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iPad (2022) vs iPad (2021): Which tablet should you buy?

hands holding the Apple iPad (10th Generation) display and using the touchscreen

Image: Apple

After locking down the web store all morning, Apple has finally taken the wraps off of the 10th-generation iPad. 

It’s not the Pro, Air, or Mini, but new features like the larger 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display, an A14 Bionic chip, a 12MP main camera, 5G, and USB-C support should give the regular iPad a little more pizzazz going into holiday shopping season.

The improvements come come at a cost, though. The 2022 iPad starts at $449, which is $120 more than what last year’s iPad sells for. That’s a hefty gap for a year-old upgrade, making the 2021 version just as enticing a starter iPad as the new model. 

If you’re on the fence about which tablet to pick up, or whether the 10th generation is worth making the jump to, here are the key reasons to buy one over the other. 

Also: Apple’s new iPad Pro comes with the M2 chip, Apple Pencil updates

Specifications

Apple iPad (10th Generation)

Apple iPad (9th Generation)

Display

10.9-inch Liquid Retina display with True Tone        

10.2-inch Retina display with True Tone            

Weight

477 g       

487 g

Processor

A14 Bionic chip with 16-core Neural Engine

A13 Bionic chip with 8-core Neural Engine

Storage 64GB/256GB 64GB/256GB
Camera 12MP f/1.8 wide, 12MP Landscape f/2.4 front 8MP f/2.4 wide, 12MP f/2.4 front  
Battery Up to 10 hours of video playback with USB-C charging Up to 10 hours of video playback with Lightning
Connectivity 5G (sub-6GHz), Wi-Fi, and cellular Wi-Fi and cellular

Colors

Silver, Pink, Blue, Yellow        

Space Gray and Silver

Price Starting at $449 Starting at $329

You should buy the iPad (10th Generation) if…

Apple iPad 10th generation in different colors

The completely resigned Apple iPad is available in four colors.

Image: Apple

1. You want an iPad for travel that gets the design right

Get this: an iPad that has symmetrical bezels, is ultralight and portable, runs on the latest version of iPadOS, has a universally accepted USB-C port and a front-facing camera that’s centered in landscape mode, and is half the price of the Pro model. All of that is very real with the 10th-generation iPad. And if you’re a digital nomad who finds the most productivity in coffee shops, shared offices, and the local park, then the new iPad — now with Wi-Fi 6, 5G (sub-6GHz), and Magic Keyboard Folio support — should be a better buy than the older model.

2. You’re a fan of one of the three new colors

When you walk into an Apple store, what gets your attention? Is it the latest processor that each device houses, or the amount of storage? Or is it the colorful array of phones and tablets that are perfectly lined against the wooden tables? If it’s that last, you’re one of many. Along with the redesigned iPad come three new colors: pink, blue, and for the first time in iPad history, yellow. The updated internal features are great to have. The unique paint jobs are the icing on the cake.  

3. You’re not satisfied with last year’s iPad

Whether it’s the old-fashioned design with the physical Touch ID button or the A13 Bionic chip’s inadequacy, the 2022 iPad looks to fix the shortcomings of last year’s iPad. For one, the new iPad’s modernized design puts makes it look more like the rest of the iPad family. The Touch ID and home button has been moved to the top of the tablet to make way for a larger display, and the upgraded A14 Bionic chip yields a 20% increase in CPU and 10% increase in graphics performance over the previous model, according to Apple.

Also: Apple unveils its ‘completely redesigned’ new iPad for 2022

You should buy the iPad (9th Generation) if…

A man using his 9th generation iPad along with an Apple Pen and Magic Keyboard.

Image: Apple

1. You can’t justify the price hike

Going from $329 to $449 is no price bump; it’s a price leap. ZDNET’s Jason Cipriani put it best when ranking the older iPad as one of the best tablets for kids: At $329, “It’s a lot of money to put in a young child’s hands, but there are plenty of rugged cases to protect your investment.” Now, that same iPad model becomes a $449 investment. Even if you’re shopping for personal use, if your intended uses are mainly video streaming, note-taking, and playing tablet games, then the ninth-generation iPad should suffice.

2. Your core technology includes an iPhone and AirPods

All right, this one may be a stretch, but I’m hopeful that it will resonate with some of you. If your core technology — the typical products that you use day in and day out — includes the iPhone and AirPods, then the ninth-generation iPad may actually be a better fit. I say this because it retains the Lightning port, the same input source that you use to charge your other Apple handsets and accessories. That means that for this ensemble, only one cable type is needed to power everything. Again, you’d be surprised how many people live and die by Apple’s Lightning standard


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