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The personal site of Jamie Knight, an autistic web developer, speaker and mountain biker who is never seen far from his plush sidekick Lion. View the Archive

Topics: Autism Development

iPad 5th Generation First Impressions

I’ve had my new iPad a few weeks and its been really interesting to play with it. Unlike my other iPad or the macs in my life, this iPad is a purely personal device. It’s something for me to use when I want to escape my day job and freelance commitments and just be a technical muggle.

To this end what I need is pretty simple. Something for lots of web reading, some social media and instant messaging. The occasional bit of writing and a game from time to time.

It’s too soon for me to review this thing, so here’s my first impressions.


The 5th generation iPad is a unapologetically mid range device. Low to mid range devices are one of the most interesting places for the design. The budget forces compromises and difficult decisions. I think on the whole the iPad gets these compromises right.


The iPad is not fast. It’s not slow either, but too me (a 12” iPad Pro user!) there are noticeable delays. It’s just not as snappy as the pro model. I see the difference most when loading applications and when scrolling pages with adverts / animations. It’s not a big stutter, but its certainly not as butterly smooth.

However, this doesn’t really seem to matter that much. I brought the cheapest model I could get and I don’t intend to keep it all that long. It’s well under half the price of the iPad Pro 12” but it has 80% plus of the performance. That’s a bit of a bargain!

The one concern I have with performance is service life. I’m hoping to get at least 2 years of use out of this iPad and i am not 100% convinced the performance will be good enough after an iOS update or two.


Another places where the iPad is “mid range” is in the display. Unlike the iPhone, iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro there is a noticeable gap between the “glass” and the screen. In other words, they are not laminated.

Much like with the performance, the difference is noticeable, but its not really a huge issue. In day to day use the gap does not bother more. It has an upside too, if i break the glass a replacement is much easier.

One area which is already annoying me is the reflectivity. I am using the iPad in exactly the same places as my iPad Pro and the difference in reflectivity is noticeable.

So much so, for the iPad i am running it at almost full brightness whereas the iPad Pro is running at barely half brightness. The lack of the anti-reflective coating is a day to day annoyance.

Form Factor.

The size and weight is fine. It feels positively tiny and portable compared to my iPad Pro. Unlike this pro, this iPad can be used on the sofa or while standing.

A nice bonus the smart case i brought when i borrowed an iPad Air fits great. That’s a small thing, but it did help save me £40 which is not a trivial amount of money.

h4. Other.

Touch ID and Apple Pay support are really nice additions. They help round the iPad out and just make it that little bit more useful and flexible. I’m glad Apple added them.


The iPad version is iOS is a pretty well known quantity now. It’s still got some rough spots (multitasking!) but in general its fine. I can be productive with it when needed (like writing this post) but mostly i am using it to just surf the web etc. For those tasks it’s excellent and the app support is second to none. There is normally an iPad version of any app i look for.

As this is a personal iPad i am sometimes using it for gaming. I have been impressed with the quality of games on the iPad. I have been playing hitman go and really enjoying it. The graphics are very pretty and the simplified gameplay really works for me.


This iPad cost me £339, which is a huge saving over the £540 my last 9.7” iPad cost me. The 32gb storage space is not idea but for the money its fine. At least its better than the 16gb Apple used to offer on the entry level iPad.

Compared to the iPad Pro the new iPad is great value. It’s damn near half the cost once the smart case is considered. This might be the best value Apple device i have brought in years.

Final Thoughts.

My first impression on the new iPad is really positive. It’s a capable little device sold for a very fair price. It’s “good enough” and it suits the needs for my personal computing wonderfully.

Unlike the iPad Pro, this iPad isn’t trying to be a Super Computer. It’s a good device and that’s all it needs to be.

Published: 18 April 2017 Permalink


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