Apple’s latest iPad has started shipping today, almost a week ahead of the original September 30 launch date. The tablet, which is the 7th-generation model, will start to arrive in stores toward the end of the week. The new iPadOS operating system, which was spun out of iOS, is also dropping today, allowing people who own the iPad Air 2 from 2014 to update to the new software.
The iPad, which costs $330, brings a few improvements to Apple’s cheapest tablet. First of all, the screen is bigger, sharper, and brighter than ever before. The new iPad boasts a 10.2-inch Retina display with three times the pixels of last year’s basic iPad. The resolution is 2,160 x 1,620 pixels. It’s also much brighter and offers a much wider viewing angle, which should be great for sharing content with people next to you.
There’s now a smart connector, meaning you can attach Apple’s keyboard cover and turn it into a 2-in-1. It uses the same keyboard cover that’s available for the latest iPad Air. It also has plenty of power under the hood, with an A10 Fusion chip, which is enough to power demanding games, augmented reality apps, and productivity software, though this is the same chip as the previous-generation model. Battery life is still estimated at up to 10 hours.
There is deeper integration with the Apple Pencil, though it is the first-generation Apple Pencil, which is sold separately for $99. Through software updates, Apple was able to shave down the latency of the Apple Pencil by 50%, making it more responsive.
The new entry-level iPad will run iPadOS, which brings a raft of new features to take advantage of some unique capabilities. That means desktop-class browsing on Safari, the ability to pinch the onscreen keyboard to shrink it, and the option to create PDF documents of webpages. There’s also an improved split-screen, a slide-over mode, and picture-in-picture for multitasking. You can also connect an SD card or thumb drive via the Lightning port, and the enhanced Photos app offers more editing options than ever before.
Other features specific to this iPad include Touch ID, an 8-megapixel main camera, and a 1.2-megapixel FaceTime camera. You can pick it up with 32GB or 128GB of storage.
Apple’s environmental commitment shines through with the news that the new iPad’s closure is made from 100% recycled aluminum. It comes in silver, space gray, or gold.
This subtle upgrade brings a few improvements, but Apple is keeping the price at $329, making its most affordable iPad more attractive than ever. Schools can get the iPad for $299. The model with cellular support starts at $459. It’s shipping now and will be in most Apple stores by the end of the week.
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