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iPad 2021 vs 2020 (2021): Is the New Tablet Worth the Upgrade?

When it comes to the iPad 2021 vs iPad 2020, it goes without saying that the new iteration is the better pick. However, whether or not it’s worth trading up from the old tablet is another story.

On that note, we’re comparing the two to help clear up what makes them different—and similar, for that matter—from each other. In summary, the 2021 iPad builds on its predecessor with better performance, a larger capacity, and a few additional features here and there. But the question is, are they enough to warrant an upgrade from the 2020 iPad?

iPad 2021 vs 2020 Comparison Chart

ModeliPad 2021iPad 2020
 2021 Apple 10.2-inch iPad (Wi-Fi, 64GB) - Space Gray2020 Apple iPad (10.2-inch, Wi-Fi, 32GB) - Gold (8th Generation)
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Display2160 x 1620 10.2-inch Retina IPS LCD, True Tone2160 x 1620 10.2-inch Retina IPS LCD
ProcessorA13 BionicA12 Bionic
Storage64GB, 256GB32GB, 128GB
CameraRear: 8MP
Front: 12MP
Rear: 8MP
Front: 1.2MP
ConnectivityWi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 4.2, LTE optionalWi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 4.2, LTE optional
Biometric SecurityTouch IDTouch ID
Battery Life9 to 10 hours9 to 10 hours
Dimensions (W x H x D)6.85″ x 9.86″ x 0.29″6.85″ x 9.86″ x 0.29″
WeightWi-Fi only: 1.07 lbs
Wi-Fi + LTE: 1.09 lbs
Wi-Fi only: 1.08 lbs
Wi-Fi + LTE: 1.09 lbs
ColorSilver, Space GraySilver, Space Gray, Gold

Display and Design

The 2021 iPad has True Tone technology, which the 2020 iPad lacks.

iPad 2021 vs 2020 Display and Design
Unlike the 2021 iPad (left), the 2020 iPad (right) comes in Gold.

Right off the bat, the 2021 iPad has the better display because it sports True Tone, which first came out as an iPad Pro feature back in 2016. For the uninitiated, it uses sensors to adjust brightness and color temperature based on ambient lighting. 

Elsewhere, Apple didn’t exactly make improvements. The 2021 iPad still has the same 10.2-inch 2160 x 1620 (264 PPI) Retina IPS LCD display as the 2020 model. Along a similar vein, it has the same Lightning port too, which is unfortunate considering the iPad mini 6 it was introduced alongside uses USB-C. There’s also the same old Touch ID fingerprint sensor underneath the Home button, as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack.

In addition, these tablets measure the same at 6.85 x 9.86 x 0.29 inches in width, height, and depth, respectively. They also weigh almost exactly the same, where the 2021 iPad comes in at 1.07 lbs and the 2020 iPad at 1.08 lbs. Their Wi-Fi with LTE versions have the same weight of 1.09 lbs, for the record.

Both are available in Space Gray and Silver. However, the silver 2021 iPad has black bezels, while the silver 2020 iPad has white bezels. Last but not least, only the 2020 iPad has a Gold color option.

Click here for our iPad mini 6 vs 5 comparison.

Performance and Storage

The 2021 iPad has a faster A13 Bionic chip than the 2020 iPad’s A12 Bionic processor.

iPad 2021 vs 2020 Performance and Storage
Here’s an overview of the specs and features of the 2021 iPad (left) and the 2020 iPad (right).

The speedier A13 Bionic chip on the 2021 iPad is one of the most welcome improvements, and according to Apple, it’s 20 percent faster than the A12 Bionic on the 2020 iPad. That of course translates to a better user experience overall.

On top of that, the 2021 iPad now starts with 64GB of internal storage and tops out at 256GB. Those are double the capacity of the 32GB and 128GB variants of the 2020 iPad. The best part is, the 64GB 2021 iPad has the same price point as the 32GB 2020 iPad, giving it a lot more bang for the buck.

As for battery life, it’s still the same. Both tablets are estimated to last from 9 to 10 hours on a single charge. It’s the same connectivity-wise too. Both have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2, and each one has a Wi-Fi and LTE version as well.

Camera and Other Features

The 2021 iPad has a 12MP front camera, which is a lot better than the 1.2MP snapper on the 2020 iPad.

iPad 2021 vs 2020 Camera and Other Features
Just like its predecessor, the 2021 iPad (in photo) is compatible with Smart Keyboard and the first-generation Apple Pencil.

Apple gave the 2021 iPad a better 12MP front-facing camera compared to the 2020 iPad’s 1.2MP. It can also record in 1080p at 25, 30, and even 60fps, blowing the older model, which can only capture 720p videos at 30fps, out of the water. What’s more, it now supports Center Stage, a feature that keeps subjects in the frame as they move around. In other words, it’s better equipped for video calls, streaming, and the like, not to mention that it can take selfies with more detail.

On the rear, they both have the same 8MP camera. However, the 2021 iPad can record in 1080p not only at 30fps but also at 25fps. Meanwhile, the 2020 iPad only has support for 1080p videos at 30fps.

In terms of accessories, there’s no difference at all. Both are compatible with the Smart Keyboard and the first-generation Apple Pencil.

Verdict

The 2021 iPad is definitely an improvement over the 2020 iPad, but not by a lot.

Without a doubt, the 2021 iPad is better. After all, it has True Tone technology, a faster A13 Bionic processor, twice the storage, a better 12MP front camera, and Center Stage. If you had to choose between this model and the 2020 iPad, this one is the tablet to get. However, if you’re upgrading from its previous iteration, the improvements aren’t significant enough to justify purchasing what’s essentially the same tablet, unless they really matter to you.

FAQs

📌 What’s the difference between the iPad 2021 and iPad 2020?

The 2021 iPad has an A13 Bionic chip, 64GB of base storage, and a 12MP front-facing camera, while the 2020 iPad has an A12 Bionic processor, 32GB of base storage, and a 1.2MP front snapper. Other than those, they’re more or less similar, from battery life to overall design.

📌 Is the iPad 2021 better than the iPad 2020?

Yes, the 2021 iPad is faster and has a bigger capacity than the 2020 iPad. It also has additional features such as True Tone and Center Stage.

📌 Is the iPad 2021 worth the upgrade?

If you’re coming from the 2020 iPad, then no. The improvements are a bit too small, and they’re more like refinements than anything.

📌 Is the iPad 2020 still worth the buy?

Yes, the 2020 iPad is still a decent pick, especially if it’s available at a discount. Also, it has a gold color option, unlike the 2021 iPad.

Last update on 2021-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Vincent Lanaria

Senior Editor, researcher and writer passionate about running, cooking, and how technology mixes with the two.