Apple's got a whole new 9.7-inch tablet — iPad (6th generation) — and it's more affordable than ever. So affordable, you might even have enough left over for an Apple Pencil, which the 6th-generation 9.7-inch iPad supports. (What iPad Pro, right?)
- Apple Pencil
- iPad Smart Cover
- Apple Magic Keyboard
- AmazonBasics nylon braided Lightning cable
- Mophie power station
Of course, this is why you're getting the 2018 9.7-inch iPad, right? Without having to spend the extra dollars for the Pro model, you can now use Apple's super fancy, pressure sensitive, palm rejection supported Apple Pencil.You're going to love it. Yes, it will probably take a little time to get used to, writing on a tablet is a little different than writing on a piece of paper, but it won't take long for you to see just how fantastic the Apple Pencil is, especially compared to other stylus pens on the market right now.It costs $99, which might sound a little steep, but if you're an artist or love handwriting notes, you're not going to be disappointed with your investment.
I've owned one of these since they first launched alongside the original iPad Air and, as soon as I got the iPad, I slipped it on, and it fit like home. Or a glove. Or a glove that's finally come home. Whatever. It fit great.It protects the screen when folded down but can also be folded back so you can either type at a slight angle or watch videos at a sharp angle. You can even get it in (Product) RED from Apple, if you want to support the charity — and look wicked hot doing it.What the Smart Cover won't do is protect that back. For that, you'll need to track down an original iPad Air Smart Case, which is also great, or get one of the many knock offs available on Amazon. If you want something cooler, I love the old world style of the Pad & Quill Oxford Case or Twelve South's BookBook. If you want something heavier-duity for work, kids, or travel, check out the Fre from Lifeproof.Because the Smart Cover attaches magnetically, it has minimal bulk. It's just a hinge and foldable front panel. That'll keep your iPad screen safe from scratches, scrapes, and small impacts. It will also prop it up at more comfortable typing or viewing angles.Pricing starts around $40.
Even now with Apple Pencil support, the 9.7-inch iPad is still positioned at the low end and that means finding truly high-quality keyboard cases for it is still a challenge. There's the Logitech Folio and, while some love it, others report it conking out early.So... I still recommend the Apple Magic Keyboard. You'll need to use a case that props up your iPad, like the Smart Cover or Studio Neat Canopy, but what you lack in a physical connection you make up for in flexibility — place the iPad anywhere you want and the keyboard anywhere that's comfortable.Pairing is quick and easy and the typing experience is exactly what you'd expect from a pre-MacBopk Apple keyboard. Not too shallow, not too deep, and perfect for productivity.You can grab it on Amazon for about $90.
Whether you simply want to keep an extra cable in the kitchen, living room, or bedroom, or you travel and want one in the car, camper, or hotel, or are just tired of Apple cables fraying so always, a spare Lightning cable isn't a nice-to-have anymore. It's a must-have.The AmazonBasics Lightning cable is inexpensive and, because it's braided nylon, stands up to repeated use much better than the $12 price tag would lead you to believe.If you want something a little less budget and a little more Batman, go with the Native Union NIGHT Cablet. It's just over twice the price but it's easily twice as strong and stylish.No matter which spare cable you get, make sure you get a spare cable. Or several. And, while you're at it, grab a power adapter and/or Anchor Dual Car Charger to go with it.
Apple prides itself on iPad providing 10 hours of power, no matter how big or how thin they get. The same holds true for 9.7-inch iPad. But those numbers come from an era where browsing the web and checking email were the toughest tasks people did while online.Nowadays everything from Facebook to Snapchat to Pokémon Go hits mobile batteries like battering rams. Some of those you'll probably use more on iPhone than iPad, but even if you're on the road, in the car, or flying around the world, if you need power, you need power.And mophie provides it in spades.I've been using this particular model — in rose gold if you must know — going on two years now and it's kept both my iPhone and my iPad, as well as my Apple Watch and AirPods, charged trip after trip after trip.The 15000mAh variant is now cheaper than the 6000mAh version, at only $75.
AirPods aren't hard to get anymore. Yes, you can get BeatsX, and if you prefer over-the-ear, you can get Bose QuietComfort 35. Once you go AirPods, though, it's tough to go back.Even with iPad, the ability to listen to music, movies, podcasts, audio books, and more, and take FaceTime, Skype, and other calls, without having any strings to hold you down, is damn near miraculous.Get them at Apple for $159.
Your favorite iPad accessories?
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If you have a new 9.7-inch iPad, what are your favorite accessories? Let me know your top picks and if I missed anything great, I'll add it in an update!
Updated April 2018: Added Apple Pencil for the 2018 9.7-inch iPad and spare Lightning cable recommendations.
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.