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New entry-level iPad’s big specs bump to include USB-C connectivity

Published Jun 15th, 2022 7:31AM EDT
Apple iPad 9
Image: Apple Inc.

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The cheapest iPad in Apple’s lineup is the entry-level 9th-gen iPad, which received a significant upgrade last year. The device rocks specs that are equivalent to the 2019 iPhone 11. The handset is still available in Apple’s lineup, and it’s a great bargain for anyone looking for an affordable, brand-new iPhone with a large screen. But Apple plans to upgrade the entry-level iPad this year, with the new model expected to receive a big specs bump.

That’s according to a new report that teases a potential redesign for the 10th-gen iPad, which includes the upgrade from Lightning to USB-C connectivity.

The entry-level iPad starts at just $329 for the 64GB version, a price that buys a tablet experience unavailable from any entry-level Android tablet. But considering Apple’s various moves with the rest of the iPad family, the entry-level iPad is currently an exception from Apple’s new iPad standards.

The entry-level iPad is the only one to feature a traditional design, with a home button still present on the front. The iPad Pro, iPad Air, and iPad mini have all ditched the home button and have the same overall design. We’re looking at large displays and uniform bezels.

Similarly, the entry-level iPad is the only iPad in Apple’s lineup not to have switched from Lightning to USB-C. All other models have the same standard charging port found on most Android handsets and tablets.

Finally, the entry-level iPad is the only model not to support 5G connectivity.

Apple's iPad lineup as of March 2022
Apple’s iPad lineup as of March 2022: Can you spot the ugly duckling? Image source: Apple Inc.

New entry-level iPad specs

As you might have guessed, a brand new leak indicates that Apple will want to correct all those issues with the 10th-gen iPad. 9to5Mac reports that its sources have revealed various specs details about the entry-level iPad.

The new tablets should feature the A14 Bionic chip that powers the iPhone 12 series, 5G connectivity, and USB-C support. The move to A14 Bionic makes sense for the cheapest iPad, and so does 5G connectivity. But if the leak is accurate, those hoping Apple would choose a different 2022 System-on-Chip (SoC) for the new entry-level iPad might be disappointed.

As a reminder, Apple released the A14 Bionic and the M1 in the second half of 2020. A few weeks ago, Apple unveiled new multitasking features in iPadOS 16 that require an M1 chip and fast storage. Apple will surely upgrade all its iPads to M-series SoCs in the future, but it’s not starting this year. After all, the iPad mini 6 rocks the A15 Bionic rather than the M1.

As for the move to USB-C, that’s hardly a surprise considering Apple’s iPad lineup. But also, the European Union decided to impose USB-C as the standard charging port for all electronic gadgets, tablets included.

The most exciting detail about the new-entry level iPad might concern the display. The 10th-gen tablet will feature a Retina display of the same resolution as the iPad Air. That implies the new iPad will get either a 10.5-inch or 10.9-inch screen. Currently, the iPad has a 10.2-inch display with 2160 x 1620 resolution. The iPad Air 5 features a 10.9-inch screen with 2360 x 1640 resolution.

iPadOS 16 Stage Manager multitasking user interface.
iPadOS 16 Stage Manager multitasking user interface. Image source: Apple Inc.

Why a design change makes sense

The report also notes that more modern display specs will remain exclusive to more expensive iPads. The new entry-level iPad will not support wide color gamut with DCI-P3 or higher brightness.

While 9to5Mac can’t say whether the new iPad will get a new design, all these details indicate that Apple will go for a redesign. The entry-level iPad could look just like the iPad Air 5. It could lose the home button in favor of a larger display. The fingerprint sensor would simply migrate to the power button.

That way, Apple could offer a uniform iPad design language and experience across the board. But that’s just speculation at this point.

That said, 9to5Mac’s sources accurately leaked the iPad Air 5 specs last year (M1 support and 5G connectivity). They might be right about the new entry-level iPad’s specs, even if there’s no big redesign to go along with them.

More Apple coverage: For more Apple news, visit our iPhone 14 guide.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.