2021 iPad 10.2 Review: The Pros and Cons

iPad 9th Gen (2021) Review: Pros and Cons

The 9th-generation iPad or the 2021 iPad 10.2 is an entry-level tablet computer from Apple that adheres to the same design language of the previous generations while featuring more capable hardware components that can go toe-to-toe with the 3rd-generation iPad Air or the iPad Air 3 and the 2nd-generation iPad Pro.

It cannot be denied that this device looks boring due to its outdated form factor. However, there are strong reasons why the entry-level iPad remains the most popular among the rest of the iPad product family. The performance improvements and the capabilities of the iPadOS provide a solid reason why one should buy the 2021 iPad 10.2.

Reasons Why You Should Buy the 2021 iPad 10.2: The Pros of the 9th-Generation iPad

1. Better Hardware than the Previous Generation

One of the advantages of the 2021 iPad 10.2 is that it is powered by the Apple A13 Bionic system-on-chip or SoC that was also used in the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro lines of smartphones. This chip equips this device with the same power as these iPhones and can even go head-to-head with the iPad Air 3 and the 2nd-generation iPad Pro.

Note that the A13 Bionic chip includes a six-core central processing unit or CPU, with two high-performance Lightning cores and four energy-efficient Thunder cores, a four-core graphic processing unit or GPU, eight-core dedicated Neural Engine for machine learning, and machine learning accelerators built within the Lightning CPU cores.

Coupled with a 3GB of RAM and the infamous seamless software-hardware optimization and integration from Apple, this device can efficiently run most communication and productivity applications, as well as intensive games at medium to high settings. It can pretty much handle the same tasks thrown at the pricier iPad Mini 6 and the iPad Air 4.

2. Improved Retina Display for a More Immersive Use

The proprietary Liquid Retina display of Apple is a testament to the advances in in-plane switching or LCD technology based on in-plane switching or IPS over the years. Note that the Retina brand represents a class of screen displays with a high pixel density that provide specific advantages and benefits to the users.

Of course, because the 9th-generation iPad features a 10.2-inch display, users can naturally enjoy viewing sharp and vivid images on a large screen real estate. But this new device also comes with additional new features to make the viewing experience more immersive. The same large display is also suitable for content creation.

This new device also has an additional feature that improves the overall screen user interface: True Tone. Apple has finally included a feature that naturally adjusts the brightness and color temperature of the display to make a more comfortable viewing and overall user experience under different ambient lighting conditions around the user.

3. New Camera Sensors and Camera Features

There is a 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera on the front that provides improvements in image and video quality, thereby making this device suitable not only for selfies or group shots but also for video calls using FaceTime or Facebook Messenger, and video conferencing using Zoom Cloud Meetings, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams, among others.

Furthermore, the 8-megapixel wide camera on the back that easily takes crisps images is an ideal document scanner. The A13 Bionic chip has the capability to use augmented reality for clearer and more realistic document scans. The back camera also works with AR-enabled apps such as games or design software to provide users with an immersive experience.

Another notable feature of the 2021 iPad 10.2 is the Center Stage. This software-based camera feature provides automatic digital panning to keep a user centered in the frame while he or she moves within the camera frame. Note that this feature works not only with FaceTime but also with other applications for third-party developers.

4. Other Notable Features of the 2021 iPad 10.2

Similar to the previous generation, another advantage of the 9th-generation iPad is its support for the Apple Smart Folio Keyboard. This accessory transforms the device into a productivity machine that can replace laptops for tasks such as heavy writing or word processing, communications, and other productivity requirements.

There is also support for the 1st-gen Apple Pencil and Apple Pencil USB-C that also transforms the 2021 iPad 10.2 to a digital notebook for jotting down notes and writing journals, as well as a digital canvass for creating digital artworks. Note that the A13 Bionic chip enables this device to run apps like the graphics and raster editors Adobe Fresco and Procreate.

Note that the Smart Folio keyboard also doubles as a desktop stand and a lightweight cover for protecting the screen against possible scratches. Furthermore, alongside the Apple Pencil, this device can easily match the capabilities of the first-generation and second-generation iPad Pro due to its powerful A15 Bionic chip.

Another key advantage of the 2021 iPad 10.2 or the iPad 9 is that there are higher storage options. The base model comes with 64GB of storage compared to the 32GB storage of the entry-level 8th-generation iPad, while the second-tier model comes with 256GB of storage. This second-tier variant is priced closely to the 128GB variant of the 8th-generation.

5. Advantages and Features of the iPadOS

The entire iPad product line of tablet computers is popular not only because of the successful marketing of Apple but also due to the specific selling points of the iPadOS. Of course, iPhone and macOS users would find it more convenient to use an iPadOS device than Android or Microsoft tablet computers because of the seamless cross-platform integration.

Compared to Android, it is also important to highlight that this operating system has the best selection of high-quality apps that range from productivity applications, mobile games, and communication tools, among others. Established software developers prioritize developing apps for iOS and iPadOS because of their existing user base.

Then there is the seamless integration between the hardware and the operating system. The hardware components of iPads have been designed and deployed to ensure that they work perfectly with the iPadOS. This is the reason why a 3GB and six-core iPad can run without performance-related issues than a 4GB and eight-core Android tablet.

Reasons Why You Should Not Buy the 2021 iPad 10.2: The Cons of the 9th-Generation iPad

1. Boring and Unimpressive Recycled Design

The overall design language or form factor of the 9th-generation iPad looks uninspired. The iPad Mini 6 received a major design overhaul that features an almost edge-to-edge screen display and rounded corners. A lot of similarly priced and cheaper Android tablets in the market have also followed the same near-bezel-less designs.

It is important to note that the overlook of this new device from Apple remains similar to the previous generations of the entry-level iPad. The top and bottom bezels are large. There is also a large physical “home” button below. However, these areas can be useful for holding the device in landscape mode and avoiding unexpected screen touches.

2. Still Uses the Proprietary Lightning Port

The iPad Mini 6 and the newer generations of the iPad Air and iPad Pro have switched to the USB-C port. An advantage of this USB-based port is that it gives a particular device more flexibility when it comes to interfacing with external hardware and peripherals such as a flash drive or third-party USB-C data and charging cables.

However, note that a key advantage of the 2021 iPad 10.2, when compared to its pricier siblings, is that it still has a 3mm headphone jack. A wired headphone is not only inexpensive but can also be convenient for a lot of users because they do not need to worry about running out of battery charge while in the middle of watching a movie or a video conference.

3. Not Suitable for Resource-Intensive Requirements

This new entry-level iPad has decent hardware that can efficiently run above-average tasks. Remember that the iPhone 11 line also features the same A13 Bionic chip that remains one of the most powerful chipsets in the market even though it is two generations behind. Most apps are expected to run smoothly and with very minimal to zero issues.

However, there are specific use cases that might require the hardware capabilities of the lasted A-series Bionic processors. These include extensive video editing and high-definition mobile gaming. Users of the 9th-generation iPad might have a hard time performing these tasks. Note that this device does not have a high refresh rate as well.

4. Limitations of the Liquid Retina Display

The iPad 9 undeniably has one of the best IPS LCDs in the market. However, OLED displays, used in several number Android tablets and even the iPhone, and LCDs based on the mini-LED backlighting technology, which are used in the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, are the superior display technologies because of their unmatched contrast ratio.

Furthermore, the 9th-generation iPad still uses a non-laminated display. Laminated displays have clearer display quality, better outdoor visibility, a wider viewing angle, better stylus input, and lesser hollow-like sound when tapped on. Individuals used to these displays will easily notice the difference in overall user experience when they switch to non-laminated displays.

Conclusion: Why You Should or Should Not Buy the 2021 iPad 10.2

The entry-level iPad has remained one of the best tablet computers in the market since its first introduction in 2010. The relatively affordable price point, the capable hardware components, and the strong selling point and capabilities of the iPadOS operating system have made this product line one of the best-selling products of Apple.

Nevertheless, the 2021 iPad 10.2 or the 9th-generation iPad naturally inherits the aforesaid advantages with added improvements. The design might look dated but it remains a capable table computer for average to above-average tasks. However, some of its limitations might deter individuals who are seeking a more premium-like and pro-like device.