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The New 2021 Apple 10.2-inch iPad
- Gorgeous 10.2-inch Retina display with True Tone
- A13 Bionic chip with Neural Engine
- 8MP Wide back camera, 12MP Ultra Wide front camera with Center Stage
- Up to 256GB storage
- Stereo speakers
- Touch ID for secure authentication and Apple Pay
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi
- Up to 10 hours of battery life
- Lightning connector for charging and accessories
- Works with Apple Pencil (1st generation) and Smart Keyboard
The ninth-generation iPad for 2021 doesn’t deliver any surprises, but it doesn’t need to. Starting at $329, it’s Apple’s most affordable tablet, yet it easily outpaces Android models that cost twice as much. And while it may look the same as last year’s iPad, there are some major changes under the hood, including a more powerful processor, double the storage, and improved cameras. It’s just the right size and price for most people, earning our Editors’ Choice award and making it the tablet we recommend most out of Apple’s lineup.
So if you’ve picked up a recent iPad, this year’s model won’t feel much different. It measures 9.8 by 6.8 by 0.3 inches (HWD), weighs 1.1 pounds, and frames its 10.2-inch screen with a visible bezel, big enough to include the Touch ID button that’s missing from the iPad Pro. The enclosure is made from recycled aluminum, in your choice of gray or silver. The rose gold color that was available for the past few years is no longer an option.
The base model comes with 64GB of storage, plenty if you primarily use cloud storage and applications. Gamers, creatives, and people who love having lots of apps and local media will want to shell out an extra $150 for the 256GB model. If you want or need LTE connectivity, it’s going to set you back another $130 (there’s no 5G option). You can skip it if you’re happy tethering to your phone’s data plan, or primarily use your tablet on your home Wi-Fi network. The front of the iPad is dominated by a 10.2 inch, 2,160-by-1,620 LCD. The display is bright, crisp, and perfect for use indoors. True Tone, a feature that adjusts brightness and color temperature, makes its debut on the entry-level iPad this year, which is also great for indoor use.
For the price, it’s hard to expect too much more. I can’t think of any $300 tablets with high refresh rates, OLED panels, or laminated displays. And while there are some inexpensive options with less pronounced bezels, Apple’s Touch ID sensor is pretty hard to beat.
The iPad is powered by the same two-year-old A13 Bionic core used in the iPhone 11 series, netting a 20% boost in processing power versus the A12 in the 2020 edition. While that may not seem like a ton of extra pep in the iPad’s step, it makes a significant difference in day-to-day use. It also means you’ll see at least three to four years of iPadOS updates
Unless you’re working in extremely processor-intensive tasks like 4K editing, the iPad has more than enough power to get the job done. In testing, it was powerful enough to chew through demanding games like Alto’s Odyssey and Genshin Impact with ease. We put the iPad through its paces for several days and didn’t experience a single stutter—an impressive feat for the price.
Although iPadOS 15 is a significant improvement over its predecessors, it’s not going to replace your laptop operating system full time. But it can certainly sub in for short stretches. iPadOS 15 is Apple’s fastest and most privacy-oriented operating system to date, with a robust library of apps that work seamlessly on any size display. That may not sound like a big deal, but if you’ve used an Android tablet, you’ve almost certainly experienced the frustration of encountering a wonky app that doesn’t scale or work properly.