Here’s how the $329 iPad compares to its last-gen predecessor
The iPhone 13 isn’t the only Apple device set to release on September 24th, and we’re not talking about the iPad Mini 2021. During its recent “California Streaming” event, Apple also unveiled a new entry-level iPad with a new front-facing camera, a speedier processor, and double the base storage. But are the upgrades significant enough to warrant an upgrade from last year’s iPad, or even a preference for it over its predecessor if the 2020 model is on sale?
In preparation for our formal review, we’ve put together a comparison chart highlighting the similarities and differences between the 2020 iPad and the next model.
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WHAT HAS BEEN IMPROVED ON THE IPAD IN 2021?
- A front-facing camera with a 12MP ultrawide lens.
- Storage capacity is increased, with base storage beginning at 64GB.
- From 2018, the A13 Bionic chip will replace the A12 Bionic.
- True Tone technology adjusts color temperature to fit your surroundings.
Without a doubt, the new iPad’s front-facing camera, which has a greater resolution than the 1.2MP sensor seen on the 2020 model, is one of its strongest selling points. On paper, this should imply improved video quality for videoconferencing, live-streaming, and other applications. The current model additionally allows 1080p recording at both 25 and 30 frames per second, whereas the 2020 version only supports 1080p at 30 frames per second.
Additionally, thanks to Apple’s new Center Stage feature, which was previously reserved for the iPad Pro, the newest iPad can “follow” the subject as they move around the frame.
There are also some noticeable enhancements to the display, storage capacity, and performance. Compared to last year’s model, the new iPad has twice the storage capacity, with 64GB and 256GB storage options rather than 32GB and 128GB. Furthermore, the display on the new entry-level tablet can alter its color temperature to fit your environment owing to Apple’s True Tone technology, which was initially launched in 2016 with the first-generation iPad Pro. When you’re outside, for instance, the display will change to make it easier on your eyes.
WHAT ARE THE COMMON FEATURES ON BOTH MODELS?
- Slo-mo video capabilities for 720p at 120fps is provided via the 8MP rear camera with f/2.4 aperture and digital zoom.
- The general design is identical in height, width, and depth.
- Connectivity by lightning (no USB-C)
- Both have a 3.5mm headphone jack.
- The following is a list of accessories that are compatible.
- Apple claims a battery life of nine to ten hours with Wi-Fi 5 and optional LTE connectivity.
- iPadOS 15, installed on both devices.
In almost every other regard, the iPad 2021 is the same as its predecessor. The enhanced front-facing camera should result in better video calls, but the gadget still has the same 8MP wide camera on the back with an f/2.4 aperture, HDR capability, and digital zoom. Both tablets have similar video recording capabilities, including 720p at 120fps slo-mo video support.
The updated tablet retains compatibility with previous attachments like Apple’s Smart Keyboard and retains a 3.5mm headphone port, which is a rarity among Apple’s current device range and modern gadgets in general.
The 2021 iPad, unlike the all-new iPad Mini, still has a home button with a Touch ID sensor and a Lightning connector rather than USB-C, which is a disappointing liner note that also applies to iPhone 13 models. Both are also only compatible with the first-generation Apple Pencil, which isn’t nearly as easy to charge as the 2018 second-gen model. While the new model charges wirelessly while magnetically attached to the side of the iPad Pro, iPad Air, and iPad Mini, the previous-generation Pencil still uses the tablet’s Lightning port and protrudes awkwardly from the bottom when charging.
Both iPads have a 10.2-inch display with a resolution of 2160 x 1620 pixels and are available in space gray or silver (no gold this time). They’re almost identical in weight, with the exception that the Wi-Fi version of the new model weighs 1.07 pounds instead of 1.08.
Apple claims that battery life is the same on both devices, with the new iPad lasting between nine and ten hours depending on whether you’re using a cellular or Wi-Fi connection. The 2021 model, on the other hand, offers double the storage for the same price. The Wi-Fi-enabled iPad with 64GB of storage now costs $329, which is the same price as the previous-generation tablet with 32GB of storage. The newer model is also available in a 256GB capacity for an additional $150, whereas the 2020 model was only available in 32GB or 128GB configurations.
In terms of software, both variants are compatible with iPadOS 15. The only difference is that it comes pre-installed on the 2021 iPad; eighth-generation iPad owners will have to download it. That means you’ll be able to make FaceTime conversations with Android and Windows users in a pinch, resize your widgets, filter notifications via Focus mode, and take advantage of a slew of new iPadOS 15 capabilities regardless of which model you choose. You’ll be able to drag and drop content between devices using Universal Control when macOS Monterey is released later this fall.
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WHY SHOULD YOU CONTINUE TO USE THE IPAD 2020?
- It’s still a good tablet, and it’ll probably get years of support.
- You like the gold colorway or the silver model’s white bezels.
The latest entry-level iPad, unlike the upcoming iPad Mini, is more of a refinement than a significant upgrade. It doesn’t have a USB-C connector or support for the second-generation Apple Pencil, and it doesn’t have an edge-to-edge display instead of a home button. It’s still Apple’s most affordable tablet, and the minor improvements are enough to make it a better deal at $329 than it was before. The A13 Bionic’s quicker performance, as well as an enhanced 12MP camera, are welcome additions at a time when we’re still connecting virtually more than we are in person. For the same price, it even provides twice the storage.
For some, minor enhancements will be enough. But what about the majority? Most likely not.
If you’re looking for a new tablet, not just an upgrade, the decision becomes a little easier when you consider availability. With the release of the ninth-generation iPad, Apple officially discontinued the 2020 iPad, and while we’ve seen last year’s model discounted to as low as $300 in the previous year, it’s recently been unavailable at nearly every shop. Even if you wanted to buy a 2020 iPad, you won’t be able to, making the 2021 iPad the cheapest Apple tablet available outside of a used or refurbished device.
If you frequently use your iPad for video conversations or live streaming, the new front-facing camera may be reason enough to upgrade – or if you’re running out of storage capacity. Outside of that, you might be better off waiting for a more significant update to Apple’s entry-level tablet or paying the extra $200 or so on the 2020 iPad Air, which comes with a faster processor, a larger display, and a USB-C connector, among other enhancements.