The iPad 10 Is Essentially the Air 4, Only Worse: It’s that time of year again when companies trying to sell you gadgets hope to make a sale during the holidays. Perhaps it’s just me, but I’ve noticed a rise in the amount of money I spend on distant relatives as a way of making up for the lack of closeness I feel with my own. One of Apple’s “totally revamped iPads” certainly does the trick.
The iPad has always been a popular present, and the tenth-generation model, with its four new color options and sleek new design, seems like it could be a great choice this year. Unfortunately, it’s just an iPad Air 4 from 2020, which isn’t much better. I agree. Our disassembly shows that the now-retired iPad Air 4 has nearly identical hardware to the iPad 10: Compared to the iPad 10, which has a 12-megapixel front-facing camera, this one is just 7 megapixels, and it’s positioned in a different part of the device; also, it’s been redesigned to work with Apple’s new Center Stage feature.
The iPad Air 4 even has certain advantages over the iPad Pro 10, starting with the much-maligned Apple Pencil Gen 1. Even when it was first released in 2015, the Gen 1 Pencil stood out as an unusual product. It’s just not comfortable at all. This, however, is not a valid excuse for disliking the item in question. The fact that it needs a USB-C to Lightning adapter in order to work with the iPad 10 is problematic because it implies more plastic trash must be produced in order to sustain the manufacturing of an older product.
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Certainly not. The Air is about $200 less expensive and is compatible with the Apple Pencil (Gen 2), the Magic Keyboard (old and new), and the Folio Keyboard (larger color range by about 25%). It’s also available in five “vibrant” hues as opposed to the standard four.
Can’t take my word for it? Try it out and see what you think.
Our dismantling proved these assumptions to be correct. We can see that this is not a “fully revamped iPad” by comparing it to our breakdown of the iPad Air 4.
Landscape speakers, Touch ID, and battery life are all maintained. The iPad Air 4’s sole major disadvantage in a head-to-head comparison is that its display is laminated, which could make replacing the screen more expensive. That being said, if your iPad 10’s glass panel breaks, you won’t necessarily have to shell out a lot of cash to get a new screen.
This lowers the rate at which components are discarded, which is great, but did you know there’s another way to cut down on trash? Having some respect for the existing base of older devices. One can find hundreds, if not thousands, of iPad Air 4s for sale on various web marketplaces.
Plus, if you’re concerned about the lack of a guarantee, you can find services that provide additional protection for your reconditioned purchase.
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In response to criticism of the Gen 1 Apple Pencil, the company said there wasn’t enough room within the gadget to accommodate the Gen 2 Pencil’s landscape front-facing camera and wireless charging methods. As you can see from this side-by-side comparison, there is some truth to that.
There is a small but visible contact point on the iPad Air 5’s side where the wireless charging mechanism makes contact. Really, it’s rather diminutive. From what I can see, Apple’s designers were just trying to convey that the front-facing camera and charging port couldn’t coexist in the same central location.
The only other choice is to slightly raise or lower the charging mechanism, which is impossible to do without moving the camera. Unfortunately, you can’t raise it any higher because the pencil would block the volume controls. Without protruding from the bottom of the iPad, the pencil prevents you from moving it far enough down to avoid the camera and the magnets.
I don’t see any reason why the wireless charging mechanism couldn’t be located on any of the other sides. So, we can rule out starting at the bottom. Normally, you’d just use that for a keyboard accessory. So, one of the two shorter sides remains. The Touch ID button on one would prevent the pencil from fitting, while the USB-C charging connector on the other would be hidden.
My coworker Michael pointed out that the engineers were likely anxious to ditch the Gen 1 Pencil, but they couldn’t figure out how to make the Gen 2 Pencil compatible with the iPad 10. Perhaps the solution to this whole mess is to reimagine the Pencil with the charging mechanism relocated to the side, where it can coexist with a landscape camera.
It’s possible that Apple only added Gen 1 Pencil functionality out of necessity, but that doesn’t change the fact that Apple went to considerable lengths to build a brand-new keyboard for this iPad. That being the case, it’s fair to wonder why a newer model of the Pencil wasn’t explored too, perhaps with a removable battery.
Overall, it’s a confusing, fascinating, and ultimately frustrating piece of technology. So, with the iPad 10, are we paying for the actual device or just the advertising? So long as you don’t require the iPad 10’s landscape camera, I’d say the iPad Air 4 is your best bet.