Watch: Should you upgrade to Apple's 2018 iPad?

Posted:
in iPad edited April 2018
Packing in an A10 Fusion processor and Apple Pencil support for just $329, the new 2018 9.7-inch iPad has a number of iPad owners asking whether it's time to upgrade. We put together a comprehensive comparison to help you decide.





The most crucial factor in making this decision is what model iPad you are upgrading from. If you have the 5th generation iPad from last year, for example, the slight boost in speed may not be worth it unless you want to use Apple Pencil.

Previously, if you wanted to use Apple Pencil, the only option was an iPad Pro and 10.5-inch models start at $650, almost twice as much as the 2018 iPad. That extra cash buys users a whole lot of extras that many people just don't need, especially if all they want is Apple Pencil support.

If you have an older iPad, however, it may be worth upgrading for the performance improvements alone. The A10 Fusion processor in the new iPad is seriously powerful. It's obviously not as speedy as the A10X in the latest iPad Pro, but the 2018 iPad will power through any game you can throw at it, like Epic Game's newly-released Fortnite.

Last year's iPad came with an A9 processor and the 2015 12.9-inch iPad Pro has an A9X. That puts the new 2018 iPad right in middle in terms of performance. The new iPad was around 50 percent faster than last year's model in single and multi-core performance. Graphics, on the other hand, was only 23 percent faster.

Both Antutu and 3D Mark's Slingshot Extreme benchmarks showed 38% faster scores for the 2018 iPad. Those performance improvements are seriously impressive, considering the 2018 iPad is priced exactly the same as last year's model.

Apple 2018 iPad


We played Fortnite on both iPads for one hour each to test how those improvements translate to actual usage. The graphics are extremely pixelated on the 2017 iPad, with a noticeable amount of lag when diving off the bus and when dying. By contrast, the new iPad's graphics were acceptable and gameplay much smoother. Battery life dropped to 87% on each iPad after an hour-long gaming session, meaning the A10 delivers increased performance with a high level of efficiency.

We also played Fortnite on the 2017 10.5" iPad Pro, and it was an incredibly smooth experience. The graphics quality was even better than the 2018 iPad and we were actually able to play competitively. Not only that, but gameplay was still smooth even while using Apple's built-in iOS screen recording tool.

If you want the best gaming experience, go with the Pro, otherwise, the 2018 iPad is the best choice. Any other iPad will undoubtedly struggle with games like Fortnite.

Keep in mind, differences in gaming performance should translate over to many other demanding apps.

Gaming graphics on 2018 Apple iPad and iPad Pro


In general use, there isn't much difference between the 2017 and 2018 iPad, except the new version is slightly quicker at loading apps and web pages.

Performance aside, the 2018 iPad gets some pretty awesome Apple Pencil features that come with iOS 11, like instant notes, instant markup, inline drawing, and scan and sign. Apple's Pages, numbers, and keynote apps now support Apple Pencil, so there are even more reasons to upgrade. If you have an iPad so old that it doesn't even support iOS 11, consider upgrading today, because the latest iOS literally changes the game for iPad.

Apple Pencil on 2018 iPad versus iPad Pro


Let's not forget about augmented reality, which is only supported on iPad Pro and both the 2017 and 2018 iPads.

Interestingly, the iPad Mini 4 is still for sale on Apple's website, and for a pricey $399. It's powered by the A8 processor, which is now 2 years behind the A10 in the new iPad. There is practically no reason to buy an iPad Mini 4 over the 2018 iPad unless you demand a small form factor.

The iPad Air 2 comes with Apple's A8X processor, but it's still a little slower than the A9 chip in the 2017 iPad.

Conclusion

If your iPad packs an A8 or older processor, we would recommend upgrading just for the performance improvements alone. If you're interested in the Apple Pencil and all of its features, we would recommend upgrading, even if you already have the 2017 iPad. The addition of Apple Pencil is a big deal, especially for artists and education users.

If you're a gamer, the 2017 iPad might do the trick, but it will be extremely hard to play competitively. The new iPad offers much smoother gameplay, but overall the tablet isn't nearly as powerful as the 2017 iPad Pro.

For those with older iPads dating back to 2016, there has never been a better time to upgrade. With the powerful A10 processor and Apple Pencil support, this is hands-down the best bang for the buck we've seen to date in Apple's tablet series.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    *Twiddles thumbs waiting for 2018 iPad Pros.*
  • Reply 2 of 11
    I think you're missing the fact that there is a huge number of iPad owners around the world with iPads much older than 2016. We have 2 version 1 iPads from 2010 and a 2011 iPad 2 in the house and it was only with the release of last year's 10.5" iPad Pro that we finally upgraded to one modern iPad. This cheaper iPad now might be enough of a reason to get a second new tablet in the house as well.
    chiaGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 3 of 11
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,212member
    Twiddles thumbs waiting for face recognition. iPhone X has spoiled me. 
    edited April 2018
  • Reply 4 of 11
    ivanhivanh Posts: 243member
    Consider Totsl Cost if Ownership for an iPad replacement vs the Marginal Benefit of “additional hardware features”.   Don’t be brainwashed by the word “upgrade”.  It’s not an upgrade; it’s a replacement. 
  • Reply 5 of 11
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,212member
    ivanh said:
    Consider Totsl Cost if Ownership for an iPad replacement vs the Marginal Benefit of “additional hardware features”.   Don’t be brainwashed by the word “upgrade”.  It’s not an upgrade; it’s a replacement. 
    Like most people the old pad would migrate to my wife who has an even older one. For some, the kids are in this “chain migration” too. It’s the way of the Apple world. Old hardware continues to be serviceable for many years. Total cost of ownership. Lighten up already. 
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 6 of 11
    Cesar Battistini MazieroCesar Battistini Maziero Posts: 141unconfirmed, member
    ivanh said:
    Consider Totsl Cost if Ownership for an iPad replacement vs the Marginal Benefit of “additional hardware features”.   Don’t be brainwashed by the word “upgrade”.  It’s not an upgrade; it’s a replacement. 
    It's a hell of a replacement!

    I have an iPad Air so this will be the biggest change ever!
  • Reply 7 of 11
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,031member
    I agree very much with the line that if your present iPad is running on an A8 or earlier, it’s probably time to upgrade — particularly at this price, which can be as much as half off the price you paid for that older iPad you have now. It’s great that people can keep using iPad models for roughly the average lifespan of Macs — four to six years — but it’s really worth it to upgrade to the latest model or a refurb 2017 if you have an iPad from 2015 or earlier in particular.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 8 of 11
    "Interestingly, the iPad Mini 4 is still for sale on Apple's website, and for a pricey $399. It's powered by the A8 processor, which is now 2 years behind the A10 in the new iPad. There is practically no reason to buy an iPad Mini 4 over the 2018 iPad unless you demand a small form factor."

    Also weight, I set up a 2018 iPad for an elderly friend just yesterday and couldn't believe how much heavier it felt than my Mini 4. Much more than I expected, to the point I'm now worrying if it'll cause injury/fatigue to their 88yr old wrists if they have to hold it up for prolonged periods. 
  • Reply 9 of 11
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 3,390member
    adm1 said:
    "Interestingly, the iPad Mini 4 is still for sale on Apple's website, and for a pricey $399. It's powered by the A8 processor, which is now 2 years behind the A10 in the new iPad. There is practically no reason to buy an iPad Mini 4 over the 2018 iPad unless you demand a small form factor."

    Also weight, I set up a 2018 iPad for an elderly friend just yesterday and couldn't believe how much heavier it felt than my Mini 4. Much more than I expected, to the point I'm now worrying if it'll cause injury/fatigue to their 88yr old wrists if they have to hold it up for prolonged periods. 
    Lot's of reasons to maintain the small form factor. 
    A big one is that it's easier to hold -- particularly for kids and older people.
    But I saw a post the other day about how the Mini fits into the pockets of the lab coats physicians wear as they make their rounds.

    Too often posters look at Apple products in an either/or fashion.
    Many think that the appeal of the Mini (like the iPhone SE) is strictly about price.  But many users simply find the smaller form factors fit their needs better.

    In fact, it was Steve Jobs who held onto the small form factor in phones for so long.  He didn't think people would like the larger size.
    [Deleted User]
  • Reply 10 of 11
    ivanhivanh Posts: 243member
    Just checked my iPad 2017 128GB WiFi, bought last year, from Brightstar. The value is $0.  It's a complete scrap in just one year!  

    https://reuserecycle-apple-au.brightstar.com/is-bin/INTERSHOP.enfinity/WFS/BrightstarAU-AUAPPCON-Site/en_AU/-/AUD/ViewData-Start/1533224854?JumpTarget=ViewRequisition-View&PageletCategoryName=&=&=

    If I buy {{upgrade, so called}} an iPad 2018, it will be $0 next year.  Worth it? No.
    edited April 2018
  • Reply 11 of 11
    It ain't really worth the hype, and it still can't compare to chromebooks. It's a welcome development though.

    https://www.favshub.com/2018/03/apple-ipad-2018-specs-price.html
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