First impressions of Apple's 2017 9.7-inch A9-powered iPad

Posted:
in iPad edited March 30
Apple's new iPad is here, and AppleInsider takes a first look at it to see how well predictions about the hardware stack up to reality.




The new iPad is to the iPad Air, as the iPhone SE is to the iPhone 5s. That being said, let's delve a bit into our first impressions of Apple's latest iPad.

Benchmarks




As expected and predicted, the new iPad is a speedster. The benchmarks using Geekbench 4 that we, and other users, have obtained are a bit faster than expected.

The new iPad hits 2410 in the Geekbench single-core performance metric, climbing to 4095 in multi-core. For comparison, the 9.7-inch iPad Air 2 from 2014 has a Geekbench single-core score of 1782 and a multi-core rating of 3992.

The late 2015 i5-6600 iMac 27-inch Retina Display has a single-core score of 4840 with a multi-core score of 13,082. The early 2015 MacBook with 1.3Ghz Core M processor is a close analog benchmark-wise, and edges the new iPad out slightly in both single core and multicore performance.

The density of macOS, for lack of a better term, flattens out the real-world performance on the Retina MacBook makes this more or less an even heat.

We expected that the performance would be around the iPhone SE given the architecture, and that's exactly what we got. We'll be delving into the real-world ramifications of that in a full review a bit later.

Fit and finish




For all the talk of the new iPad being Apple's nod to the entry-level, it has all the attention to detail that you'd expect from an Apple product. Edges are tight, and assembly points are well-aligned.

Interestingly -- and this is for the Apple old-timers -- there's no "new Apple smell" with our new iPad, nor from iPads received by a few other people we spoke to. This likely speaks to something, but we're not sure what at this point.

  • 2017 iPad top, iPad Air bottom
  • 2017 iPad top, iPad Air bottom
  • 2017 iPad left, iPad Air right

iPad Air cases?

With an identical size and shape to the iPad Air, you'd think that cases from the older model would be fine. They mostly are, but some things don't line up right.

There's no physical lock switch on the new iPad, and the speaker holes extend a bit further on the new iPad than most cases have holes for -- but otherwise, even form-fitting protective cases like the Newer KX pictured here work just fine.



We don't have an Apple Smart Cover on hand to see if the sleep/wake functionality is retained from iPad Air cases -- but we will in time for the full review.

No final verdict yet, but stay tuned

We've had the new iPad out of its box for all of an hour at this point. Look for a full review and a video examination of Apple's latest iPad offering coming soon.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,187member
    Two points.

    1. Why assume the "new electronics smell" is carcinogenic? Has this been reported. Most of what we attribute to that smell is off gassing from plastics (not much here) and new electronics being fired up. Been in the consumer electronics biz for more than 30 years and never heard that as an issue.

    2. I would recommend that benchmarks be compared to the 9.7" Pro as that is what consumers would be looking at. Comparing to an Air 2 is nice, but doesn't help anybody make a purchase decision, unless they were considering a refurb.
    king editor the grateDilirXFatmanirelandadm1
  • Reply 2 of 21
    mike1 said:
    Two points.

    1. Why assume the "new electronics smell" is carcinogenic? Has this been reported. Most of what we attribute to that smell is off gassing from plastics (not much here) and new electronics being fired up. Been in the consumer electronics biz for more than 30 years and never heard that as an issue.

    2. I would recommend that benchmarks be compared to the 9.7" Pro as that is what consumers would be looking at. Comparing to an Air 2 is nice, but doesn't help anybody make a purchase decision, unless they were considering a refurb.
    1 - it's a light-hearted remark. I've deleted it, since jokes don't always travel well to text.

    2 - we've already done a fair amount of this...
    edited March 30 king editor the grater00fus1john.b
  • Reply 3 of 21
    mike1 said:
    Two points.

    1. Why assume the "new electronics smell" is carcinogenic?
    1 - it's a light-hearted remark. I've deleted it, since jokes don't always travel well to text.


    I appreciate the clarification! I was just going to googlerize "new electronics carcinogens" because huffing those heady vapors is one of the Best Things Ever. When any trapped savoriness is lost from the box, I'm ready for a new device.
    ireland
  • Reply 4 of 21
    ktappektappe Posts: 702member
    > There's no physical lock switch on the new iPad

    WTF? How do you mute the sounds then? And, no, the answer is not to turn the volume all the way down. I keep all my iOS devices sound off 99% of the time, but there are certain things that override that switch speakerphone, playing podcasts, and that's fine. I pretty much need that switch. 
    elijahgadm1williamlondon
  • Reply 5 of 21
    In the upcoming review, please consider covering user tasks that are so much better on an iPad that they justify carrying it over say, a couple of iPhones 7/7+ stuffed in your pockets.
  • Reply 6 of 21
    ktappe said:
    > There's no physical lock switch on the new iPad

    WTF? How do you mute the sounds then? And, no, the answer is not to turn the volume all the way down. I keep all my iOS devices sound off 99% of the time, but there are certain things that override that switch speakerphone, playing podcasts, and that's fine. I pretty much need that switch. 

    You'll need to hit eBay:
     http://appleinsider.com/articles/14/10/16/apples-ipad-air-2-eschews-physical-orientation-lock-switch
  • Reply 7 of 21
    ifailifail Posts: 463member
    I am typing on the new iPad now and I quite like it, its extremely fast surprisingly. I'd say no one is buying this on specs purely cause this is the "budget" product. Not to say it's not potent though. 
    DilirX
  • Reply 8 of 21
    chasmchasm Posts: 228member
    In the upcoming review, please consider covering user tasks that are so much better on an iPad that they justify carrying it over say, a couple of iPhones 7/7+ stuffed in your pockets.
    Well, I'm writing a couple of books on an iPad Air 2. I suppose it would be *possible* to do that on a pair of iPhones, but I'd rather not. I like the iPad even better than the MacBook Pro (et al) for writing because I can have it in portrait rather than just landscape (remember those days of the swiveling monitors?). It's also rather focusing, though you can achieve that effect on a Mac as well.
  • Reply 9 of 21
    ktappe said:
    > There's no physical lock switch on the new iPad

    WTF? How do you mute the sounds then? And, no, the answer is not to turn the volume all the way down. I keep all my iOS devices sound off 99% of the time, but there are certain things that override that switch speakerphone, playing podcasts, and that's fine. I pretty much need that switch. 
    Where have you been since 2014?

    And on these iPad models there's six master switches in Control Center; both Rotation Lock and Mute are there. 
    lolliverchiatechprod1gyirelandredgeminipaStrangeDaysjohn.b
  • Reply 10 of 21
    jkichlinejkichline Posts: 1,165member
    ktappe said:
    > There's no physical lock switch on the new iPad

    WTF? How do you mute the sounds then? And, no, the answer is not to turn the volume all the way down. I keep all my iOS devices sound off 99% of the time, but there are certain things that override that switch speakerphone, playing podcasts, and that's fine. I pretty much need that switch. 
    You swipe up the control center and tap the mute button. It's been that way since like iOS 7.
    irelandredgeminipaStrangeDays
  • Reply 11 of 21
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 2,770member
    ktappe said:
    > There's no physical lock switch on the new iPad

    WTF? How do you mute the sounds then? And, no, the answer is not to turn the volume all the way down. I keep all my iOS devices sound off 99% of the time, but there are certain things that override that switch speakerphone, playing podcasts, and that's fine. I pretty much need that switch. 
    That's how I have always muted my iPad. I use my switch for rotation lock, a much more valuable use for me. It mutes relatively quickly by holding the down volume button -- not as quick as a flip of a switch, but much faster than swiping up the control center, and electing mute, depending on what you're doing. You do have to raise the volume back manually, but that's also relatively quick. Agreed it's not as convenient, but then that's not the priority for me, and many others. The bummer for me would be that the only way to set rotation lock is with the dock. It frustrates me greatly on the iPhone, which is why I almost never do it, but I use it a lot on my iPad. Good thing I want certain newer features in my next iPad that this one doesn't offer. It truly is an entry level product.
  • Reply 12 of 21
    jdwjdw Posts: 463member
    Mike Wuerthele,

    You gave a speed comparison with an iMac.  Why no speed comparison with the 9.7" iPad Pro?  I would also love a speed comparison with an iPhone 7.   
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 13 of 21
    chasm said:
    Well, I'm writing a couple of books on an iPad Air 2. I suppose it would be *possible* to do that on a pair of iPhones, but I'd rather not. I like the iPad even better than the MacBook Pro (et al) for writing because I can have it in portrait rather than just landscape (remember those days of the swiveling monitors?). It's also rather focusing, though you can achieve that effect on a Mac as well.
    Be sure to checkout the speech parts of IOS ..in Accessibilty you can enable it to read pages to you and, of course, you can dictate to it and then block-n-tackle into sections later when you are docked and/or paired or synced to a larger screen and keyboard.
    edited March 31
  • Reply 14 of 21
    irelandireland Posts: 16,530member
    king editor the grate said:

    When any trapped savoriness is lost from the box, I'm ready for a new device.
    This is one of the best sentences I've ever read. New car or new electronics smell, if I remember, will forever more be 'trapped savoriness'.
    edited March 31 redgeminipaking editor the grateStrangeDays
  • Reply 15 of 21
    ifail said:
    I am typing on the new iPad now and I quite like it, its extremely fast surprisingly. I'd say no one is buying this on specs purely cause this is the "budget" product. Not to say it's not potent though. 
    edited March 31
  • Reply 16 of 21
    Why are you surprised that it is extremely fast? It is powered by A9, a beast of a chip even by today's standards. Samsung is releasing a "flagship" tablet with similar performance and twice the cost!!! A9 will provide blazing fast performance for "normal" users who just use their iphone/ipad for browsing/videos/light games for another 3 years without showing any signs of ageing.
    redgeminipa
  • Reply 17 of 21
    jdw said:
    Mike Wuerthele,

    You gave a speed comparison with an iMac.  Why no speed comparison with the 9.7" iPad Pro?  I would also love a speed comparison with an iPhone 7.   
    We've already done a fair amount of this...
    muthuk_vanalingamGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 18 of 21
    Doug M.Doug M. Posts: 2unconfirmed, member
    Well, at least you have yours. I traded my iPad Air in at Best Buy on the new iPad, which was supposed to ship by 3/30.  I got a note from BestBuy last night that said "Ooops. We'll try and get that iPad to you by 4/29".
  • Reply 19 of 21
    I picked one up last night to replace my third-gen (!) iPad. The price point and specs are great in my opinion. I basically wanted something for travelling when I didn't want to bring my MacBook Pro along. Basically it will be used for Netflix, browsing, email, etc. My only complaint is that I'm now used to the lack of a physical button on my iPhone 7 and as such the home button on the iPad feels a bit cheap in comparison. But that's a minor complaint. First impressions are that it's a speedy device and I'm looking forward to playing around with it some more.
    GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 21
    "The early 2015 MacBook with 1.3Ghz Core M processor is a close analog benchmark-wise, and edges the new iPad out slightly in both single core and multicore performance. "

    For me, this is the most telling comparison and proves Apple's point that the IPad can be and is a laptop killer...  Add a keyboard, touchpad, file system and USB-C port and you have a MacBook.   While it is unlikely that an IPad will compete with an I7 MBP anytime soon, it is chewing away at the low-end laptop market.
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