The iPad 9 is here... and it's more evolution than revolution

The latest entry-level iPad 9 has a new chip that makes it faster than last year's model, but don't expect huge upgrades beyond that.

iPad 9 Apple event new
Craig Wilson / Input

At today’s California Streaming event, Apple unveiled the new iPad 9 alongside new iPhones, Apple Watches, and a more exciting iPad mini. With the iPad 8 released last fall, not many expected a new iPad to take its place, and while it’s not a complete redesign, the budget offering is getting just a few upgrades and a bump in performance.

“This is a giant upgrade for our most popular iPad,” said Senior Manager of iPad Product Design, Melody Kuna, in a bout of typical Apple hyperbole.

Apple is sticking with this price for the base iPad.Craig Wilson / Input

The iPad 9 is available to order today and releasing next week. It will launch with the new iPadOS 15. The iPad is retaining the same $329 price for the base model, which now comes with twice the storage (64GB) for the same price. It will be available in two colors: Space Gray and Silver.

Faster than Android — The laser focus on the iPhone 13 and Apple Watch Series 7 made sure the new iPad flew under the radar. The specs aren’t mind-blowing, but you can expect a jump in performance across the board thanks to the new chip. The iPad 9 is getting the A13 Bionic, which is currently on the iPhone SE and older iPhone 11 models.

You love to see it. Craig Wilson / Input

The upgrade from the A12 Bionic in last year’s iPad 8 results in an SoC that is 20 percent faster. To highlight how powerful the new iPad 9 is, Apple made sure to fire off a few salvos of spice towards Android and Chromebook devices, claiming the iPad is three times faster than the leading Chromebook and six times faster than the leading Android tablet. Kuna highlighted the neural engine’s faster performance, which is capable of handling text translation faster than before.

Small upgrades — Apple is upgrading both the back cameras with a new image signal processor that will make images shot in low light look better. The 8-megapixel rear camera is making a return, but the front camera is getting a big upgrade. The new iPad 9 had a 12-megapixel ultrawide (122-degree FOV) selfie camera and now uses the iPad Pro feature Center Stage. With Center Stage, the ultrawide camera zooms in and follows around a subject, keeping them in the center of the frame.

Another feature borrowed from other Apple devices is True Tone. The feature adapts the color temperature of the display to match the environment you’re in.

Not a lot to talk about here. Craig Wilson / Input

Same iPad, different name — Other than that, the iPad 9 is not that much different from the iPad 8. It still has the same 10.2-inch retina display, retaining the design of the previous model and keeping the home button, which is also used for Touch ID, plus the iPad 9 still only works with the first-generation Apple Pencil.

It’s not as big an upgrade as Apple says claims, but the new chip and double the storage does make it a better option than last year’s model if you’re in the market for an iPad. The new selfie camera and Center Stage are welcome additions, too, and make the iPad 9 more appealing if you’re constantly on video calls. However, Apple may find it’s not done enough to convince people with recent iPads to upgrade.