Introduced in September 2021 alongside the iPad Mini 6 and the iPhone 13 line, the entry-level 2021 iPad 10.2 or the Apple iPad 9th Gen is one of the best tablets in the market for 2021 and 2022 because of its large screen display, capable hardware specifications, and a starting price point that can appeal to budget-conscious people.
It unquestionably looks boring and unimaginative. The overall form factor remains similar to the previous generations of the entry-level iPad line. Furthermore, when compared to similarly priced or more affordable Android tablets, it looks outdated.
But the beauty of this ninth-generation entry-level iPad from Apple rests not on its large bezels nor its considerably bulky appearance but on the hardware improvements that can easily match or even outperform the capabilities and functionalities of the third-generation iPad Air or the 2019 iPad Air and the second-generation iPad Pro.
Pros of iPad 9th Gen (2021): New Features and Selling Points
The most noteworthy advantage of iPad 9th Gen, especially when compared to the previous generation entry-level iPad, is the Apple A13 Bionic system-on-a-chip that provides drastic improvements in hardware performance. Of course, alongside this new chipset are new features and other improvements.
Below are the key features and advantages of this new device:
• Better CPU and GPU: The overall central processing and graphics processing capabilities of this new device are comparable to the iPhone 11 line of smartphones. It can even go toe-to-toe with the iPad Air 3 and the second-generation iPad Pro.
• True Tone: Another new software feature of the iPad 9th Gen is True Tone. This feature fine-tunes the brightness and color temperature of the 10.2-inch Liquid Retina IPS LCD based on the surrounding lighting conditions for more comfortable viewing.
• Improved Cameras: The front-facing camera is a 12-megapixel ultra-wide sensor for a clearer and more vivid picture and video quality. The back camera has an 8-megapixel wide camera for taking snaps in the surroundings or scanning documents.
• Center Stage: Another notable feature of the entry-level 2021 iPad 10.2 is Center Stage, Also found in the iPad Mini 6, iPad Air 4, and the iPad Pro, it provides an automatic digitally pan to keep a user centered in the frame.
• Smart Folio Keyboard: Similar to the previous generation, this new device also supports the Apple Smart Folio Keyboard, as well as other keyboard accessories from third-party manufacturers.
• First-Gen Apple Pencil: It also supports stylus input using the first-generation Apple Pencil for taking down notes, annotating and signing documents, digital sketching and painting, and performing specific gestures.
• Headphone Jack: The 2021 iPad 10.2 is the only remaining iPad that sports a 3mm headphone jack. Note that a lot of high-tier smartphones and tablets have removed the jack for a slimmer and more water-resistant design.
• 64GB and 256GB Storage: Compared to the eight-generation iPad, another advantage of the iPad 9th Gen is that its base model comes with 64GB of storage and another model with 256GB of storage. The previous gen comes with a 32GB base model.
• The iPadOS: Of course, what makes this new device a worthwhile tablet is the iPadOS. Users have access to the enormous library of high-quality apps while enjoying long-term software support. Apple is also infamous for its software-hardware integration.
Cons of iPad 9th Gen (2021): Limitations and Key Issues
The most important advantage of the iPad 9th Gen is that it is the most affordable device among the existing iPad line of tablet computers from Apple. However, this device has some limitations and issues that might discourage some buyers.
Below are the key issues and disadvantages of this device:
• Outdated Design: Aesthetics is a noticeable disadvantage of the 2021 iPad 10.2. The bezels are still large on both the top and bottom portions, as well as on the left and right sides. The entire form factor looks bulky.
• Lack of USB-C Port: The iPad Mini 6 and the newer generations of the Air and Pro all use a USB-C port, thus making them easily compatible with a range of external hardware and other peripherals. This entry-level iPad still uses the Lightning port.
• Non-Laminated Display: Its Liquid Retina display is bright and crisp. However, compared to its other siblings, it is still a non-laminated display. A laminated display provides a better user and overall visual experience.
• Low Refresh Rate: Screens with 90Hz to 120Hz refresh rates are becoming the norm. However, the iPad 9th Gen still uses a screen with a 60Hz refresh rate. This can be noticeable to people accustomed to high refresh rates.
• A13 Bionic Chip: The A13 Bionic chip is powerful. But it is two generations behind compared to the iPad Mini 6. It is still a very capable chipset, but it would not be able to deliver more advanced and Pro-like capabilities.
Verdict: The Good and Bad About the iPad 9th Gen (2021)
It cannot be denied that there are strong reasons to buy the iPad 9th Gen. Also referred to as the 2021 iPad 10.2 or the iPad 9, the A13 Bionic chipset and the relatively affordable price point are two of the biggest advantages and thus, key selling points of this device.
First-time iPad users, individuals upgrading to at least two-generation-old entry-level of iPads and the iPad Air, or those planning to switch from an Android tablet, will find this new device from Apple a sensible purchase. The capable hardware makes it ideal for content consumption and average to above-average usage.
Of course, those who are in the market for a portable but more capable tablet might be better off buying the latest generations of the Air and the Pro. The iPad Mini 6 also provides a specific use case for individuals who want a more portable yet powerful tablet.