Apple iPad (2020) vs. iPad (2021): what’s the difference?


The iPhone 13 isn’t the only Apple device to hit the market on Sept. 24 – and we’re not just talking about the 2021 iPad Mini. The company also announced a new entry-level iPad during its recent California Streaming event which is equipped with a new front camera, a faster processor and double the basic memory. But are the improvements enough to warrant an upgrade from last year’s iPad or even to prefer it to its predecessor when you find the 2020 model on sale?

To answer these questions, before our official review, we’ve put together a comparison that outlines the similarities and differences between the 2020 iPad and the upcoming model.

The new iPad has a 12-megapixel front camera, which should enable improved graphics when making calls. Image: Apple

What has been improved on the iPad 2021?

  • A 12 MP ultrawide front camera
  • Larger storage capacity with basic memory from 64 GB
  • The A13 Bionic Chip will replace the A12 Bionic from 2018
  • A true tone display that adjusts the color temperature to suit your surroundings

iPad (2021, WLAN)

Apple’s newest entry-level iPad is a small update, with a new A13 Bionic chip and a 12 MP front camera that supports Apple’s Center Stage function.

Without a doubt, one of the new iPad’s biggest selling points is its front camera, which has a higher resolution than the 2020 model’s 1.2 MP camera. On paper, this should translate into better video quality, be it for video conferencing, live streaming, or other activities. The newer model also supports 1080p recording at 25 fps and 30 fps, while the 2020 version only supports 1080p at 30 fps. In addition, thanks to Apple’s new Center Stage function, which was once reserved for the iPad Pro, the newer iPad can “follow” the subject while it moves in the frame.

There are also some notable improvements in the display, storage capacity, and performance. In contrast to the previous year’s model, the latest iPad offers twice the capacity with 64 GB and 256 GB storage variants instead of 32 GB and 128 GB. In addition, thanks to Apple’s True Tone technology – which Apple introduced in 2016 with the first-generation iPad Pro – the display of the new entry-level tablet can adapt its color temperature to your surroundings. For example, when you are outside, the display automatically adjusts to protect your eyes. Finally, the 2021 model features Apple’s A13 Bionic chip, which Apple says is 20 percent faster than the eighth-generation model’s A12 Bionic chip.

What is the same for both models?

  • The 8MP rear camera with f / 2.4 aperture and digital zoom
  • Slow motion video support for 720p at 120fps
  • The overall design – height, width, depth are identical
  • Lightning connectivity (no USB-C)
  • Both have a headphone jack
  • The list of compatible accessories
  • Battery life, which Apple specifies as nine to 10 hours
  • Wi-Fi 5 and optional LTE connectivity
  • Both run on iPadOS 15

In most other respects, the iPad 2021 is identical to its predecessor. The upgraded front camera should mean better video calls, but other than that, the device has the same 8MP wide-angle camera with an f / 2.4 aperture on the back, support for HDR, and a digital zoom. Both tablets have similar video recording capabilities as well, offering slow motion video support for 720p at 120fps.

Both the iPad 2020 and the iPad 2021 have an LCD display with a resolution of 2160 x 1620.

In terms of design, they’re almost the same, meaning the newer tablet will remain compatible with existing accessories like Apple’s Smart Keyboard and still have a 3.5mm headphone jack, a novelty in Apple’s current line of devices and modern ones Devices in general.

Unlike the brand new iPad Mini, however, the iPad 2021 still has a home button with a Touch ID sensor and a Lightning connector instead of USB-C, a frustrating liner note that also applies to iPhone 13 models. Both are only compatible with the first-generation Apple Pencil, which is not nearly as convenient to charge as the second-generation model released in 2018. While the new model charges wirelessly while magnetically docked to the side of the iPad Pro and the latest iPad Air and iPad Mini, the latest generation Pencil, still relies on the tablet’s Lightning connector and sticks awkwardly when charging from the bottom of the device.

Both iPads are available in space gray or silver – this time without a gold color – with a 10.2-inch display and a resolution of 2160 x 1620. They even weigh about the same; only the Wi-Fi version of the new model weighs a little less: 1.07 pounds instead of 1.08 pounds.

Apple claims that the battery life is the same on both devices, with the new iPad offering between nine and 10 hours of battery life depending on whether you’re using a cellular connection or Wi-Fi. The 2021 model now offers twice as much storage space for the same price. The Wi-Fi-equipped iPad with 64GB of storage now starts at $ 329 – the same price that the last-generation model started at 32GB of storage. The newer model is also available in a 256GB configuration for $ 150, while the 2020 model was only available in a 32GB or 128GB variant.

As for the operating system, both models are compatible with iPadOS 15. The only difference is that the iPad 2021 comes pre-installed – eighth generation iPad owners will have to download it. That means, no matter which model you choose, you can make FaceTime calls with Android and Windows users in no time, resize your widgets, filter notifications via focus mode, and take advantage of a host of new iPadOS 15 features. With the final release of macOS Monterey later this fall, Universal Control will also let you drag and drop content between devices.

Image: apple

Why could you stick with the iPad 2020?

  • It’s still a good tablet, probably with years of support to go
  • The golden color or the white bezels of the silver model look really good on you

Unlike the upcoming iPad Mini, the latest entry-level iPad is more of a refinement than a notable makeover. It has neither a USB-C port nor compatibility with the second generation Apple Pencil, nor does it dispense with the home button in favor of an edge-to-edge display. It’s still the most fuel-efficient tablet in Apple’s lineup, however, and even the incremental upgrades are enough to make it even better than before at $ 329. The faster performance of the A13 Bionic is welcome, as is an improved 12MP camera at a time when we all still practically connect more often than in person. It even offers twice as much storage space for the same price.

For some people, the subtle improvements will be enough. But for most of them? Probably not.

The iPad 2021 (second from the right) remains Apple’s cheapest tablet.

However, if you are currently looking for a new tablet and not just want to upgrade, the choice becomes a little easier given the availability. Apple got the 2020 iPad with the launch of the 9th model. Even if you wanted to pick up the 2020 model, you can’t do what makes the iPad 2021 the cheapest Apple tablet to pick up outside of a used or refurbished model.

If you regularly use your iPad for video calls or live streams, the new front camera can be a reason to upgrade – or if you really run out of storage space. That being said, however, it might be better to wait for a major update to Apple’s entry-level tablet or spend the extra $ 200 on the 2020 iPad Air, a tablet with an even faster processor, bigger display, and USB-C -Connection, along with a host of other improvements.


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