The 2018 iPad in 2021: Long-term Student Review

Veer Sheth
Jun 13 · 3 min read

iPads are not cheap, they cost up to thousands of dollars, and yet for many, including me, they offer little value at that price. Of course, you get a brilliant 120Hz pro-motion screen, a near bezel-less display, and a razor-thin form factor that easily breaks, and even so, the software is still iPad OS. From importing files, reading documents, browsing the web, multitasking, and coding, a lot of things that would take 10 minutes on my laptop, I’ll spend 30 minutes figuring out on my iPad. That isn’t to say that iPad OS is bad, it’s actually really good, but the only problem is that it misses some key requirements for me, and is tougher to navigate around fast.

Credits: Unsplash

I’ve been using the 2018 iPad for more than 14 months, and I don’t really feel it to be that limiting, at least in terms of iPads. I don’t need the fastest processor since I don’t do anything heavy-duty and for a quick video edit, the A10 chip inside it makes sure that 1080p playback on LumaFusion is butter smooth. An ultrawide camera is also not a limiting factor, since the only time I use the camera is during Zoom meetings, or to grab an image of a presentation in school. The presence of the headphone jack is also a nice touch since I don’t use wireless headphones on the regular.

And so, my use for the iPad is strictly as a tablet and nothing more.

As a student, I take notes for every lecture, and while I am faster at typing them out on a “real” keyboard on my laptop, I prefer handwriting them using the Apple Pencil, which the iPad supports. It is the older generation pencil but to be frank, it is still just as wonderful of an experience you would find on the latest M1 iPad Pro, and unless you’re really squinting and pixel peeping, it won’t really matter. Latency is close to none, and pressure/tilt sensitivity is incredible.

The only apps that I personally use on the regular are OneNote, OneDrive, Zoom, Teams, and Procreate. The one thing that is limiting is that I cannot work with several layers on larger files in Procreate, but other than that, performance is smooth and despite not having a pro-motion display, the screen is fabulous, sharp, and color accurate.

After using this machine for 14 months, it has held up really well. There is no scratching on the screen and the Apple Pencil still looks and works the same and Apple too, which has been notorious for slowing down older models, does not seem to have reduced the performance of this machine.

Clearly, I am not making full use out of what the iPad can offer. I know several YouTubers like Canoopsy who daily-drive an iPad pretty much every day without much issue, but since I, probably like several people, use it just like a glorified notebook that syncs to the cloud and one that you can draw in, making a thousand dollar expense really isn’t worth it, unless of course, you have cash burning your pockets, which if you are, by all means, buy the higher-end models, even the iPad Air is a good alternative. And if you do want to daily drive the iPad as your sole and only machine(without a “real” computer, that is), having a physical keyboard would make it more laptop-like, however, instead of the way-too-overpriced Smart Keyboard Folio Apple sells, the Logitech Keyboard Folio would be much more useful, as it protects the tablet more and also comes with a trackpad.

Logitech Keyboard Folio. Credits: Logitech

Until Apple stops supporting software updates, this or its 2020 spec bump would gladly receive my recommendations for the greatest value to price ratio, and are a great choice for students.

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