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Article: Back to the iPad (Again)

by on November 21, 2017

Well, that didn’t last long. Since I wrote about using an iPhone as my primary device back in September, I have found the iPhone 8 Plus to feel “normal” in comparison to the iPhone 8 or SE, and really like the additional features. However, I have also found out how I much I missed having an iPad for around my apartment, writing, and just in instances where the iPhone screen is a bit too small.

In reflection, I found that the 12.9″ iPad Pro was just a bit too big, and I didn’t like the idea of any out-of-warranty repairs being over $500. Instead, I thought I’d give the base iPad a try, and taking advantage of education pricing. We’ve picked up quite a few of these at work and they’re pretty nice and certainly capable, but also really inexpensive. In my use, 32GB on an iPad is sufficient, and while my work-issued iPad Air 2 is thinner, the fifth-generation iPad is a bit faster and more powerful.

I could’ve picked up a 10.5″ iPad Pro, but even with some of the Black Friday deals coming up, equipping it with a keyboard would have added quite a bit more to the price. At that point, I figured that this iPad would be supported long enough, not to mention that I could almost get two of these for the price of one iPad Pro.

This time around, I decided to be a bit more intentional about with apps get installed, and I set up everything by hand, rather than pulling from a backup. Getting settled in, I immediately have that feeling that everything is where it belongs and I’m not running to the Mac in the back room or wishing my iPhone’s screen is even bigger.

Like the iPhone SE, this iPad puts modern technology in an older package—in this case, the iPad Air shell (except it loses the mute/rotation lock switch). The microphone is over in the middle at the top of the iPad, it’s thicker, the screen isn’t fused to the digitizer, and it has that weird semi-hollow sound if you do any hard taps in the right location. Still, the build quality is excellent, and it’s easy to forget that this is a budget device. In other words, forgoing a Smart Connector, Apple Pencil capability, and camera flash saved me quite a bit of money.

I think Apple is on to something that the 9.7″/10.5″ screen size is the best screen size for most people on these kind of devices. It keeps the weight and bulkiness down and still shows a decent amount of information.

I went with the cellular one yet again, causing me to miss out on the some of the amazing sales that have happened from time to time, but does give me some flexibility in that I can use a different carrier than my iPhone and/or use some of the global SIMs.

For those following along, yes, it’s been about two years to the day that I picked up a refurbished iPad Air 2 and really moved to the iPad for most things. In other words, in the span of two years, I ended up back with a 9.7″ iPad with the same cameras and Touch ID sensor, but is a little thicker, a little faster, and a little cheaper than what I originally had.

At this point, I’m really enjoying it as it feels like enough iPad for me. Furthermore, I’m glad to have some features back, such as Command+Tab and drag & drop, two things that I often tried on my iPhone, but failed miserably. There may be a review coming in the future, but for now, my thoughts are that this is a terrific device at an excellent price, and it looks like it will be even better if you want to deal with the Black Friday crowds and limited availability ($249 at Walmart and Target, but only the 32GB Wi-Fi-only model).

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