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Hands on: New iPad (2019) review

Hot on the heels of the new iPhones comes an iPad 10.2

What is a hands on review?
New iPad 2019 review

Early Verdict

The new iPad for 2019 was something of a surprise - we weren't expecting Apple to refresh its entry-level tablet, but what we've got is something that delivers better performance and a more attractive screen at a strong price point.

For

  • Larger screen, smaller bezels
  • Smart connector

Against

  • Lacks FaceID
  • Accessories are expensive

The new iPad 2019 is, well, basically that. The new iPad for 2019, with one key upgrade: a larger screen.

By bumping the screen up to 10.2 inches without making the tablet any bigger (nor more expensive) Apple has just made its budget tablet proposition that much more attractive.

It launched alongside the new iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max and Apple Watch 5 at the company's launch event on September 10.

It's also now made with 100% recycled aluminum, features more pixels to peer at, and also allows for connection to Apple's smart keyboard – so, where's the downside? We've tried out the tablet to try and find one.

New iPad release date and price

New iPad 2019 review

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The release date of the new iPad is September 30, but you can pre-order it over at Apple's website.

The new iPad price is $329 / £349 / AU$529 / AED 1,349 for a version with 32GB storage. That's roughly the same price as the 2018 entry-level iPad, but this has newer tech and a bigger screen.

If you want the new iPad with a whopping 128GB storage, though, you'll be paying $429 / £449 / AU$689, which is a step up in price, although you are getting four times the storage.

Don't forget peripherals either – you'll have to pay $99 / £89 / AU$145 for the Apple Pencil (it's only compatible with the 1st-gen version, which connects via Lightning port, not the latest model that offers wireless charging), while the Smart Keyboard costs $159 / £159 / AU$235.

These are optional, so you don't need them to get a great iPad experience, but it seems they're very useful for making the most of iPadOS.

iPadOS

New iPad 2019 review

(Image credit: TechRadar)

One of the main things you'll be buying the new iPad 10.2 for is the newly-anointed iPad operating system. Dubbed iPadOS, it's really a spun-off version of the iOS 13 platform that underpins Apple's smartphones, but finally makes it more relevant for the larger screen.

What does that mean in practice? Well, you're getting a home screen that can handle widgets, and the ability to place more apps in windows around the screen.

You can plug in thumb drives and SD cards, and (if you get a little creative with the accessibility settings) you can even connect a mouse.

It really enhances the experience on the new iPad – with a cursor moving around the screen rather than your finger hovering over it you're able to see more on the screen at any one time, and given that you've got a larger 10.2 display to play with, that proves to be useful when you're in full flow.

Smart Connector and Pencil

New iPad 2019 review

(Image credit: TechRadar)

One of the key new things about the new iPad for 2019 is the fact it now packs the Smart Connector – the previous tablet didn't have that, which was strange given it was designed to be better optimized for classroom use. 

Apple's Smart Keyboard is a little pricey, but it's got a good feel to it in use, despite the reduced travel of the keys when flicking your fingers across it to tap out a missive.

The rubberized keys feel nice under your fingertips, and the magnet that holds the iPad in place is strong, making it feel rock solid when sat up.

The Pencil support isn't new, but it's still a welcome feature here. It's slick and responsive to use, and, combined with the new productivity tools added into iPadOS, it means you're able to do a lot more with this tablet, and more easily.

New iPad 2019 review

(Image credit: TechRadar)

For instance, a simple swipe upwards with the Pencil will capture a screenshot, and you're then able to annotate and mark that up instantly.

The range of drawing tools has been expanded, and they've been enhanced graphically to look more premium (and that's going to appeal to kids of all ages who like using the tablet as a way of scrawling across the display).

The Pencil support is welcome, even if the accessories are a little pricey. We found the Pencil responsive, and were able to annotate quickly, although we're not sure how useful it would be for someone trying to take copious notes.

A word of warning though: the Apple Pencil 1st-gen connects to the iPad via a Lighting Port connector at the end of its body – but when plugged in, the Pencil sticks out of the bottom of your iPad. This means if you were to move the iPad and knock the Pencil on a surface, or knock the Pencil in some way, the Lightning Adaptor could snap and stay lodged in the port. It's a huge design oversight, and something to think about if you're minded to buy this new iPad.

Design and battery life

New iPad 2019 review

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The design of the new iPad is similar to the last gen, with a bezel around the outside of the display and a Touch ID fingerprint scanner embedded into the button on the bottom edge.

The device itself is metal, and you'll have the choice of silver, grey or gold as the colors for your new tablet.

We've yet to use the iPad for a prolonged length of time, so we're unable to judge what the battery life will be like, but Apple claims it'll last for around 10 hours of surfing the web.

New iPad 2019 review

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Early verdict

New iPad 2019 review

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The new screen and ability to connect to Apple's Smart Keyboard aside, the new iPad 10.2 is merely a refreshed model of the budget tablet Apple unveils each year.

It still feels smooth in the hand, and is well balanced in terms of design. The screen is good to look at, if not game-changing, and the Pencil and Keyboard support will entice some to join the iPad community.

I's not the most mind-blowing of updates, but what you're getting for the price makes this a tablet worth checking out.

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.