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OnePlus Pad Go review: a bargain tablet that handles everyday use with ease
8:06 pm | June 20, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Tablets | Tags: , | Comments: Off

OnePlus Pad Go: one-minute review

The smaller sibling of the OnePlus Pad, the OnePlus Pad Go continues the brand’s tradition of making budget mobile devices to take on the higher-priced giants in the space.

Despite the relatively low asking price, the OnePlus Pad Go still looks like a premium product. It’s light and slender, although a few design flaws undermine the experience in the hand: chief among these is the placement of the camera at the center of the long edge, which is simply asking to be smothered by your fingers every time you grasp it. The build quality doesn’t seem to be up to quite the same standard of more premium tablets either, as I did notice small imperfections in the construction of my test model. 

The 11.35-inch, 2.4K display is crisp and conveys colors with brilliant vibrancy, and the 60-90Hz adaptive refresh rate offers a smooth, seamless experience. Despite this, it is overshadowed – literally – by its high reflectivity. Dark hues essentially turn the Pad Go into a glorified mirror, so you’ll struggle to see much of anything in dimly lit scenes. 

When it comes to actually using the Pad Go, OnePlus’ Android-based system, OxygenOS, performs well. It ran smoothly during most of my time with it, but I did have a few issues, including the incongruous way you manage app windows, and the inconsistent functionality of the face unlock and auto-rotate features. Those points aside, it was refreshing to be presented with a minimalist Android interface that was as easy to use as that on many of the best tablets

Performance wise, the Pad Go can handle all the basic tasks expected of a modern tablet, including browsing online content and streaming HD video. It can manage the latter with aplomb, barring the occasional slowdown on loading and buffering, but such occurrences weren’t enough to detract from the overall experience. 

It’s also capable of playing the latest and most popular mobile games, albeit they won’t look as impressive as they will on dedicated mobile gaming devices. Productivity is well within the Pad Go’s wheelhouse too, although power users shouldn’t think about substituting it for their laptop or desktop, as it will struggle with high-demand workloads.

The battery life is generous enough to handle a good day’s worth of varied use, and although it does have fast charging capability, it wasn’t that fast, taking around a couple of hours to get back to full. Gaming and other demanding tasks will drain the battery quicker, and the 14-hour video playback claim made by OnePlus didn’t bear out in my tests – it seemed closer to 10.

When stacked up against its nearest competitors, the OnePlus Pad Go’s sleek design and capable performance make it very good value. It won’t be able to handle the most professional of tasks, and it’s a shame the screen is so reflective, but aside from those setbacks, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better tablet that’s cheaper than the OnePlus Pad Go.

Back of OnePlus Pad Go, standing up

(Image credit: Future)

OnePlus Pad Go review: price and availability

  • Launch price of £299, but now £269
  • Available now in UK only
  • Only comes in Green

The OnePlus Pad Go is available now for £269 from the OnePlus website, down from its original price of £299. You can also choose between a charger or the Folio Case as a free gift, but unfortunately there is no official keyboard, at least not yet. Currently, the OnePlus Pad Go isn’t available in the US or Australia. 

While £299 is still a large amount of cash to part with, it’s much more affordable than its rivals, particularly the iPad 10.9-inch from 2022, which still retails for £349. For everyday use, the Pad Go offers close to the same performance, working well as a media playback device with light productivity pedigree.

It’s also considerably cheaper than the OnePlus Pad, the company’s higher-spec tablet, which is equipped with a more powerful chip, a better display and a marginally better rear camera. 

However, as we noted in our OnePlus Pad review, that tablet still isn’t powerful enough to be a productivity powerhouse, and with that being the case, there’s less reason to buy it over the cheaper Pad Go.

  • Value score: 5 / 5

OnePlus Pad Go review: specs

Top corner of OnePlus Pad Go

(Image credit: Future)

OnePlus Pad Go review: display

  • Vibrant and bright
  • Effective automatic warmth adjustment
  • Reflective screen not great for dark images and video

The 11.35-inch 2.4K display on the Pad Go is, for the most part, a joy to look at. It’s bright and renders colors vibrantly and clearly, and the adaptive refresh rate offers between 60-90HZ, making for smooth transitions. Up against an iPad with an IPS LCD screen, the OnePlus Pad Go acquits itself well.

There are also settings to make the screen easier to look at, such as a reduced blue light mode, which OnePlus calls Eye Comfort, as well as a feature called Nature Tone, which automatically adjusts the display to emit a warmer color palette based on the ambient lighting in your environment. Both of these work well while maintaining the same levels of image clarity.  

However, the screen is extremely reflective, which is particularly noticeable with dark images. No matter where you are or what adjustments you make to the brightness settings, this is always a persistent issue, and one of the Pad Go’s biggest weaknesses from a usability perspective. It becomes a real problem when watching movies with darkly lit scenes, and even using dark mode creates noticeably reflectivity.   

Smudges, dust and other debris are picked up very easily by the display too. There’s also no fingerprint sensor, meaning you’ll have to secure your Pad Go with a facial scan or a PIN, password or pattern.

  • Display score: 3.5 / 5

Back corner of OnePlus Pad Go, lying face down

(Image credit: Future)

OnePlus Pad Go review: design

  • Sleek and slim
  • Slightly uncomfortable to hold
  • Camera position can be awkward

Opting for a more rounded geometry than Apple’s squared-off look, the OnePlus Pad Go is very sleek and thin, and the materials feel premium to the touch. The bezel that runs along the camera, though, has a finish that picks up fingerprints and smudges very easily, and the join as it meets the chassis is quite pronounced, which you can feel under your fingertips. 

The sides are also very acutely curved, which can feel uncomfortable and less secure in the hand. The test model I was given also had a small but noticeable panel gap in the chassis joint on one side, suggesting it isn’t as well-built as its rivals. 

Perhaps the biggest contention I have with the design is the position of the camera, which is located in the center of one of the long sides. This makes it all too easy to clasp the lens with your fingers when holding the tablet in portrait. And since the front camera is in the same position, taking selfies in portrait means you’ll have to look askance into the lens, lest you’ll be caught looking off-center in the photo.

  • Design score: 3.5 / 5

OnePlus Pad Go review: software

  • OS is intuitive and uncluttered
  • Almost no bloatware
  • A few usability issues with navigation buttons and managing app windows

OxygenOS, the iteration of Android used by the OnePlus Pad Go, is for the most part a robust and very intuitive system to use. It’s very minimal and responsive, rarely getting in the way of the experience. There are also plenty of settings that are easy to find and understand, with useful explanations accompanying many of them. 

In practice, the operating system runs smoothly, barring a few minor usability issues. Both the autorotate and face unlock functions were temperamental in my experience, with the former being too eager or not eager enough to switch orientations, and the latter failing half the time to take me straight to the home screen after unlocking, despite the fact I’d toggled the setting instructing it to do so.

Managing multiple app windows isn’t as smooth as it could be either. It takes just a few too many swipes to switch between them, and the Floating Windows feature is too clunky and limited to be used frequently. I also found it to be largely irrelevant, since there aren’t enough compatible apps (the same is also true of the Split Screen function). 

As with other Android systems, there is an option to change the navigation method from gestures to buttons, which I personally prefer. However, with the OnePlus Pad Go, the buttons constantly shift position depending on whether or not you’re focused on an app, making it harder to use them than it has to be. The only way to prevent this shifting is if you also disable the task bar along the bottom from showing when in apps.

The aforementioned are only small niggles, though – there is plenty to like about the Pad Go’s software. Mercifully, there is next to no bloatware preinstalled, which can be a common problem with Android devices. 

OnePlus has kept everything minimal, and the first-party apps that are present work well and are non-intrusive. The Notes app, for instance, is modeled heavily on Apple’s, and functions as expected, while OnePlus’ own photo gallery app has some useful people-related editing options that aren’t present in Google’s Photos app. 

OnePlus has also added what it calls a Gaming Panel, a drop-down menu where you can make various tweaks and access certain tools, such as screen recording, while playing. OnePlus’ HyperBoost Gaming Engine is also located here, which lets you adjust performance modes, ranging from Low Power to Pro Gamer. In practice, however, I didn’t find these modes had any substantial impact on either performance or battery life.

  • Software score: 4 / 5

Close up of rear camera on OnePlus Pad Go

(Image credit: Future)

OnePlus Pad Go review: performance

  • Helio G99 chip handles work and media playback well
  • Mobile gaming graphics somewhat limited
  • Speakers are pretty mediocre

The OnePlus Pad Go handles most standard tasks well, from productivity to media playback. The 8GB of RAM is sufficient, and so too is the 128GB of storage. The MediaTek Helio G99 chip is a step down from the OnePlus Pad’s Dimensity 9000, and neither tablet will be able to take the place of a laptop for professional workloads. The Pad Go only suffers from the occasional minor slowdown or stutter, but even with High Performance mode enabled (which is buried in the settings with no shortcut available), I didn’t notice any discernible improvements.

Wi-Fi connectivity doesn’t seem to be the best either. As it happened, during my test I experienced a weak connection. However, my phone was still getting an internet connection, whereas the Pad Go failed to connect until I restarted it. 

Mobile games ran relatively smoothly on the whole, although both FIFA Mobile and Call of Duty Mobile did look rather rough around the edges, despite upping the graphics settings as high as I could (in FIFA Mobile, I could not choose high or ultra settings, as the game stated my device did not support them).

Despite warnings about the device getting hot when using Pro Gamer mode, I only ever noticed a slight warming in the top corner of the tablet. But regardless of which mode I chose, I was only able to get around 40 frames per second in Call of Duty Mobile, and FIFA Mobile was capped at 30fps due to the aforementioned lack of device support. Asphalt 9 ran better in my experience, hovering somewhere around the low to mid 50s, but again, the different performance modes didn’t seem to make a difference.

If you’d prefer to use a gamepad instead of a touchscreen, then you can connect a wireless Xbox One controller via Bluetooth. In my experience this worked flawlessly, even letting me control certain aspects of the main UI, although this functionality is limited. I also used a keyboard and mouse for productivity purposes, the former connected via Bluetooth and the latter via the USB-C port. Again, both of these worked without issue. The same was also true when connecting wireless headphones.

When it comes to sound, the four speakers are nothing to write home about. There is a distinct lack of bass, and mild distortion occurs all too easily, as sudden peaks in volume aren’t contained well. The addition of Dolby Atmos, however, is a nice touch. It’s largely redundant when used with the average inbuilt speakers, but when watching movies with a good pair of headphones, it improves the stereo field substantially and imparts a greater sense of space.

The front and rear cameras are middling in their spec, offering only 8MP each and video capture at 30 frames per second at 1080p. There are at least panoramic and time lapse modes, as well as an image stabilization feature. They function well enough, but the 10th-gen iPad is better for shooting, thanks to its 12MP cameras. At this price point, though, there aren’t many tablets that have better cameras than the Pad Go.

  • Performance score: 4 / 5

Close up of front camera on OnePlus Pad Go

(Image credit: Future)

OnePlus Pad Go review: battery

  • Lasts over a day for casual use
  • But intensive tasks drain it much faster
  • ‘Fast’ charging takes two hours to charge to full from 5%

For casual use, I found that the battery life of the Pad Go will last over a day, However, intensive tasks such as gaming will naturally drain the battery quicker. After an hour of gaming, with high performance mode and pro gamer mode turned on, the battery went from full to 85%.

OnePlus claims that the Pad Go will last 14 hours when used for playback alone. During my tests, however, I found this figure to be rather optimistic, as I could only manage around 10.

Fast charging speeds are only adequate: it took two hours to charge to full from 5%, since the Pad Go is only capable of charging speeds of 33W; that’s significantly down on the OnePlus Pad’s 67W capability, which can charge from empty to full in two-thirds of that time.

  • Battery score: 3.5 / 5

Should you buy the OnePlus Pad Go?

Buy it if…

Don’t buy it if…

OnePlus Pad Go: Also consider

How I tested the OnePlus Pad Go

  • Used the device for two weeks
  • Consumed various forms of content, including video, games and music
  • Conducted heavy-duty workloads, such as image editing and music production

I spent two weeks with the OnePlus Pad Go. During that time, I used it to watch YouTube videos, live streams and movies, as well as play various games and listen to music.

I also used it for general internet browsing and light productivity, including document writing and spreadsheet creation. For more heavy-duty workloads, I edited images using Adobe Lightroom and played around with the music production app Cubase LE 3.

I used the cameras for taking photos and videos, trying out all the different shooting modes and the integrated editing features. I connected various peripheral devices, such as a keyboard, mouse, and headphones via Bluetooth and the USB-C port.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed June 2024

Kobo Clara BW review: a compact ereader showcasing the best E Ink display yet
8:05 am | May 29, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers eReaders Gadgets Tablets | Comments: Off

Kobo Clara BW: Two-minute review

The Kobo Clara BW is the first big-brand ereader to feature the latest E Ink grayscale screen tech. While the screen resolution remains at the standard 300ppi, the E Ink Carta 1300 display promises a 25% increase in screen responsiveness and better contrast than the previous Carta 1200 panels being used in the current crop of ereaders, and these improvements are on full display on the Clara BW.

I initially began using the ereader without removing the plastic screen protector that comes stuck on newly-purchased tablets, and every light tap was registered by the Clara BW with the function correctly implemented. That’s an improvement over the Kobo Clara 2E and the base Amazon Kindle (2022) model, both of which sport the Carta 1200 screen and did have a few misses when I tried them with the sticky plastic film still on.

There’s also a visible difference in contrast between older 6-inch models using the Carta 1200 screen and the Clara BW, meaning the text on the device appears sharper and clearer, no matter how small or large you like your fonts to be, or how bright you set the frontlight. And that makes reading on the Clara BW an absolute pleasure, although some users might prefer a slightly larger screen.

The Kobo interface, as always, is easy to use and navigate around, which adds to the Clara BW’s appeal, and the ecosystem doesn’t keep you as locked in as Amazon does with its Kindles. Where you do get locked in with Kobo is audiobook support – the only ones a Bluetooth-enabled Kobo ereader will play are those purchased from the Kobo Store or downloaded as part of a Kobo Plus subscription.

Unfortunately, there’s no support for cloud file transfers via either Google Drive or Dropbox, as is available on the Kobo Libra Colour – you can, however, easily sideload content via a USB-C cable linking the device to a laptop or PC. You do, of course, get OverDrive support to borrow digital content from a public library that supports the platform.

It's also a shame that Kobo hasn’t improved the battery life or increased the storage from 16GB. It also still uses a 1GHz processor. While none of these affect how good the ereader is, it does make a difference to the overall value of the Clara BW over its color sibling, the Kobo Clara Colour. With similar specs but a color display, the Clara Colour costs more, but offers you a little more too.

That said, if you don’t need a color screen, then the Clara BW is competitively priced considering it’s boasting a much-improved display, and the ability to repair it to prolong its lifespan makes it easy to recommend to anyone looking for their first ereader.

An audiobook on the Kobo Clara BW with a pair of true wireless earphones

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

Kobo Clara BW review: price and availability

  • Announced April 2024
  • Launch price of $129.99 / £119.99 / AU$239.95
  • Repair kits and guides available from iFixit

Available to buy now directly from Kobo for $129.99 / £119.99 / AU$239.95 apiece, the Clara BW is only a little more expensive than the 2022 release of the Amazon Kindle (which costs $119.99 / £94.99 / AU$179 for the non-ads option), despite boasting a better screen. That’s good value for money where performance is concerned. 

To give it another point of comparison, the Kobo Clara 2E had a launch price of $129.99 / £129.99 / AU$229.95, but was last listed for $139.99 in the US (UK and Australia pricing remained the same) on the Kobo Store, so the Clara BW is well priced compared to its predecessor too.

Moreover, the Clara BW is repairable, which can increase its life once its warranty has expired. Kobo has partnered with iFixit to provide both spare parts and the repair kits you will need, plus there are step-by-step instructions you can follow to perform the self-repair.

The parts – screen, motherboard, front and back covers, and battery – aren’t cheap, but they’re not what I would call terribly expensive either. For example, a new battery will cost you $39.99 / AU$67.99 (price not listed for UK and Europe at the time of writing), plus you need to factor in the repair kit too. However, it’s definitely cheaper than buying a new ereader when you’re still happy with the one you have… and you’re comfortable with self-repairing the tablet.

Value score: 5 / 5

A page from a graphic novel displayed on the Kobo Clara BW

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

Kobo Clara BW review: Specs

Kobo Clara BW review: design and display

  • 6-inch E Ink Carta 1300 display – the latest in E Ink’s grayscale screen tech
  • Same design as used in the Kobo Clara line since 2018
  • 85% of the body is recycled plastic

The Kobo Clara series of ereaders all look the same, resembling the Amazon Kindle, including raised side bezels that provide just enough room to hold the tablet without accidentally touching the screen while reading. The sunken screen also helps in reducing glare from overhead lights and can hide smudged fingerprints better than a flush screen.

According to Kobo, the Clara BW comes in just one colorway – black. Strangely, though, my test unit had black bezels on the front but a navy-blue rear panel. I’m going to assume this is an anomaly with just the test sample, but it looks a little odd – I’d much prefer a single-color body for an ereader or something with a bit of trim or detail using a lighter color, like silver maybe.

I personally think the overall design is getting a little stale, although I understand that not a lot can be done to make the 6-inch ereaders look more modern, other than perhaps making the screens flush with the bezels, like on the Onyx Boox Poke 5.

The power button on the rear of the Kobo Clara BW

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

Using recycled plastic to make the body is a good trajectory, though, and Kobo says the Clara BW, like the Clara 2E before it and the Clara Colour, has about 85% of recycled plastic in its body. Even the packaging it comes in is fully recycled and recyclable, with the soy ink used to print the boxes being biodegradable.

Its eco-friendly credentials aside, the device’s repairability is also a good move by Kobo, making it an industry first. There are parts available on iFixit in some countries, with very detailed, step-by-step guides on how to go about self-repairing the tablet when the need arises. These parts include a rear panel, which might also explain why my test unit looked like it was cobbled together.

The display here, though, is the headline. The 6-inch E Ink Carta 1300 screen makes its debut on the Kobo Clara BW, with a 10-inch iReader note-taking model being the only other ereader to boast this screen technology thus far. The Carta 1300 makes the screen more responsive and adds more contrast. The screen resolution remains at 300ppi, but the text on the display appears clearer and sharper than older models using the Carta 1200 screens.

The USB-C port on the Kobo Clara BW

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

The Clara BW shares the same proprietary ComfortLight Pro screen lighting tech as the other Kobo ereaders, and this adds to the device’s readability. Boasting both white and amber LEDs, the Clara BW can be set to automatically change its frontlight to warmer hues for evening and nighttime reading, or you can adjust it manually whenever you feel the need – a feature missing in the current base Kindle (2022) model. Brightness, too, is adjustable.

The dimensions here are identical to the Clara Colour, with the BW model also tipping the scales at 174g, a mere 4g more than the Clara 2E. It’s still light in the hand, comfortable to hold for long periods of time and the perfect size for a travel partner that can carry your entire digital library for you wherever you go. The fact that it’s got an IPX8 waterproof rating helps with giving you some peace of mind.

Design and display score: 4.5 / 5

A page from a graphic novel displayed on the Kobo Clara BW

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

Kobo Clara BW review: user interface

  • Simple, easy-to-use UX
  • Good font and file support
  • No Google Drive or Dropbox support

I’ve said this several times in my previous Kobo reviews and I’ll say it again – I’m a fan of the interface. Kobo’s UX is user-friendly and easy to navigate around. There’s no extraneous options in the settings to confuse matters and anyone can quickly learn their way around, even if they’ve never used an ereader before.

More importantly, I like how open the ebook ecosystem is – you can sideload your own collection of titles if you already have a bunch, and good font support means EPUB and MOBI are both natively supported (unlike on a Kindle where you need to jump through a few hoops to sideload an EPUB file). PDF and TXT files are also natively supported, plus two comic formats help display manga well.

The home screen on the Kobo Clara BW

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

The only audio format that any Bluetooth-enabled Kobo ereader supports, though, is the Kobo Audiobook, so you can’t sideload audiobooks you’ve sourced from outside the Kobo Store. This is the only part of the ecosystem that’s closed and, to me, that’s a little disappointing from a company that has always been more open than Amazon.

Font support is also excellent and you can sideload any that you think is missing, including Amazon’s own Bookerly and Ember fonts. 

Whether it’s file transfer or font upload, getting the Clara BW loaded up is as simple as plugging it into a laptop or PC with the files already stored via an USB-C cable, then hitting the Connect button on the ereader screen, and finally dragging and dropping what you need onto the device. You can then move any fonts you’ve transferred to the Fonts folder or, if it’s missing, just create a new one. Disconnect, allow the ereader to finish a sync and you’re ready to get reading. Sadly there’s no Google Drive or Dropbox cloud transfer support on the Clara BW – these are only available on Libra Colour and the more premium Kobo models.

Like the Carta 1200 screen, a dark mode is available here, so if you prefer, you can switch that on and the colors get inverted to white text on a black background.

Image 1 of 4

The frontlight controls on the Kobo Clara BW

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)
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The My Books tab on the Kobo Clara BW displaying a library of ebooks and audiobooks

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)
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Page navigation on the Kobo Clara BW ereader

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)
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The settings pane on the Kobo Clara BW

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

One interesting feature on all Kobo ereaders is the Activity option in the Settings pane. This displays the total time you’ve spent reading, although specific stats are only related to ebooks you’ve purchased from the Kobo Store or read via a Kobo Plus subscription. Importantly, Kobo rewards you for reading more, awarding you badges as you hit specific targets and milestones. This goes a long way in developing reading into a habit.

As with all Kobo ereaders, OverDrive and Pocket support are baked in. The former allows you to borrow titles from a public library directly from the device – you just need a library card from one that supports OverDrive. The latter is essentially a browser plugin that allows you to save longform web articles for reading offline and you can access these on a Kobo ereader by just signing into your Pocket account on the ereader.

If you are buying the Clara BW for your child, Kobo allows you to block access to its store and the web – a very basic browser is available in the Beta Features section under the More tab. Kobo also allows you to lock the device by applying a four-digit PIN.

Bluetooth connectivity is also available so you can pair a set of wireless headphones or earbuds to listen to Kobo Audiobooks.

User interface score: 4.5 / 5

A hand holding the Kobo Clara BW ereader

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

Kobo Clara BW review: Performance

  • Improved screen responsiveness
  • Best-in-class contrast and readability
  • Good battery life

I’ve barely ever complained about a Kobo ereader’s performance – they do what they do well. With the Clara BW, that performance has gone up a notch because of the Carta 1300 screen. Despite still using a 1GHz processor, it’s faster than the previous Clara models or the Kindle. As I’ve said previously in this review, even with a plastic screen over the display, the Clara BW registers taps correctly and implements them without any lag. 

Even when it comes to displaying text, there’s none better. Not yet at least, as I’m sure other brands will follow suit by adopting the new generation of screen technology soon enough. Even if they do, not many ereader makers give you the option to add ‘weight’ to the fonts or make them slightly thicker, making them even easier to read.

Kobo Clara BW and Amazon Kindle (2022) displaying text in the same font

The Amazon Kindle (left) doesn't have as much contrast as the Kobo Clara BW (right) (Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

I compared the 2020 Amazon Kindle with the Clara BW and, to make sure it was a fair comparison, I sideloaded Amazon’s Bookerly font onto the Kobo. Displaying a page from two different books but in the same font, with the frontlights switched off and no weight to the font on the Kobo, the Clara BW was still superior, with the text looking darker and crisper on the screen. Even at full brightness, the Clara BW screen was the clear winner when comes to readability. I also did a side-by-side comparison with the 6-inch Onyx Poke 5 and, again, the Clara BW wins hands down.

Other functions are also snappy – opening a title (ebooks or audiobooks), turning pages, or navigating around the UX is quick. Even inputs via the on-screen keyboard didn’t have any lag during my testing period. 

Kobo hasn’t changed the battery pack inside the Clara BW over the Clara 2E, meaning you still get only a 1,500mAh battery. This isn’t too bad but it’s not quite earth-shatteringly good either – you can get approximately six weeks of use if you read about an hour each day, depending on how bright you have the screen set and how often you keep turning pages. 

The Bluetooth setup on the Kobo Clara BW ereader

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

During my testing, I had the Clara BW set at 15% brightness with auto light temperature change for 9:30pm local time, Wi-Fi always on, Bluetooth only on when listening to audiobooks, and the refresh rate set to every chapter. Reading for approximately 2 hours each day at these settings gave me 35 days of use – five weeks. This is good but I should point out that I didn't do a lot of listening during my testing period, which would have made a bigger dent on the battery. So I'd say you can get anywhere between 4-6 weeks of use from a full charge, depending on your use of the device.

Topping up the 1,500mAh battery in the Clara BW doesn’t take long – about 57 minutes to go from 19% to full during my testing period. I saw no trickle charging here, which I’ve seen in other Kobo ereaders, including the 2024 Clara Colour and Libra Colour. This seems a little strange for Kobo to not have trickle charging here as well when its other ereaders do, but I suspect a future firmware update might change that. Trickle charging will help maintain battery health, so it's not a bad thing, but if this happens, the charging time will likely double.

Performance score: 5 / 5

A book cover displayed on the Kobo Clara BW ereader

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

Should I buy the Kobo Clara BW?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

How I tested the Kobo Clara BW

A book cover displayed on the Kobo Clara BW ereader

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)
  • Used it as my main reading device for five weeks
  • I used it to listen to some preloaded audiobooks
  • Sideloaded my own ebooks and fonts

The Kobo Clara BW test unit that was sent to me for this review came preloaded with a few ebooks and audiobooks. I didn’t reset the device to sign in with my own Kobo account, but I sideloaded a few titles that I was reading on another ereader. So while I didn’t read any of the preloaded ebook titles, I did listen to a couple of the audiobooks that Kobo had set up for me. For the latter, I paired a set of Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds to listen.

I used the Clara BW to read more than listen though, spending about two hours each day over a period of 5 weeks to finish a book. Through this testing period, I spent approximately three hours listening to audiobooks.

To see how different the new screen is, I did a side-by-side comparison with the Amazon Kindle and the Onyx Boox Poke 5 – both 6-inch ereaders – and, to make the comparison as fair as possible, I sideloaded Amazon's Bookerly font onto the Clara BW. This also gave me an idea of how easy it is to add new fonts to the device.

Read more about how we test

[First reviewed May 2024]

Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) – Bigger, faster, and the best bet for your big-tablet dreams
12:00 am | May 14, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Tablets | Comments: Off

Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024): one-minute review

Does it bother me that the new iPad Air is no longer Apple’s lightest iPad? Not really. It’s just the irony of the thing. The Air branding was always intended to signify lightness in weight and design, and even at 13 inches the new iPad Air still fulfills that promise; just don’t hold it next to the more advanced and pricier iPad Pro, which is thinner and lighter than not only this tablet but the new 11-inch Air.

What does matter here is the now vast creative and entertainment landscape that is the iPad Air 13-inch. It’s a screen size I never thought I needed, let alone would enjoy; but in a way, I’ve been lying to myself.

I used the 12.9 iPad Pro all the time. It’s kind of heavy and a bit awkward, but I can’t argue with the huge display when it comes to big drawings and big-screen mobile TV and movie viewing. In fact, I love watching content from my favorite streaming services on it. But it’s expensive, and it perhaps feels like overkill for the task at hand. The iPad Air 13-inch is the more affordable option for those with big-screen iPad dreams.

Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

It’s also a worthy update for any current iPad Air owner. You get a significant screen-size bump (almost 20% more real estate), more storage (it now starts at 128GB), more power thanks to the impressive M2 chip, and a far better placement for that sharp and useful ultra-wide FaceTime camera.

You could spend less on a 10.9-inch iPad, but then you’d miss out on that next-generation Apple silicon performance, Apple Pencil Pro support, and the svelte 6.1mm frame.

If all-out power is your thing, you might be considering the even thinner iPad Pro and its powerful new M4 processor; but if you’re reading this review, that will likely be overkill. In my experience, the M2 chip has more than enough power for most iPad users.

During my testing I used the new Air for everything from content consumption and web browsing to pro-level music editing and console-level gaming, and the iPad Air 13-inch and M2 chip had power to spare.

If you’re looking for the perfect balance of price, performance, and screen size, the iPad Air 13-inch is the tablet I’d recommend and easily joins our list of the best tablets.

Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024): price and availability

  • Available May 7 for $599 / £599 / AUS$999 (11-inch) and $799 / £799 / AUS$1,299 (13-inch)
  • 8GB RAM standard. Storage options range from 128GB to 1TB

Apple’s 13-inch iPad Air and the smaller 11-inch model are available now, starting at $799 / £799 / AU$1,299 and $599 / £599 / AU$999, respectively. Both iPad Air options start with 128GB of storage but can be configured with up to 1TB, with 256GB and 512GB options. My test unit was configured with cellular support and 512GB of storage.

Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW

Apple iPad Air 13-inch is the biggest iPad Air ever, (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
  • Value score: 4.5 / 5

Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024): specs

Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024): design

  • Bigger but familiar
  • Solid construction
  • Design is almost iconic
  • Air a slight misnomer
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Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW

Despite its size, this is a very familiar-looking iPad Air. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW

Just 6.1mm thick. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW

Touch ID button is responsive. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW

No SIM slot for this eSIMM-only tablet. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW

Note the stereo speakers. There's another pair on the other side. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW

The volume buttons haven't moved. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW

The bottom edge with USB-C power/data port visible and the pair of stereo speaker grills. It's enclosed in the new Magic Keyboard. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

While it’s fair to call the design of the iPad Air 13-inch (2024) familiar, this tablet is also quite different. It’s the lightweight but big-screen iPad Air you dreamed of and, if you can ignore that even thinner 13-inch iPad Pro over there, it’s one of the most exciting new iPad entries in a long time.

While it shares its 6.1mm profile with previous iPad Airs, things diverge from there. This is an 11.04 x 8.46-inch / 28 x 21.5cm recycled aluminum and glass slab that weighs 1.36lbs / 617g. Considering all the extra screen real estate, that’s a pretty remarkable accomplishment (again, pay no mind to the essentially 1lb (579g) iPad Pro 13-inch over there).

Admittedly, little else has changed on this larger slab. The 12MP rear camera is in the same relative spot, as are the volume buttons near the top of one long edge, and the adjacent and responsive Touch ID button. Even the size of the screen bezel looks the same (though it is slightly thinner). But within that black border lies an important update: the FaceTime camera is finally on one of the wider landscape edges, and now sits right below the Apple Pencil magnetic connector (used to pair and charge the Pencil). This small yet significant change required reengineering the charging technology in the new Apple Pencil Pro and inside the new iPad Airs and Pros, which is why the new Pencil Pro is only compatible with the new iPads, and why the new iPads aren’t compatible with all older Pencils. The update also required the shifting of a microphone from the top edge of the iPad to the adjacent bezel (it sits almost an inch away from the camera).

In other words, the iPad Air 13-inch is both fresh and familiar. It’s elegant, thin, lightweight, and big enough to support a wide range of activities. It also makes for a great pairing with Apple’s latest Magic Keyboard, which, while it hasn’t been redesigned to the same extent as the new Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro, is still an excellent, full-sized keyboard for the iPad Air, with a responsive trackpad.

Thanks to the new Air’s much larger screen, the combination feels more than ever like an ultraportable laptop. Just keep in mind that the Magic Keyboard will set you back an eye-popping $349 / £349.00 (almost half of what you pay for a base-model iPad Air 13-inch). The Magic Keyboard for iPad Air 11-inch costs $299 / £299.00. At that point, you might consider buying a MacBook Air 13-inch running the M3 chip (it costs less); just bear in mind that you’ll be gaining some weight and losing both the touchscreen and Apple Pencil compatibility.

  • Design score: 4.5 / 5

Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024): display

  • Sharp and colorful
  • The 13-inch model gives you more nits
  • Roomy and responsive

Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Like much of the rest of the iPad Air, the tablet’s Liquid Retina display is basically the same as the display on the smaller iPad Air 5th generation, aside from being much larger. Yes, there are a lot more pixels to play with – instead of 1640 x 2360 pixels, you get 2732 x 2048. It’s still the same 264ppi and eye-pleasing Wide color (P3) support, though you do get 600 nits max brightness on this 13-inch iPad Air (the 11-inch model remains at 500 nits). There’s an anti-reflective coating that does a decent job in bright direct light, and the oleophobic film is somewhat effective at repelling fingerprints. As I write this on the iPad Air 13-inch I can’t spot a single smudge, but if I turn off the screen quite a few are evident.

Numbers aside, what matters here is image quality, and across a wide variety of content types, it’s excellent. Everything from photos I took with the iPad to movies, console-level games, apps, websites, and video calls looks great on it. It only suffers a bit in comparison to its new big brother, the M4 iPad Pro, which boasts Apple’s new ‘tandem OLED’ Ultra Retina XDR display. If insanely deep blacks and eye-popping specular highlights are your thing, you may want to consider this more expensive option.

Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
  • Display score: 4/5

Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024): cameras

  • The FaceTime camera is now on the landscape side
  • No other significant photography changes

The iPad Air 13-inch has two cameras: a 12MP (f/1.8) wide on the back and a 12MP ultrawide (f/2.4) on the front.

That ultra-wide is there not so much to capture group selfies but for use with Apple’s Center Stage technology, which basically pans the camera frame around the full frame to keep you in view. When I use it during FaceTime calls, it means I can get up and walk around in front of the iPad Air, and the FaceTime camera will crop in to keep me close and in the center of the frame. If you take a selfie, the camera will capture a regular ultra-wide snap.

Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

The rear camera still includes a 5x digital zoom (it’s fine but I would never recommend a digital zoom over an optical one if it’s available) and can even shoot 63MP megapixel panoramic if you fancy holding a 13-inch tablet steady as you slowly pan from one street to another.

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Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW photo samples

(Image credit: Future)
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Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW photo samples

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Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW photo samples

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Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW photo samples

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Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW photo samples

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Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW photo samples

(Image credit: Future)
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Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW photo samples

(Image credit: Future)

On the video front, the FaceTime camera can shoot up to 1080p 60fps video and timelapse video. The rear camera can shoot 4K at up to 60fps, along with slow-motion video up to 240fps (720p), and timelapse. Both cameras offer cinematic video stabilization, which crops the overall frame to reduce screen shake and give your videos a smoother look.

I understand that some people love shooting photos with their iPads, especially because the screen acts as a huge viewfinder, and I guess they’ll be even more pleased with the even larger display of the iPad Air 13-inch. The photos I took for good. There’s lots of color and detail but I far prefer the image quality I can get with my iPhone 15 Pro Max’s camera array.

  • Camera score: 4/5

Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024): software

  • iPadOS is familiar and full of utility
  • This much screen real estate cries out for richer multi-tasking

I’m generally a fan of iPadOS, even as it straddles the line between a tablet platform and a more open one designed for a laptop. I appreciate the ease with which I can use Sidecar to connect the iPad 13-inch’s big screen to my MacBook Air and use it as another desktop extension. Universal control mode, where I can seamlessly move my laptop mouse from the Mac screen to the iPad, makes the tablet seem like a cohesive part of the macOS ecosystem.

Being able to have up to three windows open and running different or multiple instances of apps like Safari is useful, but I’m ready to have even more control and start defining the total number of windows I want running on the iPad. Maybe that will come in iPadOS18.

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Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

There are so many things I enjoy doing on the iPad, like writing, communicating, video, messaging, playing games, and watching action movies, but nothing compares to drawing on an iPad.

I spent hours drawing this dog in Procreate. Even though Procreate did not at the time support the new Apple Pencil Pro features like barrel roll and squeeze (more about these below) to change settings and tools (that functionality came later during my tests, and only in beta apps), it was still a pleasure. There is zero delay between my touching the Pencil to the screen and digital ink ‘flowing’ out of it.

For the purposes of my review, Apple provided me with a $129 / £129 / AU$219 Apple Pencil Pro. This new digital stylus is a dead ringer for the Apple Pencil 2nd Generation, but there are some big differences. The new Pencil introduces barrel roll, which uses a gyroscope to track when you’re rolling the pencil. On-screen, the digital pen tip turns from a vertical orientation to a horizontal one.

Once I got my hands on a beta version of Procreate, I found the feature a fun and creative addition to my drawing arsenal. Instead of using the studio pen settings in Procreate to vary the pen width, I just twisted the Pencil Pro in my fingers to switch nub orientation and fluidly change width.

Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW

Note how the onscreen tip of the Pencil is wide. I can roll the pencil to make it narrow. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Squeeze, which I accessed while using a beta version of the animation app Procreate Dreams, lets you squeeze the lower third of the pencil to access customized art app features, and haptics gives you vibration feedback on the Pencil. In Procreate Dreams, for example, a squeeze opens a rich circular options menu.

Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW

Apple Pencil Pro (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

I’ve been drawing for a while on the iPad Pro 12.9 inch. I love the big canvas, but at 1.5lbs / 680g the iPad Pro 12.9 is a little unwieldy, and the lighter and thinner iPad Air 13-inch is a welcome change. Drawing on a screen this size takes me back to my old pencil and drawing-pad days. Drawing on a 10.9-inch, or even 11-inch display can feel confining compared to 13 inches of digital space.

While Apple is expending considerable effort in pitching the iPad Pro as the ultimate creative tool, the iPad Air can hold its own in this respect, and I had no trouble editing 4K video in iMovie or managing dozens of tracks in Logic Pro.

  • Software score: 4 / 5

Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024): performance

  • M2 is aging but still very powerful
  • Double the base storage
  • Hard to find something the tablet couldn't do
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Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

At the heart of the iPad Air 13-inch’s impressive performance is the M2 chip, a piece of Apple silicon I’ve had experience with in the last-gen MacBook Air. Even though this chip is now two generations behind the iPad Pro’s M4, it’s no slouch.

With an 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine (backed by 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage – up from 64GB), there’s still significant headroom on this aging bit of silicon. Even now, the Geekbench 6.3 numbers are impressive, and align with what I saw on the MacBook Air M2; and while its scores are lower than those of the M3, they remain among the best you can get for this class of product. In other benchmarks that looked at gaming and 3D performance, we saw significant improvement over the iPad Pro 12.9’s M1 performance.

Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW

Apple iPad Air 13-inch Geebench 6 CPU scores (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

All that performance is only interesting, though, if it powers real-world apps. The tablet is an able gaming platform. I raced around a track in Grid AutoSport Custom Edition, and was pleased to see nothing but smooth motion and zero lag. The iPad Air 13-inch also performed well when I played the incredibly creepy Resident Evil 4. The motion was smooth, and there was only a tiny bit of pixelation in the action sequences. I played that game with and without headphones – the landscape stereo speakers, which are positioned on either side of the tablet, deliver excellent and quite rich audio, but I highly recommend enjoying all videos and gaming content audio through a pair of AirPod Pros 2 to get the full Spatial Audio experience.

  • Performance score: 4.5 / 5

Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024): battery and connectivity

  • All-day battery life depending on activity
  • Can sip power for basic tasks
  • More intense ones can drain it faster
  • No Wi-Fi 7

Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024) REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Battery life is rated to last a “full day” according to Apple, or around 10 hours. Our test put it at 11 hours and thirty minutes. In more anecdotal tests, my battery life ranged from 10 hours to as little as eight or six depending on the activity and settings (like screen brightness).

My iPad Air 13-inch test unit came with 5G connectivity. It was reasonably solid on my commute home, but my neighborhood is a 5G desert, so I had to make do with LTE. The iPad Air supports WiFi 6E, but oddly not the emerging WiFi 7 standard. There’s also support for Bluetooth 5.3. As with most US-based iPhones, the iPad Air is eSIM-only, but in all markets.

  • Battery and connectvity score: 4 / 5

Should you buy the Apple iPad Air 13-inch (2024)?

Buy it if…

Don’t buy it if…

Also consider

Not convinced by the iPad Air 13-inchPad? Here are a few other options to consider:

How I tested the Apple iPad Air 13-inch

Apple loaned me an iPad Air 13-inch, Apple Pencil Pro, and the Magic Keyboard. Over almost a week, I used the iPad Air to do everything from stream content, to draw in Procreate, manage email, and browse the Web. I also used it to write this review.

I ran some of my own benchmarks but also relied on Future Labs for additional benchmark data and battery rundown tests.

I used the new Apple Pencil Pro for drawing, though its barrel roll and squeeze menu access features were not available during the majority of my testing time.

First reviewed May 2024

iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) review: an absolute powerhouse of a tablet
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Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets iPad iPad Pro Tablets | Comments: Off

iPad Pro 13-inch (2024): Two-minute review

 Ahead of unveiling the new iPad Pro 13-inch (2024), Apple was hyping up its Let Loose launch event as a ‘different kind of Apple event’, and the most important iPad launch since the original iPad – and now that the dust has settled, it seems that the hype was largely justified.

The iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) – along with the 11-inch model that was also announced – is an incredibly accomplished and versatile device that, as the marketing spiel that accompanies it makes clear, features plenty of ‘firsts’ and ‘bests’ – it’s the first time an Apple M-class chip (the new M4) has debuted in an iPad, rather than a Mac; it’s the thinnest-ever Apple device (yes, thinner than the iPod Nano, even); and it has the best screen you can get on a tablet.

The iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) is clearly a product made by a market leader at the top of its game – it’s a stunning bit of kit that’s packed with cutting-edge tech, and is a shoo-in for the best tablet you can buy in 2024 for its specs alone; but this also means, somewhat counterintuitively, that this is not a tablet for everyone.

For a start, along with the lofty specs, features, and performance claims Apple is making for the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) comes an equally sky-high price tag: $1,299 / £1,299 / $2,199 for the base model (the 11-inch version starts at a more affordable, but still very expensive, $999 / £999 / AU$1,699).

That price immediately puts it out of the reach of many people – and this is clearly not a tablet that’s designed for just browsing the web and watching videos on the couch.

iPad Pro 13-inch with M4 chip on a wooden table

(Image credit: Future)

The fact that the new iPad Pro is also a showcase for Apple’s brand-new M4 chip (the iPad line has skipped the M3 chip found in the latest MacBook Air and the base model of the 14-inch MacBook Pro) suggests to me that this isn’t a tablet that’s simply designed to replace your older iPad, Amazon Kindle, or Galaxy Tab, but a device that’s designed to replace your MacBook – and when put into that context, the price (and performance levels) of the iPad Pro is much more understandable.

If you’re not looking for a top-of-the-range tablet to replace your laptop, and just want something more affordable for casual tasks, the new iPad Air 6 will be much more appealing, and it comes with some neat features of its own (and it supports the impressive Apple Pencil Pro stylus, as does the new Pro).

However, if you’re after an accomplished bit of kit that can handle some seriously heavy workloads, including video editing and music production, while also coming in an incredibly thin and light form factor, then the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) could prove to be a very sound investment indeed.

iPad Pro 13-inch (2024): Price & availability

  • How much does it cost? $1,299 / £1,299 / $2,199
  • Where is it available? Shipping worldwide May 15

The 13-inch iPad Pro (2024) starts at $1,299 / £1,299 / AU$2,199 with 256GB of storage, rising to $1,499 / £1,499 / AU$2,549 for 512GB, $1,899 / £1,899 / AU$3,249 for 1TB, and $2,299 / £2,299 / AU$3,949 for 2TB.

These prices are for the Wi-Fi models. You can also get cellular models with support for 5G connections if you need more comprehensive web connectivity, which adds $200 / £200 / AU$350 to the price of each model.

That’s quite a leap from the base price of the iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2022), which launched at $1,099 / £1,249 / AU$1,899. The leap in price is, according to Apple, down to the new design, much-improved OLED screen (more on that in a bit) and performance improvements offered by the new M4 chip over the M2 chip that came with the previous model. Also, the base model of the new iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) comes with 256GB storage – twice the amount that the base-model iPad Pro 12.9-inch came with.

For an expensive device aimed at professionals, which doesn’t allow users to manually upgrade the included SSD or offer a memory card slot, dropping the 128GB storage option makes a lot of sense, as in 2024 that amount will get filled up fast. However, if some iPad owners feel like they’re being forced to spend more for an upgrade they might not necessarily have chosen, that might not go down too well.

The price for the new iPad Pro rises if you add additional storage. The 512GB model is $1,499 / £1,499 / AU$2,549, the 1TB model is $1,899 / £1,899 / AU$3,249, and the 2TB Pro is $2,299 / £2,299 / AU$3,949 – and those prices are for the Wi-Fi only models.

If you don’t need huge amounts of storage, you may be happy going for the lower-capacity models to save some money, but – in a frustratingly typical fashion for modern Apple – there are some additional minor changes to the specs depending on the storage capacity you choose.

For a start, the 256GB and 512GB models come with 8GB of RAM, while the 1TB and 2TB models come with 16GB. Also, the 256 and 512GB models have an M4 chip with a 9-core CPU, while the M4 in the 1TB and 2TB models has a 10-core CPU. The doubling of memory and the extra core will offer a noticeable performance increase with the higher-capacity (and more expensive) models, so that’s worth bearing in mind.

The two larger-capacity models also come with the option to have nano-texture glass added to their screens, which helps minimize glare and reflections, while feeling nicer to use a stylus on. This, of course, also ups the price, and a fully maxed-out iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) will set you back $2,599 / £2,599 / AU$4,479. That’s not just MacBook money – that’s MacBook Pro money.

  • Price score:  3 / 5

iPad Pro 13-inch (2024): Specs

iPad Pro 13-inch with M4 chip on a wooden table

(Image credit: Future)
  • Specs score: 5 / 5

iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) review: Design

iPad Pro 13-inch with M4 chip on a wooden table

(Image credit: Future)
  • New thinner, lighter design
  • Gorgeous screen
  • Face ID camera has moved

If, like me, you were surprised to see the M4 chip debut in the new iPad Pro, rather than in a Mac, the new design of this tablet goes some way towards explaining the decision.

According to Apple, both the incredibly thin body and the ‘tandem OLED’ technology that powers the new ‘Ultra Retina XDR display’ of the new iPad Pros are only possible thanks to advancements with the M4 chip, primarily around energy efficiency/thermal performance, and a new and improved 10-core GPU and new display engine to handle the more demanding screen.

Apple claims that the M4 chip can provide the same level of performance as the M2 chip using half the power. Of course, the M4 chip can also provide much higher performance than the M2, but this level of power efficiency has allowed Apple to make the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) incredibly thin and light, with dimensions of 281.6 x 215.5 x 5.1mm and a weight of 579g. This is thinner than the 5.9mm thickness of the iPad Pro 11 (2022), and noticeably thinner than the 6.4mm of the iPad Pro 12.9 (2022). In fact, Apple goes as far as to say that the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) is the thinnest device it’s ever made.

It certainly feels that way. Quoting dimensions at you won’t give you a real idea of just how thin the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) is – you need to see it and feel it for yourself. Despite having a larger display than the previous model, the 13-inch iPad Pro is easily portable – especially if you’re used to carrying around a 13-inch laptop. As for Apple’s claims that it’s the thinnest device it’s ever made, I put it next to an Air Tag – the thinnest Apple product I had to hand, and the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) is indeed thinner, even if only just. This is quite the achievement considering that one of these devices is a premium and powerful tablet computer, and the other is essentially a location tracker that’s designed to be as unobtrusive as possible when attached to your belongings.

Having such a thin, light, and expensive device might be a bit concerning for some, and the iPhone 6 Plus ‘BendGate’ controversy will still be in a lot of people’s minds, even after all those years.

The good news is that, despite its incredibly slim design, the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) feels impressively robust, and while you won’t want to go throwing it around as you might a cheap and cheerful Android tablet that costs a fifth of the price, you won’t feel like you’re handling a delicate artifact that could shatter at any moment.

As you might expect, a range of covers and protective cases are available for the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024), from Apple itself and third parties like Logitech. I’d certainly recommend buying one to help protect your expensive purchase, especially as many – such as Apple’s new Magic Keyboard – add additional features to the tablet.

iPad Pro 13-inch with M4 chip on a wooden table

(Image credit: Future)

The body of the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) is made with 100% recycled aluminum, and not only is this good for the environment (the packaging is now 100% fiber-based, and the iconic stickers have been dropped to limit the amount of plastic used), but it helps give the iPad Pro a solid and dependable feel without being too heavy.

The iPad Pro is available in two colors – Silver, and Space Black, which is the version I was sent and which you can see pictured throughout this review. It doesn’t, however, seem to have the same clever fingerprint-proof material found with certain colors of the latest MacBook Air, which Apple terms a “breakthrough anodization seal to reduce fingerprints”, and after only a short while, the back of the iPad Pro was dotted with fingerprints.

The iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) has four built-in speakers, along with four microphones. On the right-hand side, when you’re holding the tablet in portrait orientation, are the volume buttons, and at the top is the power button. At the bottom is a Thunderbolt 3 / USB 4 port that can be used for charging and connecting peripherals such as USB-C monitors or external hard drives, with data transfer speeds of up to 40Gb/s.

I still believe that the move from Apple’s proprietary Lightning port to the much more widely-used USB-C for its products, including iPads and iPhones, is the right, consumer-friendly, move that allows you to easily connect different chargers and peripherals.

It should be noted that in Europe the iPad Pro does not come with a charger, just the cable. This reduces packaging, and also e-waste, as there’s a good chance that people will already have a USB-C charger lying around. The cable Apple provides is only USB 2.0, however, which means you won’t get anywhere near the maximum data transfer rates the iPad Pro’s USB-C port is capable of – this feels like a bit of a mean decision on Apple’s part, especially considering how expensive the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) is. A magnetic ‘Smart Connector’ runs along the right-hand side of the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024), and this is used to connect and charge compatible accessories like the new Apple Pencil Pro and Magic Keyboard. The use of this new Smart Connector, however, means the older Apple Pencil does not work with this iPad Pro (and nor does the Pencil Pro work with older iPads).

When it comes to the cameras, there’s both good and bad news. The good news is that the 12MP Ultra Wide front camera has been moved to the right-hand side, which means that when you use the iPad Pro in landscape orientation, the camera is at the top of the screen. This makes video calls much more comfortable and intuitive, and logging in via Face ID also feels easier – this is a design upgrade that many iPad Pro owners had been asking for, and it’s very welcome.

What’s less good news, however, is that on the rear there’s a 12MP f/1.8 rear camera that can film up to 4K at 60fps, with a LiDAR sensor to assist with autofocus, and an Adaptive True Tone flash,  which Apple claims improves document scanning by using AI to detect when you’re taking shots of a paper document and removing shadows from images by taking multiple shots.

iPad Pro 13-inch with M4 chip on a wooden table

(Image credit: Future)

Meanwhile, the LiDAR camera is also used for 3D and spatial awareness, allowing the iPad Pro to scan rooms and identify objects – and allows for augmented reality (AR) apps to cleverly overlay virtual objects in the real world when you’re looking at the iPad Pro’s screen.

Why isn’t this great news? Well, you might notice that the new iPad Pro actually comes with one less rear camera. That’s right – the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024), and the 11-inch model, don't have the ultra-wide camera found on previous models. While Apple hasn’t commented on why it decided to drop this camera (the company much prefers to talk about things it’s added, rather than things it’s taken away), it could be due to Apple’s desire to slim down this model – or even to stop the price tag being too high.

Regardless of Apple’s reasons, some users will likely be disappointed by this move. Apple, however, suggests that thanks to the combination of the 12MP camera, the LiDAR sensor and the M4’s image processing prowess, you’ll still be able to take wide-angle shots that look good, although while I’m not a professional photographer, I imagine the results won’t be able to quite match a dedicated ultra wide angle lens.

  • Design score: 5 / 5

iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) review: Display

iPad Pro 13-inch with M4 chip on a wooden table

(Image credit: Future)
  • Tandem OLED technology
  • 2752 x 2064 resolution
  • Fantastic image quality

Apart from the new M4 chip, the most exciting thing about the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) is its overhauled display. Compared to the Mini LED technology of the previous model’s display, the new iPad Pro’s OLED tech offers much better contrast, especially for HDR content, and is much brighter too, with a maximum fullscreen brightness of 1,000 nits (and 1,600 nits peak brightness for HDR content) compared to the 600 nits of the 2022 model.

I compared the new iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) and the 2021 model – which features the same display as the 2022 one – side by side, and several differences were immediately apparent. Watching the same Dolby Vision 4K footage, the new iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) offered more detail in very dark scenes, with textures visible that are obscured by shadows on the 2021 model. There was also no visible ‘bloom’ with the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024), which is where some light leaks from bright objects into adjacent dark areas.

Comparing the iPad Pro screens side by side, other, more subtle, differences were noticeable. For a start, the color temperature of the new iPad Pro’s screen is warmer than the 2021 models, which means whites had a slight yellow tint, compared to the blue tint of the 2021’s screen.

This was with both iPad Pros set to their default display settings, and with True Tone turned off. True Tone is an Apple-specific feature that adjusts the colors of the screen depending on the ambient light you’re using the iPad in. By default this is turned on, and for casual use I recommend you keep it on for the best image quality, although if you’re working on a project that requires color accuracy, such as photo editing, then you’ll want to turn this off. As usual, the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024)’s screen offers support for the wide P3 color gamut.

The color temperature difference won’t be immediately noticeable unless you turn off True Tone and have two iPads next to each other; and even then, which display looks better will be a matter of taste – I actually slightly prefer the cooler color temperature of the older model.

Watching movies both through Apple TV+ and Disney Plus, as well as viewing photos and playing games, was an absolute joy on the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024), with colors looking bright, lifelike and vibrant. As far as tablets go, you won’t get a better viewing experience.

The screen also comes with ProMotion technology that enables adaptive refresh rates between 10Hz and 120Hz, depending on what you’re doing. This means that scrolling websites and social media feeds feels smooth and responsive, and games look and feel great as well.

The display of the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024), which Apple calls Ultra Retina XDR, is capable of lower refresh rates than its predecessor (10Hz vs 24Hz), which won’t make too much of a difference viewing-wise, but could help to prolong battery life when a fast refresh rate isn’t needed.

The 13-inch iPad Pro has a slightly larger screen compared to the display of the previous 12.9-inch model, but is also has a higher resolution, which evens out the pixel density so it’s pretty even between generations, at 264 ppi (pixels per inch) for the new Pro compared to the older model’s 265 ppi. The more pixels per inch a display has, the sharper and more detailed the image quality.

The iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) uses some rather unique technology, dubbed ‘tandem OLED’. This is essentially two OLED displays layered one on top of the other, with their combined brightness resulting in dazzling images. Some OLED displays (especially older ones) can struggle with peak brightness, and this ‘tandem’ technology is an attempt to rectify that. It certainly seems to have worked, as I had no trouble viewing the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024)’s screen in all manner of lighting environments, even outside in bright sunlight.

By effectively halving the burden on each panel to display bright pixels, such OLED screens should avoid instances of burn-in, where static images can sometimes remain visible after they’ve been displayed, an issue that OLEDs (especially older ones) can be susceptible to. During my time reviewing the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) I didn’t see any evidence of burn-in, although this isn’t necessarily surprising, as it often only starts to appear after many hundreds of hours of use. Regardless, I never worried about it either.

One thing to note is that due to the 3:2 aspect ratio of the 13-inch iPad Pro, when you’re watching widescreen videos in ratios of 16:9, or especially 2.39:1 cinema ratio, you’ll see two prominent black bars above and below the picture.

Unlike previous models, which had quite different tech depending on the screen size you chose, with the latest 13-inch iPad Pro and 11-inch iPad Pro there’s no quality penalty if you go for the smaller version – both use the same technology, and as mentioned they have different resolutions that equate to the same pixel density. This is a welcome change, as it means that if you’d rather have a smaller iPad Pro you’re not going to miss out on the visual goodies.

You can also configure the 1TB and 2TB models to come with nano-texture display glass. This premium finish helps to reduce glare and reflections, and could be of interest to professionals who will be using the iPad Pro for long periods of time in locations, such as studios, which have a lot of bright lights. You can’t get this screen tech with the smaller capacity models, and you have to pay extra ($100 / £100 / AU$180 extra, to be precise) for the privilege.

Apple sent me the iPad Pro with just the standard glass, so I was unable to test out the nano-texture glass, but I have seen it in action on the Studio Display, and it does indeed do a good job of reducing glare. Whether or not this is enough to justify spending $100 more (plus the extra cost of upping the SSD storage if you don’t otherwise need it) will depend mainly on what you’re using your iPad Pro for. Even without it, I found that glare wasn’t too bad thanks to the brightness of the screen, although reflections were visible (but not overly distracting).

Overall, the display of the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) is easily the best you’ll get on a tablet device, and it even competes with the best laptop displays as well. That said, the dual OLED setup has clearly impacted the overall price of the new iPad Pro, and while it’s a step up over its predecessors, I don’t think the screen on its own would justify upgrading if you have an older iPad Pro with a Mini LED screen. However, the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) has a few more tricks up its sleeve…

  • Display score: 5 / 5

iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) review: Specs, Performance & Camera

iPad Pro 13-inch with M4 chip on a wooden table

(Image credit: Future)
  • Powerful new M4 chip
  • Incredibly fast performance
  • Impressive AI capabilities

The surprise appearance of the completely new M4 chip in the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) feels more and more like a real statement of intent from Apple: no longer is the iPad Pro a lesser device than its Macs, surviving on leftover components and carrying baggage from its mobile-first origins; it’s now a fully-fledged productivity machine that isn’t just worthy of the same kind of powerful components as the best MacBook Pros, but in fact now leads the pack when it comes to Apple silicon. Indeed, the latest MacBook Pro 14-inch model comes with the now last-generation M3 chip.

This is a move that will no doubt please iPad Pro owners – while possibly annoying MacBook fans – and the result is a device that is far more powerful than any other tablet out there.

iPad Pro 13-inch (2024): Benchmarks

Here's how the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Wild Life Extreme: 8,289; Solar Bay: 14,333
CrossMark: 1,915 points
GeekBench 6.3: Multi-core: 14,523 points; Single-core: 3,700
Battery test: 14 hours 50 minutes

By skipping the M3 generation for the iPad Pro (the previous model used the M2), Apple claims it was able to create a new iPad that would not otherwise have been possible, despite the M3’s proficiency. This is primarily evident in the improved power efficiency that allows the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) to be so thin, while also supporting the dual or ‘tandem’ OLED setup.

According to Apple, the new M4 iPad Pro boasts 20% better thermal performance, while offering four times the rendering performance of the previous model. It also offers 50% faster CPU performance compared to the M2 chip – again, according to Apple.

I’m a huge fan of Apple’s M-series chips – I feel that they’ve breathed new life into Apple’s Mac products, so to see a tablet with the cutting-edge M4 chip is incredibly exciting. Of course, for many people it’s absolutely overkill, but for the first time I really feel like the iPad Pro could be a replacement for my MacBooks – especially when paired with the new Magic Keyboard cover that essentially turns it into a laptop (and which comes with a larger trackpad than the previous model, making it more comfortable to use for those of us who are more used to macOS devices).

iPad Pro 13-inch with M4 chip on a wooden table

(Image credit: Future)

While the M4 chip will no doubt be able to handle macOS and desktop applications with ease (as previous M-class chips have done), and the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) comes with iPadOS 17, which is a lighter mobile operating system, that doesn’t necessarily mean the M4’s power is surplus to requirements. Many iPad apps remain relatively lightweight in order to ensure that they run smoothly on all models, however a growing number are becoming increasingly feature-rich and complex, coming close to the functionality offered by macOS desktop applications.

This is certainly true of Apple’s own apps. I got to play around with the upcoming release of Logic Pro for iPad 2, a fully-featured DAW (digital audio workstation) app which allows you to record and edit music. It’s the kind of application I use a lot on my MacBook Pro, and when you’ve got a particularly ambitious project on the go with multiple instruments (both virtual and physical), you need a capable machine that can keep up.

The good news is that, based on my time with the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024), it clearly is a very capable bit of kit, and thanks to the M4 chip, with its improved 16-core Neural Engine that’s designed to handle machine learning and artificial intelligence tasks, the new iPad Pro can make full use of the new AI tools in Logic Pro.

One particularly impressive feature in Logic Pro is Stem Splitter. This uses AI to scan an audio file, and identify and separate vocals and instruments as separate tracks. You can then tweak the levels and other settings to remix the audio file. It’s pretty impressive, and I tried it with a few tracks, both ones I made myself in Ableton Live 12 (another DAW) and saved to MP3, and some audio examples provided by Apple.

After taking a few moments to analyze the tracks, Logic Pro for iPad 2 did a pretty impressive job of identifying the different instruments and separating them into the correct categories: vocals, drums, bass and ‘other’. I found, though, that it works best with audio tracks that stick to the more ‘basic’ instruments, otherwise a lot of things get put into the all-encompassing ‘other’ section. For example, on one of my tracks, it put both acoustic guitar and piano together in the ‘other’ section, so I was unable to edit those separately. It did, however, correctly identify the bass guitar, putting it in the correct category. I was then able to mute the rest of the song to hear the bass part, which was very convincingly extracted, with no other instruments present. It’s very exciting technology, which will hopefully improve to be able to pick out trickier instruments in the future.

Logic Pro for iPad 2 also uses AI for virtual session musicians, allowing you to quickly generate drums, bass and piano tracks to create a basis of a song. You can then tweak these tracks for a more realistic and ‘human-sounding’ backing track. It makes what could be a rather long and complex process quick and intuitive, giving you more time to then record your own instruments and get creative. As a helpful way to spark ideas, this is a great feature, and after a short while you can put-together some good-sounding tunes, though of course this can’t replace human band members (even if Apple’s recent misjudged iPad Pro advert seemed to suggest it can).

Crucially, I was able to perform these complex creative tasks, which I’d usually do on my MacBook, on an iPad instead – and this is seriously impressive. Hook the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) up to a keyboard, mouse and external USB-C monitor, and you’ve essentially got a highly portable workstation. As you’d expect, there are no fans in the new iPad Pro 13-inch, but thanks to an overhauled thermal solution inside, along with power efficiency improvements in the M4 chip, the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) didn’t throttle performance or get overly hot while I was using it. For more sustained workloads, a MacBook Pro with built-in fans may be able to keep going longer at peak performance, but that would be in rather rare circumstances.

Unsurprisingly, all the iPad apps I tried on the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) ran extremely fast, and apart from a single crash in some early software, which is to be expected, the iPad Pro’s performance was rock-solid. Watching media was a joy thanks to the gorgeous screen, and the included speakers were loud and clear; and while you’d want to use external speakers or monitors for working on audio projects, the built-in speakers certainly punch above their weight, and are especially impressive considering the slimline design of the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024).

The App Store for iPadOS features a huge number of games, and the titles I played on the new iPad Pro looked fantastic on the large OLED screen – and they ran brilliantly as well. The M4 chip also brings hardware-accelerated ray tracing to an iPad for the first time, and in graphically-intense games like Diablo Immortal the results are very impressive, with realistic lighting, shadow, and reflection effects (I saw an early version that supports these additional effects, which will launch later this year).

When it comes to the camera performance of the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024), I was very impressed with excellent details found in shots I took using the front and rear cameras. The lack of an ultra-wide rear camera was a shame - I would stick to my phone for mainly taking photos, especially as while the 13-inch screen makes the photos taken on the iPad Pro look fantastic, it's a bit too big to use as an everyday snapper. Below you'll see a few photos I took using the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024).

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Photo samples from the new iPad Pro 13-inch (2024)

(Image credit: Future)
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Photo samples from the new iPad Pro 13-inch (2024)

(Image credit: Future)
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Photo samples from the new iPad Pro 13-inch (2024)

(Image credit: Future)
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Photo samples from the new iPad Pro 13-inch (2024)

(Image credit: Future)

Having said all of the above, unless you’re looking for a tablet device that’s powerful enough to replace your laptop or PC, the performance on offer here is, as I’ve mentioned, probably overkill. Certainly for most tablet use-cases, such as browsing the web and watching movies, there are much more affordable options out there.

However, this is the first time I’ve seriously considered using an iPad as a replacement for a MacBook – and if more apps are released for iPadOS that take full advantage of the potential of the M4 chip, I might just be persuaded to do that.

  • Performance score: 5 / 5

iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) review: Battery life

  • Apple promises up to 10 hours
  • We got almost 15 hours

The iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) comes with a 38.99-watt-hour battery, and Apple promises up to 10 hours of surfing the web using Wi-Fi, and up to nine hours if you use the 5G cellular connection. Interestingly, while the 13-inch model has a larger battery than the 11-inch model due to its larger body, the promised battery lives are the same, likely because of the additional power demands of the 13-inch model’s larger screen.

The good news is that in our battery life tests the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) didn’t just surpass those estimates – it absolutely blew them away. We managed 14 hours and 50 minutes on a single charge while connected to Wi-Fi. When using cellular, that dropped by over an hour to 13 hours and 13 minutes, which is still impressive, and well beyond what Apple promises.

In my day-to-day use I was impressed with how the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) held its charge, even when performing complex tasks in apps such as Logic Pro for iPad 2. It easily lasted a work day while I typed out this review, watched some films, and messed around in Logic Pro.

The new iPad Pro’s battery performance far surpasses that of its predecessor, which struggled to reach Apple’s promised 10 hours in our review. This is likely down to the improvements in energy efficiency that Apple has implemented in the M4 chip compared to the M2.

  • Battery score: 4 / 5

Should you buy the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024)?

Buy it if...

You want the most powerful tablet out there
The iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) is an absolute beast of a tablet – you’d be seriously hard-pressed to find a tablet that can match it for performance.

You’re thinking of buying a new laptop
For the first time ever, I’d recommend an iPad instead of a MacBook if you’re looking for a powerful device that’s extremely portable and easy to use. Thanks to the M4 chip, you’re getting Mac-class performance. 

You’re a creative professional
The iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) is a dream device for many creatives thanks to its gorgeous screen, powerful M4 chip, and versatility. Pair it with the new Apple Pencil Pro stylus, and you have an all-in-one device that you’ll soon find it hard to live without.

Don't buy it if...

You’re on a budget
The iPad Pro 13-inch is a fantastic tablet, but it’s also a very expensive one. There are a lot more affordable devices – including some from Apple – that would suit many people better.

You don’t need the power
For the day-to-day tasks that many of us use tablets for, such as browsing the web, the M4 chip included in the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) is complete overkill, so don’t feel that you need to spend your money on a high-end device you’re not going to get the most out of.

iPad Air 13-inch (2024): Also consider

If the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) has you considering other options, here are two more laptops to consider...

How I tested the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024)

  • I tested the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) for the best part of a week
  • Saw demos going over major features
  • Used the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) instead of my MacBook Pro

Since I received the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) I have been using it every day for a variety of tasks including writing some of this review, taking photographs, browsing the web and creating audio tracks in Logic Pro for iPad 2. Alongside the new Magic Keyboard, I've been using the iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) instead of my MacBook Pro 13-inch every day. I was also shown a number of live demos highlighting the new features.

I've been reviewing Apple products for years, especially Macs and MacBooks, have have tested out every M-class chip from Apple from the M1 to the new M4.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed May 2024

iPad Air 13-inch (2024): You no longer need to go Pro
3:37 am | May 8, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets iPad iPad Air Tablets | Comments: Off

If you’re in the market for a larger-screened iPad, you’re no longer locked to spending the extra cash and going Pro. Apple’s iPad Air 6 now comes in two sizes — 11-inch or 13-inch, both with punchy Liquid Retina displays and a speedy Apple M2 chip under the hood. 

I had the chance to spend a bit of time with the smaller 11-inch iPad Air and more time with the larger 13-inch iPad Air, and while these tablets are not ultra-thin like the iPad Pro (2024) — and they got less screen time in the keynote — the new iPad Air ushers in a bevy of new features for everyone to get excited about.

Apple iPad Air (2024): Pricing and availability

Apple’s 11-inch iPad Air and 13-inch iPad Air are up for order now starting at $599 / £599 / AUS$999 and $799 / £799 / AUS$1,299 starting, respectively. Both iPad Air options start with 128GB of storage but can be configured up to 1TB with 256GB and 512GB options. 

The iPad Air (2024) is available in Blue, Purple, Starlight, or Space Gray, and can be configured with just Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi and Cellular.

Apple iPad Air (2024): Design

Apple iPad Air 2024

(Image credit: Apple)

For starters, the cost of opting for a larger screen is drastically reduced. The 13-inch iPad Air is $500 cheaper than the same-sized iPad Pro, with a starting price of $799. That’s more room for myriad tasks, but it’s all housed in an iPad that has some heft but is easily maneuvered. 

The new iPad Air 13 (2024) is actually pretty similar in size to the previous-generation iPad Pro 12.9, minus a Face ID sensor. It weighs in at 1.36-pounds and is 6.1-millimeters thick, with a USB-C port for charging and data transfers as well as Touch ID baked into the power button. 

For colors, Apple is expanding beyond starlight and space gray this year with blue and purple. Storage now starts at 128GB for the 11-inch and 13-inch iPad Air, up from 64GB in the past, but you can expand it to 1TB with 256GB and 512GB options in between.

Apple iPad Air (2024): Display

Apple iPad Air 11- and 13-inch models with keyboard attached

(Image credit: Jake Krol / Future)

Apple is calling this the 13-inch iPad Air, but it’s actually a 12.9-inch Liquid Retina display, so for consumers’ sake they’re rounding up. The screen performed well in a brightly lit hands-on space, with vibrant colors and the ability to craft immersive visuals, especially when viewing photos in the app Photomator. In outdoor usage conditions it can hit a peak brightness of 600-nits as well — though brightness is slightly lower at 500-nits peak for the 11-inch Air.

Where the larger iPad Air shines is with the sheer expansiveness of that 13-inch display. Using GoodNotes 6 or Freeform, you have a lot more room to write and create. Similarly, apps like iMovie, Adobe Fresco, or even Mail can let you access a bit more and go deeper. That’s the real benefit here — more room to blaze through various tasks, and now it’s considerably cheaper. 

The 11-inch iPad Air, on the other hand, feels very familiar — it’s basically the same as the previous-generation with a faster processor under the hood and support for the new Apple Pencil Pro. The teams designing these iPads actually re-engineered how the Apple Pencil Pro wirelessly charges, so that’s why it only works on the new iPad Air or iPad Pro models.

Apple iPad Air (2024): Performance

Apple Pencil Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

During my brief hands-on time, I drew in Freeform, moved blocks of handwritten material in GoodNotes 6, painted in Adobe Fresco, and even made some edits to a photo in Photomator — all of these pretty much flew on the iPad Air without hesitation. 

That’s thanks to the Apple M2 chip inside; it has a very large runway for performance and will likely be harder to slow down. As we noted in our 12.9-inch iPad Pro (2022) review (also powered by the Apple M2), the chip provides a ridiculous amount of power. That’s likely still the case here and it’s a level playing field for either the 11-inch or 13-inch iPad Air. 

The Apple M2 processor also supports more advanced iPadOS features like Stage Manager, and it will take full advantage of the new suite of features coming with Logic Pro 2 and Final Cut Pro 2 for iPad. Regardless of whether you work or play on the 11-inch and 13-inch, I wouldn’t be worried about performance here.

Apple iPad Air (2024): Selfie camera

Apple iPad Air 11- and 13-inch models with keyboard attached

(Image credit: Jake Krol / Future)

Tucked into the bezels around the 11-inch and 13-inch iPad Air is a front-facing camera, but like the 10th Gen iPad, it’s oriented in a landscape fashion. For video calls on FaceTime, Zoom, or Google Meet, you won’t be sitting off to the side, and will appear more natural. 

I didn’t formally test a call, but the relocation makes a ton of sense and will make it much more usable when the iPad is docked into a Magic Keyboard, a Smart Folio, or sitting in landscape mode. 

This is also an “about time” update, as the 10th Gen had it and countless other tablets from Amazon, Samsung, and even Google have offered layout for quite some time. 

Apple iPad Air (2024): Accessories

The other big appeal is support for the Apple Pencil Pro. The flagship Apple Pencil Pro with the iPad Air supports hover — a feature previously exclusive to the iPad Pro — to let you see a stroke or an effect without laying the stylus to the screen. Plus, it will give haptic feedback for alerts or to confirm you triggered an action. It even supports barrel role functionality, and will evolve

Similarly, you can squeeze the Apple Pencil Pro to unlock a palette of tools to easily change the thickness of a pen, the color, or even scrub to undo. This is a standout feature, and while there isn’t a physical eraser, it comes close.

Of course, the 11-inch and 13-inch iPad Air also support the Magic Keyboard, which lets you effectively use the iPad as a laptop, complete with a keyboard and responsive trackpad. It’s the original Magic Keyboard with a single USB-C port for charging and data, backlight keys, but no function keys. 

The aluminium Magic Keyboard with a more advanced haptic trackpad is only available for the ultra-thin new iPad Pro (2024). 

Apple iPad Air (2024): Early Verdict

Apple iPad Air 2024

(Image credit: Apple)

While Apple didn’t usher in a complete redesign or a crazy new feature set, the iPad Air still feels like the Pro model for the masses. It gets a whole new size that finally brings the cost of the largest size iPad to well under $1,000, offers plenty of power for a bevy of tasks — even future AI ones — from the M2 chip, and mixes things up with a new spot for the front camera. 

That’s all out of the box at $599 or $799 starting, and it’s easier to sell if you want a larger screen iPad Air. The smaller 11-inch model is pretty similar to the previous M1-powered generation, and likely won’t be an immediate upgrade.

However, if you have an older iPad and like the 11-inch size, or want a larger 13-inch iPad for less, there is a clear case to be made for the iPad Air. It will perform faster than the 10th Gen iPad or iPad Mini, and supports the Apple Pencil Pro.

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iPad Pro 13-inch (2024): The impossibly thin king of iPads – and maybe all tablets
3:10 am |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets iPad iPad Pro Tablets | Comments: Off

Imagine a 13-inch iPad Pro that's a quarter pound lighter than the last model, thinner than any gadget Apple's made before, and packing a completely new display technology, with Apple Silicon that is newer than brand new. Now open your eyes: That's the Apple iPad Pro 13-inch (2024).

Apple took a huge swing with the latest Apple iPad Pro, bringing the most significant update in 7 years to both the 13-inch and 11-inch models. Much of what I'll say about the stunning iPad Pro 13-inch applies to its smaller, 11-inch sibling, though there is one significant difference: the larger iPad Pro is even thinner than the smaller one: 5.1mm versus 5.3mm.

I didn't get to spend much time using both iPad Pro tablets, though the iPad Pro 13-inch got the lion's share, perhaps because I couldn't stop marveling at its thinness and lightness.

More than just looks

Apple iPad Pro 13-inch (2024)

(Image credit: Future)

I don't think you can overstate the leap Apple took here with the iPad Pro line. Sure, it still has that signature recycled aluminum enclosure, but along with squeezing every last bit of air and space out of the tablet, Apple stuffed in a never-before-seen bit of Apple Silicon: M4. 

To hear Apple tell it, this 9-core CPU (10 cores if you buy the 1TB or 2TB model), 10-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Processor SoC was necessary to support something I know I've never seen before: a Tandem OLED display. As the name implies, this is two complete OLED panels sandwiched together to make one whole. It would've been impossible to power that display with any other piece of Apple Silicon: Not even the relatively new M3 could do it.

Apple iPad Pro 13-inch (2024)

(Image credit: Future)

Why two OLED displays? For the light. OLEDs are incredibly thin and efficient, but not  bright enough. Two panels sandwiched together change that equation. It also means that Apple's achieved some impressive contrast and brightness numbers. The iPad Pro boasts a 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio, 1,000 nits brightness for SDR content, and 1,600 nits for HDR.

Those thin OLED panels (the previous display was mini-LED) are also how Apple was able to achieve the remarkable 5.1mm thickness on the iPad Pro 13-inch. It's unclear if the new M4 SoC played any part in the tablet's slim profile. 

Apple is somewhat unique in the tech world in its ability to shepherd every stage of development and integration when building a new product. When the design team shows the chip team the wildly thin enclosure it has in mind, instead of heads exploding, Apple knows it has enough full-stack control to make it happen.

Pricing and availability

Apple announced its new iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) alongside an 11-inch model and two new iPad Air tablets (13-inch and 11-inch) on May 7, 2024. The iPad Pro 13-inch starts at $1,299 / £1,299 / $2,199 (the 11-inch starts at $999 / £999 / AU$1,699). It's available in Silver and Black. Storage levels range from 256GB up to 2TB. You can order with WiFi-only or buy a more expensive Wi-Fi plus Cellular model. Preorders started on May 7. Shipping starts May 15.

Design and Display

As far as I'm concerned, it's no longer possible to talk about the iPad Pro design without addressing what is now, in my early opinion, one of the most beautiful tablet displays on the market.

At a glance, you'd be forgiven for mistaking the new iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) for the 2022 model. It has those same flat planes, recycled aluminum body, and Apple logo on the back; but as I drew closer to the new slab, I did a double-take. This is one impossibly thin device. 

At 5.1mm it looks thin enough to ... er ... bend. But when I picked up the 11.09in. x 8.48in. device, it felt rigid – sturdy even. And, oh my God, how is this thing so light?

I've held more than a few iPad Pro 12.9-inch tablets (and dropped and broke one in my time) and the 1.5 lbs always felt hefty. Not this iPad Pro, though. It's somehow just 1.28 pounds – almost a quarter pound lighter than the last model (despite, screenwise, being slightly larger). 

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Apple iPad Pro 13-inch (2024)

(Image credit: Future)
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Apple iPad Pro 13-inch (2024)

(Image credit: Future)
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Apple iPad Pro 13-inch (2024)

(Image credit: Future)

At this thickness and weight, the iPad is flirting with e ink tablet territory. It's not much thicker and heavier than a Remarkable 2 (and obviously far more powerful).

On one short edge are a pair of speaker grills and the USB-C (Thunderbolt) port. There's also a microphone along the same long edge as the volume up and down buttons. The top edge has the power/sleep button, a mic port, and the other two speakers, for four-speaker stereo output that I did not get to try out.

There are other smaller but important design changes like one less camera in the array on the back, as well as the welcome addition of a so-called Truetone flash. As I predicted (or at least hoped), the FaceTime camera shifted from the short portrait side to the landscape position – a change that necessitated reengineering the Apple Pencil magnetic charging system. Sadly, Apple did not add wireless charging to any of its new iPads.

Apple iPad Pro 13-inch (2024)

(Image credit: Future)

The other thing that struck me as I approached the new iPad Pro was the screen. Apple told us all about the Ultra Retina XDR display (no more adjectives, Apple, please) and its innovative Tandem OLED technology. I can't recall any other device delivering not one but two sandwiched OLED panels. Apple lines them up so that one pixel is behind the other, essentially doubling the illumination power. Still, seeing it in person I was struck by the sharpness (264ppi) and vibrancy. The colors in a field of flowers were astonishing, likely due to the Wide Color (P3) gamut, but it felt like more than that. 

At one point I saw an anemone on a sea of black and noticed how there was almost zero bloom between the sea creature and the background, which made it look as if the sea creature was floating in space. I wanted to reach out and touch it. I have not seen such inky blacks since the heyday of classic plasma TVs. 

Apple iPad Pro 13-inch (2024)

(Image credit: Future)

Specular highlights, where tiny bits of light peak through the darkness, are shockingly bright. Apple claims a 1,000 nits brightest on SDR and 1,600 nits brightness on the Ultra Retina XDR display, and I have no reason yet to dispute it.

This is also the first iPad where you can specify a Nano-texture display glass option (1TB and 2TB storage options, only). For an extra $100, it adds a subtle texture that effectively beats back strong reflections. It's a useful feature for pros working in harsh light, but I would not recommend it for someone who wants to watch movies in all their glory on the iPad Pro.

I mention the Tandem OLED display in context of the design, by the way, because Apple could not have produced such a thin tablet without it. That display is also responsible, in part, for the introduction of the new piece of Apple Silicon: the M4.

Performance: M4 inside

Apple iPad Pro 13-inch (2024)

(Image credit: Future)

Built on the 3-nanometer architecture of the still-fresh M3, Apple's new M4 pumps up the CPU cores to 9 cores (you can get 10 cores with the 1TB and 2TB models) and matches the 10-core GPU and 16-core Neural Engine. Even so, this is not the same silicon. 

Inside are processes built specifically to handle the grunt work of managing two OLED panels and making them look like one whole. It's just another instance of Apple building its silicon to support its hardware products, and not the other way around.

Apple didn't show us any new on-board generative AI tricks or a new LLM-powered Siri, but it is touting the M4's 38 trillion operations per second.

Image 1 of 3

Apple M4

(Image credit: Future)
Image 2 of 3

Apple M4

(Image credit: Future)
Image 3 of 3

Apple M4

(Image credit: Future)

What I saw through a series of demos and playing around a bit with the iPad Pro 13-inch is a powerful system that can handle everything. It can edit four 4K Pro-Res video streams at once in the new Final Cut Pro 2. It can re-render 3D objects on the fly without a pause for regeneration. It managed four video feeds at once, with real-time reflections in an action game, without breaking a sweat. 

In the animation app, Procreate Dreams, we edited a 140-scene, 200-layer animation in seconds. My favorite part was using the Apple Pencil Pro to drag objects across a playing animation to create an animation for that object. This is typically difficult animation work that the iPad Pro and its M4 chip have turned into child's play.

The M4 looks every bit as powerful, if not more so, than the M3-class chip on a MacBook Air, and it might approach the power of an M3 Max on a MacBook Pro.

Based on what I saw, the iPad Pro 13-inch running an M4 chip looks ready to rumble at work, for content consumption, for creators, and for gaming. I'm not surprised, since I've yet to come across a disappointing piece of Apple Silicon.

The M4 is supposedly as efficient a chip as its predecessors but Apple did do some work to manage heat dissipation, including somehow squeezing graphite sheets into the iPad and, in what might be a first, using the Apple logo as a heatsink: it now has some heat-managing copper in it.

Accessories

Apple iPad Pro 13-inch (2024)

iPad Pro 13-inch with the new Apple Pencil Pro and Magic Keyboard (Image credit: Future)

It's hard to talk about the new iPad Pro 13-inch (or really any of the new iPads, for that matter) without mentioning the new Apple Pencil Pro. The $129 implement looks familiar but has a host of new features, including barrel roll, squeeze-ability, and haptics. The new pencil works on all the new iPads launched today, and I did get a chance to try it on the iPad Pro.

If you've never drawn on an iPad of any size, I can tell you it's a pleasure. I've been using various iPads and Apple Pencils with Procreate for years. It's a tremendous drawing tool. The iPad offers palm rejection and the Pencil has long had tilt and pressure sensitivity. New features and an expansive and lightweight tablet create an even better experience. 

Apple iPad Pro 13-inch (2024)

(Image credit: Future)

First, there's barrel roll, which essentially adds a gyroscopic sensor so that the Apple Pencil Pro can recognize when you roll it this way or that. On the new iPad Pro, I could see the virtual nub of the pencil change from a vertical to wide orientation. Imagine using a draftsman's pencil and rolling the tip from horizontal to flat.

Second, the Pencil also added a squeeze function, which let me squeeze the pencil to access a variety of drawing features (app developers can easily customize the actions enabled through a squeeze) in apps like FreeForm. The Apple's Pencil Pro's new features and the M4 chip appear to make a formidable combination.

I watched a demo where the Pencil Pro was used to deform Procreate images with liquify, showing how it could be used to quickly create artistic effects that would normally take hours to accomplish.

In my own drawing attempts, I found the pen and tablet a fluid combo.

Cameras

Apple iPad Pro 13-inch (2024)

(Image credit: Future)

Thickness and weight aren't the only things Apple subtracted here. The iPad Pro 13-inch no longer has an ultra-wide camera. Instead, there's now just a 12MP wide-angle camera that supports up to 4K, 60fps video (also 4K 40fps Pro-Res). The LIDAR camera is still there to assist in focusing and also helps capture 3D scans (I saw the results of one and began to realize how this iPad Pro might change the home design industry). 

There's also now a True Tone flash, a nice addition for the surprising number of people who like to use a large iPad Pro for photography.

I did not get to try this camera, so I can't yet offer an assessment of its capabilities.

Perhaps the most significant imaging change, though is in the TrueDepth Camera module, which has shifted from the portrait edge to the wider landscape one. This is a very welcome design update since most people are conducting their iPad Pro video and FaceTime calls in landscape mode. I tried this camera out and it appeared to work fine; the 1080p video was as sharp and clear as I remember. You can also use that TrueDepth module for FaceID, but I did not have time to register my face and test that.

Connectivity and Battery

The iPad Pro 13-inch supports 5G wireless and eSim. It also supports Bluetooth 5.3 and WiFi 6e, but notably not WiFi 7, a weird omission for such a forward-leaning product.

Inside is a 38.99-watt-hour battery, which Apple claims will last 10 hours on a charge. Obviously, I could not test these claims in my limited hands on.

Early verdict

It's been a long time since Apple delivered true iPad excitment. Even as a fan of the tablet and its Pencil accessory, I saw mostly utility and little romance in the iPad. Today, though, something shifted. 

It's not just the M4 chip, though putting Apple's latest silicon in an iPad remained a surprising choice. It's the combination of that chip, the incredible Tandem OLED display, and a design that is just a few millimeters away from paper thinness.

This is the kind of design, display, and performance that can, when put together, quite easily pry $1,299 from your hands.

I have yet to test the product but my early assessment is that the iPad Pro (2024) is a contender for the top of our list of best tablets.

@techradar

♬ Funk Hip Hop Music(814197) - Pavel

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Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus review: this anti-iPad Air is super-slick
4:53 pm | May 3, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Tablets | Comments: Off

Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus: one-minute review

Samsung’s tablet lineup can be a bit confusing, so let me help. The Galaxy Tab S9 is a fancy, expensive tablet that’s meant to compete with the Apple iPad Pro. If you want a tablet that’s priced to compete with the base-model Apple iPad, or even the iPad Air, you need to look at the Galaxy Tab S9 FE, and this tablet, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus. No, really, you do need to look at these tablets, because they’re quite remarkable, and give us some features we’ve never seen on a tablet at this price.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus is aimed squarely at the Apple iPad Air (2022), and the two tablets couldn’t be more different. While the iPad Air is svelte and powerful, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus is bigger, heavier, and packed with more features than you’d expect on a tablet at this price point. 

The most important feature, to me, is IP68 water and dust resistance. While Samsung phones have been IP68 rated since the Galaxy S5, only the business-focused Galaxy Tab Active tablets have been this durable. That changed with the Tab S9 family.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra

The Tab S9 (Ultra shown) was Samsung's first water resistant Tab S (Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)

The Galaxy Tab S9, launched in August 2023, was water resistant, and I was pleasantly surprised to find this feature carried over to the Galaxy Tab S9 FE family, which launched later that year. This tablet is so durable that you can watch Netflix in the bathtub, or browse the web (and even get work done?) by the pool, weather permitting. 

Even better, you won’t have to worry about spills or dirt – you can rinse the Tab S9 FE Plus in the sink if you must. 

In addition to water resistance, which I hope becomes standard on all tablets thanks to Samsung, the Tab S9 FE includes support for Samsung’s Wacom-powered S Pen. The S Pen is much better than Apple’s Pencil, no matter which generation you use, because it doesn’t have a battery so there are no awkward charging considerations. Samsung even includes an S Pen, where Apple forces you to buy its Pencil with your iPad, whichever model you choose.

4 Samsung Galaxy S23 FE phones

The Galaxy Tab S9 FE arrived with the Galaxy S23 FE (Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)

Don’t let the weird ‘FE’ badge fool you. Samsung says FE no longer stands for ‘Fan Edition’ (it doesn’t stand for anything at all), but the ‘S’ in S9 stands for Samsung’s premium Galaxy lineup, and Samsung doesn’t mess around with S branding. That means you get One UI made for easy multitasking; real DeX desktop environment support when you plug a mouse and keyboard into your Tab; and many more Pro-level features that you wouldn’t expect on a base-model tablet. 

The biggest negative is performance. Where Apple endows the iPad Air with a desktop-class Apple M1 processor, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus uses a Samsung Exynos 1380 chipset, the same processor as found in the Galaxy A54 bargain phone. It isn’t bad – it can even handle multitasking well. You just won’t be editing professional video on this tablet. 

In classic Samsung fashion, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus looks at the competition and says “more, more, more!” You get a bigger display, more storage (including microSD!), more features, and more of almost everything. It comes in a bigger package, but it’s worth the extra heft for so much more.

Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus review: price and availability

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus with screens and Book Cover in mint green

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • $599.99 / £599 / AU$849 for 8GB RAM / 128GB storage
  • Available with up to 256GB storage and 12GB RAM
  • 5G available in some areas, not in US (get the Tab S9 FE instead) 

Samsung’s tablets seem expensive because the base-model tablet, the Galaxy Tab S9, competes with the Apple iPad Pro, and not the base-model iPad. If you’re looking for a better deal, without sacrificing what makes a Samsung special, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus hits a sweet spot. It’s priced to match the Apple iPad Air, or a basic iPad 10.9 loaded with 5G and more storage. 

While Apple gives you a powerful chipset, but relatively few features, Samsung takes the opposite approach. For the price, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus is loaded with features. Compared to the comparable iPad Air, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus gives you a water-resistant frame, an S Pen in the box, a microSD card slot, twice the storage, plus a larger display and a bigger battery. 

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus with screens and Book Cover in mint green

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

That said, the iPad Air's advantage is its performance, which is closer to that of a desktop computer, so it can run professional-grade video editing software, for instance. Because it’s so powerful, it will also last longer, and Apple is renowned for supporting its devices with iPadOS updates for five years. I’d expect three years of security patches for the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus, but probably not three major Android OS updates. 

Oddly enough, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus is not available with 5G networking in the US, although you can buy a 5G-connected Tab S9 FE, the smaller version of this tablet, from a US mobile carrier. In the UK and Australia, Samsung will sell you a 5G Tab S9 FE Plus directly. 

Samsung also unfortunately skimps on RAM for the 128GB model. You can bump the RAM from 8GB to 12GB if you buy the 256GB Tab S9 FE Plus – my review unit doesn’t have the extra RAM, and it performed just fine, although it could have run a little smoother when I had a lot of windows open at once. 

If you’re using this tablet as a professional device, with multi-window tasks and maybe even a DeX connection, it’s worth paying more for more memory. If those things are meaningless to you, don’t worry about it – the 8GB model will handle all of your browsing, streaming, and basic chores with ease. 

  • Value score: 3 / 5

Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus review: specs

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus with screens and Book Cover in mint green

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

To understand why the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus exists, just look at the Apple iPad Air, and then turn everything up a notch. The iPad Air has a 10.9-inch display? Then the FE Plus gets a 12.4-inch screen, with a 90Hz refresh rate. The Air gives you 64GB of storage to start? Double that for the Tab S9 FE Plus. One camera on the iPad Air? Then the Tab S9 FE Plus will have two, of course. 

Aside from the processor, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus is simply a step up from the iPad Air in every way, at least on the spec sheet. Of course, the processor is as important to a tablet as the engine is to your car, so this is like comparing a fast, bare-bones roadster to a fully equipped station wagon. The iPad roadster looks more fun, but most people would do better with the station-wagon Galaxy Tab FE Plus. 

The most groundbreaking spec on the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus is its IP68 water- and dust-resistance rating. No iPad has ever earned a worthwhile IP-rating, but Samsung made its Galaxy Tab S9 family water resistant, and I was delighted to see that trend continue with the Tab S9 FE Plus. 

Are you likely to drop the Tab S9 FE Plus in a toilet? No, but having that water and dust seal makes the tablet more durable all around, which should hopefully improve longevity. I personally can’t wait to read books and newsletters in the shallow end of the pool while on vacation with the Tab S9 FE – and being able to wash this tablet in the sink is a nice bonus that makes it more kid-friendly. 

The tablet also has respectable speakers, with tuning from Samsung-owned audio house AKG. The two side-firing speakers are up high, so you won’t block them with your hands when you hold the tablet in landscape orientation. I’m also happy to see the selfie camera on the landscape edge, so I can have video calls in widescreen mode instead of the awkward portrait format. 

Overall, I think Samsung made all the right calls with the specs on this tablet. It is the anti-iPad Air, and that’s a good thing, because the iPad Air might be overpowered and under-featured for its price range. I’d rather have water resistance, faster charging, a pen in the box, and everything else that the Tab S9 FE Plus gives you, if I’m not using my tablet as a pro laptop replacement. 

Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus review: display

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus with screens and Book Cover in mint green

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Big display, larger than all but the biggest iPad Pro
  • Not OLED, but still bright with good contrast
  • The iPad Air is sharper but not as bright

If you like a brighter tablet display, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus gets brighter than the competition; it’s much brighter than the iPad Air (2022). The screen runs at 90Hz, and it looked nice and smooth when I was navigating the home screens and scrolling through web pages. 

You also get a lot more space on the Tab S9 FE Plus compared to the iPad Air. Even though it’s only 1.5 inches larger, that equates to 13 square inches of screen real estate. If you don’t need a display that big, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE is the same 10.9-inch size as the iPad Air, and it costs the same as Apple’s base model iPad 10.9. 

Like the iPad Air, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus is an LCD display, not OLED, so it won’t be quite as bright and colorful as the best phone screen you’ll see, but it still looks great for a tablet, especially in this price range. In our Future Labs tests, we found the Tab S9 FE was brighter than the iPad Air, producing up to 760 nits of brightness versus 485 nits on the iPad. 

If you want a fancy OLED screen, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 is only $100 / £100 more expensive than this tablet. With the Tab S9 family, you get an OLED display plus a much faster Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor. 

  • Display score: 4 / 5

Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus review: design

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus with screens and Book Cover in mint green

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Nice colors with natural pastel tones
  • Designed for use in landscape orientation – a wise choice
  • S Pen attaches magnetically, making it easier to lose

I really like the understated design of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus, which actually has a design language, and isn’t just a black slab on the front and a metal slab on the back. The front is dominated by the display, but there’s enough bezel to allow you to hold the tablet without accidentally tapping anything. The back has some futuristic antenna lines and a bit of branding in a mirrored finish, and it all comes together nicely. 

The Tab S9 FE Plus is designed to be held in landscape orientation, which puts the selfie camera in the middle of the top bezel, and I prefer this to portrait. Held in landscape, the USB charging port is on the side, and the stereo speakers from AKG face right and left, sitting above where you’ll grip the Tab. 

This tablet is admittedly chunky. It’s not much thicker than the iPad Air, but it is much heavier. The Tab S9 FE Plus weighs 166g more than the iPad Air – that’s almost six ounces heavier. You can really feel that weight, especially when you add the official Samsung Book Cover, which I recommend.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus with screens and Book Cover in mint green

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

The Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus, like all of the Galaxy Tab S-family tablets, comes with an S Pen. However, unlike the Galaxy S24 Ultra, which has a built-in silo for the pen, the larger Tab S Pen sits on the back of the tablet, held in place by magnets, and this is my least favorite way to attach a stylus, even though it’s the most common. It looks fancy, but it’s terribly impractical – the first time you slip the Tab S9 FE Plus into a bag with the stylus attached, it will fall off. 

Samsung sent me the Book Cover accessory as well, which is a two-piece cover and stand. The front cover attaches at the bottom of the tablet, but I hardly used it. The back cover slaps onto the back of the Tab, and it includes a nice S Pen garage to keep your pen in place. It also has a fancy origami-style stand that folds down. 

I kept the back cover attached all the time, mostly to make sure I didn’t lose the pen. Sadly, that meant I rarely saw the gorgeous mint finish, and it also added extra weight. 

  • Design score: 5/5

Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus review: software

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus with screens and Book Cover in mint green

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • OneUI is better on a tablet than on a phone
  • Powerful pro-tablet tools for multitasking
  • Still bogged down with too many options

Samsung makes the best tablet software for Android. While iPadOS is basically a scaled-up version of the iPhone’s iOS software, Samsung’s OneUI has always been designed for larger screens, so it works naturally on a tablet. In fact, I think OneUI 6 works much better as a tablet OS than it does on a phone like the Galaxy S24

I usually complain about Samsung software because it’s so heavily laden with features, floating tabs, extra windows, and pop-ups, but on the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus, with its huge, 12.4-inch display, Samsung’s OneUI almost seems organized, without the clutter issues that arise on a smaller phone screen. 

Managing multiple windows on the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus is easier than on any other device short of a Windows laptop. I can snap apps to the sides, pop-up multiple apps in frames, or reduce apps to buttons that I can recall later. Everything works intuitively with simple finger gestures, with no need to learn anything fancy. 

If you want to get serious with your Tab S9 FE computing, you can connect a keyboard and mouse and enter Samsung’s DeX environment. This makes the interface look more like a Chromebook’s, with a traditional toolbar and floating windows that you can easily manipulate. You don’t even need to connect the Tab to an external monitor, as you do with a Galaxy S phone – you can use DeX with just the keyboard and mouse. 

  • Software score: 5 / 5

Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus review: performance

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus with screens and Book Cover in mint green

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Sluggish performance on intense games
  • No problems with multiple windows and multitasking
  • If you need a race car get the Tab S9 (or an iPad)

I won’t hammer Samsung too hard on its performance disadvantage versus the iPad Air, because Samsung gives you plenty to do with the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus that doesn’t rely on having the fastest chip around. Even without the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 as found on the original Galaxy Tab S9, the S9 FE can handle browsing, running multiple apps at once, and most games, with no trouble. It looks great in DeX mode for real desktop work, too. 

I had to push to find the hiccups, but I found them. Editing photos in Adobe Lightroom is great on the large screen, but performance can lag a bit, and my edits stuttered as I dragged the sliders with the included S Pen. I didn’t have these problems on the Tab S9 Ultra, of course. 

Playing games with detailed graphics, like Marvel Snap, worked just fine, even in the top performance modes. When I added multiplayer or huge environments, when playing Call of Duty or Genshin Impact, I saw more of a slowdown, and the games ran better when I turned the graphics settings to a medium level. 

If you aren’t a hardcore gamer or a multimedia editor, you won’t hit any performance bumps on the road to enjoying the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus. For drawing and artwork, the tablet is perfectly responsive, with Wacom’s EMR pen technology backing up Samsung’s longtime stylus chops. 

  • Performance score: 3 / 5

Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus review: battery

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus with screens and Book Cover in mint green

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Great battery life, beats the iPad by a work day
  • Faster charging than the iPad Air

With a larger display than the Apple iPad Air, you’d expect the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus would have a larger battery, and hence more battery life, but the Tab S9 FE Plus actually scored much higher in our Future Labs battery rundown tests. While the Air lasted for 10 hours while working through our intensive suite of chores, the Tab FE Plus lasted an impressive 18 hours before it died. 

It then also charged up faster than the iPad Air, although only by a few minutes. In any case, using that mid-range processor certainly has benefits for the Galaxy Tab S9 FE family, and longer battery life may be the biggest of those. In my casual usage tests, the Tab S9 FE Plus lasted days when I used it to watch shows occasionally on my commute, check my email, and browse the web from my couch. It lasted longer than my iPad even in casual use, aside from our formal battery testing. 

  • Battery score: 5 / 5

Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 FE Plus?

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus with screens and Book Cover in mint green

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

Buy it if…

Don’t buy it if…

Also consider

Not convinced by the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus? Here are a few other options to consider:

How I tested the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus

I used the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra as my primary tablet for a review period of more than a week. I used it as my primary productivity tool for work as much as possible, including photo editing, writing in Google Docs, and communicating via Slack and Airtable. I also paired the Tab S9 Ultra with both USB and Bluetooth keyboards and mice, as well as with external monitors via HDMI.  

I used the Tab S9 Ultra with a variety of streaming services, using both download and streaming features. I also used the tablet extensively for photo editing, viewing, and organizing, primarily with Google Photos but also with Adobe Lightroom. I played games with the tablet, including Call of Duty Mobile, with an Xbox wireless controller connected via Bluetooth. 

I used the Tab S9 Ultra while traveling, taking it on a family trip and using the tablet as my main screen for entertainment while I was away. I checked email, used it for web browsing and communication, and also checked my Nest Indoor Camera from afar. 

For battery testing, I spent time using the tablet nonstop until it died, then charged it again to check the long charging times. I downloaded movies to Amazon Prime and let them play nonstop until the tablet died, timing the total playback. I took the tablet to work and used it successfully for full work days without connecting it to a charger. 

I tested the tablet with benchmarking software that TechRadar's mobile team relies on for internal note keeping and reference, but I typically prefer to report performance only in terms of real-world use cases and responsiveness.

Kobo Clara Colour review: finally, an affordable color ereader
3:32 am | April 30, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers eReaders Gadgets Tablets | Comments: Off

Kobo Clara Colour: One-minute review

Kobo might play second fiddle to the popularity of Amazon’s Kindles, but the Japanese-Canadian brand has beaten the tech giant in being the first to deliver mainstream color ereaders that are also relatively affordable. Two were announced side by side, with the Kobo Clara Colour being the cheaper option.

It’s an entry-level model compared to its bigger 7-inch Libra Colour sibling but, despite its 6-inch display size and lack of stylus support, the Clara Colour is a great option for anyone looking for a dedicated reading device. With no other functionality on board, it’s distraction-free reading at its best and in color too.

In fact, Kobo makes full use of the E Ink Kaleido 3 display technology that’s adopted for the Clara Colour. Not only are the book covers displayed in color, but the selected tab on the bottom of the home screen changes to a reddish-brown when selected. Even the download status bar is that color.

There’s even a dark mode available here and, if you happen to have highlighted words and passages in an ebook, they will still be displayed in color – only the text and background colors get inverted.

Page turns are fast, the on-screen keyboard is responsive and the battery life is good too. It’s waterproof, lightweight and portable as well. It looks like the Amazon Kindle (2022) but its biggest selling point is that color screen, for which you will be paying a little more. All in all, Kobo has done really well with the Clara Colour.

A person holding the Kobo Clara Colour ereader

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Kobo Clara Colour review: price and availability

  • Announced April 2024
  • Launch price of $149.99 / £139.99 / AU$259.95
  • Available in one colorway with optional slipcovers

There aren’t many mainstream 6-inch ereaders with a color display, so it’s hard to compare the Kobo Clara Colour with others. Still, at $149.99 / £139.99 / AU$259.95, it’s arguably the cheapest big-brand color ereader on the market. If you don’t need the color display, then opting for the 2022 edition of the Amazon Kindle or even the 2024 Kobo Clara BW will save you some cash, with the former costing only $119.99 / £94.99 / AU$179 without ads and the latter setting you back $129.99 / £119.99 / AU$239.95.

If the color display is important to you, then you’re looking at going up one size at the very least, with the Kobo Libra Colour being one of the cheapest in the 7-inch size class at $219.99 / £219.99 / AU$359.95. All other color ereaders worth their salt are more expensive.

  • Value score: 4.5 / 5

A person holding the Kobo Clara Colour ereader

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Kobo Clara Colour review: Specs

Kobo Clara Colour review: Design and display

  • Body built with up to 85% recycled plastic
  • Sharp, responsive 6-inch display
  • Sunken screen, which reduces glare

Kobo has stuck with the same design formula it used for the Clara 2E, bringing an identical black plastic body and raised bezels over to the Clara Colour – while its monochrome sibling, the Clara BW, gets a two-tone chassis to shake things up a little. Available in just a black colorway, the rear panel is textured to provide a little grip, while the side bezels on the front are just broad enough to offer your thumbs a place to rest.

While the raised bezel design might look a little dated now, it’s better at preventing glare from overhead lighting (indoor or sunshine). Less glare also means you won’t be spotting smudged fingerprints as much either.

That’s not to say the screen is reflective – far from it. The 6-inch E Ink Kaleido 3 display is, like all other e-ink displays, glare-free but its smooth surface can have bright spots from overhead lights. That said, the built-in frontlight on the display can help reduce those bright spots.

The ComfortLight Pro on the Clara Colour is the same frontlight Kobo has been using on all its ereaders for a long while now. It lights up the screen evenly – I didn’t notice any areas of shadows or excessive lighting – which makes the reading experience a good one. Moreover, there are amber LEDs on the device, so you can adjust the light temperature to warmer tones for evening or nighttime reading to reduce eye fatigue.

Branding and power button on the rear of the Kobo Clara Colour ereader

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

As the name of the device suggests, the display can now handle some color – 4,096 hues to be precise. As I’ve mentioned in all my other reviews of color ereaders: don’t expect the colors to pop with saturation as they do on an LCD screen. They will appear a little muted in comparison and that’s a limitation of the e-ink screen technology, not an issue with Kobo’s implementation.

Anything displayed in black and white on this screen will have a resolution of 300ppi, while anything shown in color will be at 150ppi resolution. The lower resolution might sound like color images (like comics and book covers) won’t look good, but far from it. In fact, the higher pixel density actually renders colors well, making them appear a little more saturated than they would on a larger E Ink Kaleido 3 display as used in the 7-inch Kobo Libra Colour or the 7.8-inch Onyx Boox Tab Mini C.

Despite tipping the scales at 174g – just 4g more than the Clara 2E – the Clara Colour is light and compact, being the perfect size for traveling with. It’s also waterproof, with an IPX8 rating that will keep the device in working condition if immersed in 2 meters of water for up to an hour.

The black rear panel of the Kobo Clara Colour beside the blue rear panel of the Kobo Clara BW

The navy blue rear panel of the Kobo Clara BW (left) and the black of the Kobo Clara Colour (right) (Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Like its predecessor, over 85% of the body is recycled plastic, which includes waste that would have ended up in our oceans (like plastic bottles and CDs). The packaging it comes in is made from 100% recycled materials and is recyclable in turn, and the ink used to print the text and images on the box is soy, so biodegradable.

Rounding out the design elements is a concave power button on the rear of the device, a USB-C port placed off-center of the bottom edge, and the Kobo branding on the lower bezel. It’s a simple design that reflects the device’s single-minded purpose of digital reading.

It’s also possibly one of the most repairable ereaders on the market, along with its 2024 siblings. Kobo has partnered with iFixit to provide spare parts and instructions on how to perform some repairs, although, at the time of writing, neither of these are available on the iFixit website. I'll update this review when there's more information from either Kobo or iFixit.

  • Design & display score: 4 / 5

Home screen on the Kobo Clara Colour

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Kobo Clara Colour review: User interface

  • Streamlined, easy-to-use UX
  • Good font and file support
  • Cloud transfer files not available

I have always been a fan of Kobo’s easy-to-use interface on its devices, with everything neatly laid out on the home screen. Up to four of your current reads are listed right up top of the home screen, followed by a My Books section and another that cycles through either new recommendations, access to Kobo Plus or one of your Collections within your library.

Above the book tiles is the quick menu for screen brightness, Wi-Fi, battery, cloud sync (for firmware updates) and search, while at the bottom of the home screen are the four tabs to navigate around the device and the Kobo Store.

It’s nice to see Kobo has taken full advantage of the E Ink Kaleido 3 screen by displaying the selected navigation tab in color. The same red-brown hue is also used for the download status of a title you’re either purchasing or accessing via Kobo Plus.

Kobo Clara Colour beside the Kobo Libra Colour showing the settings pane

The More pane on the Kobo Clara Colour (right) misses out on the Google Drive and Dropbox support seen on the Kobo Libra Colour (left) (Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

OverDrive support to borrow from partnered public libraries is still a stalwart presence on Kobo ereaders, as is Pocket. The latter, which is essentially a browser plugin that allows you to save web articles for reading later, gives you access to those articles on the Clara Colour if you already have a Pocket account.

Unlike the more expensive Kobo ereaders, there’s no Google Drive or Dropbox support on the Clara Colour. The only way to sideload titles is by plugging the device into your laptop and PC via the USB-C port and dragging files over.

File support is good, although not as extensive as what you’ll get on an Onyx ereader. Despite that, all the essential file formats are supported, including EPUBs, the most common ebook file format. Two comic files are also supported, plus 4 image formats. The only audio format supported is Kobo Audiobooks, so you can’t sideload audiobooks you might have sourced from a third party – you have to either purchase it from the Kobo Store or listen via Kobo Plus.

Audiobooks, however, take up storage space on a device and the Clara Colour only has 16GB to offer, with no microSD slot to increase it. So you may need to keep an eye on the storage if you're more into audiobooks than ebooks. 

Kobo Clara Colour and Kobo Libra Colour displaying the same color image in regular mode and dark mode respectively

The Kobo Libra Colour (left) and the Clara Colour (right) have dark mode, with color content displayed as is. Only text is inverted. (Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

A new addition to the Clara Colour’s settings is the option to “reduce rainbow effect” when viewing in color. I’ve never come across this option in color ereaders from other brands, and I haven’t been able to figure out what exactly a rainbow effect is, so I haven’t a clue how the setting works. I suppose, if color content starts to look a little strange, selecting this setting might help.

Dark Mode is available here and that only inverts text color while you’re reading an ebook. If your book has color images, you will see them displayed in color on a black background, which I think can make some pictures pop a little more.

One change I’ve been waiting for Kobo to make to its interface is the ability to create subfolders within the library. You can create what Kobo calls Collections, but you can’t set up nested sub collections within your main ones. Kindle allows for it, so I think it’s time Kobo adopted a similar option.

  • User interface score: 4.5 / 5

Home screen on the Kobo Clara Colour

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Kobo Clara Colour review: Performance

  • Responsive touchscreen
  • Good battery life
  • Less contrast in black-and-white compared to some other ereaders

It’s been hard for me to fault Kobo’s ereaders when it comes to performance and it’s the same with the Clara Colour too, especially with a 2GHz processor keeping things ticking along nicely. Reading on it is a pleasure, although I personally find a 6-inch screen too small due to needing to turn a page a touch too often for my liking – that can eat into the battery life of the device. The small size might also make reading comics and graphic novels less enjoyable as, depending on how the title has been formatted, some frames could get cut off.

Both black-and-white books and color content look good on the Clara Colour, but I found the former lacked little contrast in comparison to some other monochrome ereaders I’ve previously tested. That said, you'll only notice the difference if you compare two different models side by side and it doesn't affect the reading experience at all. If it does, though, Kobo allows you to make the text on the screen ‘heavier’ by making the font a little thicker. Colors, on the other hand, appear comparatively more saturated on the 6-inch screen when compared to larger color ereaders and that’s down to the pixel density. 

Opening an ebook on the Libra Colour during testing had a significant lag, but that’s not the case with the Clara Colour. It’s faster in that respect and, just like its bigger sibling, has a peppy screen performance. Page turns are quick and the on-screen keyboard has no major lag either, whether that’s to make annotations or type in your Wi-Fi password.

A person holding the Kobo Clara Colour ereader displaying an illustration

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

I had no issues pairing the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones to the Clara Colour to listen to audiobooks, although the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II took a few tries before they paired. I’m putting that down to the slightly temperamental nature of the earbuds as I’ve had this issue with the same set and other ereaders before.

As with other ereaders, the Clara Colour will give you weeks of reading pleasure on a single charge. It has a 1,500mAh battery pack – the same as the Kobo Clara 2E but smaller than the 2,050mAh in the Libra Colour – and you can easily eke out up to 5 weeks of use, depending on how you use it. In my case, a screen brightness of 15%, the refresh rate set to every chapter and the Wi-Fi always on, gave me 34 days of reading about an hour each day before the battery dropped to 21% from full. So you can definitely get more. In fact, the Clara Colour has better battery life than the Libra Colour despite a smaller capacity, but then it doesn’t need to handle as many tasks as its bigger sibling needs to.

A recharge can take up to two hours, but that’s only because trickle charging kicks in at about the 95% mark – as happens with other Kobo ereaders. While it might seem frustrating to have to wait for an hour to see just a 5% top up, trickle charging preserves the battery for longer, thus ensuring a longer lifespan for your device.

  • Performance score: 5 / 5

Rear panel of the Kobo Clara Colour

Marginally bigger and heavier than the Amazon Kindle (2022), the Kobo Clara Colour is still light and portable. (Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Should I buy the Kobo Clara Colour?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

How I tested the Kobo Clara Colour

  • Used for three weeks alongside the Kobo Libra Colour and the Onyx Boox Palma
  • Used it for both reading ebooks and listening to audiobooks
  • Compared it with other 6-inch and 7-inch ereaders

A person holding the Kobo Clara Colour ereader displaying an illustration

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

I was lucky to have been sent the Kobo Clara Colour ahead of the official announcement, so I'd been using it for a few weeks before publishing this review. I used it alongside the Kobo Libra Colour as well as the rather different-looking Onyx Boox Palma. I also had the brief pleasure of comparing it to the Kobo Clara BW as well.

I used to the Clara Colour to both read and listen – I have a Kobo account, so signing into it via the device gave me access to my existing library. It also gave me access to my Kobo Plus subscription, which is where I found some audiobooks to listen to.

While using the Clara Colour, I had the opportunity to compare it to other ereaders, both black and white as well as color. These include the Libra Colour, the Onyx Boox Tab Mini C, the Onyx Boox Poke 5 and the PocketBook InkPad 4.

Read more about how we test.

[First reviewed April 2024]

Onyx Boox Palma review: a tiny ereader like no other
3:39 am | April 19, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers eReaders Gadgets Tablets | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Onyx Boox Palma: One-minute review

There are plenty of 6-inch ereaders, but there’s nothing quite like the Onyx Boox Palma. It mimics a smartphone’s design, right down to a rear camera, side buttons and a speaker on the top bezel. 

With an aspect ratio of 2:1 on its 6.3-inch display as opposed to the roughly 4:3 (technically 8.9:6.7) of other 6-inch ereaders like the Amazon Kindle (2022) or the Kobo Clara 2E, the Palma doesn’t offer as much width while reading. It will, however, allow you to read in both landscape and portrait orientation, a feature that no other 6-inch ereader that I’ve tested offers. 

If you’re someone who regularly reads on your phone only to suffer from eye fatigue, then the Palma is an easy switch to make. For others, the screen might feel too small and narrow. Still, its size is perfectly suited for reading on the go, and it’s remarkably lightweight too. To give it a little more grip, Onyx also has cases that resemble the ones you’d buy for your own phone. 

Compared to a smartphone, the one thing the Palma really can’t do is make calls.

What it can do is get you access to the Google Play Store thanks to running on a lean version of Android 11. So you can download apps, including mobile games, news aggregators for RSS feeds, social media and even messaging apps. It’s got a speedy enough processor and a good amount of memory that allows those apps to run smoothly – although seeing them all displayed like black-and-white print takes a little getting used to.

There really is a case to be made for a device like this, but I think it’s a missed opportunity to not have added stylus support. That truly would have made the Palma unbeatable as a portable note-taking and digital reading device. I think there’s enough room for a stylus like Samsung’s S Pen to be added to the Palma; it would also make its price tag a little more palatable.

A page of a book on the Onyx Boox Palma

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Onyx Boox Palma review: Price and availability

  • Released August 2023; available to buy now
  • List price of $279.99 / AU$499 (around £259)
  • Cases available as part of bundles

At $279.99 / AU$499 (around £259) with a case in the box, the Onyx Boox Palma is an expensive device compared to other 6-inch ereaders, but to be fair, there really is nothing on the market quite like the Palma to compare. Its novelty alone might be justification enough for some users to splurge, but it would have been easier to recommend if it came with stylus support.

Even though access to the Play Store makes this a more versatile ereader than 6-inch alternatives from Amazon and Kobo, and it comes with more storage and a bigger battery than what the aforementioned brands offer, it’s still hard to justify the price. 

To compare, you can pick up the 2022 Kindle with 16GB of storage for $119.99 / £94.99 / AU$179 without ads at full price and the Kobo Clara BW for $129.99 / £119.99 / AU$239.95, with the latter getting you superior screen tech.

• Value score: 3.5 / 5

Rear of the Onyx Boox Palma with camera and flash

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Onyx Boox Palma review: Specs

Onyx Boox Palma review: Design and display

  • Smartphone-like looks with built-in speaker and flash
  • Very lightweight and comfortable to use
  • Rear 16MP camera not best for scanning

Available in both black and white colorways, the Onyx Boox Palma instantly gives up its ereader status thanks to its black-and-white screen. Out of the box you can tell it’s an e-paper display and it feels lighter than an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy handset of similar size.

The 6.13-inch E Ink Carta 1200 display is encased within a plastic body that features two buttons on the right edge (one for power and another for volume/page turns) as well as a customizable function button on the left. Above the function button is a microSD card tray that can add more storage to the 128GB already available on board, although Onyx doesn’t specify how much additional storage is supported. Considering the 6-inch Onyx Boox Poke 5 can support an additional 1TB microSD, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Palma can too.

The buttons and the card tray are silver on the white Palma colorway, adding a touch of color, but no such embellishments are on the black device. For this review, I was sent the white option.

The bottom edge has a USB-C port with OTG support, so you can plug a USB-C storage device directly into the Palma to access files. On either side of the charging port are what appear to be speaker grilles, although only one of them is for audio output, while the other is a mic. The latter might be handy for voice notes, but this device isn't really intended for more common mic needs, like video or audio calls.

USB-C port, mic and speaker grille on the Onyx Boox Palma

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Another speaker is on the top bezel, just where you’d expect to see one on a smartphone, alongside a light sensor. The latter, however, doesn’t seem to be associated with the screen’s auto-brightness, but to enable the LED flash located on the rear. The flash can also act as a torch, which can be switched on via the Onyx Control Center accessible by swiping down from the top right corner of the screen.

Above the flash is a 16MP rear camera that can be used to scan documents and, unlike most phones, isn’t housed in a bump. So the device can lie flat on a table, which is nice. The rear plastic panel is also textured to add some grip, but Onyx has cases (the devices ships with one in the box as a bundle) that add to the heft if you’re after a little more security.

If you’ve been using a grayscale ereader already, you’re probably familiar with ones like the E Ink Carta 1200 used here, which is both responsive and sharp. What's novel here is the screen's 2:1 aspect ratio – there's nothing like it among ereaders, and it'll likely best suit those who like reading on their phone, but it will help reduce the eye fatigue that can occur when staring at an LCD or OLED display for long. I personally find my phone’s screen too small for reading, and I largely felt the same with the Palma, but I have to admit that this little tablet (can you really call it that?) is pocketable and perfect for reading on the go. 

It’s also really light, tipping the scales at 170g without a microSD card, and comfortable to hold. That makes it the perfect travel companion, especially since its 128GB storage can store hundreds of books and audio files. Thanks to its all-plastic build, it might survive an accidental drop better than your phone, but there’s no waterproofing here, much like most other Onyx devices, which is another factor that makes the price point hard to justify.

• Design & display score: 4 / 5

Power and volume buttons on the side of the Onyx Boox Palma

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Onyx Boox Palma review: User experience

  • Simpler interface than other Onyx devices but still complicated
  • Runs Android 11 with access to the Google Play Store
  • Built-in browser and music player

As with other Onyx Boox devices that were released in 2023, the Palma runs a very slimmed-down version of Android 11. Yes, that version’s a little outdated, but Onyx only moved up to Android 12 with the 2024 release of the Onyx Boox Note Air 3 and, in any case, you won’t be using an ereader for anything too financially or personally sensitive – well, I wouldn’t – so there’s probably no need to worry about security issues.

The operating system gives you access to the Google Play Store, available directly on the home screen via its icon. You can download almost any Android app, including the Kobo and Kindle apps so you can log into an existing account and purchase ebooks and other content. There’s also a native browser that will allow you to do the same via other stores. 

You can even download a music streaming service like Spotify and listen without headphones – the Palma can get quite loud! Heck, you could even use a message app that works over Wi-Fi, but note that the device disconnects the moment it’s in Sleep mode, so it may not be the most ideal way to stay in touch with people.

A camera sample on the Onyx Boox Palma

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

You can set the volume button to turn pages back and forth, and the function button on the other side can fulfil three different actions from a list of 15 via either a short press, double click or a long press.

The floating toolbar in the native library app on other Onyx devices isn’t offered here, but that’s arguably a good call, as it takes up precious screen space that the Palma can’t spare. A lot of the other customizations I’ve found to be overkill on the other Onyx ereaders have also been trimmed down, and yet there’s still quite a lot going on here. You can customize the home screen widgets, just like on a phone, add a wallpaper, change the power-off image and add a screensaver. I would recommend not bothering with the wallpaper however, as it can affect the way the home screen widgets appear.

The display renders text well and reading on the Palma is a pleasure… provided you like reading on a small screen. Pinch-to-zoom is available, which means you can change font size in the native library app easily.

The Control Center on the Onyx Boox Palma

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

You can watch videos on this screen too and also adjust the refresh rate to be faster for specific apps, but don’t expect the refresh rate to match what you’d get from your phone. YouTube videos are, for the most part, fine to watch on the Palma, but it’s all obviously in black and white. It's a similar situation with playing mobile games on the Palma – while it's quite responsive and its processor handles graphics remarkably well, something that really impressed me, we can't imagine wanting to use this for anything other than simple games (like puzzle, word or card games) without much animation.

What didn’t impress, however, was the uneven screen lighting. There are random bits throughout the screen that aren't as bright as rest, which largely isn't an issue while reading, but can make a difference if you're, say, playing a game on the Palma. The Palma has the same Moon Light 2 tech used in other Onyx ereaders, and I’ve not had an issue with the smaller devices like the 6-inch Poke 5 and the Onyx Boox Page, so it’s a little surprising that the LEDs on the Palma aren’t as effective.

I would have also really liked to see stylus support here for writing and note-taking.

• User interface score: 4 / 5

Onyx Boox Palma review: Performance

  • Fast and responsive 
  • Good refresh rates for most tasks
  • Handles graphics well

The Palma has a decent processor in the form of a 2GHz 8-core Qualcomm CPU with integrated graphics. That’s a phone-grade chip that's plenty for most ereaders and, paired with 6GB of RAM, is enough to handle mobile games with some heavy graphics requirements. For example, I downloaded Sky: Children of the Light, which is a resonably graphics-intensive game and, despite the lack of colors, it was easy to play on the Palma. The device did get a little warm, but no more than what my iPhone 13 Max gets when playing the same game.

On-screen controls while playing were smooth, which is the same case when doing anything else that needs fast response times. Whether typing via the on-screen keyboard or navigating using gestures and taps, the display is responsive and peppy. I experienced no lag at any time during my weeks-long testing. 

Onyx Boox Palma display versus the Kobo Clara Colour

The Kobo Clara Colour alongside the Onyx Boox Palma (Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Onyx has an array of refresh rates it offers on most of its devices, which I’ve previously said don’t do much to reduce ghosting. That thankfully wasn't an issue on the Palma, as I experienced no ghosting while reading or when navigating between apps and screens.

As I’ve already mentioned, the speaker can get loud and doesn’t sound too bad – the sound quality and volume are similar to a lot of budget phones out there. I’d still pair a set of Bluetooth headphones with it though, as I personally like bass, which the Palma doesn’t offer much of. For listening to audiobooks and podcasts, however, that speaker is great.

Overall, the performance here is better than the brand’s own 6-inch Onyx Boox Poke 5 ereader, and a touch better than the 2022 Kindle or the Kobo Clara 2E. I’ve been testing the new Kobo Clara Colour alongside the Palma and, while I can’t compare the two devices as the screens are different, both devices are on par in speed and responsiveness.

The rear camera is intended to be used to scan documents; it isn't meant for taking actual photos like a phone can, and there's no native camera app. Unfortunately, it isn't great at scanning. The included DocScan app lets you take photos, which you can edit and export as PDFs. There is also OCR (optical character recognition) available within DocScan to convert words within the image into text, but the final results were quite garbled and nonsensical in my testing. I think I'd stick with my iPhone for quick document scans instead.

OCR on the scan app of the Onyx Boox Palma

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Battery life is where most Onyx Boox tablets shine, and that’s the case here as well. If you’re just reading on the Palma for say, 30 minutes a day, you can easily eke out two months of reading, if not more, on a single charge – even with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on all the time. In my case, I used it to read, listen to music, play mobile games and browse the web, and I still got about 6 weeks of use, with the battery dropping to 20% from full – so I still had a ways to go before it ran dry.

Topping it up can take a while, depending on how low you let the battery level drop. It took over two hours to go from 30% to full when plugged into a 65W wall adapter and using a good quality USB cable, but then it is a larger battery than most such devices typically use. A progress notification is visible on the display when in Sleep mode as soon as you plug the Palma in for a charge.

A graphics-heavy game on the Onyx Boox Palma

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Should I buy the Onyx Boox Palma?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

It’s a little hard to compare the Onyx Boox Palma to other devices because it has no real counterparts. However, because it’s an ereader at heart, I’ve listed a few alternatives to consider if you’re not sold on the Palma.

How I tested the Onyx Boox Palma

Onyx Boox Palma wallpaper and apps

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)
  • Used every day for three weeks, intermittently for a more extended period
  • Used it to read, listen to music and play mobile games
  • Downloaded other apps from the Play Store to use

I’ve had the Onyx Boox Palma for a couple of months now and have used it on and off since it arrived. However, for the purposes of this review, I used it every single day for about three weeks to read, listen to music and audiobooks, and download apps from the Play Store.

These included the Kindle and Kobo apps so I could access my existing libraries on both platforms, but I also sideloaded some ebook titles to read via the native library application. The other apps I used were Dropbox and a notes application.

To test the device’s performance, I also downloaded a graphics-intensive mobile game and played it for about 20 minutes. The other content I had on the Palma included music files so I could test the native player, as well as the speaker performance.

To test the rear camera’s performance, I used it to scan a printout and a page from an appliance manual. I also tried the OCR feature on both and tested how easy it is to export or share these documents.

Read more about how we test

[First reviewed April 2024]

Kobo Libra Colour review: twice improved for better reading and writing
8:43 am | April 10, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers eReaders Gadgets Tablets | Tags: | Comments: Off

Kobo Libra Colour: Two-minute review

In April 2023, I wrote an article about how I wanted a small-screen ereader with a color display and writing features. It seems like Japanese-Canadian ereader maker Kobo heard me, releasing what I wanted – well, almost – in the Kobo Libra Colour. I would have loved an 8-inch device, but then I’ve been a fan of Kobo’s Libra line of 7-inch ereaders since the first one was launched in 2019. They’ve been TechRadar’s pick of the best ereaders since then, including the Kobo Libra 2 from 2021.

The trend continues with the Kobo Libra Colour, which is a double-whammy upgrade over its predecessor. 

The Libra Colour looks identical to the Libra 2, which I think is great – why fix something that isn’t broken? The page-turn buttons and the slightly curved thicker bezel make the ereader really comfortable to hold and use in one hand. What’s new, though, is its display.

As the name indicates, the Kobo Libra Colour gets the E Ink Kaleido 3 screen that supports 4,096 hues, and is currently the best color e-paper display being used on consumer devices.

I compared the Libra Colour with what I would consider its biggest rival, the Onyx Boox Tab Mini C, and thanks to the smaller size of the screen (7 inches vs 7.8 inches), text and images on the Libra Colour are sharper and the colors slightly more saturated even though they both use the same screen technology. While I admit I prefer the slightly larger screen for note-taking, the 7-inch Libra Colour is the sweet spot when it comes to portability. It's also a lot lighter than its competition.

While the color display alone would make it a worthy update, Kobo didn’t seem to be satisfied with just one new feature – the company also gave the Libra Colour writing capabilities. It inherits all the notebook features from the Kobo Sage and Kobo Elipsa 2E, but now lets you add some color to your notes. You can choose the ink and highlight colors, plus the type of pen, the thickness of the nib and more. And the handwriting recognition is something I’ve not been able to fault for a long time, but that, of course, depends on how badly you tend to scribble.

Writing on the Libra Colour is different to how it feels like on the Kobo Sage or the Elipsa 2E – it’s a lot smoother, not at all like writing on actual paper. It’s not quite as good as writing on the Amazon Kindle Scribe either – it feels like you're gliding over excessively smooth plastic and is my only complaint with this device.

Reading and writing in color takes a little extra power, so Kobo has updated the processor too, now using a 2GHz CPU compared to the 1GHz we saw in the Libra 2. And, of course, the same features can drain the battery, so the capacity here is larger as well, going from a 1,500mAh pack to 2,050mAh.

You still get 32GB of (non-expandable) storage, Bluetooth support so you can listen to audiobooks, and USB-C charging that debuted with the Libra 2 in 2021. 

And you get all this for not a lot more than what the Libra 2 retails for at the time of writing, which is something I have to give Kobo credit for. This is arguably one of the more affordable color note-taking tablets on the market now and offers excellent value, just like its predecessor.

Neal Sephenson's Zodiac book cover displayed in color on the Kobo Libra Colour ereader

While not as saturated as you'd see on an LCD screen, the Kobo Libra Colour displays colors well on its e-paper screen (Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Kobo Libra Colour review: Price and availability

  • Launch price of $219.99 / £219.99 / AU$359.95
  • Available to purchase off shelves from April 30, 2024
  • Kobo Stylus 2 and sleepcover sold separately

Available in two colors – black and white – the Kobo Libra Colour is quite competitively priced at $219.99 / £219.99 / AU$359.95. That, as I’ve just mentioned, makes it a lot more affordable than some of its competition. However, it doesn’t ship with a stylus, so if you want to take full advantage of the Libra Colour’s new features, you’ll need to invest an additional $69.99 / £69.95 / AU$119.95 for the Kobo Stylus 2. The good thing about this pen is that it charges via USB-C, so there’s no ongoing battery costs to worry about.

Even with the price of the stylus piled on, it’s still cheaper than the likes of the Onyx Boox Tab Mini C, which is currently my pick for the best color ereader and retails for $450 / £450 / AU$765. That said, it’s hard comparing the two as the Onyx ships with a capacitive stylus, has a bigger 7.8-inch screen, has 64GB of storage (compared to 32GB in the Libra Colour) and a 5,000mAh battery that’s double of what Kobo offers in its biggest ereader.

Another point of comparison would be the 7.8-inch PocketBook InkPad Color 3 that will set you back $329 / £345 / AU$595 and not offer you any writing features.

Long story short, the Kobo Libra Colour, just like its predecessor, is pretty good value. To add a little more comparison, the Kobo Libra 2 currently retails for $189.99 / £169.99 / AU$319.95 at full price, so it really isn't a huge leap in price.

The My Books tab on the Kobo Libra Colour ereader

You can choose to view your library as a list or as a gallery in the My Books tab (Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Kobo Libra Colour review: Specs

Kobo Libra Colour review: Design and display

  • Identical body to the Kobo Libra 2
  • 7-inch E Ink Kaleido 3 touchscreen
  • Magnetic edge to hold the (optional) stylus

For someone who’s used the previous two Kobo Libra ereaders, I will admit to initially being a little disappointed that the design hasn’t changed over the Libra 2. That’s only because I’ve been seeing it since 2019, but I’ll also be the first to admit that it’s one of the most ergonomic designs I've used in an ereader. 

Built for single-hand use, the edge of the thicker bezel is still slightly curved upward, with the two page-turn buttons perfectly placed to provide a comfortable grip. The back panel is textured, which adds to the secure grip, and the power switch on the rear is still the same round, concave. Also inherited from the Libra 2 is the round, white indicator light that glows when you pop a USB-C cable into the charging port. The entire thing is still encased in plastic, which is made from 80% recycled materials, including ocean-bound plastics.

It’s quite impressive that Kobo has managed to keep the weight of the device down despite using a larger capacity battery in the Libra Colour. It weighs just 199.5g without a case, which is lighter than the Libra 2 that tips the scales at 215g.

The slightly curved edge on the thicker bezel of the Kobo Libra Colour ereader

Subtle design elements make the Kobo Libra Colour quite ergonomic (Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

For anyone who’s planning on using the new Libra Colour for note-taking and scribbling, Kobo has ensured the stylus stays magnetically secure on the edge of the slim bezel. I’ve complained previously that this magnetic edge on some ereaders isn’t always very secure, but it seems quite strong here.

Speaking of the pen: it’s recommended that you use the Kobo Stylus 2 with the Libra Colour, which is the only one of Kobo’s pens that will stick to the side of the device. That said, the older Kobo Stylus will also work on the Libra Colour, but can’t be secured magnetically and requires a single AAAA battery. The Stylus 2, on the other hand, charges via USB-C and is, thus, lighter.

What stands out from a design perspective is the screen – it can display colors! It still retains the 7-inch screen size of the other Libra devices, but utilizes the E Ink Kaleido 3 display that I’ve seen in other color ereaders like the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C and the Onyx Boox Tab Mini C. While this screen tech can display 4,096 colors, they don’t appear as saturated as they look on a phone, laptop or tablet – they’re a little muted in comparison, but that’s the limitation of the e-paper screen technology.

The 7-inch screen on the Libra Colour, however, makes the colors look a touch truer as compared to what you’d see on a 7.8-inch or larger e-apaper screen, even when the bigger devices share the same screen tech and resolution. This is because on the smaller screen the pixels are packed more tightly together, providing more contrast. You get 150ppi resolution when reading in color (as with all other color ereaders using this screen), but it’s 300ppi when you’re viewing something in black and white, which is standard for monochrome ebook readers.

Textured rear panel on the Kobo Libra Colour ereader

A textured rear panel adds to the Kobo Libra Colour's grip (Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

While Onyx uses a glass sheet as the top layer of its display, Kobo seems to have adopted plastic – one way to keep costs low. This top layer is very smooth, which you can feel when writing on the device and the experience of scribbling on the Libra Colour is likely going to take some getting used to. It feels like you’re writing over a sheet of very smooth plastic, with no friction at all and I can't say I'm a fan.

As with all the more premium Kobo ereaders, the Libra Colour screen is also lit up with ComfortLight Pro which, when set to, automatically changes the light hue from cool to warmer tones as the day progresses. This reduces the amount of blue light hitting your eye closer to bedtime.

One issue I’ve had previously with some ereaders, particularly with a black chassis, are oily fingerprint smudges. I was sent the white colorway of the Libra Colour for this review which, like the Libra 2, shows no such thing. I haven’t seen the black version of this device so can’t tell for sure whether this will be an issue or not, but I didn’t have this problem with the Libra H2O, so I’m going to hope not.

USB-C port on the side of the Kobo Libra Colour ereader

The USB-C port can be used to charge the device or transfer files (Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Kobo Libra Colour review: User interface

  • Easy-to-use, streamlined interface
  • Full suite of Kobo’s writing features
  • Notes easily exported to Google Drive and Dropbox

I’ve always been a fan of Kobo’s user interface – it’s streamlined, very easy to navigate and wrap your head around. It only takes minutes to figure your way around if you’ve never used a Kobo device before. That hasn’t changed but, for the Libra line, there is one major difference to the interface.

There is now the My Notebooks tab smack bang in the center of the bottom navigation bar. This gives you the full suite of Kobo’s writing features, including the Advanced Notebooks that I said made the Kobo Elipsa 2E a better note-taker than the Amazon Kindle Scribe. I will admit that writing on a 7-inch screen, particularly if there’s a lot to jot down, can feel a little constricted, but then I have been using the 10-inch Kobo Elipsa 2E as my everyday ereader and note-taker for the last few months, so dropping down to a smaller notebook size is my bias and may not bother other users.

The other change to the interface is the addition of color… and I don’t mean the book covers displayed on the home screen. Every time you select a tab from the bottom navigation bar, it changes color from black to brown. In fact, if you’re downloading books – whether from Dropbox, Google Drive or the Kobo Store – the status bar is also the same color. That’s a nice touch that I haven’t seen in other color ereaders I’ve tested.

Everything else about the Libra Colour is quintessential Kobo – good file format support, including EPUBs that Amazon requires you to jump through hoops to read on a Kindle. There are a total of 10 document file types that Kobo supports by default, and this includes text and comic formats. There are also four image files supported. The only audio file support, though, is for Kobo’s own audiobooks that you can download from the Kobo Store or via a subscription to Kobo Plus. Note that Kobo Plus isn’t available in all markets that Kobo operates in, but it is in the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and select European countries.

A person making brightness adjustments on the Kobo Libra Colour ereader

Kobo's user interface is very easy to wrap your head around (Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

As I’ve mentioned earlier in this review, you can sign into either Dropbox or Google Drive to help transfer books. The partnership with Google is relatively new, so Kobo has a single-page instruction sheet (in PDF) already in the device’s library. It’s very seamless to use either cloud service, and that also holds true for transferring any notes or notebooks. The latter can also be accessed via the Kobo app on your phone if you need any of them in a pinch.

Unlike the newer monochrome Kobo devices like the Sage and Elipsa 2E, there is no dark mode on the Libra Colour because the E Ink screen used doesn’t support it and, if you want to see colors, you aren’t going to need it. However, there are amber LEDs that allow you to change the white light hue to warmer tones if you want to cut down on blue light. And you can easily adjust this by tapping on top of the screen to bring up the quick controls. Like the previous Libra 2 and the newer models, you can set the light temperature to change automatically at a specific time in the evening or night. You can also slide up and down the left edge of the screen to change brightness.

OverDrive, as with all Kobo ereaders, is still baked in and despite it being replaced by Libby on mobile, it is still supported on the e-ink tablets. This means, if your local public library also has OverDrive support, you can borrow digital books and magazines directly from your device without having to leave home – you just need a library card.

A drawing in color on the Kobo Libra Colour ereader

Writing and drawing on the Kobo Libra Colour feels like the stylus is gliding (or slipping) over very smooth plastic (Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Pocket support is also integrated into the Libra Colour. This is a browser plugin that allows you to save online articles to read later – you just sign into your Pocket account on the Kobo and you’ll have access to anything you’ve previously saved.

Auto-rotation is also available, so you can read in either portrait or landscape mode. This can get a little annoying, though, as a small change in angle when holding the device can change the orientation of the page you’re on. So you can lock the orientation to one or the other to prevent this from happening.

Admittedly Onyx Boox devices give you plenty more options when it comes to customization and functionality within the user interface, but I think they’re overkill and it takes a steep learning curve to get the hang of it all.

Highlights and handwritten annotations on the Kobo Libra Colour ereader

You can highlight passages in color and add handwritten annotations to books on the Kobo Libra Colour (Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Kobo Libra Colour review: Performance

  • Sharp display, with good colors due to screen size
  • Excellent handwriting recognition
  • Very responsive, but a couple of functions have a significant lag

Adding features to a tech product means it’s going to need some extra power to make sure things run smoothly and Kobo has done that by upgrading the processor for the Libra Colour. Instead of the previous 1GHz CPU, it’s now 2GHz and that seems to do the trick. After two weeks with the Libra Colour, I’ve had nothing to complain about, although there are two very specific functions that suffer from a significant lag.

Opening an ebook from either the home screen or the My Books page keeps you waiting about 7-10 seconds before something happens. Similarly, the Back To Home button on the top left corner of a page also takes a few seconds to initiate. I’m putting this down to teething problems for now and it’s a software issue, so I think it’s likely fixable via a firmware update.

Everything else, though, runs smoothly. There’s no lag when writing and drawing, neither are there any when triggering a page turn either via the buttons or tapping on the screen. Using the onscreen keyboard is also quite good.

Kobo Libra Colour and the Onyx Boox Tab Mini C displaying the same book cover

The Kobo Libra Colour's smaller size makes colors appear a touch more saturated than on a larger screen like the Onyx Boox Tab Mini C (Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

I’ve tested color ereaders before in the 7.8-inch size category as well as 10-inch, and I’ve come to expect a lack of saturation when viewing in color. The Libra Colour exceeded my expectations, not because Kobo is doing anything differently, but because the smaller screen packs the pixels more tightly, adding more contrast which, in turn, gives some images depth and better saturation. 7 inches isn’t ideal for reading comics and graphic novels, but just to see better color saturation I would recommend it. Even highlight colors available when reading a title – which are the same across all color-screen ereaders – look a touch more saturated in comparison to larger-screen devices.

One thing that Kobo has always done well is handwriting recognition and that’s been brought over to the Libra Colour. This feature only works in the Advanced Notebooks when you want to digitize your scribbles, but it can even recognize sub- and superscripts. I had two other colleagues try this feature and Kobo almost aced it each time – it misspelt only one word that no human was able to decipher anyway.

Kobo Libra Colour ereader handwriting recognition test

Handwriting recognition on the Kobo Libra Colour is spot on most of the time (Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

During my limited time with the Libra Colour, I experienced no ghosting – something that bothers me no end with Onyx ereaders. Two weeks with the device, however, may not be enough to say for sure that ghosting won’t be a problem, and I would expect some along the way. Still, I am impressed.

Additional functionality with a better CPU needs to be matched with enough battery life to keep an ereader going for weeks as opposed to days. So Kobo has upped the battery capacity in the Libra Colour to 2,050mAh compared to 1,500mAh in the Libra 2. This got me about 14 hours of use in total. 

My testing was a little sporadic, averaging about 45 minutes of use over each day over two weeks (sometimes a little more, sometimes less). I started using the device straight out of the box at 82% battery life and didn’t top up till it hit 19% after two weeks. I’d say that’s pretty good, considering I was writing, reading and listening to audiobooks via Bluetooth. I had Wi-Fi on all the time, the screen was set at 20% brightness, and a refresh set to every 5 pages. It’s also important to note that a page refresh occurs more frequently when writing, and every erase triggers another refresh too. So the bigger battery capacity is definitely working in Kobo’s favor here.

Topping up via the USB-C port is quick, but like the previous Kobos, trickle charging kicks in at about 96%. It took the Libra Colour about 55 minutes to go from 19% to 96%, then another 45 minutes to top up completely. While it might seem annoying to have to wait that long for just a tiny bit more charge, trickle charging can preserve the battery, adding to its overall lifespan.

Should I buy the Kobo Libra Colour?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

I think the Kobo Libra Colour is the Japanese-Canadian brand’s best device yet, but if you’re not convinced and need alternatives, take a look at the two options below, including a specs comparison with this ereader.

How I tested the Kobo Libra Colour

A hand holding the Kobo Libra Colour ereader to read

The Kobo Stylus 2 can stay magnetically secure to the slim edge of the Kobo Libra Colour (Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)
  • Used as main reading and writing device for two weeks
  • Listened to audiobooks via a Kobo Plus subscription
  • Used Google Drive to transfer files, including notes written on the device

My regular e-ink device is the Kobo Elipsa 2E, but switching to the Libra Colour was just a matter of signing into my Kobo account to sync all my ebooks, notes and also access my Kobo Plus subscription. 

I also have an existing library of ebooks in the EPUB format saved in Google Drive, so signing into that via the Libra Colour’s More tab gave me instant access to those, from where I saved a handful of titles to read on the device. 

While I can’t draw to save my life, I did some random scribbling on the device – both while reading a book as well as in notebooks. I even got some colleagues to try the handwriting recognition feature.

I have an existing Kobo Plus subscription which gave me access to audiobooks on the Libra Colour, and I spent about 20 minutes listening to one title during my testing of the device.

All new notes and annotations that I made on the Libra Colour automatically updated to my Kobo Elipsa 2E as soon as it connected to Wi-Fi, giving me access across multiple devices.

Read more about how we test

[First reviewed April 2024]

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