The new entry-level iPad could be slimmer, but it’ll keep the Home button

It looks like Apple’s preparations to update the affordable iPad model are already well underway, with rumours detailing the features it could have and when the new model might arrive.

We take a look at what you can expect when the iPad 9th Generation makes its debut and how much you will have to spend to get one.  

When will the iPad 2021 be released?

iPads aren’t quite steady in their release dates are iPhones. In recent years, Apple has moved around the time when it updates the entry-level iPad, as you can see from the release dates below:

  • iPad 9.7in (2017) – March 2017
  • iPad 9.7in (2018) – March 2018
  • iPad 10.2in (2019) – September 2019
  • iPad 10.2in (2020) – September 2020

Rumours originally suggested the new iPad could arrive alongside a new iPad Pro in the first quarter of 2021, but as we now know, it never appeared.

What’s more likely is a September 2021 launch, as was the case in 2019 and 2020, and that much has been suggested by rumours in recent months. If the rumours are true, the iPad will make an appearance alongside the redesigned iPad Mini 6 at the Apple event next week – likely alongside the iPhone 13.  

If you want to see the announcements as they happen, then you can tune into the Apple event on Tuesday 14 September 2021 at 6pm BST/1pm EDT/10am PDT.

How much will the iPad 2021 cost?

Pricing has been reasonably consistent for the budget iPad, with Apple sticking around the £300-£350 ($300-$350) mark. Here’s how the last few models have lined up:

  • iPad 9.7in (2017) – £339/$339
  • iPad 9.7in (2018) – £319/$319
  • iPad 10.2in (2019) – £349/$329
  • iPad 10.2in (2020) – £329/$329

Chinese site cnBeta suggests that Apple may even drop the price down lower with the 2021 model, stating that the US pricing could begin at $299. If this holds true, then it would certainly be a bargain that many would find hard to resist. Otherwise, it seems likely that Apple will hold the 2020 price for 2021.

Apple could also be considering an upgrade to its other budget-friendly tablet, with rumours of a redesigned Apple iPad Mini 6 circulating online. 

What new features will Apple bring to the iPad 2021?

The strongest rumours seem to be around which processor Apple chooses to fit in the iPad 2021. Moving from the A12 in the iPad 10.2in (2020) it’s expected that the new iPad 2021 will come with an A13 Bionic chip, which also appears in the iPhone 11 and the iPhone SE (2020).

That was most recently backed up by leaked information obtained by 9to5Mac, which suggests the new iPad, codenamed J181, will sport an A13 chipset.

An increase in display size is also expected, with the new 2021 model growing to 10.5in rather than the 10.2in dimensions of its predecessor. This actually makes a lot of sense, as Apple replaced the iPad Air (3rd Generation) with the new iPad Air (4th Generation) which featured a larger 10.9in display and removed the Home button.

With Apple’s history of reusing parts from previous models to upgrade its cheaper products, moving the entry-level iPad into the chassis of the iPad Air (3rd Generation) would give it a welcome boost in features while not costing Apple any extra in retooling or design.

Plus, it retains the Touch ID feature that will make it familiar and affordable, as opposed to using the new power button on the iPad Air (4th Generation) or the Face ID of the iPad Pros.

A change to the new format would also bring a slight reduction in weight, around 34g, and slim the device by 1.4mm.

That’s the suggestion from Macotakara, paraphrasing a Chinese supplier, who suggests that the new iPad will be based on the design of the older iPad Air.

However, despite the obvious benefits of using the exact same chassis as the older iPad Air, the source claims that the iPad will stick to a 10.2in display, not the 10.5in display of the third-gen iPad Air. Macotakara doesn’t have the best track record for what it’s worth, so take that one with a pinch of salt. 

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman also suggests a slimmer iPad is on the way in 2021, but nothing was said on the potential increase in display size. 

There are no details yet on cameras or whether the display will make the step up to True Tone, but we’ll keep updating this feature as more details become available.

In the meantime, check out our iPad buying guide so you can see what any new model will have to beat.

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