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Apple iPad 10th gen vs iPad 9th gen: Which tablet should you buy?

After the recent launch of the new iPad Air M2 and iPad Pro M4, you might be thinking now’s the time to invest in a more budget-friendly option.

We’ve compared the specs and our reviews of the iPad 10 (2022) to its predecessor, the iPad 9 (2021) so you can decide which entry-level iPad is right for you.

Pricing and availability

Available as Apple’s most budget-friendly iPad option, the iPad 10 currently has an RRP of £349/$349.

Apple has quietly removed the iPad 9 from its shelves, although at the time of writing it is still readily available in some retailers for around £299/$299.

Design

The iPad 10th Gen is bigger than the iPad 9, measuring 10.9-inches whereas the latter is 10.2-inches. Although negligible, this is worth considering if you know you’ll be travelling around with your iPad in tow.

Both iPads have a 12MP front-facing camera that’s fitted with Apple’s Centre Stage, a technology that uses machine learning to automatically pan the camera to keep you and others centred in the frame. However, the iPad 9’s front camera is portrait whereas the iPad 10’s is landscape, which is actually the same as the newly launched iPad Air and iPad Pro.

Now slightly outdated, especially for iPads, the iPad 9 has a Lightning connector but the iPad 10 has the USB-C connector. If you have an iPhone 14 Pro Max or older then this may not necessarily be an issue, but if you have made the swap to USB-C then this will feel like a step backwards. 

Speaking of outdated, the iPad 10 has a much slimmer bezel and no Home button, which makes the iPad 9 look quite dated in comparison, as it sports much larger bezels and a Home button.

The iPad 10 is available in much brighter colours than the iPad 9, with a choice of Blue, Yellow, Pink or a more muted Silver. The iPad 9 is only available in either Silver or Space Grey.

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Screen

Both iPads also have Apple’s trademarked Retina displays, however the iPad 10 screen is Liquid Retina. This means the iPad 10’s display is built upon LCD technology which has a higher pixel-density.

Even so, while the iPad 10 does boast a higher screen resolution than the iPad 9, it definitely isn’t the best screen found on an iPad with the iPad Pro moving onto OLED. For a budget option though, it is more than acceptable.

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Performance

Unlike the newer and higher-end iPads, both the iPad 10 and iPad 9 run on Apple’s A chips rather than the desktop-level M chip. The iPad 10 runs on the A14 Bionic Chip, which is also found in the iPhone 12 series, and the iPad 9 runs on the A13 Bionic Chip, found in the iPhone 11 series.

Neither chip is Apple’s most up to date offering however, as the Apple A17 Pro is now available inside the iPhone 15 Pro. Although we found the iPad 9 to “perform admirably” with the 2019 chip “still seriously snappy and more than adequate,” we found the iPad 10 “ticks all the boxes when it comes to performance” with “obvious upgrades if you’re coming from an iPad 9 or iPad 8.” 

The iPad 9 also falls short with connectivity, as there’s no Wi-Fi 6 and if you do want a cellular model, you’ll only get 4G networks as there’s no 5G support. 

Battery

Apart from the more convenient USB-C port on the iPad 10 and the Lightning port on the iPad 9, the battery and charging life of both iPads remains virtually unchanged with Apple claiming a 10-hour battery life for both models.

We found in our tests that after a typical day the iPad 10 was left with over 50% battery left and the iPad 9 needing to be charged “a couple of times a week.”

Accessories

The iPad 10 is compatible with more iPad accessories, including Apple Pencil First Generation and USB-C and Magic Keyboard Folio.

Meanwhile, the iPad 9 does support Apple Pencil First Generation, but it isn’t compatible with Magic Keyboard, supporting the Smart Keyboard instead. 

Verdict

While the iPad 10 isn’t exactly perfect, there are still some clear improvements over its predecessor here, most notably in terms of its design and performance. We’d have appreciated further improvements to the screen, but it remains good enough for watching videos or gaming, and the battery life remains excellent.

If you’re on a tight budget then the iPad 9 still offers plenty of great value and should not be dismissed, but if you have a little more cash to splash then the iPad 10 will be worth it.

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