Apple has been pretty consistent in updating its entry-level iPad every year. The update usually consists of a minor specification bump while maintaining the same price.
But with the 10th generation iPad, Apple has changed its tune with an updated design and, more importantly, a new price.
So let’s take a closer look at how the redesigned 10th generation iPad compares to the previous model to help you decide which one to buy.
One of the more controversial changes to the 10th generation iPad is how it handles accessories. Despite the iPad’s design update with an all-screen display and flat edges, the 10th-generation iPad does not support the second-generation Apple Pencil or the same Magic Keyboard compatible with the iPad Air and 11-inch iPad Pro.
Up until this point, it was pretty obvious to find out which Apple Pencil your iPad supports. If it had a flat-edged design, it would support the second-generation Apple Pencil. The 10th generation iPad, with its flat-edged design, changes that, as it only supports the first-generation Apple Pencil. It also has a new Magic Keyboard Folio to make things more confusing.
But because the first-generation Apple Pencil charges via Lightning and the 10th-generation iPad has a USB-C port, Apple had to create a new adapter that converts the Apple Pencil’s Lightning port to a USB-C port for charging and pairing. The good news is that if you come from the 9th generation iPad, you can continue to use the same Apple Pencil, as long as you have the adapter.
And instead of supporting the same Magic Keyboard found on the iPad Air and iPad Pro 11-inch, the iPad (10th generation) gets its own Magic Keyboard Folio. This new keyboard accessory is not compatible with iPad Air, iPad Pro 11-inch or 9th generation iPad.
It’s a two-piece design that allows you to have a kickstand on the back for almost infinite adjustment, and the keyboard is detachable so you can use the kickstand independently.
Charging and connection
The most notable change to the 10th generation iPad is that it now has a USB-C port for charging and connectivity. Fortunately, you still get both the USB-C charging cable and the power adapter in the box. So even if you’ve never owned a USB-C device before, you’re all set.
But not so fast – it’s worth noting that the USB-C port on the 10th generation iPad is still the same USB 2.0 speeds found on the 9th generation iPad. It’s fine for charging, but if you were hoping for a faster port for data transfer, think again.
If you choose a mobile iPad, you’ll see a significant speed boost while connected to a cellular network. That’s because the 10th generation iPad supports the same 5G connectivity found on the iPad Air and iPad mini.
The 9th generation iPad, on the other hand, supports all the latest LTE bands and still offers high-speed cellular connectivity, but you won’t get the absolute best.
It’s worth noting that you don’t need to enable cellular on the iPad; you can always use Wi-Fi. But there are many reasons to choose a mobile iPad. For example, only mobile iPads have built-in GPS.
Both the 9th and 10th generation iPads use Touch ID for biometric authentication. Touch ID lets you quickly unlock your iPad, buy apps in the App Store or make online purchases via Apple Pay.
On the 9th generation iPad, the Touch ID sensor is built into the familiar Home button. You press the Home button with a registered fingerprint to authenticate and get to the home screen in one motion.
But with the screen design of the 10th generation iPad, Apple has removed the Home button entirely and has now moved the Touch ID sensor to the Top/Lock button. This is similar to the last generation iPad Air and iPad mini. It still works the same way, but it just has a new home.
Design and display
The design is the most obvious difference between the 10th generation iPad and the outgoing model. The 9th generation iPad features a recycled design with a large chin and forehead to house the Home button that dates all the way back to the original iPad Air.
The 10th generation iPad adopts the more modern design found on the latest iPad Pro, iPad Air and iPad mini models. If anything, the 10th generation iPad looks on par with the rest of the iPad lineup.
At this point, does processing power really matter? Especially on the basic iPad? Not really. But having a newer processor means you’ll likely get more years of iPadOS updates, even if it’s only one to two years apart.
That said, the 9th generation iPad has the A13 Bionic chip, and the 10th generation iPad comes with the relatively newer A14 Bionic chip. It’s hard to notice the difference in performance between the two during real-world use, but you can expect apps to open slightly faster and games to perform better on the 10th generation iPad.
When comparing the camera hardware of the two iPads, there are two things you need to know. The 10th generation iPad gets a new 12MP camera on the back, which is considerably better than the outgoing model’s 8MP primary camera.
Thanks to the new camera hardware, you can finally record 4K videos up to 60FPS on the rear camera with the 10th generation iPad, compared to a maximum of 1080p at 30FPS on the 9th generation iPad.
And while the front-facing camera remains largely the same between both models, the 10th-generation iPad moves the front-facing camera from the top of the iPad to the right edge of the iPad. Apple calls this change the Landscape Ultra Wide front-facing camera, which is perfect for video calling, especially when attached to the Magic Keyboard Folio.
This may be the deciding factor for most users, as Apple is targeting the budget market with both of these models. The redesigned 10th generation iPad costs $120 more than the outgoing model and starts at $449, while you can get the 9th generation iPad for $329. Note that both prices are for Wi-Fi-only 64GB storage models.
But if you’re looking for mobile, the 9th generation iPad starts at $459, while the newer one starts at $599. Again, both prices assume you’ll have 64GB of storage. At this point, you just have to ask yourself: is the redesigned iPad worth the premium over the outgoing model?
Need the latest iPad?
If you already own the 9th generation iPad, the 10th generation iPad is a tough sell, especially if you already own a Smart Keyboard Folio. You have to trade in the 9th generation iPad, and the Smart Keyboard Folio becomes practically useless as you have to shell out more money for a new Magic Keyboard Folio.
Yes, the Apple Pencil will continue to work with the 10th generation iPad, but it’s a bit more inconvenient to use as you have to make sure you have the adapter, which you paid extra for, with you to charge it.
So, unless you absolutely want USB-C for charging, 5G connectivity, a slightly faster chip or all-screen design, it’s hard to recommend the 10th generation iPad to potential buyers.