My 2012 iPad is ugly and slow – and I love it!

My old 4th Gen iPad with a mug of coffee resting on it.
(Image credit: Future)

My iPad is old. It's out of date. It is, on paper, a potato. It's so ancient that it's nowhere to be seen on our pretty extensive iPad generations list. I had to look up what year it got released by jotting down its model code and cross-referencing it on an online spreadsheet. A fittingly un-sexy task for my un-sexy tablet. It's a 4th Gen iPad that came out 2012, and I bloody love it.

But why do I care for this chunk of metal? A while ago, philosopher Alain de Botton took time away from musing about building churches for atheists, and wrote a piece about how all new iPhone owners secretly wish they'd drop their phone, crack its screen, and finally stop stressing about dropping their new phone and cracking its screen. I can see his point. I love my crappy old iPad because I don't need to buy it an industrial-grade hard case to protect it from a light breeze. In fact, I often throw it around – across the sofa, onto the bed, or onto the floor via my partner's cack hands. The point is, this iPad is not a source of stress for me, because it is roughly worth less than a decaf flat white with oat milk. 

The screen of an old iPad.

It's fair to say my 4th Gen iPad is rarely put through its paces. (Image credit: Future)

Second thing I love about it: I don't really care if it works that well. Mainly because it doesn't, but also because I only use it for low-level internet time-wasting, something solid to rest a mug of coffee on, and as my fantasy weapon of choice to combat potential intruders (it's pretty weighty). I can't update its iOS - Apple won't let me. It is a leather-bound tome to the audio books of tech in our house, and looking at its ugly face makes me feel warm inside.

The battery is surprisingly not totally terrible. I know this because I don't have it connected to a charger at all times, like I do with my iPhone 12 and AirPods Max. In fact, I always forget to charge it, and only find out it still has battery when I randomly pick it up and, 'Woah! There's somehow 32% battery left. Let's look at some cat videos!'

My old iPad with a selection of cat videos on its display.

(Image credit: Future)

Its bezel game is rough. It has absurdly big borders. Anyone with a passing interest in tablets or TVs will know critics' fascination with bezels. The smaller the better, and the true ideal of any modern display is to achieve the much coveted 'bezel-less' state. This iPad does not do that. It has ugly, uneven, thick white margins around its display. But, turns out, when I use my iPad, I'm always more interested in the picture on the screen than the framing.

The messages list on an old 4th Gen iPad.

Another thing I love about my iPad: it's messages seem to have been frozen in time. It's truly retro! The messages list on an old 4th Gen iPad. (Image credit: Future)

People get over-excited with every new iteration of their favourite tablet (me included). And though I love to see genuine advancements to my favourite gadgets, it’s also fun to disengage from that endless ride and just appreciate how good ‘good’ really is, and not just focus on 'amazing'. Also, not every iteration is amazing. For every notable advance, such as 2021's M1-chipped iPad Pro there’s a just-OK iPad Pro (2022) who's M2 chip was more a skip than a leap.

Yes, there's prettier tablets than my 2012 iPad. There's also slimmer, faster, and better in just about any criteria you can think of. If you're a digital artist there's the handy 6th Gen iPad mini; if you're a video or photo editor, there's the recently released Pros. But I appreciate the simplicity of this crappy tab. I can turn it on in the morning, sip my coffee and smudge a finger through the news, and remember when doing such a thing on a tablet was once a cutting edge concept. 

I love my 4th Gen iPad because it provides a millisecond time travel back into the light-speed history of iPads. My 4th Gen iPad represents a stress-free, care-free, but definitely not bezel-free interaction with tech that, as a writer on a design and tech web site, I rarely get to enjoy... Makes for a great frisbee too. 

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Beren Neale
Deals Editor

Beren has worked on creative tech magazines and websites at Future Publishing for 13 years. He started this journey as Staff Writer on the digital art magazine ImagineFX, and in 2012 found himself bridging the magazine/website divide as Commissioning Editor on the newly launched Creative Bloq. Since then he took the editor role on ImagineFX, was Launch Editor of the fine art magazine Paint & Draw, moved to Canon Pro Europe website as Deputy Editor, and then edited the graphic design magazine Computer Arts. In 2020 he moved back to Creative Bloq, the biggest global art and design website, and as Deals Editor has applied his expertise in creative tech to help digital creatives get the best deals on the kit that they need and love. Outside of work, Beren likes nothing better than to climb himself a bit of rock.