Apple iPad 2021 Review: The Best Budget Tablet in the Industry

The iPad 2021 is one of the best-selling tablets right now but is it worth spending money on the outdated design and old chipset?

The Apple iPad lineup has been growing immensely for many years. People like iPads so much because they are easy to use, seamless, and perfect, which is why they sell so much. The new 2021 iPad is no exception, and you would already notice people using it in the offices, on the flights, trains, cafes everywhere because it is the industry’s best budget tablet.

Apple launched the new iPad along with the new fresh iPad Mini in the California Streaming Event. It blew up the sales, and the iPad 2021 is currently the best-selling tablet on Amazon.

As a tablet reviewer, I felt the new iPad 2021 to be quite boring because Apple has been offering the same design for the last three years, and the fact that it houses a two-year-old chipset from the iPhone 11 series is disappointing.

But the irony is that the iPad 2021 housing an old chipset still outperforms expensive Android tablets, which is impressive, and that makes me wanna purchase this tablet over any other. Because what matters is horsepower, and buying a Toyota for attention does not make sense. It is the performance and reliability that make Toyota a Toyota.

Apple iPad 2021 Detailed Review

ipad 2021 review

Best Features

  • 10.2-inch Retina Display
  • A13 Bionic Chip
  • 64GB Base Storage
  • Stereo Speakers
  • Touch ID

Apple iPad 2021 (Latest Model)

Apple iPad 2021 (Latest Model)
4.3 5 0 1
The new Apple iPad comes at an affordable price, making it easily approachable if your pockets are not deep enough for iPad Pros. It does have an old chipset, but its performance seems promising, and the 64GB storage bump at the same price as last year is a sweet deal.

With the support for Apple Keyboard & Pencil, the entry-level iPad does not seem entry-level. It is a much more capable tablet now and a powerful tool for most purposes.
The new Apple iPad comes at an affordable price, making it easily approachable if your pockets are not deep enough for iPad Pros. It does have an old chipset, but its performance seems promising, and the 64GB storage bump at the same price as last year is a sweet deal.

With the support for Apple Keyboard & Pencil, the entry-level iPad does not seem entry-level. It is a much more capable tablet now and a powerful tool for most purposes.
4.3 rating
4.3/5
Total Score iRatings show value for money.
Very good

Design & Form-Factor: Apple iPad 2021

apple ipad design 2021

The only thing that has not changed on the new iPad is its design. It seems Apple does not like to play with their design language much because it has been the same form-factor since the last three iPads.

The 2018’s iPad had a 9.7″ form factor, and it had thick bezels. Apple refreshed the 2019 iPad with a better-looking design that had taller aspect ratio & thin bezels, and ever since, it has been the same design for the iPad.

No complaints, though. It is a good move by Apple because this form-factor is widely accepted. Users are already adapted to the iPad’s design language, and making a few changes on the inside every year adds value to the already established iPad.

The iPad has a familiar-looking round button on the front that acts as a Home button and Touch ID. Apple abandoned this a long time ago in other devices, but it is still there on the iPad. You will see Face ID or a side-placed Touch ID on the updated iPads.

ipad 2021 display

The bezels are still there in the era of frameless design. The much cheaper Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite has thinner bezels that look much better and more immersive in person.

It still comes in two finishes, Silver and Space Gray, which seems outdated and too familiar. Apple should have offered more color options as they did with iPad Air & Mini.

Nevertheless, it is the same as the previous iPad. The lock button is on the top. It is very tactile. The volume rockers are tactile, and they are on the right side. You will also have the SIM card slot there if you opt for the cellular model.

It is large, but it is a perfect form factor to carry around in a backpack or sleeve. It is lightweight, weighing approximately 1.07 lbs which is lighter than the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 (1.09 lbs).

Still, iPad Air being larger and more powerful weighs lesser (1.009 lbs) than the iPad, and the new iPad Mini (0.64 lbs) is the lightest and most portable iPads of all time.

Display & Viewing Experience: Apple iPad 2021

apple ipad 2021 display

The display on the 2021 iPad is excellent. It is a 10.2″ Liquid Retina display with 2160 x 1620 pixels resolution. It is sharp, bright, and perfectly suited for entertainment, reading, and gaming purposes.

It is not HDR certified, but it competes with the expensive tablets and offers a decent viewing performance. It has decent sharpness with the excellent 265 PPI, which makes text-reading very clear. It provides plenty of screen space, so multi-tasks are not a problem.

Still, the iPad Mini is sharper (327 PPI) and brighter than the 2021 iPad because of its small form factor and tight arrangement of pixels. Our current contender has the same sharpness levels as the iPad Air, and it is sharper than the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite (224 PPI).

The brightness levels are excellent, but it is not the brightest in the industry. Nevertheless, it is bright enough to use outdoors comfortably. It is brighter than the expensive iPad Air by a couple of points, which is surprising, although dimmer than the iPad Mini.

apple ipad shareplay

It has decent contrast levels, and you will encounter true black, so the Netflix experience is excellent. Gamers will love the color pop because it is highly colorful, and the content creators will love the fact that it covers 75% DCI-P3 color gamut.

The 2021 iPad also has TrueTone, adjusting the brightness and color levels according to the room lighting. It is basically the Night Shift, but it works automatically. It is excellent. You would not even notice it is changing colors. It is that well balanced, and it saves your eyes from fatigue.

Performance & Storage: Apple iPad 2021

apple ipad a13 bionic

Under the hood, the 2021 iPad houses the A13 Bionic chipset. Apple made it for the iPhone 11 series, so from the inside, the new iPad is kind of similar to the iPhone 11, but it had more RAM, whereas our current contender has 3GB RAM.

Apple launched iPad Mini and the 2021 iPad, and the Mini comes with the latest A15 Bionic, which feels disappointing. However, the performance is still better than most tablets in the same category.

It will easily handle your everyday workload, opening up a couple of tabs in Safari while playing music in the background and taking notes, no stutter at all. It is super smooth. The user interface is excellent, and it does not lag as such.

Multi-tasking is excellent, apps stay open in the background, and you can juggle between them without a problem. It opens where you left off, thanks to its great RAM management. Although it is not the Pro level, if you are a heavy user who edits photos and videos, you will start to see the struggle.

apple ipad gaming

Games work perfectly fine, no matter the size and intensity of graphics. The 4-Core Apple GPU offers decent gaming performance, and the games work at maximum graphics settings without a problem. It is an excellent choice if you are a mobile gamer.

Storage-wise, the previous iPad was poor because it had 32GB on the base variant, but now on the iPad 2021, the base variant starts with 64GB storage, starting at the same price as last year.

The iPad 2021 also comes with 256GB storage, so either you buy the 64GB model or 256GB model, there is no in-between.

Camera & CenterStage: Apple iPad 2021

apple ipad camera

The iPad 2021 has the same 8MP camera on the back, and it supports HDR and panorama. It is the same lens Apple has been carrying for the last few years, and it is decent for daylight conditions. It does struggle in low-light, and it is not intended for photography.

It is great for snapping documents quickly because the camera interface is super smooth. The front camera has a massive upgrade, and it is a 12MP ultrawide lens that supports CenterStage. It provides excellent flexibility for video calls because of its ultrawide capability.

The selfie camera is decent for taking selfies, but they look a little bit odd sometimes in the ultrawide.

Speakers & Audio: Apple iPad 2021

The iPad has bottom-firing speakers, and they do sound great. It has rich bass, and you will feel vibrations while watching movies so that you immerse into the scene for a true-to-life experience.

The speakers are great for a medium-sized room, and it is excellent for listening to music. The vocals come out very clear and crisp, making the iPad 2021 one of the best budget tablets for entertainment and watching movies.

apple ipad speakers

For FaceTiming, the speakers are great, and with the support for Spatial Audio, it is even more natural. It delivers sound from the person’s position on the screen and is great for group video calls.

Battery Life & Connectivity: Apple iPad 2021

The iPad 2021 has a decent battery life, and it is the best in the segment. It comes with a 20W charger within the box, and the big 8857 mAh battery takes around 2.45 hours to go 0 to 100%, so that is quite good.

The iPad 2021 last around 12.5 hours which is impressive for a sub-$300 tablet. It has the longest battery life of all iPads. The iPad Pro last 10.4 hours, whereas the iPad Air and Mini last 10 hours. So if you are looking for the best battery life on an iPad, the 2021 model should be your first consideration.

Connectivity-wise, the iPad 2021 is great, but the Wi-Fi & Bluetooth standards are older compared to the iPad Mini and iPad Air.

Moreover, the iPad 2021 still has a lightning connector, and it is the only iPad in the whole lineup that comes with a lightning connector. The new iPad Mini and iPad Air have a USB Type-C, which is much better because it allows you to connect a wide array of USB accessories.

iPad OS: Apple iPad 2021

ipados apple

The 2021 iPad runs on the latest iPadOS 15.1, and it is set to receive future updates for the next few years, so that is great.

The iPadOS was a great move from Apple, and it has unleashed the true purpose of the whole iPad lineup. It offers a plethora of features for business, productivity, and entertainment, and some are exclusive to the iPadOS only.

We have covered all the features of iPadOS before, and it is very intuitive. The new multi-tasking toggle is very convenient, and the Quick Notes help you take notes right from the home screen.

ipad shareplay feature

The SharePlay is great for entertainment if you have family and friends to watch movies with. It gives you a synced playback, and you can also have a talk on FaceTime simultaneously.

ipados focus

It also has a bunch of Focus modes. It is the Do Not Disturb Mode but with a few tweaks. It lets you choose between Work, Personal, and Sleep mode, and you create various profiles which enables you to customise.

Apart from that, the iPadOS offers Notification Summary, Safari Extensions, updated iMessages & Memoji, and many more.

Accessories: Apple iPad 2021

apple pencil

The Apple iPad 2021 supports 1st Gen Pencil ($99) instead of the new 2nd Gen ($129). There is not much difference in both the pencils, though, because both have the same pencil performance.

We highly recommend getting the Apple Pencil if you are a student, artist or teacher because it has pressure sensitivity and tilt recognition. It will help you take notes, create artistic effects, and host online lectures.

smart cover for ipad

Protection is a must for these thin slates, and Apple has an option to bundle their Smart Cover for iPad that comes in six different finishes.

Moreover, the iPadOS adds support for the mouse, so now iPad supports Apple Magic Mouse ($79) and TrackPad ($129). It adds convenience, and it is excellent for productivity purposes.

smart keyboard for ipad

The iPad 2021 also supports Smart Keyboard ($159), which is excellent for typing on documents, but it is expensive. You can also bundle third-party Bluetooth keyboards if your pockets are not deep enough.

Conclusion: Apple iPad 2021

Apple iPad 9th Gen 2021
4.3 5 0 1
Despite having the same design with fat bezels, the iPad 2021 is still the best value for money tablet in the industry. There are some shortcomings, but considering the performance and platform it offers, it is better than most expensive tablets.
Despite having the same design with fat bezels, the iPad 2021 is still the best value for money tablet in the industry. There are some shortcomings, but considering the performance and platform it offers, it is better than most expensive tablets.
4.3 rating
4.3/5
Total Score iRatings show value for money.
  • Display
    5.0 rating
    5/5 Amazing
    The display is excellent. It is color-rich, sharp, and has adequate brightness levels.
  • Design
    3.0 rating
    3/5 Neutral
    The design disappoints a little bit. The fat bezels are a thing of the past.
  • Performance
    5.0 rating
    5/5 Amazing
    Performance-wise, the iPad 2021 is a winner since it outperforms some expensive tablets.

The Good

  • Excellent performance
  • 64GB base storage
  • Best battery life

The Bad

  • Old design
  • No USB-C
  • Old Wi-Fi & Bluetooth
Total
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