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Apple introduced the seventh-gen iPad to the world last September, alongside the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max and Apple Watch Series 5.

With it, Apple kept the same portable size as the sixth-gen iPad, but increased the screen size to 10.2 inches and finally added a Smart Connector. It was speedy, and had front and rear cameras, Touch ID and other classic iPad touchstones — and for a starting price of $329.99.

We raved about it shortly after the announcement. Looking at it now, nearly nine months later, the seventh-generation iPad still offers a ton of value. So let’s dive into why it makes it the ideal tablet for most people as it effortlessly works for work or play.

A classic design with support for the future

While this entry-level iPad doesn’t have Face ID, we don’t consider that a deal breaker. After all, the Touch ID sensor is plenty useful — be it unlocking the device, authenticating passwords or authorizing payments.

The core Touch ID is a real button on the seventh-gen iPad, so you get that punchy, tactile feel even when the iPad is off. Apple kept the same location for the home button, and we don’t expect that to change: When vertical, it’s centered on the bottom, and horizontally, it’s on either the left or right side, making it easy to access in both spots.

There’s a front-facing 1.2-megapixel camera at the top, which is fine for FaceTime calls and selfies, but we wish Apple had updated this. Even an upgrade to a 5-megapixel or 8-megapixel lens would be appreciated. This way selfies and video calls will look a little better. The dream though? That would be a True Depth Camera (the same one found on iPad Pro and the iPhone 11 family) for Face ID and sharp Portrait selfies.

That 10.2-inch display not only gives you more screen real estate to work with, but the Retina display provides high color accuracy that can get quite vibrant thanks to the LED-backlit design, leading to crisp text views. We didn’t experience the fuzziness you see on some lower-end tablets.

On the rear, there’s an 8-megapixel camera, but there isn’t an LED flash. And while we don’t really recommend taking photos or recording video with an iPad because of its size, you can do it if you want, with excellent results. More likely, you’ll use this for augmented reality experiences and apps that employ the camera.

The real superstar, though: the Smart Connector on the right side. With the Smart Connector, you can pair the seventh-gen iPad with a host of accessories, including the Logitech Combo Touch and Apple’s Smart Keyboard. It removes the need for Bluetooth (therefore getting rid of latency, as it’s a direct connection) and any battery life worries. That dedicated connection is one of our favorite things about this iPad, along with the bigger screen.

iPadOS powered by an A10 Fusion Chip

All current iPads run the latest and greatest in terms of software. The seventh-gen iPad launched with iOS 13 and is now running iPadOS 13.5.1. It’s expected to get the new version of iPadOS, which we should learn more about at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference on June 22.

Apple’s A10 Fusion chip, with an embedded M10 coprocessor, powers the iPadOS. This chip was first used in the iPhone 7, which launched in 2016 but is still going strong.

The seventh-gen iPad doesn’t provide the fastest experience on an iPad or any tablet — that title goes to the more expensive iPad Pro — but it has 3GB of RAM. In comparison with the sixth-gen and other low-cost tablets, the seventh-gen iPad is noticeably zippier with multitasking, load times and rendering. And that should be true for multiple months down the line, even as Apple releases new software updates.

As we do with any Underscored review or followup review, we run a series of benchmarks on the device. In this case, we used Geekbench 5, which ran the iPad through a series of tasks (ranging from easy to complex) that mimic everyday use. The seventh-gen iPad scored a 666 on a single-core and a 1,004 multi-core. In comparison, the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite scored a 332 on a single-core and a 1,222 on multi-core. The iPad blew it out of the water, and it’s $20 cheaper.

And those scores are in line with our daily use over the past nine months. We’ve run Photoshop and exported photos in quick succession, rendered a short home film in iMovie, and multitasked with ease.

More recently, with Trackpad support arriving in iPadOS, we tested the seventh-gen iPad with a Logitech Pebble, Magic Mouse and Magic TrackPad 2 shortly after launch. It was a quick pairing experience and there was virtually no latency when using the mouse versus a finger to control the software.

As we said in our iPad Pro review, trackpad/cursor support isn’t intended as the main way of interacting with an iPad. It’s touch first, and that’s not changing., But like the Apple Pencil or Keyboard, this gives you another option. Some people may find this a better experience than using the on-screen keyboard or drawing with a finger. Similarly, a cursor or mouse gives a more exact, finite amount of control. The seventh-gen iPad supports the first-generation Apple Pencil.

Apple promises 10 hours of battery life, and that’s in line with what we’ve experienced. We haven’t seen much deterioration with the battery since launch. We’ve run our battery test several times, which consists of playing a video on a loop with brightness at 50% and the device on Airplane mode. In our tests, the iPad has consistently been falling between seven hours and seven hours, 30 minutes. With more conservative use on a daily basis, we’ve been getting nine to 10 hours.

Bottom line

Nine months down the road, the seventh-gen iPad still feels like a classic iPad experience.

The Touch ID sensor has us feeling nostalgic, but the 10.2-inch display and smart connector mean this is an iPad that can support both personal and productivity use. Pairing it with an Apple Pencil, Smart Keyboard or a Logitech Combo Touch Case makes it feel like a mini workhorse.

It’s not a full laptop replacement. For that, we suggest the iPad Pro. But for $329.99, you get an iPad that can handle most tasks and should last for many years.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailer’s listed price at the time of publication.