Apple’s powerful new ‘basic’ iPad is a real budget laptop replacement


Protect Your Access to the Internet

Apple’s new 2020 iPad has the same size, shape, look and feel as last year’s model.

But it’s considerably more powerful. After a week using it, the significant engine improvements in the new model serve as a reminder of something that has only recently happened: the basic iPad is now a capable laptop replacement for a lot of people.

Here’s what what I mean: I’m writing, fact-checking and filing this review fully on the new iPad. It’s not really a second-rate experience, either. The keyboard I’m using is Apple’s Smart Keyboard, the one that only iPad Pro users were able to use up until last year. (So it’s good.) The basic iPad now has the physical connectors for that.

As I’m typing away, I need to check some details and specifications. But I’m not doing that on some other device or laptop, or replacing one app on the screen with another — I have the screen split in two with Microsoft Word on one side and Safari on the other. As iPad Pro users have known for years, this isn’t ‘just as good’ as using a laptop, it’s actually faster.

I also have an Apple Pencil (the early version) on the side, which I occasionally use for brainstorming or storyboarding, but more often for signing online documents. I’m a casual stylus user, but for those who are curious about what it can do, Apple’s new iPadOS 14 now lets you write in almost any text field and the words will turn into text. (You can also do things like highlight, cut and paste handwritten text with the Pencil.)

True, the 10.2-inch display isn’t as roomy as either of my iPad Pros (11 inches and 13 inches), or that of the new 10.9-inch iPad Air (which seems to be the new everyman’s iPad Pro, but I’ll return to that in my iPad Air review).

But it’s big enough to work on somewhat comfortably. Crucially, and to come back to the engine issue, it’s also powerful enough.

Measuring an iPad’s actual muscle-power is a little harder than a laptop’s. Unless you’re…