New iPad 2021 review: This ‘cheap’ tablet is better than ever – and best value yet
APPLE has refreshed its cheapest iPad with more power and storage.
I’ve been putting it through its paces – and the value for money is hard to knock.
- Apple iPad, 64GB (Space Grey), Amazon – £319 / $329.99
The iPad has come a long way since its launch in 2010, becoming thinner, lighter and ludicrously powerful.
Not everyone wants or needs a tablet, but if you’re keen on having one in your life, you could do much worse than a new iPad.
In fact at it’s probably the best value for money in the tablet world today at $329/£319.
So what’s new?
The exterior of the new iPad hasn’t really changed. That’s fine – it’s a good look.
It’s a metallic case with a good heft, but not so heavy you’re tired using it.
Front and centre is a 10.2-inch Retina display.
It’s by no means as good as the iPad Pro or even the iPhone – but this is a far cheaper device.
Importantly, it’s sharp, reasonably colour-accurate, and a great size.
Probably the most exciting change this year is the storage boost.
Base storage is rising from 32GB to 64GB, and the premium option rises from 128GB to 256GB.
That’s a very welcome increase, and makes the iPad much more powerful.
You can get more apps and media on it – what’s not to like?
Performance is the other point to shout about.
Apple has fitted the new iPad with the A13 Bionic chip, as seen on 2019’s iPhone 11 Pro.
That means a nice speed boost, including 20% faster graphics for gaming.
The old iPad was already fast – certainly quick enough for most users – so this is a welcome boon, and helps to future-proof it.
Apple is once again promising an “all-day battery life”. That appears to be holding up with my regular usage – you’d have to really burn it to run out of charge in a day.
There are cameras on the front and back – both fine, but nothing to write home about.
Perhaps the best bit is that the iPad Pro’s Centre Stage feature has made it to the selfie camera.
That will pan and track you (and others) on FaceTime calls to keep you focused.
There’s no 5G this time around (though the next-gen device will probably get it), so you’re limited to 4G for now.
Honestly, it’s not a huge issue just yet – 5G isn’t everywhere, and a good portion of iPad buyers won’t even consider the cellular model anyway.
There’s support for Apple Pencil (although you’ll pay for one), and you can get a Smart Keyboard too – although that costs $159/£159.
If you’re hoping to use the iPad as a work device, the latter is basically essential – at least if you need to type.
And the Apple Pencil is less essential, although it’s a must-have for artists. Even if you’re mildly interested in sketching, it’s a great buy.
The point is, you can very easily scale the iPad up into a much more powerful device with accessories.
Or you can simply buy the entry-level model and use it as intended: a great tablet, at a low cost.
Apple has stuck with Lightning cables (in the style of iPhone) rather than the newer, more versatile and increasingly widespread USB-C (seen on Macs and other iPads).
The good news is that all your old cables and plug-in accessories will still work with the new iPad.
But it would be nice to see Apple switch to USB-C across the board soon – so everything “fits”.
There are only two colour options – Space Grey and Silver – presumably to keep costs down.
Something a bit more colourful would be nice, but these are safe paintjobs that will appeal to almost everyone.
And ultimately, the low price of the entry-level iPad is the selling point.
Finally, the new iPad runs on Apple’s latest iPadOS 15.
This is now a seriously powerful operating system, and increasingly distinct from the iPhone’s iOS.
Multi-taking is much better, there are loads of widgets for your homescreen to enjoy, and the iPhone’s App Library is here to help keep your device “tidy”.
New iPad review verdict
Not much has changed with the new iPad.
But people don’t upgrade phones each year, and they upgrade tablets even less frequently.
So if you’re coming from a much older iPad, this will be a huge upgrade.
Ultimately, for the price, this is probably the best-value tablet you can buy.
You’re getting a brand new and up-to-date operating system, one of the most powerful mobile processor in the world, and a very attractive device.
Don’t forget: the iPad is also immensely easy to use.
It’s got the power a gadget geek desires, but you can give it to your nan and she’ll probably get on fine.
The Sun says: The entry-level iPad gets better without a big price jump. It misses some bells and whistles, but the low price means it offers exceptional value for money. 5/5
The new iPad starts at $329/£319 and is available from Friday, September 24.
- Apple iPad, 64GB (Space Grey), Amazon – £319 / $329.99
- Apple iPad, 256GB (Space Grey), Amazon – £459 / $479.99
All prices in this article were correct at the time of writing, but may have since changed. Always do your own research before making any purchase.
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