Apple iPad (10th Generation) vs iPad (9th Generation): Which Should You Buy?  |  CNN underlined

Apple iPad (10th Generation) vs iPad (9th Generation): Which Should You Buy? | CNN underlined

The 10th generation iPad is here, and for the first time in years, it’s not a direct replacement for the one before it. Apple’s latest flagship tablet features an all-new design with a larger screen, faster processor, and modern perks like 5G connectivity and a USB-C port. But it also bumps the price up significantly to $449, which is why Apple is still selling the 9th Gen iPad at $329 as a more economical option.

So are you going for the flashy looks and more upgradeable specs of the 2022 iPad, or are you saving money on the still excellent 2021 model? We tested both tablets extensively and compared them to help you make the right decision.

cnnu 10th generation iPad product card

Apple iPad 2021


10.9-inch, 2360 x 1640 Liquid Retina display

10.2-inch, 2160 x 1620 Retina display


A14 bionic

A13 bionic


12-megapixel ultra-wide landscape camera (front); 12-megapixel wide camera with 4K video (rear)

12-megapixel ultra-wide camera (front); 8-megapixel rear camera

Apple Pencil support

1st generation (adapter required)

1st generation

Keyboard support

Magic Keyboard Folio

Smart keyboard


WiFi 6, 5G, USB-C

Wi-Fi, 4G, Lightning, headphone jack


9.79 x 7.7 x 0.28 inches, 1.05 pounds

9.8 x 6.8 x 0.29 inches, 1.07 pounds


Silver, pink, blue, yellow

Space Grey, Silver




cnnu 6 iPad 10th gen review

Mike Andronic/CNN

If you care about beauty, get the new iPad. Apple’s latest flagship tablet finally adopts the design of its more expensive iPad Air and iPad Pro counterparts, meaning you get a beautiful aluminum slate with smooth, even edges and thinner display bezels, which allow all a slightly larger screen. The new iPad also comes in a range of attractive colors (blue, pink, yellow, silver), which might look nicer on your coffee table than the drab silver and space gray the 9th-gen model is stuck with.

The 2022 iPad’s modernized design isn’t just for show, either – it also switches from Lightning to USB-C for charging, which opens up the tablet to a wider range of accessories and will play nicely with the litany of USB-C cables you might already have around the house.

cnnu 8 iPad 10th gen review

Mike Andronic/CNN

One of the biggest improvements in the 10th generation iPad is the landscape-oriented front camera, which will keep you better centered (and not awkwardly to the side) during video calls when the iPad is positioned horizontally. Both of these iPads feature Center Stage technology to automatically keep you in frame, but if you plan to use your iPad as a laptop replacement and spend a lot of time on FaceTimes and Zooms, you’ll look better on the new model.

The iPad’s rear camera has also been upgraded for the 2022 iteration, now with a 12-megapixel lens (down from 8-megapixel) that can shoot 4K and capture slow-motion video at 240fps. While these benefits are great for YouTubers and casual video makers, I don’t know how many people use their tablets to record high-quality videos in the wild.

cnnu 5 iPad 10th Gen Review

Mike Andronic/CNN

The 9th and 10th generation iPad offer cellular options for people who want (or need) to connect anywhere, but only the newest model supports 5G. This means that with a supported cellular plan and in a supported area, you’ll get better browsing speeds while on the go. 5G is still an evolving technology and works better in some areas than others, but investing in a 5G iPad will make you more future-proof in the long run. The same goes for the new model’s Wi-Fi 6 support, which allows for faster internet if you have a Wi-Fi 6-enabled router.

iPad 3-9th Generation Review Highlighted

Jacob Krol/CNN

There’s a pretty big price gap between the $329 9th Gen iPad and the $449 10th Gen iPad, and that’s before you factor in discounts. Apple’s 2021 iPad is almost always on sale — it’s currently $299 on Amazon, and we’ve seen it drop to $269 at major trade events. That’s nearly $200 less than the new model if you catch it at the right time.

And if you can live without the benefits outlined above, you’re not sacrificing a ton at that lower price. Although not as powerful as the 10th generation iPad, the 2021 model is still one of the fastest tablets around and has more than enough speed for the type of gaming, web browsing and light productivity work that most people will do on an iPad. It has access to the latest iPadOS software and the same excellent suite of apps and games. And it offers the same seamless integration with other Apple devices and services that you’ll get on more expensive iPads.

iPad 6-9th Generation Review Highlighted

Jacob Krol/CNN

For all its impressive upgrades, the 2022 iPad has one glaring omission: the headphone jack. Of course, a lot of people use Bluetooth headphones these days, and you can always get a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter for your cans or wired headphones. But if you want to be able to easily plug in your existing wired headphones (especially for a little one you’re trying to keep busy at dinner), you’ll have a much easier time doing so on the 9th Gen model. Speaking of ports and adapters, pairing and charging an Apple Pencil is also much less headache on the old iPad.

Apple Smart Keyboard Folio

If you already have a keyboard or an iPad case for your 7th or 8th generation model and you want to continue using it, it is better to go for the 9th generation. Since the 10th generation model introduces a new size and design, it will not work with keyboards and cases designed for generations 7 through 9, such as Apple’s popular Smart Keyboard. Bluetooth keyboards will work fine on both models, but if you want a physically connected set of keys that will turn your 10th-gen iPad into a laptop, you’ll need to purchase one specifically designed for the new model.

The 10th generation iPad is a fantastic tablet, and you’ll get excellent performance, a beautiful design, and plenty of future-proof connectivity for your $449. But we still think the 9th Gen iPad is the best tablet for the vast majority of people, because you’ll get similar speed and the same software experience for a fraction of the price. And for people who are willing to pay a premium price for the new iPad, the more powerful (and often discounted) 2022 iPad Air is better value.

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