New iPad 2021 could be hard to buy — here's why

iPad mini
(Image credit: Future)

Picking up a new Apple iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab at your local Best Buy will be more difficult as tablets are expected to be in short supply in the first quarter of 2021. Research comes from Digitimes, which predicts that shipments for tablets to fall by 31%. 

The reason for the nosedive in shipments comes from component shortages. Actually, manufacturers saw chip shortages incoming, and many ramped up production at the end of 2020 to use as much available silicon available.  

According to Digitimes, the fourth quarter of 2020 saw tablet shipments increase by 17.6%. While a few companies were able to procure enough chips, others like Huawei saw production and shipment of its tablet slide sharply. Lenovo, Amazon, and TCL all surpassed Huawei, and the Shenzhen-based company will continue to struggle in tablet shipments through the first part of 2021. 

Last year, tablet shipments totaled a whopping 159.76 million units, up 2% from 2019. A lot of this was due to pandemic demand, as consumers remained locked up at home, looking for ways to keep themselves entertained. 

Right now, if a manufacturer wanted to place an order on new chips, it would require a 20-week lead time. This also means that companies are trying to chips as quickly as possible. So a massive increase in production during back-to-school or holiday seasons might not occur, meaning that supply will remain limited regardless of time of year. 

If you are in the market for a new tablet, then it's likely best you pick one up while supply is sufficient. As the year goes on, things will continue to get tight. A new iPad 2021 and iPad Pro 2021 are both expected to be announced soon, but they could wind up being in short supply.

And it's not just the tablet market that's being affected, so are shipments of new laptops, graphics cards and consoles. 

Our where to buy PS5 and where to buy Xbox Series X articles are constantly being updated with the latest stock reports. Same as with our where to buy Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080, where to buy Nvidia RTX 3070, and where to buy Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti

Because technology manufacturing is linked to many areas in the global supply chain, when one part of the world is hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and is forced to shut down, it causes a domino effect that reaches manufacturing plants in China, Korea, and Taiwan. As to when things might go back to normal is completely dependent on how efficiently governments can roll out the vaccine.

Imad Khan

Imad is currently Senior Google and Internet Culture reporter for CNET, but until recently was News Editor at Tom's Guide. Hailing from Texas, Imad started his journalism career in 2013 and has amassed bylines with the New York Times, the Washington Post, ESPN, Wired and Men's Health Magazine, among others. Outside of work, you can find him sitting blankly in front of a Word document trying desperately to write the first pages of a new book.