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I went to an Apple store to check out the thinnest iPads ever. Does 0.08 inches really make a difference?

I went to an Apple store to check out the thinnest iPads ever. Does 0.08 inches really make a difference?
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apple ipad pro with keyboard case on table

Better by a sliver?

Adam Breeden/ZDNET

I can rarely resist an enticing marketing promise.

So when Apple declared it had released the thinnest iPads yet, I felt compelled to experience their post-Ozempic nature.

I’m not entirely moved by the concept of thinness. My long experience with the MacBook Air whispered to me that too thin can actually slice your fingers if you’re not careful.

Also: M3 MacBook Air vs. M2 MacBook Air: Which Apple laptop should you buy?

Indeed, the M2 Macbook Air I have now is blessedly thicker — and less sharp at the edges — than previous editions.

Still, I went to an Apple store, ready to be excited, stunned, and — indeed — seduced.

Thin ain’t what it used to be

Apple stores haven’t changed much over the last many years, so the iPads, being the newest new things, were placed near the front door.

I wandered over to the iPad table and perused with purpose and passion.

Here was an iPad Mini, there was a new 11-inch iPad, further along was a new 11-inch iPad Pro and finally a new 13-inch iPad Pro.

I confess, I still have a fairly old iPad Pro. It’s heavy compared to any of these new wares, but it still functions and, as it wasn’t exactly cheap, I persevere with it, though sans enthusiasm.

I was ready, then, to be nudged toward the future.

I picked up each iPad in turn. I poked at them. I turned them sideways. Their similarity as family members was uncanny.

Also: The best iPads of 2024: Expert tested and reviewed

Please remember, though, that Apple had inserted thinness in my mind, albeit with an ad that caused ululations of hurt and grief in equal measure.

So as I picked them up, I was primed to believe in the thin new world.

Thinly-veiled confusion?

Then I realized I’d made a mistake. Or, perhaps, Apple had.

One of the iPads Apple had displayed along this row of charm was actually the older, 10th generation 11-inch iPad. To my initial inspection, it looked identical to the new 11-inch iPad.

They were right next to each other, so it was easy to compare. The one in my left hand felt no heavier — nor, indeed, thinner — than the one in my right hand.

I was forced to look, therefore, at the product comparisons. 

Also: iPhone 16 reports: Spatial video and ultra thin bezels coming to all models

The new 11-inch iPad is 0.03 pounds lighter than Generation 10. It’s 0.04 inches thinner. 

Are any human hands and mind sufficiently sensitive to feel the difference? 

Perhaps I was being unfair. It’s the 13-inch iPad Pro that’s the true Ozempic of the crop. It’s a whole 0.08 inches thinner than Generation 10, despite being a bigger product. 

Could I truly appreciate the improvement? I couldn’t. They both felt the same in terms of weight, which is flattering for the 13-inch Pro.

I couldn’t resist, however, checking how much heavier it was than the 11-inch 10th Generation.

It’s a fulsome 0.23 pounds heavier, yet curiously it’s 0.08 pounds lighter than the new 13-inch iPad Air.

I was sold

Perhaps you can now see how I was beginning to feel a touch bemused. What’s the benefit of the thinness that Apple is promoting? Is there any? And if you think it implies a lighter weight, how is something called the iPad Air heavier than something called the iPad Pro?

Of course, there are other specs that a potential buyer might care about. Perhaps the improved display matters to you the most.

I wanted to talk to a helpful Apple store employee to experience the different ways they could enlighten me.

Also: Apple quietly promoted an excellent iPhone feature I never knew existed

Sadly, on this particular occasion, despite 15 minutes of hovering over the iPad table in the early morning, no store employee paid me any attention. (This was despite the fact that I was wearing a fetching Ted Lasso t-shirt.)

Still, Apple managed to sell me on the 10th generation iPad — which, as my colleague Jada Jones noted, now enjoys a thinner price.

No, I didn’t buy it.

You really want to talk to a store employee first, right?

They’re great at laying it on thick, you know.

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