Apple iPad 8th Generation (2020), analysis and opinion

Apple updates its most affordable iPad with a more powerful processor while maintaining the price. Will it be enough to justify your purchase? We found out in this analysis and give you our opinion on the 2020 iPad.

The 8th generation iPad is back on the line to show that it still has a lot to say despite being the most affordable iPad in Apple's catalogue.

The truth is that the new iPad of 2020 does not have significant improvements at the hardware level, maintaining a fairly continuous line concerning last year's model.

However, the processor change and operating system update are two improvements that feel the sea of good to Apple's new tablet making it an option to take into account for the 379 euros that result in its 32 GB version with WiFi connection. In this analysis, we tell you if, in our opinion, the Apple iPad of 8th generation (2020) is worth it.

Same iPad with a screen that keeps convincing

The design of the basic iPad has changed very little in recent years and, in fact, it will be difficult to differentiate the 2019 model from the 2020 model without looking at the reference or its specifications.

In recent years the changes that have been applied to this iPad have been aimed at small variations in the thickness of the Apple tablet and the increase in the diagonal of the screen that occurred in 2019, going from a screen of 9.7 to the current 10.2 inches.

This model maintains the thick bezels that characterize the most basic iPads, folding their size at the bottom and top to accommodate the traditional home button on which the Touch ID fingerprint sensor is housed and the camera at the top.

The same goes for the rear, which retains apple's own minimalism with a unibody rear that falls in the form of a slight curve towards the edges.

At Apple, they haven't even bothered to add new coloured finishes as is the case with their older brother the iPad Air 4, so it repeats with the finishes in space grey, silver and gold. However, this rear offers a very pleasant touch and leaves no trace of footprints.

Apple added a larger 10.2-inch display last year, which remains for the iPad 2020, as well as the thick bezels around it, the traditional Touch ID home button, and the aluminium back.

On the right side, the 8th generation iPad has maintained the Smart connector, which already mounted the previous generation, while on the opposite side are the usual volume buttons and THE SIM card tray in the case of the 4G LTE model.

At the top edge are the power button and headphone jack, while at the bottom we find the output for a pair of stereo speakers and the lightning connector in a centred position.

As far as the screen is concerned, more continuity concerning last year's model. A Retina IPS display with 10.2-inch diagonal cradle and 2,160 x 1,620-pixel resolution that leaves a density of 264 dpi.

In the brightness section, the 8th generation iPad continues to offer a very good outdoor user experience thanks to the 500 nits offered by its screen.

With a profile of 7.5 mm and 495 grams, the 8th generation iPad we are analyzing provides a comfortable and lightweight grip taking into account its size.

Generous frames make it easy to support your thumbs without accidental presses while using your tablet. But Apple could have reduced those frames a little further to get closer to the values of the rest of the iPad family.

It gives us the feeling that the experience of using this screen is not as organic as it is on iPad Pros, where the screen is noticeable closer to the fingertips. Despite these sensations, the good colour balance that iPads usually offer is maintained.

Apple has reserved true tone for superior models and does not include this feature on the 2020 iPad.

However, this is a card that Apple won't be able to play forever, especially when its main android rivals already mount OLED screens that offer deeper blacks, higher resolution and sharpness.

In essence, we are faced with an iPad that is very familiar because, in the aesthetic and visual aspect, nothing has changed on this iPad, although it is enough to turn it on to start appreciating that, in fact, we are faced with a new iPad.

Updated power with A12 Bionic processor and iPad OS 14.1

The main novelty that supports this update of the 8th generation iPad is the change of processor, which goes from the well amortized A10 Fusion used in the last two generations, to the A12 Bionic that was staged next to the iPhone XS in 2018.

According to data provided by Apple, the A12 Bionic that mounts the 8th generation iPad of 2020 is 40% more powerful than the previous model with the A10 Fusion and twice the graphics power.

This power boost joins a major component of artificial intelligence (Neural Engine, called Apple) that is probably not appreciated when using the iPad on a day-to-day basis but directly affects its performance when it comes to taking photos, processing videos, or running games.

The A12 Bionic has seamlessly responded to demanding tasks such as photo retouching or short video editing, as well as less demanding tasks such as processing and publishing texts like this one you're reading.

In games, the 8th generation iPad has shown no signs of weakness, running smoothly Call of Duty: Mobile – an experience to enjoy on a screen of this size.

Hardware analysis performed by benchmarks reveals that the 8th generation iPad has 3 GB of RAM. This can be eye-catching when compared to the 6 or 8GB mounted by Android tablets.

However, putting it in the context of running iPadOS 14, that RAM is more than enough for the 8th generation iPad to move with absolute ease even when managing heavy apps and games.

What we do find insufficient is the 32 GB offered by the most basic (and cheap) model, especially if we take into account that only the operating system and pre-installed apps will already occupy 16 GB of that space, leaving 16 GB more (something less actually) for the user.

The arrival of iPadOS 14.1 has been an important update that comes to improve the use of the iPad and its approach to making it the substitute for a laptop.

However, in our user experience, we have encountered some issues that you will surely experience more than one 8th generation iPad user that we are analyzing.

For example, Apple presents your iPad as a very efficient tool for the office or student tasks. It is here that the current health and social isolation context gives us the first slap in reality.

Indeed, the 8th generation iPad can replace an equivalently priced laptop in terms of power, but not so much in terms of use. A practical example is when participating in one of the most common social, work and even online classes from apps like Zoom or Meet.

In this case, we found that we had no problem connecting to the video call with the rest of the group while we were in full screen. When you split the screen to check documents or answer an email, the app stops sharing the camera and doesn't show you on screen.

This makes it quite difficult to follow classes or meetings, where you can't leave the full screen without disconnecting the camera.\

On the other hand, one of the great tricks of iPadOS 14 (in addition to the support for using mice or trackpads to control the pointer) is the function that Apple calls Scribble, and that basically consists of being able to write directly with the first generation Apple Pencil on any text box and "convert" your handwriting into editable text.

However, this feature is not yet fully functional in Spanish, so the 8th generation iPad offers a much worse user experience than that offered by the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 (here we leave you the analysis of Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+, which shares this function).

Otherwise, iPadOS offers a robust ecosystem of apps with solutions for all kinds of tasks. This does not mean that the iPad can adapt to all the assumptions of use, in fact, input, but it can easily become an incredibly comfortable and lightweight support tool to use.

Smart Keyboard for iPad: with keyboard, everything makes more sense

Apple has given us a Smart Keyboard next to the 2020 iPad for analysis together, and the truth is that it greatly improves the user experience by making office work more comfortable, bringing it a little closer to Apple's dream of making it a laptop substitute.

This keyboard connects to the 8th generation iPad via the Smart Connector and stays in position thanks to a magnetic system that has surprised us by its robustness.

The keyboard is based on an origami-like design, which employs a series of folds leaves a triangle behind the iPad that keeps it in a slightly sloping position to favour the view of the screen, while the edge on which it attaches to the iPad is magnetically attached to a slot that prevents the screen from sliding into the keyboard area.

The keys are not particularly large and considerably separated, which reduces the number of accidental keystrokes but requires more adaptation time. Overall, we didn't find it as comfortable to write as the iPad Pro-Magic Keyboard. This offers a less direct response.

The materials are resistant to stains and dirt. Just pass it a slightly damp cloth to make it clean and as new. The entire keyboard surface appears covered with a thin fabric that leaves no gap under the keys and brings a rough texture to the keyboard, while the entire inside is plush to protect the screen.

After an exercise in papyroflexia, the keyboard folds over the iPad leaving a slight step on the front doubling the original thickness of the iPad and leaving the back exposed.

Same cameras, little daring connectivity and good sound for the series

The 8th generation iPad from 2020 brings little camera news. Few, to say the case since the hardware copies point by point the configuration of the camera that mounted the previous model.

However, they may indeed be necessary for several tasks such as scanning documents or using them as a webcam on video calls, etc.

In this sense, the rear camera meets the minimum requirements. Obviously, you can't ask for the same performance as Apple mobiles, but it offers good accuracy in focus, but little more can be asked of such a sensor.

The front camera is somewhat fairer and approves for the minimum. In the context of increasing the telework in which we find ourselves, and having already presented itself in September, with the entire journey of global confinements that have been experienced, Apple has not had the sensitivity to respond to widespread demand for a front camera with better features to improve the quality of online communications.

In this sense, the 2020 iPad lags behind other devices with similar prices that have chosen to mount the front cameras they already used on their smartphones, so the quality is much higher.

Reviewing the connectivity of the 8th generation iPad we found that Apple has not been ambitious in providing it with forward-looking wireless technologies, taking into account backgrounds like the iPad Air 2, which maintain software support six years after its release.

Support is included for dual-band 802.11 ac (WiFi 5) WiFi (2.4 and 5 GHz) with MIMO(Multiple Input Multiple Output), Bluetooth 4.2, GPS with GLONASS and, in the case of data connectivity version, 4G LTE via a nanoSIM card.

In these kinds of decisions, we see some cracks in Apple's approach, which presents the 8th generation iPad as a device that will be kept in perfect working order for years – something that has proven to be true – but in turn, does not incorporate increasingly widespread technologies such as WiFi 6 or Bluetooth 5.0 that improves connectivity and energy consumption.

Unsurprisingly, the 5G for iPad was not contemplated in any of the scenarios that anticipated the release of this 2020 iPad, and finally, it has been. We cannot say that, in the specific case of this model, it is something that plays against it, because if done without the 5G means to keep the price as this iPad has done, the welcome is the 4G.

This 8th generation iPad is compatible with the first generation of Apple Pencil, which is not as interesting as enjoying the usability and wireless charging improvements provided by the second generation of the Pencil, but at least it's something.

The usage is identical to the one offered by this device in the previous generation of iPad, forcing it to load "pinching" directly to the Lightning port. The tip of the Pencil on the screen of this 2020 iPad produces an annoying hollow "touch, touch, touch" sound that, as a constant soniquete, is somewhat annoying when you find yourself in a quiet room such as a library or a classroom.

The position of these speakers means that, unlike the iPad Pro's user experience, on the 8th generation iPad you can only enjoy stereo sound in its strictest sense when you have the tablet upright because when you rotate it all the sound moves to one side.

Despite not enjoying the directional sound quality of iPad Pros, the most affordable iPad of 2020 maintains good quality sound, to enjoy videos, series and movies without resenting the user experience. Also, it has a 3.5 mm jack that allows you to connect headphones or an external sound system to complement that audio experience.

Autonomy for the whole day and a more efficient burden

With the renewal of the new 2020 iPads, many expected the arrival of the USB Type-C connector on Apple tablets.

However, that connector change only occurred at one end of the cable, while the one that interested the vast majority is maintained with Apple's proprietary Lightning connector and a 32.4Wh battery. Without being too demanding with the brightness of the screen, it gives for a whole day of use without any major complications.

Immune to all the upheaval caused by Apple's decision not to include official chargers for the iPhone 12, the 8th generation iPads have improved the performance of theirs by up to 20 W, thus slightly accelerating the battery charge.

It's not a breakthrough as the 8th generation iPad will take about 95 minutes to reach 50% of its charge, and it will take about three and a half hours to complete 100% of its charge.

Nothing changes to keep moving forward

We reach the final stretch of this analysis of the 8th generation iPad (2020) with very little technical news, but with interesting conclusions regarding the situation in which the most affordable iPad is left on the market.

It must be acknowledged that Apple has been doing a good job with developing its processor family and growing operating system functions for its tablet.

This has left you some room to relax features and bring to iPads the same more affordable pricing policy strategy we're seeing on Apple's latest smartphones.

Of course, we would like to have found an A14 Bionic processor like the one mounted by the 2020 iPad Air, but then this iPad 2020 would lose its main appeal: the balance offered by a tablet with good performance in all areas and a reasonable price.

Apple has been able to afford this "gap year" by minimally updating its most affordable iPad, but it must keep moving forward with it on the same line as it has with iPad Air and Pro.

With the processor change, the 2020 iPad delivers excellent performance for a wide range of users who use the iPad as a complementary tool for their work, to study, as a substitute for a un powerful laptop to browse or manage mail or simply as a leisure platform from which to read, play, watch video and series, etc.

For all those users, the 2020 iPad promises many years of impeccable operation thanks to software, both in terms of apps and the operating system, very well optimized for this device and its screen size.

We are using the concept"affordable iPad" for being the cheapest model in the range, but not because its price is especially low compared to its counterparts on Android, with models like the Huawei MatePad 10.4 inch or the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7.

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