Why Apple's upcoming budget 2022 iPad is a massive threat to Android tablets (and their already smaller market share)

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Why Apple's upcoming budget 2022 iPad is a massive threat to Android tablets
The biggest annual Apple event is just around the corner – next week the Cupertino company will unveil its new iPhone 14 series, alongside new Apple Watches, and potentially at least one new iPad – a new budget one.

This upcoming 10th-gen iPad is shaping up to be an absolute killer of a tablet, threatening what little market share Android tablet manufacturers currently hold among each other. And not only in the budget range, but in the mid and flagship space too – by all accounts the new cheap iPad has it in itself to conquer all of that.

If you love tablets, particularly iPads, here's what you can expect from it, and more importantly – why exactly is it such a huge threat to the many, many various Android tablets other manufacturers are releasing constantly…

Updated, premium design, yet affordable

How your phone or tablet looks and feels is a big deal, you shouldn't underestimate it. If it feels cheap and plasticky – that thing you're holding for long periods at a time will impact your experience negatively.

Say what you will about the current 9th-gen budget iPad and its purposefully outdated design, but it's made out of glass and metal, and feels good in the hand.

But apparently Apple has decided that we've had enough of that decade-old design, as by several accounts the new 10th-gen budget iPad will be getting a much-needed redesign. With flat edges, to be in tune with the current iPad Air and iPad Pros, yet still likely to keep some top and bottom bezels, perhaps even the round Touch ID home key, as to differentiate itself from the more expensive iPads.

And that's fine. Just the right update, in my opinion, as I actually have nostalgic fondness for those bezels, and they actually help with having a nicer grip on the tablet with both hands, without a chance of accidentally touching the display.

So here comes a new budget iPad with a modern, flat-edge design, made out of premium materials. How would that premium-feeling (and performing, but we'll get onto this next) tablet cost, then? Well, likely somewhere around $300, give or take $10-20, which I'm sure we can all agree is pretty fair.

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Especially when compared to the less-capable, and often more cheapy-feeling competition.

Well beyond the performance most users will ever need from a tablet

The new budget 2022 iPad won't be getting an M1 chip, which we saw coming from a mile away. Because just like its design, its internals need to be nerfed a bit, so that Apple's more expensive iPads – the iPad Air and Pro models – can appear more attractive to potential buyers.

Even so, the new budget iPad is expected to be packing the A14 Bionic chip right out of the iPhone 12, and that chip is no joke. In most of our tests the iPhone 12 either beat or was about on par with competing flagship phones of its time, so on a tablet, especially a budget one – it's more than an apt processor.

And having in mind how optimized iPadOS is for Apple's tablets, of course, we can expect the buttery-smooth performance we've become accustomed to from prior iPads and iPhones. Whether you're planning to use the new budget iPad for simple things like watching movies and browsing the web, or to get creative with some video editing and drawing – it'll handle it better than any, if not all the competition out there.

Even flagship Android tablets can struggle with video editing, for example, while budget iPads can handle it with no issues – and I've tested this personally. Not to mention even the budget iPad actually has access to pro apps like LumaFusion for video editing and Procreate for drawing, while Android tablets unfortunately do not have such polished and optimized creative app options.

Solid display, top tier stereo speakers (finally on a budget iPad)

The display is perhaps the main area where you may find Android competition offering something better in that price range.

No AMOLED, and most likely no 120Hz refresh rate, but a standard, yet good LCD panel at a traditional 60Hz is what we'll be getting. Still, as someone who's had the pleasure of using all iPad options and most Samsung Galaxy options, along with other Android and Windows tablets – I can say that any on-paper specs differences don't reflect significantly on the real life experience.

You won't be getting pitch blacks, is the most notable thing I'd say – which can be annoying when watching a dark movie at night. LCD displays have backlight bleed, while superior AMOLED or miniLED displays do not, as instead of a single backlight for all the pixels, each pixel (or groups of pixels, in the case of miniLED) gets illuminated separately. Oh well.

However, when we get to speakers, Apple normally delivers some really top tier ones, and this really matters for gamers and video or movie watchers. And until now, while the budget iPads had decent speakers, their big issue was the lack of stereo. Technically you got two stereo speakers, but they were both on the bottom of the iPad, or on the left side, when held in landscape orientation. So all of your music and sounds were coming from one side, which in 2022 is pretty unacceptable.

That's exactly why I presume that with this redesign, Apple will finally do the right thing and put each of those speakers on opposite sides of the tablet, like it's doing with the iPad Air and iPad Pro.

Even if those speakers don't otherwise get upgraded in any way – they already have great clarity, a good hint of bass, and can go pretty loud. Just, again – here's hoping Apple won't do a goof and keep them on one side of the tablet again, in an effort to nerf the budget iPad that much more. It seems unlikely, considering it's getting a redesign, but who knows… We'll find out next week.

Apple Pencil 2 support? Most budget and mid-range tablets don't support an active stylus

The current budget iPad has Apple Pencil 1 support, making it a pretty solid option for students. But with its redesign bringing it closer to a modern iPad Air and iPad Pro, the new budget iPad is likely to get Apple Pencil 2 support instead.

What likely kept older budget iPads from supporting the newer Apple Pencil was their old-timey rounded-corner design. But with its new flat-edge design, it'll be reasonable for us to expect that Apple has added a magnetic Apple Pencil 2 charging dock on one of the 2022 iPad's sides.

Even if the Cupertino company decides to prolong the life of the old Apple Pencil some more by having this new budget iPad support only that one, it's still a great stylus for artists and students.

And aside from getting a very solid stylus experience on this budget tablet – again, it also has plenty of pro-grade apps for professionals to use with it, like the aforementioned Procreate.

Which once again means that even this cheap Apple tablet can be legitimately used for professional work, and we know it'll handle it beautifully.

Brand recognition, trust, and long-term updates

Something that I view as greatly underappreciated is simply how long Apple devices remain supported with major software updates, and in turn, remain in use by their owners. You could have the cheapest 5th generation iPad from five years ago, and it'll still get the new iPadOS 16 now that we're up to the 10th generation iPad.

What cheap 2017 Android tablet is still getting major software updates today? And what current budget, mid-tier or even flagship Android tablets of today will be supported five years or more from now? Unfortunately – very few, if any.

So that's one big thing even the cheap, budget iPads have in their favor – users know that by buying this device, they'll comfortably be able to use it for many years. Furthermore, unlike many budget Android tablets, your budget iPad is very unlikely to break at some point due to poor build quality. Apple devices' internals are actually quite beautifully and snugly arranged in there, and the trillion dollar company doesn't skimp on the quality of the parts it uses.

I've had MacBooks defect on me (and friends whose MacBooks also did), but in my 10+ years of experience with iPads – those have always been reliable, for many, many years, even after drops and careless, heavy usage. I highly appreciate that, and I'm certain many consumers do as well.

It will not get iPadOS 16's big new feature though, as we could've expected from a budget iPad

It's not all roses and sunshine in budget iPad land, though. As many as the positives are, it's definitely going to be lacking in the productivity department when compared to an iPad Air and iPad Pro.

Not because of its slightly lesser performance – that's already plenty powerful enough for a budget tablet, as we mentioned. But because the 10th generation iPad will not get Center Stage, iPadOS 16's big new multitasking feature.

And that's no surprise, just yet another convenient way for Apple to try and get you to buy one of the more expensive iPads.

Now, the reason Center Stage won't come to the new budget iPad is mainly because of its older A14 Bionic processor, as we covered earlier. Center Stage requires an M1-powered iPad instead, and apparently, iPads with lesser chips won't be able to handle it very well. Or so we're meant to believe.

Check out our iPadOS 16 preview to see exactly what Center Stage is and will bring to M1 iPads, but basically, it's powerful desktop-like multitasking, giving power users the option of running four or more apps at a time, in resizable windows, no less.

So while the budget iPad will handle many of your professional work needs, if you want that sweet, sweet powerful multitasking, you'll have to instead get a more expensive M1 iPad. Still, split-screen and Slide Over will remain as available options for lesser, but still decent multitasking on the budget iPad.

Bottom line – you know what you're getting, no gamble whatsoever

So there we have it – why the upcoming, 10th generation iPad is quite a major threat to the Android tablet market. Love or hate Apple and its iPhones, the budget iPad is quite the tablet, with a lot going for it.

What do you think – are you planning to buy it? Do you know of an Android tablet you believe is better? Share your opinion and join the conversation in the comments section below!

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