Review: Apple's 10th-gen basic iPad and M2 iPad Pro

Apple's 2022 iPad and iPad Pro models.
Apple's 2022 iPad and iPad Pro models. Photo credit: Newshub.

Apple recently released its latest iPad models in New Zealand featuring an array of upgrades and new colour options.

The 10th-generation basic iPad and new iPad Pro each have improvements on the versions released last year, but also a few choices Apple made that don't make a lot of sense.

I'll get to those shortly, but first it's important to understand a change Apple has made this year to the increasingly complicated iPad line-up.

The new basic iPad is not the entry-level iPad any more - that would instead be the previous, ninth-generation basic iPad.

Buying new products direct from Apple in New Zealand, this 10th-generation basic iPad starts at $899. Last year's basic iPad starts at $649 and thankfully has not been removed from the Apple store, as is often the case with older-generation stock.

Then there's the iPad Air from $1199, the iPad Mini starting at $999 and the new iPad Pro, which starts at $1649.

All of the prices above are the bare minimum you'll pay for each. As for the absolute maximum, that would be a whopping $4799, which would get you a 12.9-inch M2 iPad Pro with 2TB of storage, Wi-Fi and cellular support, the new Apple Pencil and a keyboard.

So what are the new features and how good are they? I've been using the new iPad Pro and basic iPad for the past few weeks and here are my thoughts.

The 2022 iPad Pro, reviewed by Newshub.
Photo credit: Newshub.

iPad Pro: Extreme power and speed

The new iPad Pro is pretty much last year's iPad Pro (reviewed thoroughly by Newshub upon release), but the 2022 model features three key upgrades: the M2 chip, Wi-Fi 6E support and a new stylus pen with hover functionality.

Apple's tablets are generally faster and more powerful than anything else on the market and the iPad Pro is the fastest, most powerful model.

The M2 chip simply extends the brand's lead even further. If you want to automatically render 4K video or use really demanding 3D software on a tablet, the M2 chip powering this one means it's the best choice for that.

As for Wi-Fi 6E, well that's just the fastest wireless internet technology possible right now. It's pricey to get set up at your home, but more doable in an office as a business expense. For those able to access it I can confirm it's wonderfully super fast.

Cool hover power

The hover capabilities of the new Apple Pencil may be particularly exciting for the creative professionals whom the iPad Pro is aimed at.

In my job, the primary tool I use is a humble old word processor, but I am lucky enough to work with some highly skilled graphic designers who were able to put this thing to proper use.

Unfortunately, the hover functions are only being partially available right now in the third-party apps where they will be best taken advantage of.

Procreate, Adobe Illustrator and Fresco have updates coming that will give a preview of colour matching as Apple's Notes app currently supports.

Nonetheless, here's what my colleague Angela Feng from Newshub's graphics department had to say about using the new iPad Pro.

"The stylus feels exactly the same as the older one, but the hover function is interesting. I'd love to see it implemented more because for illustrators it'll be very helpful for doing more precise, detailed line work," she said.

"You can get things right much faster and easier, without much trial and error because you know exactly where the pen is going to land. But I could only trial that in Notes, where it worked well, but the illustration capabilities of Notes are quite limited."

As with line art, Feng said the colour match preview the hover function offers will also speed up illustration work as it means less trying something and undoing it over and over to get it just right.

However, she said the M2's power boost wasn't noticeable compared to her 2018 iPad Pro model, even during use with professional illustration software.

"For my usage with illustration, I didn't find it different to my older iPad Pro. I imagine it'd be much faster if you were using it for video editing and motion graphics, but for still imagery and illustrations it's not a noticeable difference."

That's the thing with adding more and more powerful edges to an already extremely powerful tablet - you often won't notice the gains.

Before moving on from the flagship model, I have to give another shoutout to the iPad Pro's XDR liquid retina display, too. It's just so gorgeous, as we stated in last year's review, but it's worth saying again. It really is a pleasure to look at.

Apple iPad 10th-generation, reviewed by Newshub.
Photo credit: Newshub.

Basic iPad: Affordable premium

Using this year's basic iPad alongside last year's, it's quite striking how different they feel.

The 10th-gen feels a lot more contemporary and premium, and after having used it last year's model felt quite dated when I picked it back up.

The squared off sides and larger display area with no home button make it a lot nicer and modern. Then in practice, having stereo speakers is way better than just a speaker on one side, and USB-C of course is superior to the Lightning port.

Finally, the front-facing camera has been moved to the top of the screen when you have this device in landscape mode, which is much better for video calls as you're not looking off to the side.

Apple's Magic Keyboard Folio is also really, really good - but very, very expensive, too. It's worth checking out keyboard options from third-party companies if this is something you're keen on.

Overall, this new basic iPad is a great inbetween option for people who don't want to cough up for an iPad Air, but want some of the benefits it has over older basic iPad models.

What's not to like

There are some strange decisions  made with this year's iPad line-up.

For one thing, the camera on the Pro model is still in the wrong place - off to the side - rather than being put in the right place as the basic model has.

That appears to be because the pencil magnetically sticks to the top of the device (or side in portrait mode), but it means the more premium model has an inferior video conferencing experience.

Very weird.

On the topic of the pencil, I can't really recommend the basic iPad if you are very interested in using a stylus with it. As it only supports the first-gen Apple Pencil (with a Lightning port), to charge you need an adaptor to act as a go-between with the iPad's USB-C port and it's a clunky, awkward mess of a situation.

The adaptors are tiny and very easy to lose as well, so I honestly think you just have to get a different model if regular stylus use is a priority.

I also want to point out the high price of the Pro model. I know a lot of people just want the best version of anything and those folks will be keen on the iPad Pro simply because it's the best Apple tablet there is right now.

But this device is overkill for the vast majority of Kiwis, who would be spending thousands for power and functionality they may never need to actually use.

If you do need the most powerful tablet on the market though, or desire the one with the most beautiful display, it is definitely worth it for some people.

Newshub was supplied a 10th-gen basic iPad and M2 iPad Pro for this review.