iPad 9.7 (2018) review

The most affordable iPad ever brings brilliant upgrades

iPad 9.7 (2018) review
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  • Standard iPad design
  • Still very well made

New iPad 2018 review

If you're wondering what the new iPad looks like (and assuming you've somehow failed to take in all the photos we've lovingly taken for you here) it’s just like any other iPad you've ever seen.

The metal back, the well-machined buttons, the home button at the base of the tablet with TouchID integration... all there, present and correct. The display is flanked by a rather large black bezel, which doesn't hugely detract from the experience and gives your fingers somewhere to sit when using the device.

Sadly, as it's made of metal we would suggest that you get a case for this thing, or at the very least a cover that allows you to prop it up, as the new iPad comes into its own when used as a standing screen for watching films or checking recipes.

New iPad 2018 review

We say sadly simply because it's really nice to hold the new iPad 'naked' as it were. The thickness of 7.5mm is actually 1.1mm thicker than the iPad Air 2’s that emerged a couple of years ago, but since then Apple has improved the speed and performance of its tablets no end. 

So if you've had that older tablet you may not notice a difference visually, but you will enjoy the extra raw grunt the new model gives you.

New iPad 2018 review

The two speakers at the bottom fire downwards (or sidewards, depending on orientation) rather than booming out of all four corners as on the iPad Pro range. If you've never used one of Apple's high-end tablets this won't matter to you too much – but in comparison, it's rather a bummer. 

That said, the iPad Pro does cost nearly twice as much as the new iPad, so you probably won't mind too much with that much of a saving.


  • Not the best Apple has made
  • Fine for the money

The screen on the new iPad is bright, legible in most lighting, and usable in nearly any situation. The resolution of 1536 x 2048 pixels, which brings a pixel density of 264ppi, hasn't changed in a number of years, but that's not an issue – there's no need to keep cramming in the pixels on a device that you're going to be using further away from your face than you would a phone.

You could argue that it's a shame not to see HDR supported here, as it is on the iPad Pro – those with premium subscriptions to the top streaming services do benefit from that technology – but Apple is trying to keep the costs down here, and it's presence isn't hugely missed.

New iPad 2018 review

The same reasoning applies to OLED technology – Samsung uses this in its tablets, and it's eye-meltingly lovely to gawp at. Apple's display here is just fine, however, although it doesn’t have the same zero-gap display that makes everything look impressive on the iPad Pro range; everything still looks crisp and sharp, with colors well reproduced.

It's also good to see low screen reflectance, as if you're trying to watch a movie or use an app with a strong backlight behind you, it can be tough to make out what you're looking at.

While a fluorescent light overhead will get seen pretty easily on the glass, you'll still be able to follow the action on screen thanks to the high contrast and brightness. Again, it’s not as good as some iPads out there (including the iPad Air 2, bizarrely) but it’s fine for the price.

New iPad 2018 review

In fact, we struggle to see a huge difference between the the higher quality display of the iPad Pro and the more basic new iPad side-by-side… whether that’s due to improvements by Apple or the lack of obvious difference, we doubt many will feel the new iPad has a poor quality display.

Would we like to see a screen with less bezel around the side? Of course, and that's why the iPad Pro 10.5 was created... to offer a better bezel-to-screen ratio. But it's hard to criticize the display used for the new iPad, especially as it can now work with the Apple Pencil.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.