iPad 9 vs. iPad 8

Ipad 9th Gen True Tone Apple Event
Ipad 9th Gen True Tone Apple Event (Image credit: Apple)

With the launch of the iPad 9, you may be wondering how it compares to last year's iPad 8, and the truth is performance-wise, both these machines are pretty close to each other. Yes, the A13 Bionic is certainly more powerful than the A12 in the iPad8, but the iPad 9 likely won't feel much faster than last year's model in use. Of course, the iPad 9 vs. iPad 8 isn't all about performance, and the iPad 9 has some great new features that iPad users have been waiting to appear on the base model for some time.

iPad 9 vs. iPad 8: Not a "must-upgrade," but the iPad 9 does look great

The iPad 9 did not get a major redesign like the iPad mini 6, meaning the question of whether it's worth the upgrade from the iPad 8 isn't as clear-cut as it could be. We know that the iPad 9 will be the new base iPad going forward, and as it is right now, that iPad 8 can be a little hard to find. Just look at the specs and see how few differences there really are:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 iPad 9iPad 8
ProcessorA13 BionicA12 Bionic
Screen size10.2-inch10.2-inch
Front camera12MP1.2MP
Biometric authenticationTouch IDTouch ID
Battery LifeUp to 10 hours of surfing the webUp to 10 hours of surfing the web
True Tone displayYesNo
StorageUp to 256GBUp to 128GB
ColorsSilver, Space GraySilver, Space Gray, Gold

The biggest improvement, hands down, is the 12MP ultra-wide front camera. As someone who has an iPad 8, my biggest complaint has always been that it absolutely sucks for FaceTime or other video calls. The camera quality is so bad that it's almost hard even to call it a camera by today's standards.

It's a huge win for everyone that the iPad 9 finally upgraded the front-facing camera to something useful. Plus, Apple even includes its Center Stage feature, which allows the camera to crop the image as you move around to keep you in the frame when you're on video calls. It can even let someone else get in the frame with you and re-adjust, so both people are centered in the frame.

iPad 9 vs. iPad 8: Performance likely won't be that different

Coloring on iPad (2020)

Coloring on iPad (2020) (Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

Yes, on paper and benchmarks, the A13 Bionic will outperform the A12 Bionic in last year's iPad 8, but it certainly isn't such a huge upgrade that you'll notice much of a difference in day-to-day use.

I still use my iPad 8 daily, and not once have I had an issue with speed. I use my iPad for gaming, drawing, word processing, browsing the web, watching Netflix, and more, and it still performs beautifully and is quite responsive.

iPad 9 vs. iPad 8: True Tone is nice but can be annoying

Likely the other big difference you've picked up on is that the iPad 9 has a True Tone display, which means the Display will adjust to being warmer or cooler in tone to match the light around you. Without True Tone, if you're using your iPad in cool light, your screen may look a little yellow. If you're in a warmer light environment, your display may look a tad blue. It's a nice feature missing from the iPad 8, but it's not always the best feature for some activities.

The True Tone display can make coloring or photo editing a bit of a pain in the ass because it can distort the colors you see on the screen a little bit. It's certainly not a deal-breaker, especially since you can turn it on and off as you wish, but it's worth noting.

iPad 9 vs. iPad 8: Should you upgrade?

If you already have an iPad 9, you certainly won't be missing out on a ton if you don't upgrade to the iPad 9 this year. It's definitely not a "must-have," but if you do many video calls on your iPad, that new front camera will be a huge improvement. However, the overall performance of the iPad 9 will only be marginally better than the iPad 8.

If you're upgrading from the iPad 7 or earlier or you play on buying your first iPad, then I totally think the iPad 9 is well worth it. It provides incredible value and usability for a great price, and as Apple would say, it's the best the iPad has ever been.

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 

Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.