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Apple iPad 10.2 (9th Gen) – Best Budget Tablet?

IPad 10.2 with pencil
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My daughter’s first iPad has been my old iPad Mini (2nd Gen) for over 3 + years now and the battery has finally given up on us. Sure, I could get it fixed locally or I could order the replacement kit from i-Fixit but it would only ship to my neigbouring middle east country which again I would have to ship it to myself. However the cost for all of this would come up to atleast 50% of the new Apple iPad 10.2.

When I visited the apple store to get the battery replaced, they very politely told me I would need to wait a while till they get the parts and I would be paying quite a lot to have the battery running again.

The iPad was primarily being for her online classes, YouTube kids & little gaming and sure enough, it had been hanging and heating up. So, it was time for the eventual upgrade. Only question was replace it with what? Apple had recently announced its new iPad line up and the promising contenders were the new Apple iPad 10.2 (9th Gen) & the new Apple iPad Mini (6th Gen).


To say, “we are an iPad family” is an understatement. My wife is using the iPad Air, My daughter was using the iPad Mini and I am currently using the iPad Pro. I was leaning more towards the new Mini at $499 (USD) it wouldn’t be a cheap option but I was thinking more on the lines of newer design, better hardware, and more color options etc. 

My wife on the other hand wasn’t too thrilled given on how my daughter had been using the device in the past. Most of her gaming was on the Nintendo Switch or PS4, her school online classes were on the laptop and so the idea of spending $500+ on the iPad + Cover + Screen Guard just so that she could doodle and watch YouTube kids wasn’t a wise decision according to her.

We, however agreed on the bigger iPad 10.2 (9th Gen) as it would fit all our use cases for her without breaking the bank.         

At $329 (USD) Apple iPad 10.2 (9th Gen) makes the best argument for the entry level tablet, that you can enjoy for media consumption, emails, video calls, office suite, drawing, gaming & general web browsing. The specifications and more details can be found on 👉 Apple iPad 10.2

Now, an argument is there to be made that there are way cheaper tablets (Android) in the market that can do all the things that I mentioned above at a lower price point.

While that is absolutely true, the user experience and the optimization that apple has for its products is far better than the competition in my books. You must give credit where credit is due, this is coming from a person who uses all forms of tech on a daily basis for work and at home.

Now $329 (USD) is not a small amount of change but I do believe you do get a lot of bang for your buck. At this price point, we are talking about the base Wi-Fi model that comes in two colors (Silver & Space Gray). Now, Apple would also like you to believe that the iPads are a laptop replacement but while I understand where they are coming from but that is not entirely true but more on that later. `

For now, lets see what are the big selling points that would make you consider getting one. Visit Apple iPad 10.2 specs for detailed information.

Features / USP of Apple iPad 10.2 (9th Gen)

  • iPad OS (15)
  • App Store
  • Apple ecosystem (Apple Pay, Siri, Messages, Facetime etc.)
  • 64GB base storage option
  • Home button with Touch ID sensor
  • 10.2-inch (diagonal) LED Multi-Touch True Tone display
  • Works with Apple Pencil (1st Gen)
  • A13 Bionic Chip
  • Front 12MP Ultra-Wide camera with 122⁰ field of view + Centre Stage
  • Front camera does 1080p HD video recording at 25,30 or 60 fps & Cinematic video stabilizations (1080p & 720p)
  • Rear 8MP Wide camera that can do 720p HD recording at 30 fps or 1080p HD recording at 25 and 30 fps
  • Built-in Apps & Free Apps from Apple.  
  • Stereo Speakers with Dual microphones for calls, video & audio recording.
  • Up to 10 hours of web browsing or video watching

Now, the new 10.2 iPad does come in a 64GB LTE model or a higher storage option 256GB model as well (Wi-Fi / LTE), but they come with an obvious higher price point. But for now, we are going to stick to the advertised $329 base option the 64GB Wi-Fi model. For detailed information click on 👉 Apple iPad Base Option

  • iPad 10.2 (9th Gen) - Box Front
  • iPad 10.2 (9th Gen) - Box Open

However, there are always two sides to a story, and there is quite a value proposition to be had with the new base model iPad (9th Gen). But you must be aware that there are a few extra costs associated if you intend to get the most from the iPad. For example,

If you are looking for the ultimate note taking, doodling or drawing experience then there is nothing that comes even close to the Apple Pencil. Its not like there aren’t any third-party pencils that are compatible with the iPad 10.2 (9thGen) you can even find some on their official website as well. 

I already own the Apple pencil 2 and use it to draw and take notes on my iPad Pro, but since this iPad was for my daughter I have held off buying the Apple Pencil as she doesn’t need it at the moment. But when I tried the Apple Pencil (1st Gen) at our local Apple store it felt great just as an Apple Pencil should. 

However, the same can’t be said for their official keyboard. I tried the smart keyboard at our local apple store, and I wasn’t impressed. As it didn’t offer any protection to the rear side of the tablet. Now, if you are the type of person who will never drop the device and are extremely careful not to scratch it. Then that’s great. To make matters worse there is no place to attach the apple pencil nor is there a track pad along with the keyboard. The cost of this accessory alone is around 48% the cost of the iPad itself.

Some of the third-party (Logitech) keyboards that are listed on the apple website at least come with a full rear cover plus a built-in kick stand and a track pad along with the keyboard. It even has a place to store the apple pencil.

Still, they are an eye watering $149, it maybe a tough pill to swallow but at least there are some redeeming features that you could tell yourself that it may be worth the investment.

Now if this iPad is being used for a child for media consumption, online classes or lite casual games then you probably don’t need an external keyboard. But if you need to have a keyboard to do some mails or homework etc. Then there are other cheaper “Bluetooth Keyboard” options out there on Amazon or at your local electronic store. Just keep in mind that some keyboards may need a USB Bluetooth Dongle to work properly.

As you may have noticed there aren’t any ports on the iPad besides the charging port (which is still lightning) and the 3.5 mm headphone jack. Now coming back to my previous point of wanting to connect that USB Bluetooth dongle, you would need a Lightning to USB adapter dongle. So welcome to the dongle life, there is a dongle adapter for your every need. Want to connect a USB Thumb Drive to move your photos and videos? a dongle is there. Want to use your SD card? a dongle is there. Want to connect your iPad to a projector via VGA or HDMI? a dongle is there. You want a dongle that has all of these options in one? that is also there.

Now, as previously mentioned you don’t need an apple pencil or a keyboard + cover and you maybe the sort of person who may not even need the dongle in the first place. But if you think this iPad is a replacement for your Laptop then that’s a far tougher sell without the added extras.

  • iPad 10.2 (9th Gen)
  • iPad 10.2 (9th Gen) - Main Screen
  • iPad 10.2 (9th Gen) - Gameplay

For the past 2 weeks since we bought the iPad, it has performed flawlessly. The apps don’t hang anymore, everything is fast and snappy and she even runs Minecraft on it besides her other games. Depending on what your use cases maybe, the new Apple iPad 10.2 (9th Gen) may truly be the best entry level tablet on the market today.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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