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iPad 9 vs iPad 8: 3 tepid upgrades

Apple has finally unveiled its latest iPad 9, which supersedes the older iPad 8 as the firm’s cheapest tablet.

But with both devices looking all bit identical to the naked eye, especially compared to the changes Apple made to the Apple Watch 7, iPad Mini 6 and iPhone 13 the new tablet launched alongside, you may be wondering, what’s actually new?

As it turns out, not a lot. In fact, there are only four notable updates you need to know about.

iPad 9

An upgraded CPU

The Apple iPad 9 looks all but identical to the iPad 8, with the large bezels, a physical home button, Lightning charge port and first generation Pencil support all making a return. The only significant updates relate to its under the hood hardware.

The biggest upgrade is a move from the iPad 8’s A12 Bionic CPU to the slightly newer A13 Bionic. The A13 isn’t Apple’s newest chip with the iPhone 12 using a more powerful A14 Bionic and the latest iPhone 13, a shiny new A15 Bionic.

That said, Apple has made bold claims about overall performance and efficiency improvements. Specifically it claims the newer chip will offer 20% “general” performance improvements, more accurate and faster image processing and undisclosed efficiency gains over its predecessor.

Sadly the firm didn’t disclose quite how much these efficiency gains will extend the iPad 9’s battery life. But based on our experience with the iPhone 11 it launched on we’re not expecting more than a few hours extra. We’ll test this when we get the iPad 9 in for review.

iPad 8 on desk

Minor improvements to the screen

Both tablets have 10.2-inch Retina Displays. Neither have high, or variable refresh rate ProMotion screens, which means they won’t be as good as Apple’s Pro line for key things, including gaming.

The only difference is that the iPad 9 gains support for Apple’s Truetone technology. The tech uses a variety of sensors to let the iPad detect what environment it’s running in and automatically tweek the screen’s settings to effectively run in it.

Based on our experience using it on other Apple devices, while it may not sound like a huge addition, it’s appearance on the iPad 9 is a positive that should help colors continue to look natural, even in difficult conditions.

A better front camera

Apple has loaded the new iPad 9 with an improved 12MP ultrawide front camera that supports the Centre Stage feature debuted on its Pro line of tablets. The tech uses machine learning to let the camera automatically detect and focus on its use while making video calls, ensuring you’re always in frame and the foreground when using Facetime or Zoom.

A higher minimum storage capacity

The final difference is that the iPad 9 and 8 is that the newer tablet has a higher minimum storage. Specifically the cheapest version of the iPad 9 will feature 64GB of space and retail for $299. The iPad 8 has a lower 32GB entry model.

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