iPad 9 vs. iPad 10: Which offers more bang for the buck?

iPad 9 vs. iPad 10: Which offers more bang for the buck?

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iPad 9 vs. iPad 10: Which offers more bang for the buck?
Apple now offers both the iPad 9 and the iPad 10. But which is better for you?
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Apple positioned the new iPad 10 as the successor to last year’s iPad 9, but the two are far more different that their names suggest. The just-released tablet has a long list of improvements, including a larger screen. But it also comes at a substantially higher price.

Both models are still in Apple product lineup so you have a choice. Let’s go head-to-head to see how they stack up.

iPad 9 or iPad 10, there is no bad option

Spoiler alert: Apple doesn’t make a bad tablet so don’t expect to get to the end of this where I point to the one “best” model.

But I already said that the two are surprisingly different. As the end of this comparison, you should be able to easily choose which is right for you.

$$ or $$$

Let’s start with the elephant in the room. The iPad 10 costs 36% more than its predecessor. It’s $449 compared to the $329 of the iPad 9. That’s quite a jump.

Another spoiler alert: In the comparison of features, the iPad 10 comes out ahead in most categories. So ask yourself for each category, is the difference worth $120?

Display: Size matters

iPad 10 vs iPad 9 Display
Removing the Home button from the iPad 10 gives room for a larger screen.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

The most important feature of any tablet is the display. Apple’s newer model jumped up to a 10.9-inch one. That makes it the same size as the iPad Air, and almost as large as one iPad Pro version.

The iPad 9 includes a 10.2-inch screen. That means the newer tablet is 11% larger.

Both screens offer 264 pixels per inch and 500 nits brightness, while neither panel is laminated. In non-technical terms, they’re going to look essentially identical aside from size.

For a tablet display, bigger is better. That said, is 11% enough to make a significant difference in your typical use?

Home button: Yes or no

The iPad 10 made room for more screen by eliminating the Home button. This was a relic of the past that Apple has been slowly phasing out since 2017. But some people are used to it, and it’s still on the iPad 9, with a Touch ID fingerprint scanner built into it.

The 2022 tablet does not lose out on Touch ID – its sensor is built into the top button.

Dropping the Home button allowed Apple to increase the iPad 10’s screen size without expanding the overall tablet size much. Its newer model is roughly a quarter of an inch (about 5mm) wider than the iPad 9. It’s surely not going to be noticeable. And the same goes for weight, which is essentially identical.

So the question here is, how important is the Home button to you?

Processor and performance

iPad 10 is built around an A14 Bionic processor, while the previous model uses an A13 Bionic chip. Apple promises a 20% increase in CPU performance and a 10% improvement in graphics.

It’s hard to say no to more performance, but all of Apple’s recent processors are very fast. The A13 launched in 2019 but its Geekbench 5 benchmarking score is just slightly slower than the very latest Samsung smartphones.

The older processor is easily capable of handling iPadOS and most third-party software. There are some high-end apps that might strain it, but the same is true of the A14. Anyone looking to do professional video editing should be looking at an iPad Pro.

This is another category where the iPad 10 comes out ahead but you have to ask yourself, is the difference large enough to be worth $120?

Cameras: Location, location, location

iPad 9 vs. iPad 10 Front Facing Camera location.
The front-facing cameras on the two tablets are in different places, and that makes a real difference.
Image : Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Many people sneer at iPad cameras. Who uses them? If the question refers to the front-facing camera, the answer is: almost everyone.

The pandemic made video conferencing part of our every day lives, and that hasn’t gone away. Apple relocated the iPad 10 camera so it’s a much better for FaceTime and similar apps.

The iPad 9’s front camera is designed to be primarily used in portrait mode. It’s on the short edge of the screen. But most people do video conferencing in landscape mode, so the camera makes users appear to be always looking off to one side.

In contrast, the iPad 10 front camera is located alongside the landscape edge of the tablet. That’s the right place for video conferencing. And it’s an Ultra Wide 12MP camera that supports Center Stage, so it appears to follow the user.

This is a rare category where the iPad 10 is head and shoulders above its predecessor. The older model is decent for video conferencing – millions of people use it – but it’s just not as good.

The rear-facing camera on the newer model is 12MP and ƒ/1.8 compared to 8MP and ƒ/2.4. If it matters.

USB-C, Apple Pencil, Keyboard and other accessories

iPad 9 was the last Apple tablet with a Lightning charging/data port. The 2022 model uses USB-C. It’s a welcome change, as every other iPad and all MacBooks use the same port. This allows the tablet to charge more quickly and use powerful accessories like USB-C hubs that add significantly to the capabilities of the tablet.

Both iPad 9 and iPad 10 support the original Apple Pencil version, not the newer one. Schools that already invested in the first-gen stylus probably asked Apple to keep it around.

But charging the Pencil with the 2022 iPad is kind of a mess. It can no longer plug into the tablet to charge, and an adapter is needed to connect the stylus to the USB-C cable used to charge the tablet.

If you don’t use the Apple Pencil, USB-C is a solid improvement. For heavy users of that stylus though, the change from Lightning to USB-C might make the iPad 9 a better option.

Just remember, there are other styli options, like the Logitech Crayon.

Speaking of accessories, Apple created the Magic Keyboard Folio for the iPad 10 and not previous versions. But there are plenty of third-party keyboard cases for the iPad 9, including the Logitech Combo Touch that uses the same general design as Apple’s.

iPad 9 vs. iPad 10: Choose the right model for you

iPad 9 and iPad 10 in Apple Store
Head to an Apple Store to do your own a hands-on comparison of the iPad 9 and iPad 10.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The big question is whether the iPad 10’s larger screen, faster processor and other enhancements justify the $120 price increase. Value is in the eye of the beholder, but here’s some numbers to help with your decision.

When the first $329 iPad came out in 2017, it was a nice deal. Fast forward five years and the iPad 9 at that price is a truly exceptional bargain.

If Apple had picked the price for the iPad 10 solely by keeping up with inflation, the iPad 10 should be $400. But it’s $449, instead.

Which means that while iPad 10 is the superior tablet in almost every way, the iPad 9 is a much better deal.