Apple iPad review (2021): cheaper, better, faster … but no thriller

Apple iPad 2021 review (Image: APPLE)

The entry-level 10.2-inch iPad remains Apple’s most popular tablet and it just got a boost that should keep it firmly in the number one spot. Now, before you get too excited, this iPad hasn’t been given a makeover like the new iPad mini, so don’t expect to see a difference when you walk into an Apple Store this weekend. All the changes with this latest iPad are under the hood. The latest model comes with a more powerful A13 Bionic processor, additional internal storage, an improved front camera, and a new display now featuring Apple’s True Tone technology.

These are all useful additions, but has Apple really done enough to ensure that the 10.2-inch iPad remains a bestseller? Here are our thoughts on this latest update.

If you’ve seen the brand new iPad mini or tested the brilliant iPad Air, then the 10.2-inch iPad won’t be too exciting when you first take it out of the box. Apple has kept the design identical to its predecessor, which means you’ll still have the same forehead and bulky chin at the bottom of the screen.

The iconic home button, equipped with a Touch ID fingerprint reader, remains intact in the same place as before. Likewise, the Silver and Space Gray colors remain identical to last year, and to the previous year as well.

Considering the new iPad mini and iPad Air feature an all-screen design and gorgeous pastel colored undertones, it’s a shame Apple hasn’t refreshed things on this 10.2-inch tablet because, sorry to say, this aging design now looks incredibly long and not particularly exciting.

A small adjustment to the style – like the thinner bezels and larger 10.5-inch screen we saw on the iPad Air a few years ago – or some fresh new colors would have been nice. But you won’t find anything new from Apple’s design team in this 2021 release.

Apple iPad Reviews

10.2-inch iPad remains Apple’s most popular tablet (Image: APPLE)

Apple iPad Reviews

IPad Air features Center Stage technology that keeps you on track (Image: APPLE)

Fortunately, things improve dramatically when you press the power button, as the iPad gets a huge performance boost, thanks to that upgraded A13 processor. Although the A13 Bionic is now a few years old – it first launched in 2019 – it’s still a powerhouse to browse apps, launch games, and respond to emails, a dream.

Trust us, you will be really hard pressed to find anything that the A13 Bionic cannot easily solve. Even running apps side-by-side or editing large photo files won’t slow down this smart chip.

The touchscreen supports Apple’s True Tone system, which changes the color temperature on the screen based on the light around you. This greatly facilitates the use of the device during the day and at night.

Unlike the Pro models, there’s no fast 120Hz ProMotion technology on this iPad, so don’t expect smooth, silky scrolling. That said, the screen is still very bright, colorful, and crammed with pixels. If you only plan to browse the web and binge on Netflix, this screen is more than enough.

Apple iPad Reviews

The iPad remains compatible with the Apple keyboard (Image: APPLE)

Apple also added an oleophobic coating, which it says reduces annoying fingerprint marks on the glass. It’s hard to say how well this works, as you’ll always want to keep a rag nearby before you settle in to watch a movie in bed or on your next flight.

The next big change that’s really worth mentioning is the new selfie camera, which features Apple’s new smart Center Stage feature. This upgrade essentially allows the camera to follow you as you move around the room and was first introduced on the premium iPad Pro earlier this year.

We’ve been using this smart camera on the iPad Pro for a few months now and it’s a fabulous upgrade. Apple’s AI is smart enough to practice when a new person walks into the room – quickly switching to a wider field of view to keep the whole group in the loop.

It’s good that Apple has now added it to its entry-level device and there is no doubt that users will love it. Center Stage works with FaceTime, but also supports a range of other video calling apps including Facebook Messenger, Zoom, and more. So, you should see the benefits whatever app you use to chat with your friends and family.

Apple iPad Reviews

Entry-level tablet is now faster and cheaper than before (Image: APPLE)

Apple iPad Reviews

The entry-level device doesn’t feature the same stunning design as the Air or the mini (Image: APPLE)

One small problem with this iPad – and every other tablet in the Apple lineup for that matter, is that Apple insists on placing the front camera on top of the tablet when held in portrait mode. That’s fine, but all of Apple’s cases support the tablet in a landscape orientation … which means the camera is on its side. In video calls, this means that you always feel like you are looking away from the people calling you. Of course, if you still hold your iPad like a book, that’s okay with you, but it’s something worth mentioning.

The hugely welcome final upgrade is a storage boost. The entry-level model now comes with 64GB of onboard memory – double the amount found in its predecessor – and is much more useful.

We’d still love more, but we’ll take that boost from what came before.

If you don’t mind paying a bit more, there is also a 256GB version which costs £ 459 – unfortunately there is no 128GB model.

Apple iPad Reviews

Apple’s New iPad Gets Improved True Tone Display (Image: APPLE)

Of course, just like the old iPad, this new iteration is compatible with the original Apple Pencil and you can add the neat keyboard case, which turns it into a mini laptop. The only thing to note is that these accessories are not included in the box and will increase the price considerably. The pencil costs £ 89 and the case costs £ 159.

We’re still fully testing battery life, but will update this article with our results in the next few days, although it looks from early results that you’ll get around 10 hours on a single charge. One thing to note is that you will need to use Apple’s Lightning cable for charging things and not USB-C, which is found on all other iPad models currently on sale in the Apple Store. USB-C is the same cable that charges the latest MacBooks, Nintendo Switch, and Amazon’s new Kindle, which means you could almost pack a single charger in your suitcase for your next trip … except this iPad stick to Lightning.

Now, if you think that the new improvements included with this iPad would have forced Apple to raise the price, you are wrong. The new 10.2-inch iPad is actually £ 10 cheaper than last year. This means you can pick one up for just £ 319, which is a steal considering what it’s in.

Apple iPad Reviews

Apple iPad 2021 review (Image: APPLE)

Apple iPad Review (2021): Final Verdict

ADVANTAGES • Faster performance • Better display • Additional storage • Lower price
THE INCONVENIENTS • Design appearance dates • No USB-C charging • No new colors to choose from

Apple’s most popular tablet got a little, but useful, boost this year. It now offers better performance, an improved screen and the new Center Stage functionality in video calls. There’s more built-in storage too – all for a cheaper starting price of £ 319.

It’s such a shame that Apple didn’t take the opportunity to redesign its best-selling iPad as it starts to look very dated, especially when placed side by side with the shiny new iPad mini. and the superb Pro and Air.

However, these tablets cost a lot more than this 10.2 inch tablet. For example, the redesigned iPad mini now starts from £ 479, with iPad Air owners taking back at least £ 579. And if you want the best iPad Pro, it can leave you with a bill for over £ 1,899. Ouch.

All those enticing price tags make this new entry-level iPad a phenomenal bargain. Of course, it’s not the prettiest tablet in town and there are more feature-packed models available in the Apple Store … however, if you’re just looking for a solid iPad at an affordable price, this is exactly what you are looking for. Apple has done enough to ensure this remains the best-selling iPad in its lineup.

This article contains affiliate links, which means that we may receive a commission on any sale of any product or service that we write about. This article was written completely independently, see more details here

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