like we’re saying it’s ‘more of the same’ with this new iPad, that’s because that’s exactly what it is: last year’s popular model with faster innards and quicker charging in the box to make sure the new iPad can handle the more power-hungry apps appearing on the App Store.

There are some clear trade-offs in design, where the single speaker isn’t much to write about when you’re watching a movie – functional, but not impressive. Apple knows this, which is why the new iPad Air comes with stereo speakers, and the high-end iPad Pro 2020 has booming, quad-chamber speakers all around.

Similarly, the Lightning Connector on the bottom of tablet suddenly feels archaic – the new iPad Air and iPad Pro both using USB-C like a ‘proper’ computer to allow for more accessories to connect. The Air and Pro have the more laptop-like Magic Keyboard, with trackpad and clickable keys.

However, if you’re looking for an iPad that has the capability to enter text, read handwriting and let you sketch digitally and interact with a mouse – the new iPad 10.2 can do all these things.

(Image credit: Future)Early verdict

We’ve only had 24 hours with the new iPad 10.2 (2020), and while it’s hard to get excited about the upgrades on offer when they don’t offer anything obviously different from last year’s model and doesn’t offer the iPad Air’s blue and green color options.

This is an upgrade from Apple that is designed to make sure the iPad keeps pace with the industry, keeping it ‘good enough’ to handle whatever the average user will want from it. The ability to connect a keyboard and Pencil is still a nice feature for the lowest-level iPad (although they aren’t cheap accessories to buy).

This is a basic iPad – but one that seems to do the basics well.



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