An updated take on Apple’s most cost-effective iPad means you’ll get better cameras, a new chip, and a nicer display for the $499.
If it seems like you have to spend a lot of money to get a lot in a pint-sized computer, you might want to think again. While you mightn’t normally think of the iPad as a replacement to a laptop, in the past few years, it has grown in leaps and bounds.
It supports a stylus via the Apple Pencil, allowing you to jot and draw and take notes, and Apple added support to let it handle a keyboard with Apple’s Smart Cover Keyboard, to name a few, not including the number of great Bluetooth options out there.
Last year, the iPad update even came with a bigger screen, jumping from the 9.7 inch Apple used for years to a larger 10.2 inch model. And this year, you’ll see some new features, as well.
The latest model is coming alongside news of the iPhone 13 and 13 Mini, and sees Apple’s 10.2 inch iPad 8th-gen become a 10.2 inch iPad 9th-gen, though you’d never realise it strictly from looking at it.
Sporting the same style as last year’s iPad, the exciting new stuff happens under the hood, with a new front camera, a change to the chip, and an updated screen.
iPad gets the power of the iPhone 13
First, let’s talk about that new chip Apple is bringing to the 9th-generation iPad.
It’s an upgrade on last year’s A12 from the iPhone XR and XS Max, but not the new chip straight from the new iPhones. Rather, it’s still a powerful chip, this time from the iPhone 11 Pro Max, the A13 Bionic.
Apple says it has a 20 percent performance boost on the previous generation, and includes its machine learning technology, making it compatible with some of the AI features in iOS 15, such as text conversion snagged from the camera.
The WFH iPad lines your face up in chat
The camera on the back is still an 8 megapixel camera, so not much has changed there, but Apple has upgraded the front-facing camera, boosting the 1.2 megapixel FaceTime HD camera to a 12 megapixel camera supporting its “Centre Stage” technology.
If you missed that the first time, Centre Stage was released to this year’s iPad Pro, and allowed the front-facing camera to narrow in on your face while you were chatting in video conferencing calls.
Thanks to the pandemic, work and school are now more reliant on video chat than ever, and so Apple’s addition of Centre Stage on the least expensive iPad means the technology can come to more people and more faces. That may mean a tighter crop and a clearer picture for video calls and school time, and less chance of everyone seeing what’s behind you at all times.
A clear screen under all light
Apple’s other main feature upgrade on the iPad 9 goes to the display, which is very much like last year’s 10.2 inch 2160×1620 screen with Apple Pencil support, except for one thing: it now supports True Tone.
One of those features we can take for granted on the iPhone, True Tone adjusts the look of the screen to account for the colour temperature of light in the room. It’s the difference between looking at a stark white screen and looking at a softer warmer hue when the light in your space demands it, and something the 2021 iPad 10.2 gets by way of a new ambient light sensor.
2021 iPad Mini pricing and availability in Australia
And of course, all the other features you may come to expect are here, with a choice of WiFi or WiFi and 4G, Home button with a fingerprint Touch ID sensor, 3.5mm jack, WiFi, Bluetooth, and support for both the Apple Pencil and magnetic Smart Keyboard Cover.
It also features a 100 percent recycled aluminium design, something Apple has not achieved in the iPad 10.2 before, and now runs across the entire iPad line-up, with 100 percent recycled tin used in the main board under the hood. Handy.
In Australia, it seems as though the 8th gen iPad 10.2 will be replaced with the 9th gen iPad 10.2, though the entry-level storage will be doubled. As such, the iPad 9 starts from $499 at 64GB with a 256GB option available, with availability set from September 24.