Comparison between iPad 8 (2020) and iPad 9 (2021): all the differences

IPad duel in Apple‘s entry range. And we say from the outset because calling it low-end does not fit one hundred percent with what these tablets represent. In this article we compare the 8th generation iPad with the 9th generation iPad, also known as iPad 2020 and iPad 2021, although officially Apple does not add anything to the word “iPad”. What has changed from one to the other? Is it worth the jump if you already have one? We answer these and many other questions.

Specifications table

Although it is evident that there are more subjective aspects in devices like these, it is more than convenient to know first what these devices offer us on paper. In this comparison table you can see what its raw specifications are like.

Comparison between iPad 8 (2020) and iPad 9 (2021)

Characteristics iPad 2021 (9th gen.) iPad 2020 (8th gen.)
Colors -Silver
-Space gray
-Space gray
-Pink gold
Dimensions -Height: 25.06 cm
-Width: 17.41 cm
-Thickness: 0.75 cm
-Height: 25.06 cm
-Width: 17.41 cm
-Thickness: 0.75 cm
Weight -WiFi version: 487 grams
-WiFi + Cellular version: 498 grams
-WiFi version: 490 grams
-WiFi + Cellular version: 495 grams
Screen 10.2-inch IPS Retina with Anti-Fingerprint Cover and True Tone Technology Retina with 10.2-inch IPS technology
Resolution 2,160 x 1,620 at 264 pixels per inch and 500 nits brightness 2,160 x 1,620 at 264 pixels per inch and 500 nits brightness
Number of loudspeakers 2 2
Processor A13 Bionic with 2nd Gen Neural Engine. A12 Bionic with 1st Gen Neural Engine.
Capacity -64 GB
-256 GB
-32 GB
-128 GB
Frontal camera 12MP ultra-wide angle lens with f / 2.4 aperture 1.2 Mpx lens with f / 2.4 aperture
Rear camera 8 Mpx wide angle with f / 2.4 aperture 8 Mpx wide angle with f / 2.4 aperture
Connectors Lightning Lightning
Biometric systems Touch ID (on Home button) Touch ID (on Home button)
Other sensors -Three axis gyroscope
-Ambient light sensor
-Three axis gyroscope
-Ambient light sensor
SIM card In WiFi + Cellular version:
-Nano SIM
In WiFi + Cellular version:
-Nano SIM
Connectivity -Bluetooth 4.2
-WiFi 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac; 2.4 and 5 GHz with speeds up to 866 Mb / s
-WiFi + Cellular versions with Gigabit-class LTE up to 27 bands.
-Bluetooth 4.2
-WiFi 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac; 2.4 and 5 GHz with speeds up to 866 Mb / s
-WiFi + Cellular versions with Gigabit-class LTE up to 27 bands.
Autonomy Up to 10 hours of surfing with WiFi or playing video and music Up to 10 hours of surfing with WiFi or playing video and music
Official accessory compatibility -Apple Pencil (1st gen.)
-Smart Keyboard
-Apple Pencil (1st gen.)
-Smart Keyboard

And despite the fact that in future sections we will delve more into these specifications, at first there are several aspects that we consider to be the most important to take into account at first:

  • Size: the issue of size is always remarkable and in this case we find exactly the same dimensions and screen size, with a different weight that makes the 2021 model lighter in the WiFi version, while the 2020 model is lighter in the WiFi + Cellular, although for practical purposes it is almost priceless.
  • Screen technology: in addition to the aforementioned 10.2-inch size, these screens offer the same resolution, although with some notable differences such as the anti-fingerprint cover and the True Tone that incorporates the 9th generation model and not the 8th one.
  • Processor: the brain of every electronic device and that in this case does not match, having an A12 for the 2020 model compared to the A13 for the 2021 iPad.
  • Storage capacity: important also if files and apps are to be stored on the iPad. In this case we see how the 2021 model exactly doubles the capacities offered by the 2020 one.
  • Battery: another fundamental aspect to choose one or another device and in these, at least on paper, they start on equal terms offering identical autonomy.
  • Accessories: another prominent section in which these teams coincide again by offering identical compatibility with official Apple accessories (and also with those of third parties).

Aspects in which they are alike

Below we review the sections in which these iPads are very similar or, in some cases, are completely identical. In this way you will already be able to know in which aspects you will not notice a difference between using one or the other.

Same design, with only one slight difference

Wherever you look, these iPads look identical. Both share that classic form factor of Apple tablets with a back with the brand’s logo as the protagonist and the camera in the upper left. Volume button on the sides and lock / unlock on the top.

On the front we find pronounced frames with the screen in the center and the classic Home button in the lower central part. A design that is obviously far removed from the formats used by Apple in the rest of the iPad ranges, but which in the end is still subjective, so although it may be seen as “old”, there will be those who value this design.

ipad 2020 y ipad 2021

The only difference that we mentioned in the header is in the rose gold color , which is available for the 2020 model, but not for the 2021 model. Of course, the silver and space gray colors are exactly the same on both devices. Therefore, in the end the resemblance is practically total.

Biometric system: Touch ID

Face ID remains exclusive to the iPhone and iPad Pro from 2018 onwards, keeping the classic fingerprint reader for this range of iPad. Of course, unlike the more recent ‘Air’ and ‘mini’ models that incorporate it into the unlock button, in these it is still housed in the Home button .

Its effectiveness is the same in both devices, being tremendously useful for being able to register several fingerprints and use them in multiple situations. Although, yes, the usual drawbacks are also present; like when your finger is dirty or wet, which makes detection difficult. Functionally it continues to be used to unlock the iPad, but also to avoid entering passwords or making payments through Apple Pay.

Touch ID en iPad

Compatible connector and accessories

The Lightning port is also shared by both, being a standard more than known and suitable for charging the device, but it has its negative aspects. One of them is the low data transfer speed that prevents many external drives from being compatible even with adapters.

Spinning with it, there are official Apple accessories fully compatible with them, such as the Smart Keyboard or the classic Smart Cover cases . They are not compatible with any of the Magic Keyboard with trackpad, reserved for the ‘Air’ and ‘Pro’ range, although it is possible that a manufacturer may offer this type of accessories via Bluetooth .

It is precisely this connectivity that allows these iPads to be used with external mice and keyboards that are connected in this way. In the same way, a 1st generation Apple Pencil can be used in any of them, being incompatible with the 2nd generation model of the stylus.

iPad con smart keyboard

How are these iPads different?

Given the similarities, it is time to see what are the real differences between these two devices. They are the ones that in the end will serve to see the evolution from one to the other, so we could really say that it is really important in this comparison.

Screen with more than interesting advances

They both mount 10.2-inch IPS panels . And yes, the resolution is 2,160 x 1,620 at 264 pixels per inch in both cases. Even at the maximum brightness of 500 nits they match. This could perfectly be a similarity between the two devices, but there are two characteristics that the 2021 model has and that the previous one does not have that, at least in our opinion, are more prominent than they seem.

We started by talking about True Tone technology . What this does is to adapt the color and brightness of the screen to the surrounding light circumstance, thereby favoring a more natural view of the content and helping the eyes not get too tired. To this is added the anti-reflective panel that at first glance is almost priceless, but that is very noticeable when comparing a device that does not have it with another that does.

iPad 2021

Being honest, we do not believe that perhaps these two characteristics are extremely decisive to opt for the one of 2021 before that of 2020, but the fact of having them is something that is better valued when it is enjoyed. Even at the tactile level it is noticeable that in a way the most recent model handles more smoothly thanks to the anti-reflective panel, although this is in the end a matter of personal feelings of each one.

Processor, is the generational leap noticeable?

Going from the A12 Bionic to the A13 Bionic, respectively chips of these iPads, is a generational leap that a priori should be noticeable. And the truth is that on a technical level there are important advances from one chip to another, but nevertheless they have a greater relevance when executing heavier tasks , something for which neither of these two iPads are really intended. In fact, if you are looking for the greatest power, it is possible to find iPad from other ranges that meet much better.

These iPads are intended for a less demanding audience that seeks in them to be able to have a very portable device with which to play multimedia content, surf the Internet, consult social networks and even perform office tasks. In fact, they are known as student iPads for being excellent digital notebooks at a good price.

ipad 9 2021

Is it possible to carry out tasks like video editing with apps like Luma Fusion? Yes, but obviously with a lower performance and time than would be achieved with a higher category iPad with a more powerful processor. Therefore, if you are going to perform tasks of this type sporadically, you may not have so much problem, but if you want to do it more assiduously, they would fall short for your needs.

Identical autonomy, sure?

We have seen in the comparison table that, according to the data provided by Apple itself, both devices offer identical results in autonomy. However, based on the experience that we have seen iPad from previous generations that also coincided, something tells us that the iPad 2021 will perform a little better in this regard .

And no, not by divine magic, but by the processor that we previously mentioned. One of the great competitive advantages that Apple has with its devices is that they design hardware and software themselves, so in the end they can afford smaller batteries with enhanced performance thanks to their processors. Therefore, as the A13 is more efficient than the A12 was, it is expected to find differences in favor of the 9th generation iPad.

And about the exact duration of these, we must really say that it is all very subjective. The hours indicated by Apple for browsing are not too showy either, since on rare occasions in normal use we can imagine a person consuming web content for 10 uninterrupted hours without performing another task. In our own experience, we can say that by doing a mix of several tasks, you could reach the end of the day without problem.

iPad basico

Now, if the use is very intensive and heavy tasks such as those mentioned in the previous section are added, in the end the battery will decrease. In any case we cannot say that this is a negative point in any of the cases.

Double the memory on the iPad 9

No more no less. While the 8th generation iPad launched in 2020 has capacities to choose from 32 or 128 GB, the 9th generation model offers 64 or 256 GB. This change has been very noticeable after years in which users had already demanded more base capacity, since 32 GB in these times seemed scarce for most.

Logically it will depend on the use of each one and if you use cloud storage services such as iCloud, but being able to have a greater margin in the 64 GB offered by the most recent model is great news. And it is that not only does storing documents, photos and files take up space, but the apps and games themselves can take up a lot and that is where having greater capacities is positively valued.

A very nice change to the front camera

While the rear camera remains exactly the same in both cases, something that might not be important as it is not so common to take photos with an iPad, we cannot say the same about the front. This is essential to make calls with good quality and if you are used to making video calls (whether to friends, family or professionals in work environments), the iPad 2020 camera may fall short in quality.

In the 2021 model, not only has the lens been improved, but an ultra-wide angle has been added to which a function is added that until the presentation of this iPad and the ‘mini 6’ was exclusive to the ‘Pro’: the frame centered . What this does is, via software, turn the camera to always place you in the center of the call and even be able to zoom out if suddenly more people join the call and you want them to also be visible by the interlocutor.

Although if this point is not important to you, logically it will not be a sufficient reason to choose the iPad 2021. In any case, it is still one of the most notable differences in the end.

Here we leave you a comparative table of its complete benefits in photo and video in case it was of interest to you.

camara ipad

specs iPad 2021 (9th gen.) iPad 2020 (8th gen.)
Photos front camera -12MP ultra-wide-angle photos with f / 2.4 aperture
-Zoom zoom x2 (optical)
-Framing centered
-Retina Flash (with screen)
-12MP wide-angle photos with f / 2.4 aperture
-Retina Flash (with screen)
Front camera videos -Recording in 1,080p (Full HD) at 25, 30 or 60 frames per second
-Expanded dynamic range of up to 30 frames per second
-Stabilization with cinema quality
-Recording in 720p (HD)
-Stabilization with cinema quality
Photos rear cameras -8MP wide-angle photos with f / 2.4 aperture
-Zoom zoom x5 (digital)
-8MP wide-angle photos with f / 2.4 aperture
-Zoom zoom x5 (digital)
Rear camera videos -Recording in 1,080p (Full HD) at 25 or 30 frames per second
-Zoom zoom x3 (digital)
-Slow motion in 720p (HD) at 120 frames per second
-Time-lapse video with stabilization
-Recording in 1,080p (Full HD) at 30 frames per second
-Zoom zoom x3 (digital)
-Slow motion in 720p (HD) at 120 frames per second
-Time-lapse video with stabilization

Other aspects to highlight

Beyond important differences and similarities, there are other factors that we believe that, despite being less relevant, may be of equal interest. We analyze some of them below.

How long will they update their software?

These iPads will share the same software, which is none other than iPadOS . At the time of publishing this comparison, both mount iPadOS 15 with identical functionalities. Apple makes few distinctions between iPad ranges with its software, but in this case the indifference between the system that mounts one and the other is even more evident, since they functionally allow the same.

Apple increasingly extends the update times of its devices and according to what we have seen lately we could expect that these iPads continue to be updated for at least 4 or 5 more years . Although, yes, in the case of the 9th generation model it is expected to have at least one more year of life than the previous one due to the generational difference of the processor.

Box contents

In this section you will not find too many differences in either of the two. Removing obviousness such as that in 2020 you will get the iPad of that year and in 2021 yours, both are accompanied by the classic Apple guides and user manuals, as well as a full charger .

And we emphasize the full charger because, unlike the iPhone, in these cases you will find the Lightning to USB-C cable and a power adapter with USB-C input . It should be noted that there are no headphones, no covers or other elements, something that no iPad never brings, but we believe that it is not bad to remember and more if you never bought any.

About the price of these tablets

The comparison in this case is confusing, since officially these iPads have cost the same to go on the market. However, Apple has discontinued the 2020 model and this makes it only available through other stores in which they have units of stock left. Therefore the price may vary, since it is expected that these stores will lower the price in favor of selling it as soon as possible and giving priority to the most recent model.

Officially, the 9th generation iPad is sold for 379 euros in its most basic version of 64 GB with WiFi connectivity, although this price varies if we go to the 128 GB and / or WiFi + Cellular versions. Regarding prices of the iPad 2020, for the reason we mentioned previously, it may vary. You can take a look at Amazon, which is usually a good indicator in this regard.

Last conclusions

Is it worth the jump if you have the 2020 one? This is a more than obvious question that you may have if it is your case and our answer is the following: no. And a resounding no. We do not want to detract from the improvements of the iPad 2021, especially in the field of the front camera or battery, but in the global computation there are few things that change. If with the device you currently have you feel you need more, perhaps the ‘Air’ or ‘Pro’ range could be the one for you.

But if you don’t have either one and you need an iPad with which to perform basic actions, either of these is a great option to get into iPadOS. In this case, we do see the best option in the iPad 2021, especially due to availability, but if you find an interesting offer of the 2020 model, we recommend not rejecting it, and we say it for the same reasons set out in the previous paragraph.