What's Next for the iPad
Apple is working on a ninth-generation low-cost iPad with a 10.5-inch display and an A13 chip, which is set to be released at some point in 2021. The tablet is also rumored to include 4GB RAM and it is said to feature a thinner, lighter design with a Touch ID Home button and Lightning port.
Mac Otakara said in early 2021 that the upcoming ninth-generation iPad will be similar in design to the third-generation iPad Air released in 2019. The display size is expected to remain the same at 10.2 inches, but it will be "significantly thinner" at 6.3mm. The current eighth-generation iPad is 7.5mm thick, so a 6.3mm chassis would mark a significant design change. It is also expected to be lighter at 460 grams vs. the current 490 gram weight.
In July, Mac Otakara changed its prediction and said that the ninth-generation iPad will be identical to the eighth-generation iPad, but with an updated A14 chip.
Bloomberg's Mark Gurman believes that Apple plans to refresh the entry-level iPad "with a thinner and lighter design later this year," but it is not clear if the global chip shortage will lead to delays, nor do we know when to expect the new tablet.
The refreshed low-cost iPad will continue to feature a Touch ID Home button and a Lightning port along with a display featuring anti-reflective coating, P3 wide color support, and True Tone.
Apple's 2020 Eighth-Generation iPad
Apple's eighth-generation iPad, introduced in September 2020, is an iterative update to the seventh-generation low-cost iPad, but with an upgraded A12 Bionic processor with Neural Engine. There are no other new features that are new to Apple's most affordable iPad.
The A12 processor was first introduced in the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR in 2018, and while it's slower than the A14 chip in the iPad Air, it is a good deal faster than the A10 Fusion chip that was in the prior-generation low-cost iPad. According to Apple the A12 Bionic chip offers 40 percent faster CPU performance and twice the graphics capability, which makes the iPad up to two times faster than the top-selling Windows laptop and three times faster than the top-selling Android tablet.
The Neural Engine provides next-level machine learning capabilities, introducing people occlusion and motion tracking in AR apps (features that have previously been available on other Apple devices) along with enhanced photo editing, new Siri capabilities, and more.
The eighth-generation iPad continues to be positioned as an affordable, entry-level tablet for educational institutions and those on a budget, with prices that start at $329 or $309 for Apple's EDU customers.
As with the seventh-generation iPad, the eighth-generation iPad continues to offer a 10.2-inch display, which offers more viewing area than the 9.7-inch iPad that was sold a couple of years ago. The 10.2-inch iPad is Apple's smallest iPad after the 9.7-inch iPad mini. The 10.2-inch display has a resolution of 2160 x 1620 with 264 pixels per inch and it offers nearly 3.5 million pixels along with 500 nits brightness.
The eighth-generation iPad looks the same as earlier models with an aluminum body that's thicker and smaller than the iPad Air and iPad Pro models. Along with the iPad mini, it is the only iPad that continues to feature thick bezels and a Touch ID Home button.
Apple Pencil support continues to be included, and there's a Smart Connector so the iPad works with the Smart Keyboard for the 10.2-inch iPad.
Other iPad features include an 8-megapixel camera with 1080p video recording, Gigabit-class LTE (for cellular models), a 1.2-megapixel FaceTime camera, 10 hours of battery life, Touch ID, Apple Pay support, and 802.11ac WiFi.
Available in Silver, Space Gray, and Gold, the iPad starts at $329 for 32GB of storage and is available for purchase from the Apple online store and Apple retail stores. The Apple Pencil is available separately for $99, as is the Smart Keyboard, priced at $159.
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Reviewers of the 2020 10.2-inch iPad said that the A12 Bionic brings some welcome speed and performance improvements, but the refresh is otherwise unremarkable.
Performance with the A12 chip was described as "noticeably smoother" than performance with the prior-generation model, especially when it comes to gaming thanks to the improved GPU. Aside from the speed improvements, the 2020 iPad is the same as the 2019 iPad, so reviewers didn't have much else to say.
The 2020 iPad is identical to prior-generation 2019 iPad, featuring the same 10.2-inch display, which is surrounded by slim size bezels and thicker top/bottom bezels.
The iPad's bezels are thicker than the bezels of the iPad Air and the iPad Pro, Apple's two more expensive iPad options. It features an aluminum case available in silver, space gray, or gold.
There's a front-facing FaceTime HD camera at the top of the tablet, along with a Touch ID fingerprint sensor at the bottom. At the back, there's a rear-facing camera, and at the bottom, there are speakers and a Lightning port for charging.
The 2020 iPad measures in at 9.8 inches long, 6.8 inches wide, and 7.5mm thick, weighing in at 1.07 pounds, with no changes to the dimensions.
Unlike iPad Pro models, the iPad offers just two speakers instead of a four-speaker audio system, and there is a Smart Connector at the side that allows it to work with accessories like the Smart Keyboard.
Apple's 2020 iPad features a 10.2-inch Retina display with a resolution of 2160 by 1620 with 264 pixels per inch, with 500 nits brightness.
The display is equipped with a touch sensor that allows it to work with the Apple Pencil.
Though the display works with the Apple Pencil much like the iPad Pro, iPad Air, and iPad mini, it is lacking several features that are available in Apple's more expensive tablets.
It does not include the laminated design, antireflective coating, wide color support, ProMotion technology, or True Tone capabilities.
The eighth-generation iPad is compatible with the original Apple Pencil. Apple's entire iPad lineup, from the low-cost iPad to the iPad Pro, supports the Apple Pencil.
The Apple Pencil is a stylus that's designed to offer unparalleled precision and integration with the iPad while also offering a natural feel that's similar to the sensation of using a pen or pencil on paper.
There are pressure and positioning sensors built into the Apple Pencil to allow it to detect a range of forces for pressure-sensitive drawing and writing. Two tilt sensors in the tip of the Apple Pencil determine the orientation and angle of the hand holding it, enabling shading techniques.
The Apple Pencil offers a 12-hour battery life and it charges through the built-in Lightning connector at the bottom of the device. A 15-second charge delivers a half hour of power, so it's always going to have juice when needed. No changes have been made to the original Apple Pencil, and it is still priced at $99.
For more on the Apple Pencil, make sure to check out our full Apple Pencil guide.
A12 Bionic Processor
The eighth-generation iPad features an updated A12 Bionic processor, an upgrade over the A10 Fusion processor that was included in the seventh-generation iPad.
The A12 is slightly older technology, having first been introduced in the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR, but it is still speedy and offers upgraded performance compared to the prior iPad.
The A12 Bionic is a 64-bit six-core CPU with four high-performance cores and two high-efficiency cores. The chip also includes a Neural Engine for improved machine learning and augmented reality capabilities.
According to Apple, the eighth-generation iPad with A12 Bionic chip is 40 percent faster when it comes to CPU performance with twice the graphics capability.
Apple says the new iPad is up to two times faster than the top-selling Windows laptop, three times faster than the top-selling Android tablet, and up to six times faster than the top-selling Chromebook.
Apple does not divulge the amount of RAM in its products, but the eighth-generation iPad includes 3GB RAM like the seventh-generation model.
The eighth-generation iPad offers 10 hours of battery life, which Apple says is "all-day" battery. That's the same battery life that Apple has aimed for in its last several iPad iterations, and the size of the battery in the iPad hasn't changed.
Cellular models last for up to nine hours when using an LTE connection. Charging the iPad is done through the Lightning port at the bottom of the device.
The iPad has an 8-megapixel rear camera with an f/2.4 aperture, the same camera that was available in the fifth-generation iPad.
It supports Live Photos, auto HDR, 43-megapixel panoramas, Burst mode, and Timer mode, but it is not as advanced as the iPad Pro camera. There is also no rear flash.
The iPad's camera is able to capture 1080p HD video at 30 frames per second and 720p Slo-mo video at 120 frames per second. Compared to the iPad Pro, it lacks 4K video recording, improved video stabilization, and continuous autofocus.
As for the front-facing FaceTime camera, it is 1.2 megapixels and supports 720p HD video recording.
Trackpad and Mouse Support
iPadOS 13.4 brought trackpad and mouse support to all iPad Pro models, the iPad Air 2 and later, the fifth-generation iPad and later, and the iPad mini 4 and later.
According to Apple, trackpad support has been "completely reimagined for the iPad" and its touch-first interface, though it should still be familiar to Mac users. The cursor displays as a circle that highlights various user interface elements, text fields, and apps on the Home screen or dock, making it clear what can be clicked on.
Gestures on the trackpad are designed to let users switch between apps, access the app switcher, and activate the Dock, Control Center, and apps in Slide Over. Multi-touch gestures on the trackpad allow for quick and easy navigation through iPadOS.
Apple designed trackpad support to integrate into both first and third-party apps. Scrolling through web pages in Safari and photo libraries in Photos is supported, for example, as is precisely editing text in notes and other apps, viewing and organizing email in Mail, and more.
Most third-party apps work with a mouse or trackpad with no changes at all, and developers can take advantage of new APIs for deeper trackpad support.
Compatible Mice and Trackpads
Trackpad and mouse support allows any of the above listed iPads running iPadOS 13.4 to connect to a Magic Mouse, Magic Mouse 2, Magic Trackpad, Magic Trackpad 2, or third-party mouse using Bluetooth or USB.
When connected to a Magic Trackpad 2, iPads support gestures that include scrolling, swiping between app spaces, accessing the Home screen, accessing the App Switcher, zooming in and out, tapping to click, right clicking, and swiping between pages.
When connected to a Magic Mouse 2, iPads support scrolling, right clicking, and swiping between pages.
Apple has designed a Magic Keyboard accessory, which is a Smart Keyboard for iPad with a trackpad, but this is limited to the 2018 and 2020 iPad Pro models.
Logitech, a company that makes accessories for Apple devices, has developed keyboard cases with a built-in trackpads for the 10.2-inch iPad and the 10.5-inch iPad Air, which lets these models to access the trackpad features built into iPadOS 13.4.
The eighth-generation iPad features a Touch ID fingerprint sensor on the front of the device, which is used to unlock the device, access apps, and make purchases with Apple Pay.
An NFC controller with a Secure Element is built into the iPad, so it can be used to make Apple Pay payments on the web and within apps using the included Touch ID Home button.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
The iPad supports 802.11ac Wi-Fi with speeds up to 866 Mb/s and Bluetooth 4.2.
The WiFi + Cellular version of the iPad offers Gigabit-class LTE and it includes the Apple SIM for connecting to cellular data networks in more than 100 countries.
The iPad includes a three-axis gyro, an accelerometer, an ambient light sensor, and a barometer.
How to Buy
The 10.2-inch iPad, available in Silver, Space Gray, and Gold, can be purchased from the online Apple Store and Apple retail stores. The 32GB storage option is priced at $329, with 128GB of storage available for $429.
A Wi-Fi + Cellular option is also available, with 32GB of storage priced at $459 and 128GB of storage priced at $559. The Apple Pencil that works with the 10.2-inch iPad is available for purchase from the online store or Apple retail stores for $99. The Smart Keyboard can be purchased for $149.