Should You Buy an Entry-Level iPad?
The iPad is Apple's most affordable tablet and the ninth-generation model features the A13 Bionic chip, a considerably improved front-facing camera for video calls, and more.
Announced in September 2021, the ninth-generation iPad is among the newest iPads in Apple's lineup and it is at the start of its product cycle. Apple usually updates the entry-level iPad annually, but there is no immediate sign of a new model on the horizon. Since it only recently launched, now is a very good time to buy the ninth-generation.
While the iPad is Apple's most inexpensive iPad model for those who want a balance of features and affordability, users looking for a smaller iPad with better specifications should consider the iPad mini, which starts at $499.
On the other hand, for an iPad with a larger display and better specifications, there is the $599 iPad Air, which offers a faster A14 processor, a USB-C port, and more.
Apple's 2021 Ninth-Generation iPad
Apple introduced the ninth-generation iPad in September 2021, featuring a number of improvements over the previous model, including the A13 Bionic chip, True Tone, a better front-facing camera with Center Stage, and more.
The ninth-generation iPad looks the same as earlier models with an aluminum body that is thicker and smaller than the iPad Air and iPad Pro models.
As with the seventh and eighth-generation iPad, the ninth-generation iPad continues to offer a 10.2-inch display, which offers more viewing area than the 8.3-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 iPad now features Apple's A13 Bionic chip, which was first introduced with the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro in 2019. While it is slower than the A14 chip in the iPad Air, it is much faster than the A12 chip that was in the last-generation entry-level iPad.
The iPad also gets a significantly improved 12MP Ultra Wide front-facing camera with a 122° field of view and a ƒ/2.4 aperture, which is a major upgrade from the previous 1.2-megapixel FaceTime camera. The front-facing camera also supports Center Stage to keep subjects in frame during video calls.
The iPad also now starts with 64GB of storage and features a 256GB storage option, doubling the base storage options from the previous generation.
Other iPad features include an eight-megapixel camera with 1080p video recording, Gigabit-class LTE for cellular models, an "all-day" 10 hours battery life, Touch ID, Apple Pay support, and 802.11ac WiFi. 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.
The ninth-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.
Available in Silver and Space Gray, the iPad starts at $329 for 64GB 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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How to Buy
The 10.2-inch iPad, available in Silver and Space Gray, can be purchased from the online Apple Store and Apple retail stores. The 64GB storage option is priced at $329, with 256GB of storage available for $479.
A Wi-Fi + Cellular option is also available, with 64GB of storage priced at $459 and 256GB of storage priced at $609. 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 $159.
iPad Buyer's Guide
If you're trying to figure out which iPad is best for you out of Apple's current tablet lineup, make sure to check out our iPad Buyer's Guide, which goes through each of the available options and helps you figure out which iPad will meet your specific needs.