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Apple iPad 2021 review: The best iPad for almost everyone – Business Insider


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I could get this review over with pretty quickly: Apple’s standard 10.2-inch iPad is the best iPad for the vast majority of people who want to use a tablet. But I’ll give you much more to go off of than that.
It’s the cheapest iPad you can buy, and it doesn’t feel like it skimps on anything. For $330, it’s a worthy sidekick for your phone that gives you a larger display to run typical, common apps and even graphics-heavy games whether you’re on the couch or commuting. 
2021 iPad
10.2-inch (2,160 x 1,620) Retina LED
Apple A13 Bionic
Memory and storage
3GB RAM (estimated) / 64GB, 256GB storage
Battery and charging
32.4 Wh, 20W charger included
8MP main camera
Front camera
12MP FaceTime HD camera with Center Stage
Two speakers
Touch ID
Starting at $330
The standard iPad comes with Apple’s classic iPad design with large top and bottom bezels, a Touch ID home button, and a metal casing. It comes in Apple’s classic colorways, too, including silver/white and space gray/black.
It’s a tried and true design, but the large bezels mean the iPad with a 10.2-inch display has a similar overall size to the iPad Air, which has a larger 11-inch display. 
The standard Retina LCD display is Apple’s most basic display in the iPad lineup, but it comes with the True Tone feature that adjusts the display’s colors and intensity to a room’s ambient lighting, making for a more natural and comfortable viewing experience. 
Everything on the screen looks crisp and sharp, and colors look bright, too. The iPad Air’s Liquid Retina display offers slightly bolder colors, but it’s also nearly twice as expensive. 
Apple’s standard iPad runs on the company’s mobile processors found in iPhones. The 2021 iPad runs on the A13 Bionic processor from the iPhone 11 series. It’s an older processor compared to the A15 Bionic in the iPhone 13 series, and it’s not as powerful as the computer-grade M1 processor in the iPad Air, but it’s still perfectly capable to run every app and game you throw at it. 
Benchmark scores using the Geekbench 5 app show that the iPad Air is more powerful, especially for tasks that use more than one of the M1 processor’s eight cores. The iPad scored 1,330 for single-core, and 3,470 for multi-core. To compare, the 2022 iPad Air scored 1,721 for single-core performance, and 7,333 for multi-core performance, which is right in line with our results for the M1-equipped 13-inch MacBook Pro and the 2021 iPad Pro.
With that said, there’s little perceivable difference between the standard iPad and iPad Air when opening and running apps and games. The real performance difference would become apparent with power-hungry tasks, like editing high-resolution videos on your iPad versus the iPad Air. 
There’s also the argument that the iPad wouldn’t stay as snappy and powerful as long as the iPad Air, as more demanding apps and operating system updates are released. While that may be true, the verdict is still out, as Apple’s M1 processor is still current and I haven’t seen how long it can last before it starts to feel sluggish, which likely won’t be for at least two or three years.  
You can read my review of the 2022 iPad Air here
The low-quality, front-facing FaceTime cameras on previous standard iPads used to be a bummer, but the 2021 iPad got a major upgrade from just 1.2 megapixels (MP) to 12MP — that’s a 900% increase in fidelity. 
The images produced are much sharper and clearer, and it’s also an ultra-wide camera with Apple’s Center Stage feature that follows your face as you move within the video frame. Between the megapixel increase and the ultra-wide capabilities, this is a significant upgrade over the 2020 iPad. 
In this respect, the standard iPad’s front-facing FaceTime camera is similar to the iPad Air’s, save for Apple’s Smart HDR 3 tech that improves photo lighting, but not for FaceTime calls — only selfies. 
The 2021 iPad lasted five hours and 25 minutes in our battery test, where I continuously stream a YouTube video at the iPad’s maximum brightness at 1440p resolution, which is closest to the iPad’s 1620p resolution. 
That’s similar to the iPad Air’s four hours and 53 minutes result in the same test
The iPad continues to use Apple’s Lightning port rather than a USB-C port. That’s fine if you also own an iPhone, as you can charge the iPad with the same charger and cable as your iPhone uses. 
Still, it would be nice to have more cohesion within Apple’s ecosystem. All of Apple’s other iPads use USB-C, as well as the company’s laptops. 
The standard iPad is compatible with Apple’s first-generation Pencil, which is perfectly good for taking notes and drawing, though the second-generation Pencil is more responsive and has a more pencil-like design. 
The iPad also supports mouse input for more accurate and faster control, but Apple doesn’t make a keyboard cover with an integrated trackpad for the standard iPad. You can find third-party keyboard covers that offer that functionality, like the Logitech Combo Touch Keyboard Case with Trackpad.
The first alternative that comes to mind is the $600 iPad Air. At nearly twice the price of the standard iPad, however, I’d find it difficult to look you in the eyes and say you should buy the iPad Air instead. Unless you need the iPad Air’s computer-grade performance, you wouldn’t regret buying the standard iPad for $330. 
Otherwise, I highly recommend the latest iPad Mini. If the standard iPad is the “best” iPad, the iPad Mini is the “perfect” iPad, at least subjectively. Its small size means the iPad Mini is lighter and more portable, all while offering a larger display than your phone. The only reason why the iPad Mini isn’t the “best” iPad is due to its hefty $500 price tag. Still, the iPad Mini runs on the A15 Bionic processor found in the iPhone 13 series, making it more powerful and longer-lasting than the standard iPad.
If you’re a Samsung phone user, it can make more sense to buy a Samsung tablet now that you can take calls and send texts on the company’s tablets. The Galaxy Tab S8 Plus is a beautiful, feature-rich tablet, but it’s pricey at $900. The $700 Galaxy Tab S8 is a viable alternative, but also still way more expensive than the standard iPad. You can read my review of the Galaxy Tab S8 Plus here
There’s also Samsung’s Galaxy Tab A-series of tablets that are more affordable and offer texts and calls, but I haven’t reviewed those yet, so I can’t accurately comment on them.  
For $330, you get a truly excellent tablet that comes with a decent screen and effective performance. 
If you’re planning to browse the web, stream videos, run common popular apps, and play even graphics-heavy games, there’s little reason to spend more on the iPad Air, let alone the iPad Pro series. In this case, the basic iPad maintains its position as the best Apple tablet for most people.
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Disclosure: Written and researched by the Insider Reviews team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our partners. We may receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at reviews@insider.com.


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He loves to share his thoughts via Internet. Associate writer at Inferse.com, his prime focus is to review latest cameras and smartphones. He is the official photographer at Inferse.