game on iPad 9th Gen

The recently concluded Apple WWDC 2022 event brought the iPads back into the spotlight. iPadOS 16, in particular, is poised to be the tablet that rules all tablets, showcasing what a slate can really do with the right features. Of course, not all iPads will get the same desirable features, such as Stage Manager, leaving older models to feel more like gigantic iPhones again. That might be fine for some users, especially if it means being able to save hundreds of dollars just to have the basic iPadOS experience. It’s this audience that Apple’s next entry-level iPad might be aimed at, with one foot squarely down on the past and another foot ready for the future.

Apple naturally wants to target a wider audience, which means catering to people who have more basic needs and more constrained resources. It seems, however, that most of the attention is being lavished on higher-end models, particularly the iPad Pros. They are the ones that get the most features, both in hardware and software, with the iPad Air coming in a close second. The original iPad seems to have been left by the wayside, but Apple has been giving it little nudges and updates here and there to keep up.

The 6th-gen iPad, for example, gained support for the first-gen Apple Pencil, but none of the models can work with the current version of the stylus right now. Most of the time, Apple only upgrades the internals of the iPad while keeping the design similar, but it may do the opposite with the next entry-level iPad, at least according to sources that spoke with 9to5Mac.

Older iPad hardware with a couple of big improvements

Apple pencil and iPad keyboard

According to the insider tip, the 10th-gen iPad will run on the Apple A14 Bionic chip, the same processor used by the previous-gen iPad Air from 2020. It’s a small step up from its predecessor, though there are still substantial improvements in performance and efficiency. That does mean, however, that it will remain in the Apple A-series family, which is likely Apple’s way of keeping the price low. That said, this iPad will be outclassed by the 2021 4th-gen iPad mini, which already runs on an A15 Bionic processor.

The biggest alleged change that this upcoming iPad will have, however, is the USB-C port. If true, it means that the entire line of Apple tablets will have switched away from Lightning completely when it launches. This paves the way for Apple to also migrate iPhones over to the standard connection, which could become legally necessary anyway.

There aren’t many other details about this upcoming entry-level tablet, but the specs hint that it will still be limited to the features it already has, like the first-gen Apple Pencil. A USB-C port does open the door to plenty of new peripherals, but the bottleneck here would be the processor that could limit what the tablet will be able to support. It won’t be surprising to see the original iPad being left behind, especially if the iPad mini continues to get more significant upgrades in its next iteration.