Let’s start this quick review with some harsh truth: Apple’s 2018 9.7-inch iPad is a “press release” product, not an “Apple Keynote” product. Despite Apple’s decision to unveil its latest tablet in a high school auditorium, this isn’t a brand new, made-for-education “ePad” — it’s last year’s iPad with some spec bumps. The sixth-generation iPad looks, feels, and works the same as its predecessor, apart from a new processor and Apple Pencil support.
None of this is to say the 2018 iPad is a bad tablet. It’s certainly not: As the well-worn “best Apple device yet” saying goes, it is indeed Apple’s best entry-level iPad to date. Based on Apple’s track record, any reviewer could safely parrot the company’s official pitch without even opening the package.
For VentureBeat, however, the question isn’t whether the new iPad does more than its predecessor for the same $329 starting price; that’s a given. Instead, we ask whether this iPad actually moves the needle in any way — is it truly transformational technology? By that measure, the answer is “probably not.” But it’s still a great upgrade for users of older iPads.
What’s changed in the 2018 iPad
From the outside, the 2018 iPad is so much like 2017’s iPad that you couldn’t tell them apart in a lineup. The aluminum shell is the same as last year’s, which means that it’s no thinner, smaller, or differently curved. This is Apple’s third time using the 7.5mm-thick 2013 iPad Air chassis, so its 32.4-watt-hour battery capacity and silver/space gray/gold color options are well-known quantities at this…