iPad 9th-Gen vs iPad 8th-Gen: Minor, but Essential Improvements

by: - Last updated on: September 15th, 2021
Key Takeaways
  • Apple has announced the 9th-gen iPad with some essential but minor upgrades that aim to bring improved performance on the 10.2-inch design.
  • The new iPad comes with an A13 Bionic chip, a new 12MP camera, twice the storage option, and the all-new iPadOS 15.
  • Apple claims the 9th-gen iPad to be 20% faster than its predecessor.

At its first fall event for the year, Apple made a bunch of product announcements across different product categories, including the iPhone, the iPad, and the Apple Watch. Of these, the one that caught most by surprise was the introduction of two new iPads: the 9th-gen iPad and the 6th-gen iPad Mini. At large, both devices pack in significant upgrades over their predecessors and incorporate several new features that improve the overall experience.

Here’s a look at what the 9th-gen iPad has to offer and how it compares to its previous generation.

9th-gen iPad

iPad 9th-Gen vs iPad 8th-Gen: Design

Design-wise, both the 9th-gen iPad and the 8th-gen iPad feature the same old (10.2-inch) iPad design. It has bezels all around the display and a home button at the bottom for navigation.

iPad 9th-Gen vs iPad 8th-Gen: Display

9th-gen iPad display

On to the front, much like the design, both models share a 10.2-inch retina display, except that the 9th-gen iPad gets upgraded with light sensors to incorporate the True Tone functionality, which adjusts the screen based on the ambient temperature. As a result, the newer iPad offers a more comfortable viewing experience in different lighting conditions than its previous generation.

iPad 9th-Gen vs iPad 8th-Gen: Performance

9th-gen iPad performance

Under the hood, while the 8th-gen iPad uses an A12 Bionic chip (with Neural Engine), Apple has included a newer version—A13 Bionic—of the chip on the 9th-gen model. As a result, the new iPad brings a 20% performance boost over its predecessor, which makes it possible to run more advanced apps and games on a relatively affordable iPad—something that wasn’t the case earlier.

Moreover, the new chipset also powers improved machine learning capabilities, including the Live Text feature that will bring on-device intelligence for text recognition, slated to come in iPadOS 15.

According to Apple, the addition of the A13 Bionic on the 9th-gen iPad makes the iPad “up to 3x faster than the best-selling Chromebook and up to 6s faster than the best-selling Android tablet.”

iPad 9th-Gen vs iPad 8th-Gen: Storage

9th-gen iPad storage

Much like the processor, another essential update to the 9th-gen iPad is in terms of storage: the 8th-gen iPad offered 32GB as the base storage and 128GB as the most generous storage option. With the 9th-gen model, Apple has doubled up these options, with the 64GB option now coming in as the base storage variant and 256GB being the highest (and the second), to offer more storage space to store apps, games, and media.

iPad 9th-Gen vs iPad 8th-Gen: Camera

9th-gen iPad cameraAlongside improvements in display technology and chipset, Apple is also upgrading the camera tech on the new iPad and equipping it with a new 12MP ultra-wide front camera as opposed to a 1.2MP sensor on the 8th-gen model.

What’s special about the new sensor is that it now delivers the Center Stage experience, thanks to the Neural Engine processing prowess of the A13 Bionic. Center Stage, for the uninitiated, is a new feature on iOS and iPadOS devices that automatically pans the camera to keep the person (standing in front) in view during video calls and zooms out when more people join in to include them in the frame too.

iPad 9th-Gen vs iPad 8th-Gen: Accessories Support

9th-gen iPad accessories support

Accessories come as an extension to append iPad’s usability and expand their capabilities to let you do more with your device. The 8th-gen model also included support for two Apple accessories, namely the 1st-gen Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard. And with its latest iteration, Apple hasn’t changed that any bit: the 9th-gen iPad also supports the same version of both Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard.

iPad 9th-Gen: Pricing and Availability

The 9th-gen iPad offers two configurations: WiFi and WiFi+Cellular. It is available in two storage options: 64GB and 256GB, which start at $329 and $459 respectively. As for the availability, the iPad is up for pre-orders starting today and will be available from September 24.

In India, the 9th-gen iPad starts at Rs 30,900 for the WiFi-only model and Rs 42,900 for WiFi+Cellular.

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  1. Under the iPad 9th-Gen vs iPad 8th-Gen: Camera section you incorrectly stated: “Alongside improvements in display technology and chipset, Apple is also upgrading the camera tech on the new iPad and equipping it with a new 12MP ultra-wide front camera as opposed to an 8MP sensor on the 8th-gen model.” On the Apple website, comparing the 8th & 9th gen iPad models, it shows the front camera on the 8th gen to be a 1.2MP Facetime HD camera and the 9th gen has a 12MP Ultra Wide front camera, so a significant difference between the two generation iPads. They both have the same rear 8MP wide camera. Another thing I’ve noticed is on Otterbox’s website they’ve changed the Defender series cases to include 9th gen now, along with 7th and 8th gen, so no need to buy a new case should you upgrade from the previous 2 generations.

  2. So I traded in a iPad 6th gen. And bought the iPad 9th gen. It’s ok and I do notice it is more responsive then the 6th gen. But not by leaps and bounds.
    I also bought the Smart Keyboard which stopped working after two months. A huge buyer remorse over buying that accessory. Apple won’t even honor a replacement without traveling 100 miles to my nearest Apple store. I hope my iPad holds up better? Definitely mixed feelings about iPad OS 15. So far have not trained my brain not to hit those three dots opening up split screen option instead of URL in Safari. Lousy place to locate it if you ask me. If you own a 7th or 8th gen iPad I wouldn’t upgrade to 9.