Review: Apple iPad (Fifth-Generation)
Pros: The least expensive full-sized iPad that Apple has ever sold. Great entry-level option with modern capabilities. Best battery life we’ve ever seen on an iPad. Modest performance boost puts it closer to the 9.7” iPad Pro. Adds support for taking Live Photos. Should appeal to users with simple tablet needs that are new to the iPad or those looking to upgrade from the iPad Air or older models. Price makes it well suited for educational and business markets.
Cons: Essentially a hybrid of the 2013 iPad Air and 2014 iPad Air 2, offering little new beyond the upgraded CPU. A return to the size and weight of the original 2013 iPad Air. No camera or audio improvements. No anti-reflective screen coating. Available only in 32GB and 128GB capacities.
While the fifth-generation iPad is generally unremarkable in performance or features compared to other recent iPad models, one area which we found really surprising in testing the new model was in its battery performance. The fifth-generation iPad packs a 32.4 Wh battery — the same size as found in the original 2013 iPad Air, and a step up from the 27.3 Wh and 27.91 Wh batteries found in the iPad Air 2 and 9.7” iPad Pro, respectively. However, for reasons we can only chalk up to better power efficiency of iOS 10, the A9 CPU, and other internal components, the fifth-generation iPad produced the longest run times of any iPad model we’ve ever seen, and significantly outperformed Apple’s own conservative 10 hour estimates. Our tests were done using our standard methodology: 50 percent display brightness and 50 percent volume, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled.
Our video test ran for almost 16 hours, while in our Wi-Fi browsing test the iPad clocked in at a little over 13 hours — run times that not only handily beat the iPad Air 2’s disappointing numbers, but are more impressive than the more expensive 9.7” iPad Pro.
Recharge times were more in line with our expectations, however, taking a little over 4 hours for a full charge. Apple includes the usual 10W 2.1A power adapter in the box, however recharge times with a 12W 2.4A adapter were the same, suggesting that the new iPad remains capped at the same 2.1A charging rate as its predecessors. On a lark, we also tried the Apple 29W USB-C power adapter, which unsurprisingly didn’t provide any faster charging — that’s still exclusive to the 12.9” iPad Pro.
Wi-Fi and cellular hardware on the fifth-generation iPad also remains the same as that found in the iPad Air 2. While we didn’t conduct LTE speed tests due to the wide variations in cellular carrier network performance, Wi-Fi testing showed that the new iPad supports high speeds over an 802.11ac Wi-Fi connection without any problems.