Hi! My name is Daniel Lim Jhao Jian. Here is where I share my experience, knowledge and ideas. You are welcome to leave comments and follow my blog. You are free to copy anything from this blog. Please recommend this blog to your friends.

Saturday 17 August 2019

The story of my iPad Air

The first iPad was introduced by Apple in March 2010, and it became quite popular throughout the world. I was reading a monthly IT magazine at that time. The author of that magazine was a huge fan of Microsoft and he didn't like Apple. He wrote about the iPad, criticising it as being just an enlarged version of the iPod that doesn't have much uses. This was how I found out about the iPad. Influenced by the magazine's author, I had a negative impression towards the iPad.

In May 2012, my mother bought herself an iPad 3. I took a look at it and was unimpressed with its user interface. Therefore, I had no interest in using that device. In January 2013, I started studying A Level at Taylor's College. There, many of my classmates had an iPad, and even the lecturers were using iPads in their teaching. I realised that the iPad is actually more useful than what I previously thought, but I still didn't like it, as I felt that it cannot compare with a real computer.

At that time, I had just upgraded my Acer laptop to Windows 8. The user interface of Windows 8 is specifically designed to work well with touchscreens, but it's not well suited for computers without touchscreen. As my Acer laptop doesn't have a touchscreen, I wasn't quite satisfied with the Windows 8 experience. To make matters worse, I accidentally damaged the laptop's hard drive when installing Windows 8, and my laptop became quite slow since then.

I had a Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman phone at that time. It was a terrible phone, with very limited storage and very bad performance. As a result, I couldn't use it for most computing tasks, and I had to use my Acer laptop most of the time. Later, I began to feel that my laptop was too bulky as it couldn't be carried around easily. I then realised that I needed a new computer. I wanted a touchscreen computer that is very portable, and tablet computers would meet this criteria.

I found many tablet computers running Windows 8 on the Internet. Among them, I was particularly interested in the Surface RT, which was made by Microsoft. The Surface RT ran Windows RT, a variant of Windows 8 that could only run Microsoft Office and apps from the Windows Store but not any other programs. However, it was lighter and had better battery life compared to other tablets running the full Windows 8.

The iPad is also a tablet computer. Many people on the Internet recommended getting the iPad instead of the Surface RT, mainly because the iPad had a lot more apps available. However, I still preferred the Surface RT as it has Microsoft Office, supports USB peripheral devices and allows 2 apps to be used side-by-side, unlike the iPad. I also didn't have a very good relationship with my Taylor's College friends at that time. Since many of them were using iPads, I wanted to be different from them by getting a Surface RT.

Before buying the Surface RT, I had to make sure that apps from the Windows Store would be sufficient for me. However, I found out that Windows Store apps had some limitations and that the Windows Store only had a small number and variety of apps, which could be a problem for me if I got the Surface RT. Later, I also discovered that the iPad had models with 4G LTE while the Surface RT didn't. 4G LTE would be useful as I could have internet access on the device no matter where I go.

An incident happened on 31 July 2013. After that, I became much closer to my Taylor's College friends. Unlike in the past, I no longer had the desire to be different from them. At that time, I started considering getting an iPad. In September 2013, Apple released iOS 7 and many of my friends upgraded their iPad pretty soon. I was really impressed with the new user interface of iOS 7. Since then, I decided that I would be getting an iPad. Although it can't replace my Acer laptop, it can be used for many computing tasks, which I felt was good enough.

On 19 December 2013, I bought the iPad Air 1 at Machines in Sunway Pyramid. The iPad Air 1 was the newest iPad at that time and it had iOS 7 pre-installed. I chose the silver, 32GB, WiFi + 4G LTE model. I got a SIM card for my iPad, and it had 3GB of mobile data every month. At that time, I just realised that 4G LTE is actually very fast. In fact, it's even faster than the UniFi WiFi at my house. Previously, I had always felt that mobile internet is slow because my Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman phone only supported 3G but not 4G LTE.

I installed many apps on my iPad Air 1. Its performance was great and I was very satisfied with it. A few days later, I bought a screen protector and a cover for it. The cover was designed to provide protection to the iPad in case it's dropped. I showed my friends in Taylor's College my iPad Air 1 and they were quite impressed with it, as all their iPads were of older models. They would borrow my iPad sometimes and I was always very willing to lend it to them. I would bring along my iPad Air 1 almost anywhere I went, and I was a proud owner of it.

I used my iPad's 4G LTE most of the time, even when I was in places that had WiFi. My iPad Air 1 also had the mobile hotspot function where I could share its 4G LTE with anyone else. Back then, many of my friends didn't have mobile data on their phones and iPads. Whenever we were outdoors, they would often ask me to turn on my iPad's hotspot and I was always very happy to do so. Despite that, I almost never used up my monthly 3GB of data.

My iPad Air 1 had some small problems. It would reboot itself randomly at times, which was a common bug with iOS 7. I had the belief that my iPad Air 1 was a very tough device so it would not get damaged easily. Consequently, I didn't handle it with great care. There were several occasions where I dropped it. Sometimes, my iPad Air 1 would fail to detect the SIM card after it was dropped, which could be fixed by removing and reinserting the SIM card.

When I first got my iPad, there was a Microsoft Office app for iPhones. It could also be installed on iPads, but it wouldn't run full screen, so the user experience wasn't good. In addition, it required a paid Office 365 subscription to use. Therefore, I opted to use iWork instead, and I felt that it was a good replacement for Microsoft Office. In March 2014, Microsoft Office apps specifically designed for iPads were released. The apps had many of the advanced features from the Windows version, but were still not free to use. Therefore, I continued using iWork.

In September 2014, Apple released iOS 8. I didn't want to upgrade my iPad initially, as I really liked iOS 7. Around that time, I bought a new HTC One E8 phone. Although I really liked iOS on my iPad, I felt that the user interface of iOS is not well suited for phones, so I preferred Android phones. The HTC One E8 is a very good phone, but I still liked using my iPad Air 1 more. My HTC One E8 also supported 4G LTE, but only had 100MB of mobile data every month. I didn't bother upgrading it, as I could just use my iPad's hotspot to share its 3GB of monthly data over to my phone.

Shortly after that, I started studying MBBS at NUMed. Unlike Taylor's College, not many students at NUMed had an iPad. My friends in NUMed were also not very interested when I showed them my iPad Air 1. I upgraded my iPad to iOS 8 in October 2014. In November 2014, Microsoft made all Microsoft Office apps free to use on iPads. Since then, I stopped using iWork and switched to using Microsoft Office. This made my iPad Air 1 even more useful. I used my iPad a lot to do my studies.

In December 2014, it was the first birthday of my iPad Air 1. This also marked the end of its warranty. The first year of my iPad had been really great, and I was hoping for that to continue in the years to come. At that time, my iPad's cover had been worn out quite badly due to heavy use. Therefore, I bought a new cover for it. It made my iPad look like a new one, but unlike the old cover, it provided less protection against falls. I lied to my friends that my iPad was a new iPad Air 2, and some of them actually believed it.

On 13 January 2015, I was having an examination in the afternoon. Before the exam, I had lunch with my housemates at a restaurant. During lunch, I accidentally dropped my iPad Air 1 onto the floor. Immediately, the iPad couldn't detect it's SIM card. As I didn't bring the SIM eject tool with me, I had to wait until after the exam before I could remove and reinsert the SIM card. However, even after doing so, my iPad still couldn't detect it. I kept trying to reinsert the SIM card and restart my iPad, and I even performed a factory reset, but nothing worked.

At that point, I realised that I must have damaged my iPad's SIM card reader by dropping it. To make matters worse, the warranty of my iPad had just expired less than 1 month ago. It didn't help that I performed poorly in my exam on that day. That was definitely a very unlucky day for me. I brought my iPad Air 1 to an Apple store, and they told me that they wouldn't repair it, instead they offered to replace it with a new one for a price of RM1300. I refused to accept the offer as I felt that it was very unreasonable.

Not being able to detect the SIM card meant that my iPad Air 1 could no longer access 4G LTE, so it had to rely on WiFi all the time. Although the NUMed accommodation had WiFi, it was slow and unstable at times. Whenever I brought my iPad Air 1 outdoors, I wouldn't have internet access. This was definitely a huge inconvenience for me. It was quite embarrassing when my housemates knew about it, because earlier I boasted to them that my iPad could survive even a fall from a height of 17 floors.

In February 2015, I went back to Kulim for Chinese New Year. There, my iPad Air 1 was essentially useless as there was no WiFi. I then decided that I had to get my iPad repaired no matter what. I searched on the Internet for 3rd party repair shops, and I found a shop called iFix in SS15, Subang Jaya. This shop specialises in the repair of Apple products, and the customer reviews were good. They also claimed that they only use genuine Apple parts in their repair.

I brought my iPad Air 1 to iFix in March 2015. They said that my iPad wasn't damaged by the fall, instead the damage was due to contact with water. It would cost RM280 to repair it, and I agreed since it was quite reasonable. The repair was completed a few days later, and it seemed to be successful. My iPad Air 1 could once again read its SIM card and access 4G LTE. Of course, I was very glad about it.

However, a few weeks later, I noticed a problem with my iPad Air 1. Although it could access 4G LTE, the Internet connection would actually work only when the network was very strong with more than 3 bars. If the network strength was less than 3 bars, the Internet connection wouldn't work at all. This wasn't the case before the iPad's SIM card reader was damaged. Back then, if the network was weak, the Internet connection would still work, although it might be slow and unstable.

The problem was that in many places, there isn't a very strong network, so I couldn't access the Internet. Once again, it was an inconvenience for me. I tried searching on the Internet for an explanation and solution, but I couldn't find any. To this date, I don't know exactly what caused that problem. However, one thing for sure is that the problem was related to my iPad's SIM card reader which was repaired by iFix. There must be something they didn't do properly when performing the repair. I felt that it was pointless to repair my iPad again.

At that time, there were rumours on the Internet that Apple would be introducing split-screen multitasking for the iPad, which would allow 2 apps to be used at the same time. The Surface RT and other Windows tablets had this feature a long time ago. I found the feature very useful, and I really wished to have it on my iPad Air 1. In June 2015, Apple finally announced that iOS 9 would have the split-screen multitasking feature known as Split View, but much to my disappointment, it would only be available on the iPad Air 2.

Apple also announced another multitasking feature known as Slide Over, which would be available on the iPad Air 1. When using an app, Slide Over allows another app to be dragged in and used, but unlike Split View, it doesn't allow both apps to be used simultaneously. I was very upset with Apple for not giving my iPad Air 1 the Split View feature. Slide Over was a welcome addition, but I felt that it was insufficient. I started feeling a bit regret for getting the iPad Air 1, thinking that I should have waited for the iPad Air 2 instead.

Later in that month, I went to stay in Kulim for 3 weeks. As it turned out, the 4G LTE network in Kulim wasn't strong enough, so I couldn't access the Internet on my iPad Air 1. I tried disabling 4G to get a stronger 3G network, but it made no difference at all. I could access the Internet using my HTC One E8 phone, but it only had 100MB of data which I quickly used up. After exceeding the data limit, I could only access the Internet at a speed of 64kbps which is really slow.

A solution would be to exchange the SIM cards of my iPad Air 1 and my HTC One E8 so that I could have 3GB of data on my phone. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my phone's SIM eject tool to Kulim, and my iPad's tool wouldn't work with my phone as the hole on my phone's SIM tray was smaller. I tried using other sharp objects to eject the SIM tray, but they couldn't fit in the hole. Later, I finally found a pin that could fit in the hole, but for some reason it couldn't eject the SIM tray, no matter how I tried.

Eventually, I gave up out of fear that I might damage my HTC One E8. So, my phone was stuck with only 100MB of data, while my iPad Air 1 had 3GB of data that couldn't be utilised at all. Throughout the 3 weeks in Kulim, I was forced to live with a very slow 64kbps Internet connection. Luckily, the game Clash of Clans could work with 64kbps so I could still play it. The next time I went to Kulim in August 2015, I made sure to bring along my phone's SIM eject tool so that I could perform the SIM card exchange.

In September 2015, I upgraded my iPad Air 1 to iOS 9. At that time, I found out that the real reason the iPad Air 1 couldn't get the Split View feature was that it only had 1GB of RAM which was insufficient for running 2 apps at the same time. Meanwhile, Microsoft had just released Windows 10, but Windows RT tablets including the Surface RT couldn't be upgraded to Windows 10 at all. I chose to be grateful of the fact that my iPad Air 1 could at least run new apps designed for iOS 9, unlike those Windows RT tablets that couldn't run any Windows 10 apps.

One day in October 2015, it was raining very heavily and I walked through the rain carrying my iPad Air 1, which caused some rainwater to enter the iPad's connector port. After that, I noticed that my iPad's home button was no longer working. This wasn't much of a problem for me, as I hardly ever used the home button, preferring to use Assistive Touch as a substitute for it. My Taylor's College friends had previously advised me to avoid pressing the home button as it gets damaged easily.

In December 2015, I finally figured out the solution to the 4G LTE problem on my iPad Air 1. I terminated my iPad's 3GB monthly data and upgraded my phone's data plan to 2GB monthly. I also signed up Multi SIM for my mobile account and used the 2nd SIM card on my iPad. With that, both my phone and my iPad could have 2GB of shared data per month. In places where the 4G LTE network is very strong, I would use my iPad's 4G LTE connection directly; in places where the network is weaker, I would use my phone's hotspot to share its 4G LTE connection over to my iPad.

With 4G LTE problem solved, I could once again make full use out of my iPad Air 1. Although 2GB of data per month wasn't a lot, it was still sufficient for me as long as I kept an eye on the data usage and avoided wasting data unnecessarily. In April 2016, my mobile operator offered me a special promotion. As a result, my monthly data was upgraded from 2GB to 10GB. With that, I could browse the Internet comfortably without worrying about exceeding the data limit.

In September 2016, I upgraded my iPad Air 1 to iOS 10. After the upgrade, my iPad became a bit slower compared to previously. However, iOS 10 introduced several new features which I really liked. At that time, the cover and screen protector of my iPad had been in poor condition. Therefore, I decided to get a new cover and screen protector for it in October 2016. In November 2016, my mobile operator upgraded my monthly data to 20GB without additional charges.

In June 2017, Apple announced iOS 11. iOS 11 would introduce several new features for iPads, such as the Files app, the dock, improved multitasking and support for drag-and-drop. Those features seemed very useful, and I couldn't wait to try them out. During my summer break in August 2017, I upgraded my iPad Air 1 to the beta version of iOS 11. This was a risky move, as the non-functional home button on my iPad meant that I couldn't put it into DFU mode to perform a restore in case something went wrong. I also didn't backup before upgrading.

It turned out that iOS 11 wasn't as good as it seemed. The Files app had many limitations, such as the inability to create new folders or save files in the "On My iPad" folder. The lack of the Split View feature on my iPad Air 1 meant that I couldn't really make use of the improved multitasking and drag-and-drop. iOS 11 also dropped support for 32-bit apps, causing me to lose access to a few apps. Worse still, the iOS 11 beta had some bugs and was quite laggy on my iPad Air 1, but I believed that it would be fixed by the time the final version launches.

On 4 September 2017, just as I was supposed to begin my 4th year of MBBS, NUMed unexpectedly announced that every student had to resit for the 3rd year exam because of a security breach. I always do my studies on my iPad Air 1. As the final version of iOS 11 still hadn't launched at that time, I had to revise for that exam using my iPad that's running a beta version of iOS. Luckily, there weren't any issues that could affect my revision.

After upgrading my iPad Air 1 to the final version of iOS 11, it was still quite laggy. The lag was particularly noticable when launching an app. It was clear that with only 1GB of RAM, the iPad Air 1 couldn't run iOS 11 smoothly. My iPad had shown it's signs of age, and I began thinking of getting a new iPad. In December 2017, my mobile operator once again upgraded my monthly data to 40GB without additional charges. Later in that month, I bought a new Google Pixel 2 phone. It's definitely a high-end phone with very good performance.

I used my Pixel 2 phone a lot, as it's very much faster than my iPad. Meanwhile, I became quite annoyed with the lag of my iPad Air 1, so I used it less and less. I thought that iOS 11 would be the last iOS version for the iPad Air 1. However in June 2018, Apple announced that all devices running iOS 11 could be upgraded to iOS 12, and promised that iOS 12 would bring performance improvements, especially for older devices.

In August 2018, I upgraded my iPad Air 1 to the beta version of iOS 12. After the upgrade, the performance of my iPad improved slightly, and the apps could launch faster. I didn't notice any bugs with the iOS 12 beta. However, iOS 12 didn't introduce many new features. I upgraded my iPad to the final version of iOS 12 in September 2018. At that time, I just started my 5th year of MBBS. I downloaded several new ebooks to my iPad Air 1 which were required for my studies in 5th year. As a result, the amount of free storage space on my iPad became quite limited.

Despite the performance improvements of iOS 12, my iPad Air 1 was still quite laggy. I didn't want to use it much, apart from the purpose of studying. The newest iPad at that time was the iPad 6 released in March 2018. I didn't quite like it as it doesn't have a fully laminated display and anti-reflective coating, which the iPad Air 2 had. In October 2018, Apple announced the iPad Pro 3. Although I was quite impressed with the iPad Pro 3, I felt that it's too expensive. Besides, it has Face ID instead of Touch ID, but I prefer Touch ID over Face ID.

In December 2018, many of my friends in NUMed travelled to Newcastle University UK to take the Situational Judgement Test (SJT). I had wanted to do the same, but flying to UK and back would cost more than RM4000. I realised that RM4000 would be sufficient to buy a new iPad, so I decided to save the money by not taking the SJT. My plan was to wait for Apple to release the iPad 7 in 2019, hoping that it would have fully laminated display and anti-reflective coating.

In March 2019, it turned out that Apple released the iPad Air 3 and iPad Mini 5 instead of the iPad 7. Unlike iPad Air 1 and 2, the iPad Air 3 has a larger 10.5" screen and is essentially a cheaper version of the 10.5" iPad Pro 2. It has fully laminated display and anti-reflective coating, and it has Touch ID instead of Face ID. I was really impressed with the iPad Air 3 and I thought of getting it to replace my iPad Air 1.

The only issue is that the 10.5" screen means that the Microsoft Office apps won't be free to use on the iPad Air 3. Since March 2015, Microsoft has a policy where devices with a screen size of 10.1" or smaller can use Microsoft Office for free, while larger devices require a paid Office 365 subscription to use it. Although I have an Office 365 subscription provided by NUMed, it would soon end when I graduate.

A few days later, my Acer laptop broke down unexpectedly. It would forcefully switch itself off after it's in use for a few minutes, making it unusable. Through online search, I found out that the issue might be due to a dirty or non-functioning CPU fan. I got the CPU fan cleaned by a shop in Johor Bahru, but the issue persisted. As my Acer laptop was already more than 8 years old, I felt that it might be time to get a new laptop. However, it would cost too much money to get both a new laptop and a new iPad.

I thought of getting the Surface Pro 6, a laptop-tablet hybrid device running Windows 10, to replace both my Acer laptop and my iPad Air 1. I actually liked the iPad Air 3 more than the Surface Pro 6, but the fact was that only the Surface Pro 6 could fully replace my Acer laptop. I felt sad that buying the Surface Pro 6 would mean I would never be buying the iPad Air 3. However, my parents didn't want to buy me the Surface Pro 6 as they felt it's too expensive, and instead recommended a cheaper Windows laptop for me. I was unimpressed with that laptop and I didn't want it.

I then decided to have my Acer laptop repaired at a shop in Subang Jaya during my Easter break. The repair costed RM300 and it seemed to be successful. However, after I returned to Johor Bahru, the issue of my Acer laptop forcefully switching itself off returned. At that time, I was busy revising for my exams for 5th year of MBBS. As I do my revisions using my iPad Air 1, I could live without my Acer laptop for the time being. The repair shop had given me a 2 month warranty, so I planned to bring my Acer laptop back there the next time I go back to Subang Jaya.

In May 2019, my iPad Air 1 became very unstable where apps would crash randomly. I then realised that the free storage space on my iPad was close to zero. I offloaded several apps and turned on the "Optimise iPad Storage" feature for the Photos app. This regained a few GB of storage, making my iPad faster and more stable. However, there was another problem. My iPad's battery life was getting worse and worse, and sometimes its battery level would continue to fall even when it was being charged. Luckily, it didn't have any impact on my revision for the exams.

In June 2019, Apple announced that the next version of iOS would be rebranded as iPadOS for iPads. iPadOS 13 would introduce several new features such as desktop Safari browser, download manager, improved Files app, support for USB drives and support for mouse. With these features, iPads would become much more powerful and could almost completely replace a laptop. As expected, my iPad Air 1 wouldn't get the upgrade to iPadOS 13. Even if the upgrade is possible, it's likely that the performance won't be good.

The iPad Air 3 running iPadOS 13 would be able to meet vast majority of my computing needs. Therefore, I decided to get the iPad Air 3 and I no longer wanted the Surface Pro 6. Meanwhile, my Acer laptop would act as a backup computer for rare tasks that the iPad Air 3 can't perform. I sent my Acer laptop back to the repair shop in Subang Jaya and they agreed to repair it once more without any additional charges. The repair was completed in July 2019, and my laptop's problem was truly fixed this time.

On 2 August 2019, I finally bought the iPad Air 3 at Machines in Main Place Mall. I chose the gold, 64GB, WiFi + 4G LTE model. iPadOS 13 was not yet released at that time and the iPad was pre-installed with iOS 12. With much better performance, properly functioning 4G LTE, Split View feature, TouchID, better screen, greater storage and compatibility with iPadOS 13, the iPad Air 3 is definitely a much better device than the iPad Air 1. I really like my iPad Air 3 and I will definitely take good care of it. However, I will also continue to use my iPad Air 1 for as long as it continues to function.

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