We expect a new iPad 2021 model, the 9th generation of Apple's popular tablet, to arrive this year. And while we've got good reason to expect one, it seems as if Apple's got a tight control over the rumor mill at the moment, as not much has been revealed about a new iPad.
That being said, we've found all the details that are currently leaked out, so you can get a better idea of what's coming soon. On top of that, we've also pulled together a wish list for what Apple needs to do to make the iPad continue to keep the top spot on our best tablets list.
If past is any precedent, Apple will likely offer a new iPad with small tweaks. The iPad has been on a slow-moving trajectory of improvements, with Apple seemingly confident that its basic metrics are correct.
New iPad 2021 release date
We expect a new iPad this year because Apple has delivered on an annual cadence that makes us expect one. Apple released a new iPad every year since the product's inception (with the exception of 2015 and 2016).
If we had to guess, we'd say the new iPad is likely coming out in the second half of September 2021 (though it could arrive earlier). Currently, Apple is favoring a late-year release updating the tablet. It released the 7th gen. iPad on September 25, 2019 and the 8th gen. model on September 18, 2020. We've also reported on supply chain issues that could lead to early-year scarcity of tablets — and many other products — that might keep Apple in its holiday season release pattern.
That being said, we've heard the same rumor from two sources that don't have the proven track records of more venerable leakers. Those are Chinese news site CN Beta pointed to "next spring" for "a new generation of iPad," and tech leaker @cozyplanes (whose tweet is no longer available).
New iPad 2021 price
Apple's seemingly keen to keep the iPad at $329, but you won't have to pay full price most of the time. Amazon and others often offer solid iPad deals that lower your cost by at least $30 if not more.
That being said, both CN Beta and cozyplanes point towards a $299 iPad. In the past, that price has been reserved for education buyers, but we'd love to see Apple lower the iPad's price. The Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 is similar to the iPad, but costs only $229. Same for the newly announced Lenovo Tab P11.
New iPad 2021 leaks
Both CN Beta and @cozyplanes claim that the new iPad will be thinner and lighter, sport a 10.5-inch screen, and run on the A13 processor. We'd be happy to see Apple not wait a year to update the A12 chip on the iPad 2021 like it did when keeping the A11 chip in multiple previous models.
Also, a larger screen makes sense, as it gives you more reason to upgrade. The iPad has gone from a 9.7-inch panel in the 6th gen model from 2018 to a 10.2-inch screen in the 7th and 8th gen models from the last two years.
New iPad 2021 wish list: What we want
We could ask for a lot in the new iPad, but we know better than to expect the world. When it comes to thinking about what we want the 2021 iPad to offer, it's best to aim lower than the iPad Air (2020) and iPad Pro. Apple does not want to cannibalize those pricier tablets, something it's already risking with the iPad Air.
You can also figure out things about the iPad 2021 from what we haven't heard. Without any rumors of a change to its overall design, we don't think it will get support for the 2nd gen Apple Pencil or the Magic Keyboard (both of which need surfaces added or changed to attach). A new design is not impossible, though. Look at the iPhone 12: all of its models share that same aesthetic. Why can't the iPad be like that?
Some features should be available for all. For example, since we all rely on video conferencing these days, there's no reason not to give the iPad the same 7MP front-facing camera in the iPad Air and Pro.
The other thing the iPad should borrow from the iPad Air and Pro is the USB-C port. This would enable faster charging, which should be a baseline feature for all iPads. Also, Apple: step up from the basic 10W charger brick you include.
Lastly, we'd really love to see Apple upgrade the default storage capacity from 32GB to 64GB. Again, this is the starting point for the iPhone 12, and unless Apple has that many 32GB storage parts lying around, it would make sense for the slate to allow for more apps, photos and videos — without paying $100 to upgrade to the 128GB version.