There's a lot to like about the 10th-generation iPad, which first hit stores in October 2022. From its sleek design – more comparable to the Air and Pro than previous iPads – to its A14 Bionic chip and 10.9-inch screen, the iPad 10 beats the previous generation in nearly all aspects, fully justifying its top spot in our list of the best iPads for students.
Want it to function like a laptop? You can get the Magic Keyboard Folio with trackpad (for an additional price). Want quicker charging and better data transfer speeds? The iPad 10 ditches Lightning for USB-C port. And with improved main camera quality, and the selfie camera usefully positioned in the middle of the landscape bezel, it would seem that this is an iPad improved in all areas... but then there's the $449/£499 price tag!
So, has Apple lost sight of the classic iPad's original, affordable appeal? Or is it providing an iPad fit for modern users? Let's break it down...
The first thing that you notice when looking through the iPad 10's spec list, is that it betters the previous 9th generation iPad in all areas. In fact, it looks a lot more like the most recent iPad Air than the classic Apple tab. Let's look at the stats in more detail...
|12MP Ultra Wide camera, ƒ/2.4 aperture
|12MP Wide camera, ƒ/1.8 aperture
|10.9-inch (2360 x 1640), LED backlit
|64GB or 256GB
|Up to 10 hours of constant use
|A14 Bionic (6-core CPU, 4-core graphics)
There's no two ways about it, the iPad 10 looks beautiful, and has plenty more going for it than just aesthetics. The Liquid Retina display, which it shares with the iPad Air 5, offers crisp, detailed images, as a browse through 4K video online will show (picture above). With the home button being replaced for a touch ID button, there's a little extra display space compared to the iPad 9, which is noticeable especially when using the tab at close quarters. The bezels are more uniformly thinner than the 9 too.
Unlike the Air, mini and Pro, the iPad 10's display is not laminated. That means that there is a very slight space in between the glass and the elements under it. What that means in practice is that each swipe and tap will feel that little less immediate. But honestly, it's not something that you will notice, unless you've extensively used an Air, mini or Pro before, so for the majority of new iPad users, I don't really see it as a detractor.
With 500 nits brightness (the same as the iPad 9), you can certainly use it outside if required, though it's less than optimal. I took it out on a bright January midday to take snaps and use it as I usually would indoors. I was impressed that the display wasn't swamped completely by the outdoor light, though at times I did have to angle the tab to make out the picture. As you can see from the first photo below (taken on an iPhone 15 Pro), the display still gets across a clear image and decently represents colours. For context, the best iPad that Apple makes right now – the iPad Pro – offers around three times that brightness.
When taking photos indoors, colours can be drained if not making the most of light, though detail is good enough (as seen in the Christmas tree and selfie shots above). Outdoors, with plenty of striking light, the camera picks up detail, achieves rich colours, and offers a nice crisp shot (the pebble and iPad shots above). So far, so 12 megapixels. But there's more...
The iPad 10 offers Smart HDR, an AI tech that helps you out with crappy lighting. Basically when you take a snap, the iPad will input the image at various exposures, and combine them to produce the best option for the final image. For a 12MP tablet camera, that's pretty cool.
The selfie camera, another 12MP compared to the iPad 9's 8MP, also holds a bit of a surprise. That's because it's positioned in the middle of the landscape bezel, making it better positioned for video chats, especially when placed on the Magic Keyboard Folio.
Of course, no one reading a Digital Camera World review would be thinking about buying an iPad primarily for its camera. However, it's a nice addition that can – if all things are aligned – produce decent results. As I use an iPhone 15 Pro, with its 48MP camera, for most of my quick pics, I ended up using the iPad 10 as a display for my photos. A handy step to choose the pics that I want to keep and print out.
Finally, it's worth noting that the iPad 10 shares the same main camera specs as the more expensive iPad Air 5.
Build & Handling
The iPad 10 is a beautifully designed tablet. I love the back detail and the straight edges that echo the most recent Air and Pro designs. It makes the iPad 9's curved sides seem old-hat. In hand, it feels the exact right weight. You don't want a tablet to weigh you down, or to feel like it could be snapped in two at any moment. You want to be able to easily hold and use the tab with one hand and the iPad 10's 1.05lbs nails this.
Another new detail in this model's build is that the home button of the 9 has been replaced with a touch sensor button, in the top right corner. As a right-handed person, this is great, and feels natural to open and unlock – when I'm holding it in portrait. When I'm holding it in landscape, it's a bit annoying... until I realize that you can capture your right index finger and your left thumbprint, which makes it really easy to access (again, as a right-handed person. Perhaps this will be annoying for lefties?)
If you know anything about lovely shiny tablets, you know that they pick up smears and smudges easily. The iPad 10 is no different, but nothing a lens wipe won't clear up. But as standard iPads are often bought as a house tablet – being passed around from parent to child – this is definitely worth being aware of. As far as I know, this is the case for all current iterations of iPads.
The iPad 10's A14 Bionic chip offers a 6-core CPU, a 4-core GPU, and a 16-core Neural Engine. Great, but what does that actually mean day-to-day, and in context to other tablets?
Well, as discussed above, it means some pretty nifty AI tech for producing the best pics possible in the main camera. It also means that I can play a game like PUBG Mobile – a battle royal-style online game – seamlessly. And that goes for every app that I opened on it. YouTube, Netflix, Prime Video, Sketchbook... everything is very snappy and works excellently.
However, the 10 remains the slowest iPad of the current range (mini, Air, iPad, and Pro). The A14 is actually around three years old, and though this should not be a deal-breaker for most if you want an iPad that you won't have to replace for many years to come, the chip's age may become a factor.
When I first streamed a show on the iPad 10, I was genuinely impressed with the speakers. Now that they're landscape on the 10, there was a fuller sound that I just wasn't expecting from a standard iPad. Don't get me wrong, they can't compete with any half-decent Bluetooth speaker. But I didn't have my JBL Charge 5 speaker to hand, so I watched my show happily, picking out all dialogue and the details of the soundtrack just fine. Sounds were distinct and not merged together, and though you won't get any meaty bass, these speakers can go fairly loud.
I also got to test the Apple Pencil USB-C – the second generation of the Apple Pencil 1. Though I won't review the Pencil here, I will say that it's a nice accessory for the iPad 10. Though you don't know when it's running out of juice, a fully charged Apple Pencil gives an ease of movement and command over the iPad 10 that's really enjoyable. Also, you limit those annoying smudges! However, the hand-to-type text feature (you scrawl words on the iPad, and it digitizes them into text) leaves a lot to be desired.
Everyone that I know who owns a standard iPad (including my mum), uses it mainly for mobile games, browsing, reading news, and watching TV shows and films. I can't see that drastically changing with the iPad 10, and yet Apple seems keen on tearing its classic tablet apart from its budget origins.
At $449 the iPad 10 is currently $130 more than the iPad 9 through Apple. In fact, you can get the iPad 10 for $399 and the iPad 9 for $249 over at Amazon at the time of writing. So you can get the older iPad for $150 less. But you're interested in the latest iPad, so why am I making this point?
Because I don't think the newer specs and features of the 10 justify the extra $150. For what I would be using an iPad for, the 9th Gen model would be absolutely fine. The display won't be as crisp, the colors a little less rich, and the blacks a little less true. But the standard iPad always offered an entry-level, budget tablet that did a handful of useful things really well. With the iPad 10, Apple seems to going back on that promise.
However, if you don't care about spending the extra cash, and you want a pretty fancy 'standard' tab, the iPad 10 is excellent.
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The iPad Air (M1, 2022) is quite a big step up, in features and price. Yes, it shares the same Liquid Retina display and camera setup. But it boasts Apple's M1 chip, a laminated screen, an anti-reflective coating, and an 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU. With support of the Apple Pencil 2, it's also a much better option for digital artists.
Money no option? There's always the iPad Pro. Though, in all honestly, if you're considering buying the standard iPad, there's no real reason you should change your plans and get the $1,000+ Apple tablet. Not unless you momentarily forgot that you're a professional digital creative that wants to do high-end video editing on the go.