Apple recently announced a new low-end iPad, the 2018 version of the 9.7 inch edition of its tablet offerings. Although it was presented in the context of another push of Apple in the education space, I look at this from a regular consumer and from my point of view, this is probably the best affordable tablet on the market.
Why? Because it’s Apple? Because I’m a biased iOS fan? No. I do own an iPad Mini and I was a very happy iPhone user a few years back, but currently I also use an Android phone. I believe myself to be objective enough on this topic. The reason why I think this is the best affordable tablet is pretty simple. First of all, the build quality of Apple products is usually without question. Of course they don’t pack this device with all the latest bells and whistles they offer on the Pro series. But that doesn’t change the fact that the components and materials that are used are of high quality. Secondly, and that’s what is most important to me, it receives regular system updates. In a timely fashion.
I do believe that other companies offer better hardware and features overall. Huawei’s MediaPads or Samsung’s Tablets are certainly good devices. I just do not have any confidence that they’ll be kept up-to-date with feature or security updates. It took Samsung more than a month to ship the update for Blueborne, the Bluetooth vulnerability that plagued a lot of devices last year. Many Android manufacturers struggle (or just don’t care) to update their smartphones regularly. My Galaxy S7 still hasn’t received Android 8 Oreo. Hell, even the latest and greatest S9 doesn’t come with the most recent version of Android, 8.1. So why would tablets, a much smaller market by far, receive the same care as the smartphones? Use a Google device? They don’t really seem to care about the tablet though.
And that’s where Apple shines. That’s the reason why I bought the iPad Mini. I wanted regular updates. So, for 350€ you get the A10 Fusion, the iPhone 7 Chip, a 9.7 inch retina screen, 32 GB and pen support. The latter is the big new thing and makes this device much more interesting for someone that liked the Surface Pro 3 for its stylus. Now this feature doesn’t cost over 1000 bucks and comes in a much better tablet when wanting to use a tablet. Thinking back, my first iPad, the very first retina iPad 3, set me back almost 650€ for the same amount of storage and a wonky performance. For its price, the 2018 version of the iPad 9.7 is one hell of a deal and I’m definitely thinking about upgrading. Makes reading comics nicer 😉 We’ll see. I have learned to type quite quickly on the Mini holding it in two hands like others usually type on their phones. I’m not sure I’ll be able to do that on a bigger device. Anyway, great deal!