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New iPad 9.7-inch (2018) vs old 9.7-inch iPad (2017): What’s the difference?

New iPad 9.7-inch (2018) vs old 9.7-inch iPad (2017): How do the two iPads compare?

It’s largely a case of spot the difference between the new and old 9.7-inch iPads, though there are a couple of key differences between these 2018 and 2017 iPad models. Allow us to explain as we compare the key specs and features.

On the design and display fronts, things are identical. Both measure in at 240 x 169.5 x 7.5mm, and tip the scales to the tune of 469g (Wi-Fi-only) or 478g (Wi-Fi + Cellular). The two also sport the same physical Home button (with Touch ID fingerprint scanning) and retain a 3.5mm headphone jack, unlike Apple’s fancier phones. Similarly, both feature the same 9.7-inch Retina panel with a 2048 x 1536 pixel resolution.

And it’s the same case with cameras. Both the new 2018 iPad and 2017 iPad feature an 8-megapixel rear camera with ƒ/2.4 aperture, HDR, and Full HD video. On the front, there’s a 1.2-megapixel HD camera designed primarily for video calling (you really, really shouldn’t take selfies with a tablet, folks…) We’d also expect the battery spec (though never officially confirmed by Apple) to be more or less the same as the ~8830mAh cell discovered by teardowns of the 2017 iPad.

There are, however, two big differentiators.

The first is that the new iPad (2018) comes with Apple Pencil support and support for third-party styluses like the Logitech Crayon, while the old 2017 iPad doesn’t offer this compatibility. Again, note that the Logitech Crayon is not going to be released on the consumer market – but there’s no shortage of digital pen alternatives.

Secondly, the new 2018 iPad is more powerful. It pairs Apple’s newer A10 Fusion chipset with the company’s more recent M10 motion co-processor. As you might expect, the older iPad (2017) features older hardware – an Apple A9 chip sitting alongside an M9.

Apple doesn’t disclose RAM specs for its mobile devices, but we’d predict both feature the same 2GB that gutting the 2017 model discovered. This might sound a bit paltry in an age where it’s not unusual to see a phone equipped with 6GB of RAM, but Apple’s iOS doesn’t really need much more to run smoothy. We’ll put the new 2018 iPad’s specs to the test when we review it, but on paper this is a clear win for this year’s release.

That’s it really, except to say that pricing for the two devices remains the same, unless you’re at school – one of us lucky folk what live here in the UK, where Apple is treating us to a £20 price cut, with new 2018 iPad models starting from £319 compared to last year’s £339 RRP.

If you’re in the market for a new iPad, therefore, you’ll almost certainly want to go with the 2018 iPad (9.7-inch). It’s cheaper, more powerful, and offers stylus support – plus it’s the only one Apple’s selling now, so you don’t really have a choice if you want to buy direct from Apple (which we generally recommend to their various customer support programmes).

In response to the new iPad 2018 launch, some third-party retailers like Amazon sellers seem to have price slashed the old 2017 iPad down to around £270. Whether or not the new features are worth the extra £50 is a matter for our full 9.7-inch iPad 2018 review, but we will say that buying from the Amazon Marketplace won’t get you anywhere near the level of protection that Apple generally offers.

However, if you already own a 9.7-inch iPad, there might be a less compelling case to upgrade, although we think stylus support will be a strong argument in the eyes of many – including this author, who is genuinely mulling their first ever iPad upgrade.  The processor boost alone probably isn’t worth shelling out for a new iPad, but being able to take notes and all the other functionality that the Apple Pencil (and other digital pens) brings might well be for you too.

New iPad 9.7-inch (2018) Release Date and Price: When will the cheap new 9.7-inch iPad come out?

The new 2018 iPad comes in silver, space grey and gold colour option. It’s available to order now, and is available now.

The device starts at an Apple retail price of £319 for the 32GB model with Wi-Fi only, and £449 for the 32GB Wi-Fi and cellular model. The 128GB Wi-Fi-only model, meanwhile, costs £409, and the 128GB model with Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity is available for £539.

However, Apple has teased discounts for schools. In the US, schools will be able to buy the iPad for $299, while it’s available to regular consumers for $329. While the firm has declared that “schools can purchase iPad for a discounted price”, it isn’t yet clear if that will be the case in the UK, and how generous Apple’s discount might be.

As we’ve said, the 2017 9.7-inch iPad has been officially discontinued, so while you won’t get the snazzy new features, you may be able to bag a bargain at this stage on eBay.

You can add AppleCare+ coverage for an additional £69.

Related: iOS 12

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