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Hands-On

First look: Apple's new 9.7-inch iPad with Apple Pencil support

At Apple's Chicago media event, the company introduced a new 9.7-inch iPad targeting schools with new features like Apple Pencil support and a low price point. We went hands-on with the hardware to see how it performs.



The new iPad, priced at $329 ($299 with education discount), is largely unchanged from last year. Upgrades include the A10 Fusion processor that we last saw in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, and Apple Pencil support.

The tablet is still lightweight, portable, and sports a 10-hour battery life. It feels quite speedy, with the only lag we noticed being processing text-to-speech for Live Titles in the Clips app. It clearly isn't as powerful as the iPad Pro, but it is an improvement over the previous A9 processor.

We were a bit disappointed in the lack of updates to the camera; it is still the 8MP shooter we saw last year and is limited to 1080p video. One good thing about the camera is that it still doesn't protrude out the back, and instead remains flush against the aluminum chassis.

Apple Pencil support is definitely a welcome improvement, though the Pencil itself retains a relatively high $99 price point. To fill in the gap, Apple introduced the $49 Logitech Crayon, a more affordable stylus suitable for educational institutions.




Speaking of Apple Pencil, a major update to the iWork suite finally delivers support for Apple's stylus. In it, you can easily add drawings, animations, diagrams and more to your presentations, documents and spreadsheets.

A new feature known as Smart Annotations is currently in beta and allows users to write on a document. Unlike similar PDF features, Smart Annotations move as your document moves.

Outside of the new iPad and iWork changes, Clips and Garageband were also updated with a few small enhancements focusing primarily on education.

For the best deal on 2018 iPad preorders, be sure to check out our iPad Price Guide. Several Apple authorized resellers will not collect sales tax in most states, potentially saving shoppers $25 to $45 compared to shopping at the Apple Store.