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Apple iPad 2021 Review: Still the Best Tablet For Most People

Apple iPad

Apple iPad 2021 review: still the best tablet for most people

Apple’s updated low-end iPad looks set to continue its dominance of the market with newer chips, twice the storage and a brilliant new video-calling camera.

The 10.2in iPad costs £319 ($329/A$499) – £300 for students – making it Apple’s best-value tablet, sitting below the £479 iPad mini and £579 iPad Air.

Unlike most of its tablet models, Apple has taken to updating the internal components of the standard iPad once a year while keeping its cost and design the same, ensuring its long line of accessories such as keyboards, cases and pens remain compatible.

As such the experience of using the 2021 iPad is the same as the 2020 iPad, but with the updated iPadOS 15 and a few new additions that keep it firmly in pole position.

Faster chip, double the storage but same battery life
The battery still lasts over nine hours for video or general purpose apps, which is really good compared with the competition. But it also still takes up to three hours to fully charge via lightning cable. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
The iPad now has Apple’s A13 Bionic processor from 2019’s iPhone 11. It’s not Apple’s newest chip but it is considerably more powerful than most lower-cost rivals and easily able to handle anything you can do with an iPad. The tablet now comes with twice the minimum of storage compared with the previous version, at 64GB, which will be enough for those who mainly stream content rather download vast movie libraries.

Centre Stage camera and better screen
The low-end iPad now has Apple’s high-end video calling camera, which makes for a tremendous upgrade on previous efforts. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
The new 12-megapixel wide-angle “Centre Stage” camera removes some of the annoyance of video calls by automatically panning and zooming to keep you and friends in frame without having to think about it. It also has much better low-light performance, meaning everyone gets a better, easier view, which will be particularly useful for remote education.

The screen has had a minor but welcome upgrade with the addition of Apple’s “true tone” technology, which keeps colours looking true to life adjusting to ambient light. The display is otherwise still crisp and bright and significantly better than many cheaper rivals.

Sustainability
The recycled aluminium case feels and looks just as good as previous iPads. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
Apple does not give a rated lifecycle for the iPad battery, typically 500 full-charge cycles in similar devices, but it can be replaced for £99. The tablet is generally repairable, with an out-of-warranty service costing £246.44, which includes the screen.

The Apple iPad uses 100% recycled aluminium in its case, 100% recycled tin in the solder of its main board, more than 65% recycled rare earth elements and at least 60% recycled plastic in multiple other components. Apple breaks down the tablet’s environmental impact in its report.

Apple also offers trade-in and free recycling schemes, including for non-Apple products.

Observations
The iPad has the old Touch ID home button but you can also use the more modern swipe gestures to get to the home screen and recent apps menu. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
The iPad only has wifi5 and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity, not wifi6 and Bluetooth 5 that has been available on most new devices for the last few years.
The rear 8MP camera is slightly improved, but still miles off a good smartphone camera.
Price
The iPad (9th generation) costs £319 ($329/A$499) with 64GB of storage or £459 ($479/A$729) with 256GB. 4G-capable models cost £120 ($130/A$200) more.

For comparison, the iPad mini costs £479, the iPad Air costs £579 and the iPad Pro costs from £749, Amazon’s Fire HD 8 costs £90, the Fire HD 10 costs £150 and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S7 costs £519.

Verdict
The 10.2in iPad is still the best tablet for most people offering an unbeatable combination of value, performance, software and longevity.

It’s not flash and it has some older technology, such as the lightning cable and wifi5, but its old design means accessories made for many previous models still fit. Doubling the storage to 64GB is welcome, the faster chip and better display too, but it is the Centre Stage auto-tracking video call camera that is a biggest upgrade and will be particularly useful.

Pros: great performance, good battery life, good screen, iPadOS, plenty of apps, good speakers, very long support, recycled aluminium, Centre Stage camera.

Cons: older design, no USB-C, fairly slow charging, no multi-user support, more expensive than budget rivals.

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Business

UK’s Truss defends economic plan that sent pound tumbling

UK’s Truss defends economic plan that sent pound tumbling

British Prime Minister Liz Truss on Thursday defended her economic plan and shrugged off the negative reaction from financial markets, saying she’s willing to make “difficult decisions” to get the economy growing.

In her first public comments since the government’s announcement of billions in uncosted tax cuts roiled markets and drove the pound to record lows, Truss said Britain was facing “very, very difficult economic times.” But she said the problems were global and spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

She spoke after the Bank of England took emergency action Wednesday to stabilize U.K. financial markets and head off a crisis in the broader economy after the government spooked investors with a program of unfunded tax cuts, sending the pound tumbling and the cost of government debt soaring.

Truss told BBC local radio that “we had to take urgent action to get our economy growing, get Britain moving and also deal with inflation.”

“Of course lots of measures we have announced won’t happen overnight. We won’t see growth come through overnight,” she said. “What is important is that we are putting this country on a better trajectory for the long term.”

In a series of interviews, Truss said her government’s decision to cap energy bills for households and businesses would help tame inflation and help millions of people facing a cost of living crisis.

But it was not that decision that alarmed the markets. It was the government’s announcement on Friday of an economic stimulus program that included 45 billion pounds ($48 billion) of tax cuts and no spending reductions — without an independent economic assessment of the cost and impact.

The Bank of England warned that crumbling confidence in the economy posed a “material risk to U.K. financial stability,” and said it would buy long-term government bonds over the next two weeks to combat a recent slide in British financial assets.

The bank’s former governor, Mark Carney said that the government and the central bank appeared to be pulling in different directions.

“Unfortunately having a partial budget, in these circumstances — tough global economy, tough financial market position, working at cross-purposes with the Bank — has led to quite dramatic moves in financial markets,” he told the BBC.

The pound traded at around $1.08 on Thursday, above its record low of $1.0373 on Monday. It has lost some 4% of its value since Friday.

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Business

Stimulus Packages Provided During Pandemic Triggered Inflation- CBN

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has attributed the rising inflationary rates to the stimulus packages provided to citizens during and after the pandemic.

It added that although this increased spending, it also created global supply challenges.

CBN’s director, Monetary Policy Department, Hassan Mahmoud, said this on Wednesday at a post-MPC briefing tagged: “Unveiling Facts behind the Figures’’.

The Monetary Policy Committee had on Tuesday, unanimously voted to increase interest rate to 15.5 per cent.

“A lot of households and small businesses were injected with stimuluses; the U.S did two trillion dollars, Nigeria did about five trillion Naira, these increased the ability of people to spend.

“But the supply side could not meet up with the demand because that volume of injection was far more than the regular intake for those economies, this made prices go up,’’ he said.

Mahmoud also blamed the Russian-Ukraine war, as well as the resurgence of COVID-19 in China for the rise in global inflationary trend.

“That region accounts for more than 50 per cent of global commodity supply and 38 per cent of global oil and gas supply. The war resulted in some shortages which made prices go up.

“Then the COVID-19 lockdown in China. The country is the largest importer of commodities across the globe,’’ he added.

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Business

China’s yuan slides to 14-year low against US dollar

China’s yuan slides to 14-year low against US dollar

China’s yuan fell to a 14-year low against the dollar Wednesday despite US central bank efforts to stem the slide after U.S. interest rate hikes prompted traders to convert money into dollars in search of higher returns.

A weaker yuan helps Chinese exporters by making their goods cheaper abroad, but it encourages capital to flow out of the economy. That raises costs for Chinese borrowers and sets back the ruling Communist Party’s efforts to boost weak economic growth.

The yuan fell to 7.2301 to the dollar, its lowest level since January 2008. One yuan was worth about 13.8 cents, down 15% from its March high.

The yuan has exceeded expectations it might fall to 7 to the dollar after the Federal Reserve started aggressive rate hikes to cool inflation that is at a four-decade high. The Fed has raised rates five times this year and says more increases are likely.

By contrast, the People’s Bank of China has cut interest rates to boost growth that fell to 2.2% over a year earlier in the first six months of 2022 — less than half the official 5.5% target.

The yuan is allowed to fluctuate up or down 2% from its starting price each day in tightly controlled trading. That prevents big daily swings, but down days can add up to a big change over time.

To shore up the exchange rate, Beijing cut the amount of foreign currency deposits Chinese banks are required to hold as reserves to 6% from 8% as of Sept. 15. That increases the amount of dollars and other foreign currency available to buy yuan, which should push up the exchange rate.

Still, that reserve cut is unlikely to stop a slide that is driven by “a strong U.S. dollar and the expectation of more Federal Reserve hikes,” said Iris Pang of ING in a report.

“Less aggressive rate hike talk” might help the yuan rally, but it might weaken further “if the Fed maintains its very hawkish tone” into next year, Pang wrote.

Chinese officials have previously promised to avoid “competitive devaluation” to gain an advantage in trade.

The yuan sank in 2019 during trade tension with then-President Donald Trump. That prompted suggestions Beijing was trying to reduce the impact of U.S. tariff hikes, but there was no official confirmation. The currency later strengthened.

Other governments also are struggling to manage capital flows under pressure from Fed rate hikes. On Friday, Vietnam’s central bank raised a key interest rate in what economists said appeared to be an effort to stop an outflow of money in search of higher returns.

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