Despite the release of the iPad’s 8th generation back in September of 2020 to critical acclaim, many users are still holding on to their iPad 7th generation for a simple reason: it’s one of the best -if not the best -iPad generation of all time, and its compatibility with Apple’s Smart Keyboard truly makes the iPad 7th generation a “mobile” computer.
Is the iPad 7th gen perfect? Hardly: there are issues with its display and its processor pales in comparison to the 8th gen’s Apple A12 Bionic processor which is a full 40% faster than the 7th gen. But, again, despite these, the 7th generation of the iPad is being touted as the pound-for-pound champ of iPads. Here’s why:
iPad 7th Generation: A Bigger Screen for Less
At 10.2 inches, the iPad 7th Gen’s screen is bigger than its 6th gen predecessor which clocks in at 9.7 inches. It might not seem like much, but every fraction of an inch counts especially if you’re using iOS’ Split View (which you really should be utilizing). Despite the increase, the iPad 7th gen actually increased its pixel density to 264 ppi, which is crucial for anyone using the iPad 7th gen for graphic or visual design.
Speaking of design, there’s nothing new to the iPad 7th gen’s looks: curved edges with just enough bezel for a front-facing cam and a Home button. It’s a stripped-down take that moves away from iPad Pro’s sleeker straight-edged almost-bezel-less design and more towards the timeless aesthetic of the original iPad. It is slightly heavier than its predecessor at 15grams, but honestly, it’s not a recognizable difference.
But despite the upgrade in screen size, the iPad 7th gen isn’t all that expensive compared to its predecessor: currently the 2018 iPad retails at around $280, while the 2019 iPad goes for around $325. That’s a $45 difference for more screen and more processing power. The 2020 iPad goes for slightly more than the 7th gen at $359, but it has the same exact screen size, albeit with slightly more under the hood. Speaking of processing power:
iPad 7th Generation: The Perfect Workhorse
the 7th generation of the iPad retains its predecessor’s storage sizes and processors: the A10 Fusion chip delivers at roughly the same performance level as the 6th generation. The 2019 model comes in either 32GB or 128GB versions.
It does come with 3GB of ram, an upgrade from the 6th generation’s 2GB ram. It’s not much, but it is enough to boost performance by a respectable margin, especially since it allows the iPad 7th gen to be fully compatible with the Smart Keyboard, effectively turning your iPad into a mini laptop (sorta), and helping you run smartphone apps and tablet apps alike with little worry about whether or not your iPad can handle it.
Again, the 2020 iPad comes with the latest A12 bionic processor chip which clearly outclasses the 2019 iPad in pretty much everything, but this modest upgrade does bump up the price of the iPad 8th gen. The difference in price, however, is small –the 2019 iPad retails at $325 while the 2020 iPad retails at $360 –but it’s a $35 difference for only a modest upgrade in lag-free performance.
As for battery life, the iPad 7th gen delivers a solid 10-hour life at full usage (web and video). In fact, our testers were able to stretch out the battery life to around two and a half days of intermittent usage.
One downside though is that the iPad 7th gen comes with a 12W charger, a relic from the iPad 4th gen days, which takes up to 4 hours to get your 2019 iPad from 0 to 100%. However, we found that the 2019 iPad, despite being supplied with a stock 12W charger, was fast-charging compatible, which means that we were able to use a fast-charging 30W USB-C charger for the iPad Pro with no problems whatsoever.
iPad 7th Generation: A Mediocre Camera Saved by Great Performance
Here’s the thing about the 2019 iPad: the camera is lackluster. It retains the 8MP rear camera of the 2018 iPad which makes it a good, serviceable camera for the casual user, but its 1.2MP front-facing camera takes soft, blown-out photos that make it look like your selfies were taken back in 2010. However, if mobile phones don’t need to be DSLR-good, neither does the iPad.
Despite these flaws, the mediocre camera does have an unexpected upside when combined with its A10 processor: it makes for a great AR gaming device. We tested the 2019 iPad with a few rounds of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite and of course Pokémon GO. What we found was that the 7th gen iPad responded very well to every touch command and was able to deliver lag-free performance, which was a clear upgrade from the 6th gen’s laggy and often crash-filled performance when playing the same games.
For businesses, the iPad 7th gen’s camera is more than enough for both zoom calls and shooting videos for internal corporate communications, again adding to the versatility of the iPad 7th generation.
iPad 7th Generation: Why is it the Best iPad for the Casual User?
Are there better iPad’s out there? Sure: the latest line of iPad Pro’s and Minis do offer ostensibly better performance at better screen sizes with better resolution and better cameras. But if you’re only going to use your iPad for AR games, watching Netflix, and maybe send-off an email or two, the heavier price tag of the Pro and Mini lines might be hard to justify if you’re not going to utilize all that horsepower.
This means that the iPad 7th gen is the perfect workhorse iPad: it’s bigger and faster than its predecessor, and it performs almost as well as its successor but for a slightly cheaper price tag, making the iPad 7th generation the pound-for-pound best iPad for the casual user to date.