With Apple's March 2018 Education Event, the company introduced a new version of its baseline iPad. Here's what you need to know about this model for your own use, in education, and so much more!
Unboxing and hands-on
So what's this iPad all about?
Apple's latest tablet is the sixth generation of its 9.7-inch iPad. The big news with this model is that comes with Apple Pencil support! Apple's created a cool intro video for the iPad, as well:
Wait, Pencil support? I thought that was an iPad Pro feature!
Yep, Apple's new iPad brings Pencil support to the main iPad line; it supports the original Apple Pencil and all its features, including full tilt and pressure sensitivity. (ProMotion's faster refresh rate remains restricted to the newest 10.5-inch Pro model, however.) In addition, Apple is supporting a Logitech-built version of Apple Pencil with no pressure called the Crayon, which will be sold solely to educators for $49 in June.
How well is the Pencil going to work on the 2018 iPad?
Like the first-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro and 9.7-inch iPad Pro, the Pencil will send a full 240Hz (240 positions a second of data) to your iPad. Also similarly to those devices, the 2018 iPad will only render 60 frames of that data a second, using its predictive line technology to "guess" what the line will look like until the screen catches up. (If you've ever drawn with Apple Pencil on an iPad Pro before and momentarily seen a weird-looking line while you're drawing quickly, you've caught a glimpse at that feature.)
What the 2018 iPad won't have is the second-generation 12.9-inch and 10.5-inch iPad Pro's ProMotion technology, which renders 120 positions per second of the Pencil's 240Hz input (essentially halving the stylus's lag time from 40ms to 20ms). You'll notice this difference most in sketching apps like Procreate, whose brushes require significantly more computational power to render on screen.
I heard the iPad has a non-laminated screen — will that affect Pencil use?
Nope. While laminated screens do make the brain-trick of drawing "on" the screen easier, they don't aid in latency reduction. Where you'll notice the difference most is in outdoor and direct lighting use: The 2018 iPad has significantly more glare on the screen than its 10.5-inch cousin.
What about a Smart Connector? Can I connect a Smart Keyboard to this iPad?
Unfortunately, while Pencil support made the move down from the iPad Pro, the Smart Connector didn't. You're stuck with Bluetooth or rigging up a wired solution through one of Apple's adapters.
What about the speakers?
The 2018 iPad has the stereo speaker setup of the most recent iPad mini — two speakers at the bottom of the device. It does not have the iPad Pro's four-speaker audio.
What are the other specs of this new iPad? How does it compare?
The sixth-generation iPad is powered by Apple's A10 Fusion chip (first seen in the iPhone 7); that's an upgrade from the 2017 model's A9. It keeps the same 8MP iSight Camera (though the A10 chip does give it a nicer image signal processor for better low light) and first-generation Touch ID sensor, along with the standard 10 hours of battery life.
The sixth-generation iPad comes in either 32GB or 128GB of storage, and has 2GB of RAM.
How's iPad 6's Geekbench scores look?
Our 2018 review unit received a 3254 single-core score and 5857 for multi-core using Geekbench 4.
For single-core scores, that puts the 2018 6th-generation iPad squarely in the performance range of the iPhone 7 (which first. shipped with the A10 Fusion chip); its average Geekbench score, in contrast, is 3295. The iPad Pro (10.5) easily tops it with a 3904 single-core score, as does the second-gen 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but it beats both the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro (3012) and 9.7-inch iPad Pro (2930). It also easily bests the 2017 iPad (2523), and iPad Air 2 (1785).
On multi-core, again the 2018 iPad's closest to the iPhone 7 family, specifically the Plus (5411); it beats both the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro (4879) and the 9.7-inch iPad Pro (4750); same for the 2017 iPad (4377) and iPad Air 2 (3987). But the 10.5-inch iPad Pro and the 2017 iPhone family destroys it in multi-core performance: 9292 average for the 10.5-inch Pro, and 10108 for the iPhone X.
What does that mean for the iPad and multitasking?
All 9.7-inch iPads use the Compact size class when going into Split View: This means that after you set two apps into Split View, those apps will display iPhone-style UI when set side by side in a 50-50 split, and one iPad, one iPhone-style when in a 25-75 or 75-25 split.
Because of RAM limitations on these iPads, you can pull up a maximum of two Split View apps with both in focus; you can also pull up to two Split View apps, one Slide Over app, and a Picture-in-Picture video all on the same screen, but only the Slide Over app will be in focus.
What about the iPad's colors?
The iPad (6th generation) comes in three colors: Space Gray, Silver, and Gold.
What's the iPad 6's price?
The pricing for the iPad (6th generation) breaks down like this:
- Wi-Fi only, 32GB: $329
- Wi-Fi only, 128GB: $429
- Wi-Fi + LTE, 32GB: $459
- Wi-Fi + LTE, 128GB: $559
If you're an educator or student, you can grab the new sixth-generation iPad at the traditional education discount: starting at $309 (or $299 for schools).
What about AppleCare+ pricing?
If you want to buy AppleCare+ for the sixth-generation iPad, it'll run you $69; previously, AppleCare+ cost $99 for the base-model iPad. (The same price change is also now available for the iPad mini.)
When will the iPad 6 be available?
The sixth-generation iPad goes on sale Tuesday March 27, and will ship later this week. You can order yours now directly from Apple or Best Buy. Right now Best Buy is running a promo in which you get a free $25 gift card with your pre-order.
Updated March 28 2018: Updated with information about the 2018 iPad's Geekbench scores, RAM, and split view instancing.
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