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Apple iPad (2019) vs. iPad (2018): What difference does a year make?

The entry-level iPad benefitted from a very nice upgrade with its 2019 model. Compared to the iPad (2018), the 2019 version boasted a larger touchscreen, as well as a little more RAM. However, is it really a better tablet overall than its immediate predecessor? We answer this eternal question in this head-to-head comparison article.

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Whether you own an older iPad and you’re wondering whether to upgrade, or you’re just shopping for a newer tablet and want to know what Apple’s most affordable option has to offer, we have you covered. We’re going to delve into all the differences between Apple’s 2019 iPad and its 2018 iPad, so you can decide which one is for you.

Specs

iPad (2019) iPad (2018)
Size 250.6 x 174.1 x 7.5 mm (9.8 x 6.8 x 0.30 inches) 240 x 169.5 x 7.5 mm (9.45 x 6.67 x 0.30 inches)
Weight 483 grams (17 oz) 469 grams (16.8 oz)
Screen size 10.2 inches 9.7 inches
Screen resolution 2,160 x 1,620 pixels (264 pixels per inch) 2,048 x 1,536 pixels (264 pixels per inch)
Operating system iOS 13 iOS 13
Storage space 32GB, 128GB 32GB, 128GB
MicroSD Card slot No No
Tap-to-pay services No No
Processor Apple A10 Fusion Apple A10 Fusion
RAM 3GB 2GB
Camera Rear 8MP, front 1.2MP Rear 8MP, front 1.2MP
Video 1,080p at 30fps, 720p at 120fps 1,080p at 30fps, 720p at 120fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 4.2 Bluetooth 4.2
Ports Lightning Lightning
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes
Water resistance No No
Battery 8,827mAh 8,827mAh
App marketplace Apple App Store Apple App Store
Network support All major carriers (cellular version only) All major carriers (cellular version only)
Colors Silver, gold, space gray Silver, gold, space gray
Price $330-plus $330-plus
Buy from
Review score 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.5 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

It’s unusual for Apple to release a new iPad version and not improve performance, but the iPad (2019) has the same A10 Fusion chip as the iPad (2018). That said, the iPad (2019) comes with 3GB of RAM, as opposed to the more modest 2GB of the iPad (2018). What that means is that you can expect the newer iPad to be a little bit faster than its predecessor, with the 2019 version being a little better at handling more recent apps and juggling several tasks at the same time. Nonetheless, we found the iPad (2018) to be speedy and slick for the most part, though this chip is the same one Apple put in the iPhone 7 and it’s definitely aging; expect to see the odd frame rate issue with demanding games.

Apple doesn’t state battery capacity when it releases new tablets, but we’ve since learned that both iPads pack an 8,827mAh battery. In other words, the iPad (2019) will give you 10 hours of mixed-use, and so will the iPad (2018). Sadly, there’s no fast charging or wireless charging support for either.

The difference is slight, but thanks to the extra RAM we’re giving this round to the newer iPad.

Winner: Apple iPad (2019)

Design and durability

The seventh-generation iPad is a bit bigger and heavier than the sixth-generation iPad to accommodate the larger display, but aside from that, the design language is exactly the same. There are sizable bezels around the screen and a Touch ID fingerprint sensor at the bottom when you hold it in portrait. Both feature a strong and durable aluminum body, though the newer iPad is the first to be made from 100% recycled aluminum. They come in the same three colors: Silver, gold, or space gray.

Sadly, there’s no mention of water resistance for either tablet. We can’t divide them on design or durability.

Winner: Tie

Display

iPad 7th generation hands-on holding in horizontal mode
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

With an extra half-inch of display, we’ve finally found another tangible improvement in the newer iPad. The iPad (2019) has a 10.2-inch screen with a resolution of 2,160 x 1,620 pixels which translates to 264 pixels per inch. It’s exactly the same Retina display as you’ll find in the iPad (2018) in terms of quality, brightness, and sharpness, it’s just a little bigger.

Winner: Apple iPad (2019)

Camera

iPad 7th generation hands-on corner view of buttons and camera
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Apple left the camera configuration in the basic iPad unchanged when it launched the 2019 version of its standard tablet. That means you’ll get a single-lens 8-megapixel camera on the back and a 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera for FaceTime. There’s no difference between the two tablets, so this round is another tie.

Winner: Tie

Software and updates

Apple iPad 7th generation on stage | Apple September 2019 Event Keynote
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Launched in 2019, iPadOS provided the iPad with a tablet-optimized operating system, which brought new layouts to many apps and an updated Split View to take advantage of all your screen real estate and make it easier to get productive on your iPad. You’ll also be able to pinch the onscreen keyboard to shrink it and use Slide Over to quickly switch between open apps or have one app hover over another. It’s now up to iPadOS 14, and is available on both these iPads, though, so it’s not a point of difference.

We also expect both devices to be updated on the same schedule for the foreseeable future. It’s another tie then.

Winner: Tie

Special features

iPad 7th generation hands-on using keyboard
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Although both iPads are compatible with the $99, first-gen Apple Pencil, only the newer version features a smart connector. The latest iPad can serve as an alternate laptop with its full-size Smart Keyboard; however, it’s important to note that you’ll need to shell out around $159 for the Apple iPad accessory. When it comes down to it, that’s already almost half the price of the iPad. We also feel it’s worth mentioning that the 2019 iPad is built with 100% recycled aluminum. Other than these few differences, both iPads offer incredible and unique features. 

Winner: Apple iPad (2019)

Price and availability

Apple has recently stopped making the 2019 iPad and are now in full production mode for the 2020 version. The initial model started at $329, although you could probably find a cheaper deal from various retailers. If you’re looking for cellular network support, then the price will start at $459 instead. Keep in mind that you’ll also have to spend more for the 128GB versions ($429 and $559, respectively). We believe you’ll opt for this storage, as 32GB is usually never enough space for the average user. This is the same pricing as the iPad (2018), which Apple has also discontinued. However, there’s still a chance you could find a bargain on Amazon or at Best Buy.

Overall winner: Apple iPad (2019)

We believe that the iPad (2019) is the champion in this battle, but only slightly. It’s really only a half-inch of extra screen (measured diagonally), an extra GB of RAM, and the smart connector we previously discussed. With all that said, we feel it’s important to note that the cellular version of the iPad (2019) supports Gigabit-class LTE connectivity, which can triple the speed of cellular data connections when compared to the iPad (2018). In reality, these are the only differences between the two iPads. So, if you’re already an iPad (2018 owner, you don’t really need to rush to upgrade.

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