Apple iPad (10th gen) vs. iPad (9th gen): what’s new?

The 10th-generation iPad is here, and for the first time in years, it’s not a direct replacement to the one that came before it. Apple’s latest flagship tablet introduces a brand new design complete with a bigger screen, a faster processor and modern perks like 5G connectivity and a USB-C port. But it also bumps the price up significantly to $449, which is why Apple still sells the $329 iPad 9th-gen as a more budget friendly option.

So, do you go with the flashy looks and more future-proofed specs of the 2022 iPad, or save some cash on the still-excellent 2021 model? We’ve tested both tablets extensively, and have put them head-to-head to help you make the right decision.

Apple iPad 2021

Display 10.9-inch, 2360 x 1640 Liquid Retina display

10.2-inch, 2160 x 1620 Retina display


A14 Bionic

A13 Bionic


12-megapixel landscape ultrawide camera (front); 12-megapixel wide camera with 4K video (rear)

12-megapixel ultrawide camera (front); 8-megapixel rear camera

Apple Pencil support

1st generation (adapter required)

1st generation

Keyboard support

Magic Keyboard Folio

Smart Keyboard


WiFi 6, 5G, USB-C

WiFi, 4G, Lightning, headphone jack


9.79 x 7.7 x 0.28 inches, 1.05 pounds

9.8 x 6.8 x 0.29 inches, 1.07 pounds


Silver, Pink, Blue, Yellow

Space Gray, Silver




iPad 10th gen review cnnu 6

Mike Andronicus/CNN

If you care about good looks, get the new iPad. Apple’s latest flagship tablet finally adopts the design of its more expensive iPad Air and iPad Pro counterparts, which means you get a gorgeous aluminum slate with sleek, uniform edges and thinner display bezels — all of which allow for a slightly bigger screen. The new iPad also comes in a range of attractive colors (Blue, Pink, Yellow, Silver), which might look nicer on your coffee table than the dull Silver and Space Gray that the 9th-gen model is stuck with.

The 2022 iPad’s modernized design isn’t just for show either — it also makes the switch from Lightning to USB-C for charging, which opens the tablet up to a wider range of accessories and will play nice with the litany of USB-C cables you might already have around the house.

iPad 10th gen review cnnu 8

Mike Andronicus/CNN

One of the 10th-gen iPad’s biggest upgrades is the landscape-oriented front camera, which will keep you better centered (and not awkwardly off the side) during video calls when you have the iPad positioned horizontally. Both of these iPads have Center Stage technology for automatically keeping you in frame, but if you plan on using your iPad as a laptop replacement and spend lots of time on FaceTimes and Zooms, you’ll look better on the new model.

The iPad’s rear camera has also been upgraded for the 2022 iteration, now packing a 12-megapixel lens (up from 8 megapixels) that can shoot in 4K and capture 240-fps slow-motion video. While those perks are nice for YouTubers and casual video creators, I’m not sure how many people are using their tablet to record high-quality video out in the wild.

iPad 10th gen review cnnu 5

Mike Andronicus/CNN

Both the 9th-gen and 10th-gen iPad offer cellular options for folks who want (or need) to get online anywhere, but only the newest model supports 5G. That means that, with a supported cellular plan and in a supported area, you’ll get better browsing speeds on the go. 5G is still an evolving technology and works better in some regions than others, but investing in a 5G iPad will make you more future-proofed in the long run. Same goes for the new model’s Wi-Fi 6 support, which allows for faster internet if you have a Wi-Fi 6-enabled router.

3-9th gen ipad review underscored

Jacob Krol/CNN

There’s a pretty big price gap between the $329 iPad 9th-gen and the $449 iPad 10th-gen, and that’s before you factor in discounts. Apple’s 2021 iPad is almost always on sale — it’s currently $299 on Amazon, and we’ve seen it drop as low as $269 during major shopping events. That’s nearly $200 less than the new model if you catch it at the right time.

And if you can live without the perks outlined above, you’re not sacrificing a ton at this lower price. While not quite as powerful as the 10th-gen iPad, the 2021 model is still one of the fastest tablets around, and has more than enough speed for the kind of gaming, web browsing and light productivity work most people are going to do on an iPad. It has access to the latest iPadOS software and the same excellent suite of apps and games. And it offers the same seamless integration with other Apple devices and services you’ll get on more expensive iPads.

6-9th gen ipad review underscored

Jacob Krol/CNN

For all of its impressive upgrades, the 2022 iPad has one glaring omission: the headphone jack. Sure, lots of people use Bluetooth headphones these days, and you can always pick up a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter for your wired cans or earbuds. But if you want to be able to easily plug into your existing wired headphones (especially for a little one you’re trying to keep occupied at dinner), easier you’ll have a much time doing it on the 9th-gen model. Speaking of ports and adapters, pairing and charging an Apple Pencil is also much less of a headache on the older iPad.

Apple Smart Keyboard Folio

If you already have an iPad keyboard or case for your 7th or 8th-gen model and you’d like to keep using it, you’re better off going with the 9th-gen. Because the 10th-gen model introduces a new size and design, it won’t work with keyboards and cases designed for generations 7 through 9, like Apple’s popular Smart Keyboard. Bluetooth keyboards will work fine across both models, but if you want a physically connected set of keys that will turn your 10th-gen iPad into a laptop, you’ll have to buy one specifically made for the new model.

The 10th-generation iPad is a fantastic tablet, and you’ll enjoy great performance, a beautiful design and lots of future-proof connectivity for your $449. But we still think the 9th-gen iPad is the best tablet for the vast majority of people, as you’ll get similarly fast speed and the same software experience for a fraction of the price. And for folks who are willing to pay a premium price for the new iPad, the more powerful (and often discounted) iPad Air 2022 is a better value.


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