2018 iPad vs 2017 iPad: Here's What's New

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Apple's unveiled its latest iPad — hyping up why students need this tablet — and it looks a lot like last year's model. But if you look closely, the two slates aren't identical, as this year's model has Apple Pencil support and other tricks that you may not notice.

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So, should last year's iPad owners see this year's model as an upgrade worth considering? We're not exactly sold, but the tweaks certainly make this model more intriguing if you're in need of a new iPad.

MORE: iPad Pro vs iPad mini vs iPad 9.7-inch: Which iPad is Right for You?

  2018 iPad 2017 iPad
Starting Price $299 (schools) $329 (consumers) $299 (schools) $329 (consumers)
CPU Apple A10 Fusion Apple A9
Display (inches, pixels) 9.7-inch, 2048 x 1536 9.7-inch, 2048 x 1536
Storage 32GB / 128GB 32GB / 128GB
Apple Pencil Support  
Weight 1.03 pounds 1.03 pounds
Dimensions 9.4 x 6.6 x 0.3 inches 9.4 x 6.6 x 0.3 inches
Colors Gold, Silver, Space Gray Gold, Silver, Space Gray
Touch ID
Battery Life 10:00 (Claimed) 12:59 (Tested)
Cameras (back, front) 8MP, 1.2MP 8MP, 1.2MP

Performance: More Speed

It's safe to assume the 2018 iPad will outperform the 2017 model, as it bears an A10 Fusion CPU, a bump up from its predecessor's A9 chip. In our testing, the A9 allowed for ton of speed, with no lags in app switching after splitting its screen between 12 Safari tabs and a 1080p YouTube video.

The A10 Fusion chip will likely show its true mettle when running augmented reality titles. The 2017 iPad is currently the weakest of Apple's slates that support AR apps, and giving the tablet some more horsepower should allow the augmented objects to move more smoothly. 

Apple itself says the A10 Fusion chip will provide 40 percent faster CPU performance, as well as 50 percent faster graphics performance. The 2017 iPad turned in a solid score of 4,429 on the Geekbench 4 general performance test, which is good, but less than half of the 9,414 that the 12.9-inch iPad Pro earned with its A10X Fusion processor. We look forward to seeing how the A10 Fusion compares to the A10X Fusion.

Pricing: Still That Affordable

Rumors leading up to the event suggested Apple would make the iPad more affordable, with a price point of $259, that made them easier for schools to purchase. That speculation turned out to be a lot of hot air, as the new tablet retained the $329 price tag that consumers paid for last year's model, with a $299 price for schools, which is also the same as last year's model.

Design: Familiar to a Fault

The 2018 iPad looks exactly like the 2017 model. They bear the same measurements and weight (9.4 x 6.6 x 0.3 inches, 1.03 pounds), the same three color options (gold, silver and Space Gray) and the same 9.7-inch screen. The Touch ID fingerprint sensor is also still here, as well.

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Screen: Better for Writing and Touch

Support for the Apple Pencil stylus ($99 for consumers, $89 for schools) is one of the key improvements in this model, because it was formerly limited to Apple's iPad Pro lineup. Don't worry about a compromised experience, as sensors recognize pressure and tilt.

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Yes, the 2018 iPad's screen has the same 2048 x 1536-pixel resolution, but you'll notice a difference after using each for a bit. The 2018 model's display features an oleophobic coating — which provides resistance against fingerprint smudges — that the 2017 model does not. Hopefully this means teachers and parents will spend less time wiping screens after use.

Battery Life: We'll Find Out

Apple says the 2018 iPad will last 10 hours on a single charge, and we look forward to testing that claim on the Laptop Mag Battery test. For what it's worth, the 2017 model lasted 12 hours and 59 minutes, almost 13 hours!

Storage and More 

Pretty much everything else about the 2018 iPad is the same. It still starts at 32GB of storage, with a 128GB version that costs $100 extra. If you use Apple's servers to store your stuff, you'll be rewarded handsomely, as Apple increased its free-for-students iCloud space to 200GB, from the paltry 5GB it used to give out.

Moving on from that, the 2018 model has the same 8-megapixel and 1.2-MP rear and front cameras (though Apple's touting "exceptional low-light performance") as before, and LTE cellular connectivity still costs $130 extra. The iPad's only ports are still its Lightning connector and headphone jack.

Outlook

This new iPad doesn't look to be a must for anyone who bought last year's model. If you've somehow pushed that $329 model to the brink of its performance, this year's model will provide a boost, but it's unclear of how much. 

iPad owners who've been waiting on a Pencil-compatible tablet, and those tired of wiping fingerprints off of its display too often, though, should consider the 2018 model.

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Author Bio
Henry T. Casey
Henry T. Casey,
After graduating from Bard College a B.A. in Literature, Henry T. Casey worked in publishing and product development at Rizzoli and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, respectively. Henry joined Tom's Guide and LAPTOP having written for The Content Strategist, Tech Radar and Patek Philippe International Magazine. He divides his free time between going to live concerts, listening to too many podcasts, and mastering his cold brew coffee process. Content rules everything around him.
Henry T. Casey, on
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