Apple iPad 9th gen (2021) review

GSMArena Team, 06 October 2021.

Familiar 10.2-inch LCD display

The iPad 10.2 (2021) still uses the same, familiar 10.2-inch LCD display as the older 8th gen and 7th gen vanilla iPads. It has the same 1620 x 2160-pixel resolution too, which works out to a pretty sharp 265 ppi, or so. It is also in a 4:3 aspect ratio, which is geared more towards productivity than multimedia consumption. There is definitely still something to be said for reading on an iPad. We wouldn't necessarily recommend this particular LCD panel for that purpose, but this use case is definitely legit for a tablet.

Apple iPad 10.2 (2021) review

Let's start with some positives about the display. Just as advertised, the iPad 10.2 (2021) max brightness can go as high as 500 nits of brightness. There is automatic brightness and a proper lux meter on the 9th gen iPad, which works well. There is no max auto mode beyond said 513 nits, though.

Display test 100% brightness
Black,cd/m2 White,cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2020) 0.47 625 1330:1
Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2018) 0.37 610 1649:1
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE (Max Auto) 0.282 522 1851:1
Apple iPad mini 6 0.391 518 1325:1
Apple iPad mini 3 0.65 515 799:1
Apple iPad 10.2 (2021) 0.457 513 1123:1
Apple iPad Air 0.53 508 964:1
Huawei MatePad 11 0.414 497 1200:1
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ (Max Auto) 0 484
Xiaomi Pad 5 0.376 478 1271:1
Apple iPad 3 0.60 477 779:1
Apple iPad 4 0.63 476 762:1
Apple iPad mini 0.51 458 812:1
Apple iPad Air 2 0.44 458 1048:1
Realme Pad (Max Auto) 0.292 455 1558:1
Apple iPad mini 2 0.56 450 804:1
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE 0.229 432 1886:1
Apple iPad 2 0.55 429 775:1
Apple iPad 0.53 410 776:1
Realme Pad 0.26 404 1554:1
Apple iPad Pro 0.27 395 1458:1
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ 0 388
Huawei MatePad Pro 12.6 0 382

Things start to look less impressive when we look into the light bleed into blacks, which is a bit high, and that's without taking into account any potential glare that's inevitable with a non-laminated screen.

Even though 500 nits of brightness is respectable, outdoor use can be severely hampered by said glares in certain lighting conditions.

Apple iPad 10.2 (2021) review

It's a real shame, too, since the actual LCD Apple is using performs really well in terms of color accuracy too. There are no color profiles to choose from. By default, the iPad 10.2 (2021) is tuned to target the sRGB color space and does so nearly perfectly, with just a small bluish tint in whites and only at full brightness. Once we lowered that down to a more reasonable 200nits, which is our standard for conduction battery tests, the 9th gen iPad managed to basically nail color accuracy.

Apple iPad 10.2 (2021) review

True Tone is a new addition to the iPad 10.2 (2021). It is definitely not new within the Apple device ecosystem, though. It is a system that adjusts the current whitepoint reproduction on the display based on color of the ambient light so what your eyes see as white on the screen looks right. We imagine that's why there are two circular sensors hidden away on the top frame above the display - one for a lux meter, the other for ambient light color.

There is no mention of HDR video support, though. Neither in official specs nor is HDR reported by apps like Netflix.

Finally, we would be remiss not to mention that the iPad 10.2 (2021)'s particular panel isn't very fast. And we are not referring to the fact that it still refreshes at 60Hz. That is expected on a "vanilla" model. Rather, the individual pixels have a sluggish response time, which manifests as a "smeary" image at times. Particularly when scrolling text.

Battery life

The iPad 10.2 (2021) has an 8557 mAh battery. That's yet another thing borrowed from the 8th generation tablet. Though, it should be noted that the originator of this particular iPad design - the 7th gen - had a slightly bigger 8827 mAh battery. Hardly a big difference, and it should be vastly overshadowed by the advances in both hardware and software since then.

Anyway, we put the 9th gen iPad through our standard battery testing procedure, or at least the relevant bits - that is to say, web browser testing and offline video playback, both done at 200 nits of brightness. No call test and no standby test either, since we don't have the LTE-enabled version.

Apple iPad 10.2 (2021) review

We got right around 12 hours of battery life from the iPad, regardless of whether it was browsing on Wi-Fi or looping through a video. Not too shabby, though not overly impressive either.

Charging speed

The iPad 10.2 (2021) is hardly the fastest charging device out there. Still, compared to other tablets, it holds its own. Apple provides a 20W charger in the box. Using that, we managed to get from zero to about 24% in 30 minutes, with a full charge taking around 2 hours and 45 minutes.

30min charging test (from 0%)

Higher is better

  • Huawei MatePad 11
  • Huawei MatePad Pro 12.6
  • Xiaomi Pad 5
  • Apple iPad 10.2 (2021)
  • Realme Pad
  • Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE

Time to full charge (from 0%)

Lower is better

  • Huawei MatePad 11
  • Xiaomi Pad 5
  • Huawei MatePad Pro 12.6
  • Apple iPad 10.2 (2021)
  • Realme Pad
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE
  • Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+


The iPad 10.2 (2021) has a stereo speaker setup, just like its predecessors. The two speakers, however, reside side by side on the bottom of the device - not ideal in terms of basic stereo separation.

Loudness is only average too. Still, the speakers get the job done. You might not be getting a lot of sound, but what is there is quite good in terms of quality. Frequency response in the lower-end is particularly impressive. Voices also come out sounding clear and clean.

Use the Playback controls to listen to the phone sample recordings (best use headphones). We measure the average loudness of the speakers in LUFS. A lower absolute value means a louder sound. A look at the frequency response chart will tell you how far off the ideal "0db" flat line is the reproduction of the bass, treble, and mid frequencies. You can add more phones to compare how they differ. The scores and ratings are not comparable with our older loudspeaker test. Learn more about how we test here.

Reader comments

  • Urmom
  • 03 Nov 2023
  • EKU

Pls don’t lie lmao. The iPhone 12’s camera wipes the floor with this iPad

honnestly i used to buy android tablet but even with samsunt tab S series you have poor software support so i stop buying them you can add also medium level config (cpu/gpu) to that even with an a13 this ipad play all the game, is fluid, has g...

  • Damien
  • 08 Aug 2023
  • u44

I don't know what you're hearing but in the recordings the iPad sounds painfully anemic. Our phones sound better, along with most other tablets. I don't think it was recorded right maybe?