Laptop Mag Verdict
The Apple iPad 10.9-inch Gen 10 delivers excellent performance, a quality display and impressive speakers, but its weaker battery life is disappointing.
Great Apple Pencil
Subpar battery life
Magic Folio is ugly
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The iPad 10.9-inch Gen 10 is Apple’s latest base tablet model and, to the shock of no one, it yields impressive performance, an alluring display, and four delightful speakers. And if you decide to opt-in for the Apple Pencil, you’ll love the smooth feedback provided from drawing and writing against the screen.
However, it’s far from perfect, with battery life that falls short of its predecessor and a price point that’ll have your wallet running before you do. Unfortunately, the Magic Keyboard Folio doesn’t make it any better, transforming the tablet into a ghastly monstrosity regardless of which color you purchase.
The Apple iPad 10.9-inch Gen 10 is still one of the best tablets out there, but be sure to read more below to see whether or not it’s the right one for you.
Apple iPad 10.9-inch Gen 10 price and configurations
Our Apple iPad 10.9-inch Gen 10 is built with an Apple A14 Processor, 256GB of storage, and 4GB of RAM packed into an aluminum shell with a blue finish for $599. Alternative color options include pink, yellow or white. You can also build the iPad with 64GB of storage to reduce the price to $449.
Accessories included are a USB-C cable for charging alongside a 20W USB-C power adapter. Accessories available for purchase include an Apple Pencil Gen 1($99), Apple Pencil Adapter ($9), Magic Keyboard Folio ($249), and Cellular ($149), all of which were included in our test model, shooting the price up to $1,106.
Check out our best cheap tablets if you need something more affordable.
Apple iPad 10.9-inch Gen 10 design
The 10th Gen iPad’s design is what you’d expect from Apple, maintaining consistent aesthetic accents with its predecessors. To be fair, why mess with a perfectly sleek and minimalist design that imbues a colorful finish into a thick aluminum shell? The product is equal parts sturdy, gorgeous and satisfying to hold.
Our iPad comes in a gorgeous blue, and although Apple hasn’t assigned this color a fancy name, its anodized metal means it can quickly shift between a deep dark hue and a light sky blue depending how it’s angled with the light. It’s highly reflective, which isn’t for everybody. I prefer when the iPad looks shiny and bright, so I’m far less enamored when the deeper side of it takes over in the dark.
But my biggest issue rests in the Magic Keyboard Folio and protective back panel — they are abhorrent. Apple needs to reconsider this design, as the beautiful reflective aluminum shell quickly turns into a cheap expanse of insipid plain white when both are attached. While the two items are exceptionally sturdy, having them magnetically faceted to the tablet makes me go from loving Apple’s iPad to hating it with the snap of a finger.
The iPad 10.9-inch is light and compact, measuring 9.78 x 7.07 x 0.28 inches and weighing 1.05 pounds. While it’s unsurprisingly larger than the previous generation’s Apple iPad 10.2-inch Gen 9 (9.8 x 6.8 x 0.29 inches, 1.1 pounds), it is smaller than the OnePlus Pad (10.1 x 7.45 x 0.25 inches, 1.02 pounds) and Lenovo Yoga Tab 11 (10.1 x 6.7 x .31 inches, 1.4 pounds).
Apple iPad 10.9-inch Gen 10 display
The iPad’s 10.9-inch, 2,360 x 1,640-pixel, LED-backlit, multi-touch, IPS display is pretty darn lovely to look at, boasting high levels of brightness and solid color depth. It’s exactly what we’ve come to expect from Apple.
I watched the trailer for The Last Voyage of the Demeter and was pleasantly impressed with how the display took the film’s dark environments aboard the tight spaces of a seaship and elevated its deepest hues to conjure a wide range of color. 10.9 inches is a little smaller than what I’m used to, but as the rain fell heavily atop the deck of the ship and as our protagonists glowed against a void of stormy ocean waves and dim clouds, Dracula hunted them mercilessly and I was gripped. The iPad’s display stayed true to this horror film’s dark atmosphere.
The display’s multi-touch screen is wonderfully responsive and is easily the best way to use the tablet. I found no issue tapping away at the screen as I browsed through Safari, loaded up trailers, navigated the settings, used the camera, and scrolled through the app store.
Our colorimeter measured the iPad’s display as reproducing 72% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, which is solid, but it got overshadowed by the competition. Not only did the One Plus Pad (79%) outdo the iPad, but even the previous model iPad Gen 9 (75%) was a little better. To be fair, these scores are close enough that it’s highly unlikely you’ll notice the difference.
However, nothing could compete with this iPad’s luminescence, boasting a total of 504 nits of brightness on average. This is superior to the OnePlus Pad (465 nits), Lenovo Yoga Tab 11 (368 nits), and the previous iPad Gen 9 (473 nits).
Apple iPad 10.9-inch Gen 10 Apple Pencil and Magic Folio Keyboard
If you desperately need a keyboard for your iPad, then the Magic Folio will get the job done, but it does so poorly. These keys are shallow and nowhere near wide enough for anyone accustomed to standard-sized keyboards.
My first attempt at the 10fastfingers typing test was embarrassing, with me managing 30 words per minute at a 55% accuracy. When compared to the 122 words per minute and 96% accuracy I can get on my mechanical keyboard, it’s pretty clear that the Magic Folio takes some time to get used to.
But I wanted to give this keyboard a fair chance, so I enhanced my words per minute and accuracy over the course of ten additional attempts. I managed to get as high as 95 words per minute at 92% accuracy on my final try, but I hated using the tiny keys and the especially miniscule caps lock, shift, and return. Alongside this, the material of the “deck” is too soft, causing a weird and uncomfortable sensation against my palm as I move my hand around the keyboard.
The trackpad is equally bad, with a frustrating floatiness that fails to emulate scrolling around on a proper laptop. Not only is the touchpad small, but when gliding my finger across the surface, the cursor will continue to move after I’ve already stopped using it. It’s like Apple wanted users to feel as if they were driving a car, where their cursor has momentum and continues moving for a split second when not in use. It is difficult to be accurate with.
The cursor itself is also magnetic, which means it will attach to apps you hover over. This is especially frustrating on websites where there’s lots of interactable objects strewn about the page, causing the cursor to frequently slow down and stop at different points on the screen. It is unpleasant and quickly made me realize how much I’d rather just use the touchscreen.
The Apple Pencil ($99) is wonderful, bringing me back to the times in my life when I still had to write things down physically. The movements are seamless and the resulting scribbles look perfectly transcribed when compared to how I wrote them, alongside a satisfying level of friction against the screen that makes writing and drawing great. As someone who plans to work on writing kanji as soon as possible, alongside practicing handwriting in general, I’m in love with the Apple Pencil.
I also tried out Scribble, which automatically transcribes the things you write using Apple Pencil into text. I’m not going to pretend that my handwriting is superb, but I very clearly and calmly wrote “Momo loves tea” onto a note, and it kept turning my name into “Mono.” This is more likely because it couldn’t recognize the name “Momo,” but when I wrote “Japanese lesson plan” and “company taxes,” it was perfectly able to translate those into text.
Apple iPad 10.9-inch Gen 10 audio
The Apple iPad’s four speakers offer impactful audio capable of filling a small room. At maximum volume, it was louder than many laptops I’ve tested (and clearer too), thrusting me deep into my favorite tunes without a sweat.
I listened to “Title Track” by Death Cab for Cutie and was impressed by how the resounding chords of the repetitious guitar melody pushed itself to the front of the track without drowning the lyrics out. And as the song shifts from its low-fi first-half to its more wholly produced second-half, I could feel the percussion and bass bouncing between the walls of my office.
Apple iPad 10.9-inch Gen 10 performance
The Apple iPad 10.9-inch Gen 10 is undeniably powerful, ensuring its speedy dominance against similar products. However, I did notice quite a bit of stutter while taking the 10fastfingers typing test, with the keys I tapped slowly filling out the text box in sudden bursts of lag. This was probably because the page was overwhelmed with advertisements and pop-ups, but it was still surprisingly slow.
On the Geekbench 5 overall performance test, the iPad’s multi-core score hit an average of 4,040, resulting in a total wipe against its foes. The iPad Gen 9 (A13 Bionic, 3,387), OnePlus Pad (MediaTek Dimensity 9000, 3,275) and Lenovo Yoga Tab 11 (MediaTek Helio G905, 1,633) didn’t stand a chance.
It managed a solid 47 frames per second on the 3DMark Wildlife Unlimited benchmark, which puts it ahead of the previous iPad Gen 9 (39 fps). However, the OnePlus Pad (53 fps) surprisingly pulled ahead of both, easily asserting its dominance.
Apple iPad 10.9-inch Gen 10 battery life
We weren’t particularly impressed with the iPad’s battery life, but it is more than enough to get you through most of a day. On the LaptopMag battery life test, it survived a total of 10 hours and 57 minutes with Wi-Fi and Verizon cellular turned on. While that may seem impressive, the OnePlus Pad (13:31) and Lenovo Yoga Tab 11 (11:46) were superior. Worst of all, however, the older iPad Gen 9 (11:59) managed to stay on for a whole hour more.
Apple iPad 10.9-inch Gen 10 cameras
The Apple iPad has two cameras. On the front is a landscape 12-megapixel Ultra Wide camera with a 122-degree field of view. It also has 1080p video recording available at 25 fps, 30 fps or 60 fps. Additional features include Smart HDR 3, time-lapse video with stabilization, cinematic video stabilization, lens correction, retina flash, auto image stabilization and burst photo taking functionality.
Its back camera is a 12MP wide camera that features up to 5x zoom, a five-element lens, autofocus, panorama (up to 63-megapixels), Smart HDR 3, photo geotagging, auto image stabilization, burst mode and image formats in HEIF or JPEG.
The front camera is less than great, conjuring a slightly grainy image that morphed my facial features into an unsatisfying haze. It’s certainly not bad, presenting the deep pink of my basement walls with an accurate luster, while maintaining the hue of my dark hair and navy blue shirt appropriately. But particularly around my eyebrows, you can tell where certain facets of my face quickly bleed into another.
On the other hand, the iPad’s back camera is sharp and vivid, managing a level of detail that will alarm you. Perhaps coupled with a tad bit too much clarity, I could easily see the brown freckles across my cheek, red veins in my eyes, and every individual loose strand of hair atop my head. It was a little unnerving, but it goes to show how good the camera is.
Apple iPad 10.9-inch Gen 10 iPadOS 16
With iPadOS 17 likely getting shown off on June 5 at WWDC 2023, most of us won’t have to deal with iPadOS 16 for much longer, but there’s plenty of changes that were made with this update worth knowing about.
These include features like sharing iCloud photos with up to five other people, shared photos in Memories, editing messages, undoing send, marking as unread, recovering recently deleted messages, new Safari languages supported in web page translation (Arabic, Dutch, Indonesian, Korean, Polish, That, Turkish, and Vietnamese), and more.
One big feature brings multi-tasking to iPad through Stage Manager, allowing the user to layer windows over another and arrange them how one desires. This makes the experience more laptop-esque, allowing a larger slew of multi-tasking capabilities.
Apple’s 10th Gen iPad is a powerful tablet that excels in its performance, surpassing competitors in productivity-adjacent tasks. It’s perfect for day-to-day use, and even if you plan to lose yourself within the throes of a compelling song or movie, it has a bright, vivid display and powerful speaker system to match.
But it’s also expensive, with the addition of the Magic Keyboard Folio, Cellular compatibility and Apple Pencil (plus its adapter) bringing the tablet up to $1,100. While you can purchase the base 64GB model for just $449, its battery life is still an hour shorter than the previous generation, and it ran out of juice the quickest among competitors.
Apple should also expand the aesthetic choices for the Magic Keyboard Folio, as the beautiful reflective blue tablet transformed into a boring expanse of plain white while the accessories were attached. If you’re on the hunt for a slightly more affordable but equally fantastic tablet, the OnePlus Pad is a great choice. Otherwise, the 10th Gen iPad will not do you wrong if you’re willing to invest.
Self-described art critic and unabashedly pretentious, Momo finds joy in impassioned ramblings about her closeness to video games. She has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism & Media Studies from Brooklyn College and five years of experience in entertainment journalism. Momo is a stalwart defender of the importance found in subjectivity and spends most days overwhelmed with excitement for the past, present and future of gaming. When she isn't writing or playing Dark Souls, she can be found eating chicken fettuccine alfredo and watching anime.