“Is that a laptop replacement?” A friend asked me under an Instagram post showing the new iPad with its keyboard stand and Apple Pencil. I could have replied yes, but that would not have been good enough, especially since I have been using iPads as laptop replacements for years now. This is not a new thing at all. The new iPad with its kickstand keyboard attachment tries to project the entry-level iPad as an iPad replacement for a lot of users, but this is something the iPad Pro has been doing with aplomb for years. But the new iPad is eyeing a different segment altogether and this is the angle I was trying to explore while reviewing the 2022 version of the iPad.
Apple iPad 2022 price in India: Rs 44,900 onwards
Apple iPad 2022 review: What’s new, the good and bad
The new iPad carries forward the same design language as recent iPads. But the 10.9-inch Retina display is both large and compact, thanks to the thinner bezel achieved now by moving the home button out. Instead, the power button on the left-hand side — when you hold the tablet in a horizontal orientation — also houses the TouchID, while on top you see the volume buttons. The sole USB-C port on the right is flanked by speaker grilles.
There are some new colours in the iPad and my review unit came in a metallic pink, which is not the sort of colour I would buy though.
The Liquid Retina Display is stunningly sharp and you will love to add home screen locks that bring this to life. And when you are watching a movie saved on Netflix during a short domestic flight, the richness of this display makes itself felt. If not in a flight, the speakers are a pleasure to use and loud enough to fill your living room.
One big change that Apple is pushing this time is the Magic Keyboard folio which is what could potentially make this a laptop replacement. This has a two-piece design with a keyboard that yokes to the iPad with magnetic pins at the bottom and a second back panel that covers the rear and offers a kickstand to prop up the iPad.
The kickstand is reminiscent of the Microsoft Surface and is awkward to keep on the lap and work like I’m used to. It works well if your iPad is on a solid flat surface. Also, this two-piece setup felt a bit wobbly to me, with the keyboard part moving around a bit to the sides while typing.
There is another accessory for this iPad and a design issue that comes with it. The iPad is compatible with the first-generation Apple Pencil. When I unboxed the Pencil it was not recognised by the iPad. For that, I had to connect it to the iPad using a wire first. When I did this with the converter in the Pencil box it still did not work. It works only with a new, slightly longer, converter that Apple is pushing with the new iPad — remember, this has to be bought extra. Once I connected this to the iPad with a cable, the Pencil was paired and ready to use. This is clearly not the Apple experience I’m used to, especially when there is a better Pencil out there that connects wirelessly.
On top of this, the Pencil doesn’t really carry well along with the iPad as there is no slot for it on the folio, nor does it have a strong magnetic connection to the side of the iPad. Plus, you also need to figure out a way not to lose the connector if you are travelling.
But on the positive side, I’m sure a lot of people will just be looking at the iPad without either of the accessories. For them, there is nothing really hampering the overall experience. This is because the iPad is now upgraded to the A14 Bionic processor — not the latest processor Apple has to offer — which can handle all the tasks really well, including stuff like Photoshop and multi-tab browsing on Chrome. As an iPad Pro user for many years, I could not pinpoint any aspect where the iPad was found wanting, even though this does not have a Pro tag. And this is despite fighting the urge to move back to the keyboard of the iPad Pro which is a much better design and experience overall.
The camera is also now better with a 12MP sensor and while I used to scoff at that who stand up at weddings with their iPads to click pictures, now I know the camera is very important for students like my son to keep a record of assignments and send the same to their teachers for assessment. With the new iPad, the camera is good enough for you to click pictures of the hill station you went to even as your child will get the clarity to capture her homework well.
But how good is this as a laptop replacement?
If you are a student, even a writer, or an office worker who needs to check emails and spreadsheets on the go, the iPad is a good replacement for carrying a large laptop in your backpack. That said, the new magic keyboard might take some getting used to, especially if you are moving from a hard keyboard that stays where it is supposed to.
For creative people, processing power won’t be an issue and you always have the added advantage of the Apple Pencil to doodle and make notes. And iPadOS now only makes it feel more like a computer with a lot of features that make it easier to multitask and move content between apps and your other Apple devices. Plus, the battery life on the cellular working is good enough for you to complete a full working day with regular connectivity and frequent Zoom calls.
Apple iPad 2022: Should you buy it?
The iPad in itself is a near-perfect product though how it interacts with the accessories seems a bit half-baked and certainly not what you expect from Apple. And that is especially true if you consider the price of the keyboard which is retailing in India at Rs 29,900, more than half the price of the iPad itself. There are third-party versions that might make more sense here.
Buy the iPad if you are looking to get a tablet for the first time, or even upgrade from an older iPad. Yes, this can be a good laptop replacement for a large chunk of users, one that is easier to use and will last longer.
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