Last Updated on March 25, 2023 by Ernests Embutnieks and Saad
Apple faces little to no real competition in the budget tablet space. And that clearly shows when it comes to their most budget-oriented tablet, the classic iPad. Now at its ninth-generation, it looks similar to the eighth generation, which in turn is quite similar to the seventh. So, has Apple made considerable improvements to the iPad this year? Or are we looking at a refresh?
Well, we got curious. And really wanted to take a deep dive into the newer iPad and see how it stacks up to the iPad Pro 12.9” I daily drive and also take it out for a spin. So, here’s our honest collection of thoughts and, by extension, a review of the 9th Gen iPad.
|CPU||Apple A13 Bionic With Neural Engine|
|Storage||64 GB / 128 GB|
|Display||Retina IPS LCD 10.2 inches (1620×2160) ~265 ppi|
|Camera||8 MP rear-facing camera, 12 MP front-facing ultrawide camera|
|Wireless||WiFi / GPS / Bluetooth 4.2 / Cellular|
|Battery Life||8857 mAH|
|Size||9.87 x 6.85 x 0.30|
What’s In The Box?
- iPad (9th Generation)
- Lightning to USB-C Cable
- 20W USB-C Power Adapter (Thank God!)
Pros & Cons Of iPad 9th Gen
Here’s a quick list of the pros and cons that the iPad 9th Gen (2nd Gen) has that you should vary of:
- Pricing: The iPad 9th Gen is the cheapest iPad from Apple this year. But, it still provides great value for money, especially in the $300-$400 price range.
- Great Video Calls: The updated front camera takes the iPad 9th Gen, to the next level, especially with Center Stage. So, if you are a sucker for online meetings, the iPad is a great purchase.
- Has All The Essentials: The iPad 9th Gen has everything that makes the iPad the iPad. Great battery life, long-term software support, no lag or hitches, Apple Pencil support and the ability to use a Smart Keyboard if needed.
- Dated Design: The iPad 9th Gen almost looks like the first iPad. There is no improvement in design for a few generations now and it shows. The bezels are quite thick, and it lacks the oomph you’d expect from a new tablet.
Features Of iPad 9th Gen
Here’s a quick look at all the features of the iPad 9th Gen:
The iPad has an IPS panel that gets to about 500 nits of brightness with a reasonable resolution of 2160×1620. The viewing angles are fine, and the colors have that unique Apple contrast which makes them pop. You can’t use this iPad under direct sunlight due to the low brightness. However, I could easily use it indoors and also outside given that the sun wasn’t directly gleaming at me.
While the 10.2” display is great, the bezels on either side really aren’t. The design looks dated especially from the front-side and there’s no real way for me to justify the design given that budget tablets from Lenovo have a much more modern aesthetic that’s more akin to the iPad Air than the iPad at the same price point, mind you.
The display also has TrueTone this time around. This adjusts the color of your display to match your surroundings giving you accurate color reproduction.
Keyboard / Touchpad
Apple’s first-party solution, the Apple Smart Keyboard is sold separately for about 150$. Let’s get some of the drawbacks out of the way, this keyboard is not backlit unlike the Magic Keyboard. Moreover, the keyboard does not offer full body protection. So, while the front is protected, the back is seemingly naked. So, we recommend wrapping your iPad if you are going to be using it.
You can stand the iPad on many angles with the newer Smart Keyboard, a complaint many had with the previous generation was that it would fall down due to the weight of the iPad. That isn’t the case here. The keys are covered by a nylon fabric which gives it an interesting feeling.
If you have been used to a Macbook keyboard, the iPad’s keyboard will feel right at home. You can also opt for keyboards with a touchpad such as the ones from Logitech for the iPad 9th Generation. But, from our experience, first-party solutions work better. But, if you really need a touchpad, go for it.
Stylus (Apple Pencil 1)
Contrary to popular belief, there’s nothing wrong with the Apple Pencil Gen 1. Our only qualm with the stylus is the fact that you need to plug it into your iPad using the lightning connector in order to charge it. Granted that a singular charge takes only a few minutes, it still looks really odd.
Moreover, not every case, especially bumper cases let the Apple Pencil be charged without you removing the case. THis can turn into an extraneous hassle as well. In terms of drawing, note taking, and the general experience with using the stylus for the iPad, it is fantastic.We were able to make stunning drawings and take meeting notes without any real issues.
Yes, the Apple Pencil 2 felt slightly more responsive. Biut, that is also due to the 120 Hz ProMotion display supported on the iPad Pro. So, if drawing is your thing, you will feel right at home with the iPad 9th Gen.
The previous iPad came with an A12 processor, this iPad bumps it up to the A13, which was first announced in the 11 Pro Max. Honestly speaking, you will not notice much of a performance increase. And, this isn’t a bad thing! The previous iPad was already able to manage multiple applications and launch them at quick speeds – and the A13 is no different.
When it comes to gaming performance, you will notice slightly better frame rates. But, since the iPad is locked at 60 Hz anyways, going higher doesn’t really make a difference. So, for the average Joe, who this iPad is intended for, they won’t even be able to notice the difference between the previous iPad’s performance and this one.
Is that something Apple should work on? Well, we don’t think so. The iPad stands in the budget category of tablets. It doesn’t need to be editing videos on the go like the iPad Pro. So, if it is able to go through daily tasks such as editing documents, playing videos, and taking notes without a hiccup, that’s fine enough.
Let’s get to the star of the show first, the iPad 9th Gen comes with a new selfie camera. The front facing camera’s resolution has been improved 10 times with an ultra-wide angle lens that lets you use Center Stage.
As soon as you open the front camera on Facetime, you’ll immediately notice your face being at the well, dead center of the viewfinder. And, as you move around, the camera will pan, zoom in, and zoom out according to your location.
This isn’t the camera actually physically moving. Instead, its a neat little software trick that takes advantage of the 122 degree field of vision which lets the camera crop and move to always keep you in the center. It is absolutely fantastic for video calls and even works decently well in low light conditions.
My biggest issue with the camera on the iPad? The rear-facing camera. It has remained the same from the previous generation. It has no LED flah, and generates noise even at the slightest of challenging conditions. Given that you aren’t going to be pursuing professional photography with the iPad anyways – I still feel like this was a place Apple could’ve improved on, especially since they also upgraded the front-facing camera.
The iPad 9th Gen has the exact same battery life as the previous generation. We were able to get about 9-10 hours of screen on time out of the tablet. So, it theoretically should be able to last you an entire day unless you plan on gaming for the better part of an entire afternoon.
It is nothing very special, but I can’t really complain about it either. If you want better battery life, I suggest going for the more recent Apple Silicon iPads, such as the Air and the Pro. But, for the A13, the battery life is decent.
Who Is The iPad 9th Gen For?
The iPad 9th Gen is a culmination of everything that makes the iPad great. Therefore, its meant as a great beginner device for a child, an excellent media consumption tablet for an adult, and a wonderful companion for a student who takes notes.
It also doubles down as a professional tool for artists and visualizers while also remaining light on the pockets. So, while it is indeed very boring, it does get the job done. And, rather eloquently if I might add.
iPad 9th Gen vs iPad 9th Gen
- Storage: The iPad 8th Gen came with 32 GB and 128 GB as standard options, whereas the iPad 9th Gen bumps it up to 64 GB and 128 GB.
- Display: While the resolution between the two remains the same, the newer generations support the sRGB color space while also adding in support for True Tone.
- Processor: The previous generation ran the A12 Bionic while the newer iPad 9th Gen runs the 20% faster A13 Bionic, both having a Neural Engine.
- Camera: The iPad 9th Gen has a 12 MP ultra-wide front-facing camera with support for CenterStage, while the 8th Gen had a 1.2 MP front-facing camera. A huuuge difference!
If you have an iPad 8th Generation and don’t care for the newer camera, an upgrade doesn’t make sense. However, if you are choosing between the two, considering the minor price difference, the iPad 9th Gen is a better deal as its newer processor guarantees longer software support. Plus, the camera goes a long way in video calls and meetings.
iPad 9th Gen Alternatives
iPad is great. No doubt. Let’s take a look at some of the alternatives so we’re sure we make the best possible choice when buying a new tablet.
iPad 9th Gen vs Samsung Galaxy Tab A8
- SD Card Slot: You can insert an micro-SD card into the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 while the iPad lacks the feature.
- Battery Life: The iPad outlasts the A8 by about 1-2 hours. While this may not seem like much, the iPad is also much more powerful.
- Processor: The iPad is able to handle more tasks than the Samsung; the A13 Bionic really helps it run circles over the Octa-core A8. So, if you want to be
- Cameras: Both the rear cameras are quite similar in terms of their performance. But the front camera on the iPad is so much better. You get access to Center Stage and also have a better microphone array which leads to crisper video calls.
- Speakers: We only have bottom-firing speakers on the iPad, while the A8 provides us with Dolby Atmos and four speakers providing for fuller sound.
In my opinion, the iPad 9th Gen is better than the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8. This is because it has a better battery life, is faster due to its chip, and also has a cellular version that lets you use the tablet on the go alongside great Apple Pencil support.
iPad 9th Gen vs Microsoft Surface Go 3
- OS: The Windows Surface Go 3 acts as a complete Windows PC. You can use it to install any supported Windows Programs and can do whatever you want to just like your desktop PC. On the other hand, the iPad runs iPadOS. It has made strides, but it is still iOS in disguise.
- Performance: The Intel Pentium and the i3 are both much faster than the Apple A13. While we don’t really notice any lag due to Apple using their own proprietary software, it still is worth noting.
- Battery Life: Being a Windows laptop, in essence, the Surface doesn’t have an amazing battery. It caps in at 7 hours, while the iPad lasts a respectable 9-10 hours.
- Design: The Surface Pro 3 looks futuristic, has a kickstand that ensures your tablet is able to hold its ground, and generally has thinner bezels. Whereas the iPad still rocks a dated design that can feel like an eyesore quickly.
The Microsoft Surface Go 3 beats the iPad if you don’t have a desktop PC / laptop since it is a combination of both. However, if you already have a PC, the iPad easily beats the Surface Go 3 because of its better battery life, more touch-friendly operating system and an integration with the Apple ecosystem.
Other Aspects Of The iPad 9th Gen
|Does the iPad 9th Gen (2nd Gen) have facial recognition?||√|
|Does the iPad 9th Gen (2nd Gen) have wireless charging?||√|
|Does the iPad 9th Gen (2nd Gen) have a headphone jack?||√|
|Does the iPad 9th Gen (2nd Gen) have a SIM card slot?||√|
|Does the iPad 9th Gen (2nd Gen) have GPS?||√|
|Does the iPad 9th Gen (2nd Gen) have 5G?||√|
The iPad 9th Gen is a capable device that’s priced reasonably. And, given that there’s not a lot of competition from Android’s end for a budget tablet, I wholeheartedly recommend this device for anyone who’s in the market for a cheap, functional tablet that lasts long and has great battery life.
Best Tablets Under $400
Compare iPad 9th gen vs Samsung Galaxy Tab A8