Pull it off the shelf at the Apple Store, and you’d be hard pressed by sight alone to distinguish the new sixthgeneration9.7-inch iPad (go.macworld.com/6x97) from last year’s model (go.macworld.com/lsyr). And under the hood, it’s not much different, where there simply a speedier A10 processor. The new iPad is, well, an iPad.
What’s truly new is support for the Apple Pencil, the sleek stylus that formerly only played nice with the iPad Pro. But never doubt that the Pencil support marks a bold move on Apple’s part. Combined with the new chip, the formerly capable iPad is transformed into something that’s now a serviceable substitute for an iPad Pro—for a mere $329 ($299 if you’re shopping for a school; $309 if you’re a student, teacher, or faculty shopping on Apple’s Education Store [go.macworld.com/aped]).
Some will find Apple Pencil support a transformative experience, and if you’ve been looking to upgrade from an iPad that predates the iPad Air 2, this is a device that will make you glad you waited.
THE MORE THINGS CHANGE
In light of Apple’s marketing of the new iPad to schools, the design feels like an exhortation not to judge a book (or a tablet) by its cover. It reminds us that somethings can change for the better despite outward appearances. In some regards, much of what we said about last year’s iPad applies here as well, whether it’s the way the buttons ranging from the volume controls to Touch ID sit in the same spotsor the way it offers much the same Wi-Fi and LTE connectivity.