Apple iPad 2022 vs. iPad 2021: Should you upgrade?

The humble Apple iPad has been one of our favorite tablets for many, many years now, but it’s also been clear for years that it needs a design update. That’s no longer the case, as the 2022 Apple iPad has been revealed with a stunning new design that brings it in line with the rest of Apple’s iPad slate. A new design is just the start, however, as this year’s iPad also features a USB-C port and an all-new version of the Magic Keyboard.

However, all of these improvements mean that the new iPad also comes with a new price of $449 – a big increase from last year’s $329 iPad. Fortunately, Apple left last year’s iPad on sale as an alternative, but which iPad should you buy? Is the shiny new iPad worth the extra bucks, or should you save money with an older iPad instead? Or, if you’re still using an old iPad, should you trade it in for the new iPad? We compared the two to find out.


Apple iPad 2022 Apple iPad 2021
Cut 248.6 x 179.5 x 7 mm (9.79 x 7.07 x 0.28 inch) 250.6 x 174.1 x 7.5 mm (9.8 x 6.8 x 0.30 inches)
lester WiFi: 477 grams (1.05 pounds)

LTE: 481 grams (1.05 pounds)

Wi-Fi: 487 grams (1.07 pounds)

LTE: 498 grams (1.07 lbs)

Screen size 10.9 inches 10.2 inches
Screen resolution 2360 x 1640 pixels (264 pixels per inch) 2160 x 1620 pixels (264 pixels per inch)
Operating system iPadOS 16 iPadOS 15 (upgrades to iPadOS 16)
Storage space 64 GB, 256 GB 64 GB, 256 GB
microSD card slot Nope Nope
Touch services Nope Nope
Processor Apple A14 bionic Apple A13 Bionic
Camera 12MP rear, 12MP ultra-wide front 8MP rear, ultra-wide 12MP front
Video 4K at 60 frames per second (fps), 1080p at 240 fps 1080p at 30 fps, 720p at 120 fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 4.2
Ports USB-C Flash
Fingerprint sensor Yes, top mounted Yes, front mounted
Water resistance Nope Nope
Battery To confirm 8,557mAh
Application Marketplace Apple App Store Apple App Store
Network support All major carriers (cellular version only) All major carriers (cellular version only)
Colors Silver, blue, pink, yellow Silver, Space Gray
Price $449 $329
Will buy Apple Apple
Exam score New 4 out of 5 stars

Design, display and durability

The base iPad has been due for a design update for years, and it’s finally here. The new iPad sports a design similar to the iPad Air, with flat sides, a metal casing, and symmetrical bezels all around the screen. Those smaller bezels mean the 2022 iPad has a larger 10.9-inch screen in a roughly similar footprint, and the selfie camera has been moved to the center of landscape orientation rather than portrait. The result is a cheaper device that doesn’t betray its budget origins, is clearly intended for more serious use with the Magic Keyboard Folio, and feels less like a traditional tablet.

By contrast, the 2021 iPad is about as classic and traditional as it gets. The larger bezels and TouchID sensor at the bottom mean this is a device best used in portrait mode, although it can also be paired with the Apple Smart Keyboard to be used as a laptop-like device as well . There’s no getting away from how old it looks, although some may prefer this style. Both devices will likely have similar durability due to their similar builds. Both have the same water resistance, ie: none at all.

In the end, these two designs are useful for different people. If you want an iPad that will work as a laptop replacement, then the 2022 iPad is for you. If it’s a traditional tablet used for light browsing, the thicker bezels of the 2021 iPad may appeal. But even with that in mind, we think most people will be looking to the more modern 2022 iPad, which is why it won this round.

Winner: Apple iPad 2022

Performance, range and charging

The 2021 iPad's TouchID sensor is much the same.
Adam Doud/Digital Trends

None of these iPads will lead the pack in performance, but neither are they slow. Both feature older generations of Apple-made A-series processors: the A13 Bionic on the 2021 iPad and the A14 Bionic on the 2022 iPad. Despite their age, these two mobile processors are still top notch , and you should be able to play top games and manage multiple apps with ease. Sure, the 2022 iPad is the more powerful of the two, but the difference probably isn’t something you’ll notice in real-world use.

Battery life is harder to gauge at this time as we haven’t had a chance to properly tackle the 2022 iPad yet. Also, since most tablets spend time near a couch, battery life is generally less of a concern than with other mobile devices. Still, based on previous performance, the iPad has always had good battery life, and we don’t expect that to change. Charging speeds aren’t yet known, but we’d expect both chargers to be quite slow whether they’re running on a Lightning or USB-C port.

But it is a point on which it is worth stopping: USB-C. The new iPad uses a USB-C port instead of a Lightning port, which means the port can be used for more than just charging. Indeed, it can now connect to a range of USB hubs, external storage or external devices without having to shell out for an expensive (and proprietary) Lightning connector instead. If you’re looking to use your iPad for more than the usual day-to-day tasks, this absolutely matters.

Winner: Apple iPad 2022


The front of the 10th generation iPad.

OK, if you’re using an iPad to take photos instead of your phone, then you’re wrong – the cameras on these tablets have never been as good as those on similarly priced phones. Still, they have their uses, and so while this category isn’t as big as it is with phones, it’s still important. The new iPad has an upgraded 12-megapixel lens on the front, and while we haven’t had a chance to test it, we expect it to be a solid shooter, as games always are. Apple cameras. It’s an upgrade from the 8MP lens of the 2021 iPad, but the rear cameras aren’t as prominent as what happened on the front.

While both tablets have a 12MP selfie lens, on the new iPad it’s moved above the screen in landscape orientation. It might seem like a small change, but it puts the camera in a much better place for video calls in particular. Most iPad cases with a kickstand naturally rest the tablet in landscape mode, so it makes a lot more sense for the selfie camera to be placed where it’s most useful. For that small tweak, the new iPad wins.

Winner: Apple iPad 2022

Software and updates

An iPad and external display using Stage Manager in iPadOS 16.

Apple’s excellent update record means both of these iPads will work iPadOS 16 since the launch day of this new operating system. Expect them both to get a slew of updates too, and don’t expect the 2021 iPad to be kicked out of all the new features in the 2022 iPad.

It’s by far the shortest category here, and that’s because these two devices are on par. The 2022 iPad may get more updates than the old iPad, but that’s probably so far you’ll have upgraded before that.

Winner: Tie

Special features

The 10th generation iPad.

Accessory support is at the heart of most iPad special features, and it’s no different here. The new iPad supports Apple’s new Magic Keyboard Folio, a variation of Apple’s popular Smart Keyboard, with an additional trackpad and function keys. This accessory alone bolsters the iPad’s ability to pass itself off as a laptop replacement, and while we haven’t played it properly yet, we expect it to be nearly as game-changing as the iPad. ‘original. Magic Keyboard was intended for the iPad Pro. The old iPad gets the Smart Keyboard, but it lacks a trackpad and a row of function keys, which means it’s not as useful as the Magic Keyboard Folio.

Both iPads also have access to the Apple Pencil, but oddly Apple opted to make the new iPad compatible with the first-generation Apple Pencil rather than upgrading it to the second-generation Pencil. This disappointment has less to do with extra features and more to do with usefulness. Rather than using a wireless charging method, like the second Apple Pencil, the first-generation Apple Pencil charges via a Lightning connector that was originally plugged into its device’s Lightning port. You can probably see where this is going – the new iPad’s USB-C port means the Pencil requires an adapter to charge as intended, and that makes for an extremely clunky accessory.

While the Magic Keyboard Folio looks like a great accessory, the Apple Pencil implementation means what should be a great graphics tablet might just be a disappointment. It’s a tie.

Winner: Tie


The new 2022 iPad is currently up for pre-order and shipping begins October 26. Its price has increased from previous generations and now starts at $449. It’s a big step forward and one of the main reasons you might want to consider the older iPad instead.

The 2021 iPad is currently available and pricing starts at $329. You’ll be able to pick it up from most retailers, and you should keep a close eye out during sales periods, as this is a generally discounted device for Apple.

Big winner: Apple iPad 2022

The winner here is the Apple iPad 2022. It had to be, really. By comparison, the new iPad is arguably the stronger of the two, with a more modern design, stronger specs and new features that make it a budget productivity powerhouse. But this victory comes with a big caveat, and it’s the price to pay.

You might be happy to pay that cost, and you’ll get a great tablet with great accessories if you do – but if that cost has given you pause, consider the 2021 iPad. It might not be as good looking, and the selfie camera isn’t as well placed, but it can still make for a solid tablet, especially when paired with the right accessories. There are some solid keyboard options for the older iPad, including the .

If you’re already using the 2021 iPad, it’s not worth upgrading to the new iPad. The differences are clear, but the day-to-day differences aren’t enough to warrant an upgrade. Instead, wait for iPad 2023 or 2024 before upgrading.

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