Tech review: Apple iPad (2019) is potentially the cheapest laptop replacement you can get

With the iPad (2019) supporting the Apple Smart Keyboard, it could be a potential laptop replacement at a much lower cost compared to the iPad Pro.
With the iPad (2019) supporting the Apple Smart Keyboard, it could be a potential laptop replacement at a much lower cost compared to the iPad Pro.PHOTO: APPLE

The seventh-generation iPad is also the new entry-level model of Apple's tablet series. Yes, the iPad (2019), which starts from $499, is even cheaper than the latest iPad mini which starts from $599.

It has two major changes from its predecessor. First is the larger 10.2-inch display, compared to the 9.7-inch one on the iPad (2018). But you probably cannot tell the difference at first given its thick bezels. Second is the presence of a Smart Connector to use with Apple Smart Keyboard ($248).

Apart from the above upgrades, it still uses the same A10 processor as its predecessor, as well as have the same rear and front-facing cameras, Lightning port, Touch ID button and support for the first-generation Apple Pencil ($138). Its aluminium chassis and glass front looks no different from its predecessor apart from the larger display.

In the new Geekbench 5 benchmark tests, it scored 771 (single-core) and 1,333 (multi-core) points. The iPad Air 3, which uses the more advanced A12 Bionic chip, scored 1,115 (single-core) and 2,922 (multi-core) points. No surprises here though, given this is an entry-level iPad.

However, the iPad (2019) is no slouch in productivity and gaming apps, perhaps due to its fairly generous 3GB system memory (according to Geekbench 5). The iPad (2018) has 2GB system memory.

I was able to play many Apple Arcade games without any issues. Even for more graphics-intensive games like Shinsekai: Into the Depths and and Redout: Space Assault, there might be pauses at times but not enough to really affect gameplay.

For productivity apps like Google Docs or Keynote, there are no such hiccups. I also have no issues editing videos using iMovie, or editing photos using iPhoto.

Plus, the display seems to be slightly more responsive when using the Apple Pencil. Good news for those who love to doodle on their iPads.

  • FOR

    - Bigger screen

    - Affordable

    - Good battery life

    - Supports Apple Smart Keyboard

    AGAINST

    - Same processor as last year's model

    - Base model's 32GB storage not adequate

    TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $499 (32GB Wi-Fi) to $849 (128GB Wi-Fi + 4G, version tested)

    PROCESSOR: A10 Fusion chip with 64-bit architecture, M10 co-processor

    DISPLAY: 10.2 inches, 2,160 x 1,620 pixels

    CAMERA: 8-megapixel rear camera, 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera

    APPLE PENCIL SUPPORT: Yes

    APPLE SMART KEYBOARD SUPPORT: Yes

    WEIGHT: 483g (Wi-Fi), 493g (Wi-Fi + 4G)

    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4.5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4.5/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

In our intensive battery test (looping a 720p video with Wi-Fi switched on and the display at full brightness), it lasted about eight hours and 40 minutes. Around the same time as its predecessor.

It needed charging every two days when I was reviewing it. My usage routine included checking emails regularly, reading news on the Straits Times and NYTimes apps every hour, watching video clips on Facebook and reading eBooks at night.

The base model comes with 32GB of storage, which is really not adequate with today's computing needs.

Even with the 128GB review unit, I almost instantly used up 20GB by just downloading "essential" apps such as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Dropbox and others, along with several Apple Arcade games.

Perhaps the biggest draw of the iPad (2019) is that it is the most affordable new iPad for you to start using the newly-launched iPadOS 13, which allows you to use a mouse with the iPad, among other niceties. And with the iPad (2019) supporting the Apple Smart Keyboard, it could be a potential laptop replacement at a much lower cost compared to the iPad Pro.

Not to mention, you can connect your Xbox or PS4 controllers to the iPad (2019), which is a new feature of the iPadOS 13, allowing you to play games with better control.

I also tested the iPad (2019) as a second display using the new macOS Catalina's Sidecar function. It worked smoothly and without lag, whether it is connected to my MacBook Pro in wired mode or wirelessly.