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Apple iPad 8th generation: A cheat sheet

The 8th generation iPad includes a significant speed bump and new accessories, making this entry-level iPad even more enticing to new and existing users.

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Apple's iPad 8th generation

Image: Apple

Apple unveiled on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020 its latest iteration of the standard iPad, dubbed the iPad 8th generation. This iPad boasts a slew of new features and new price points for consumers and education users in order to get the device into even more hands. Apple also revealed a new iPad Air.

During Apple's September 2020 event, the company announced that it has sold more than 500 million iPads over the course of the 10-year history of the tablet. Since 2010, the iPad has been No. 1 in consumer satisfaction ratings, a milestone that indicates the iPad is a device that users love to use for mobile computing tasks.

Here are the specs, features, pricing and availability information you need to know about the 8th generation iPad. This cheat sheet will be updated if there is new information from Apple about the tablet.

SEE: How to migrate to a new iPad, iPhone, or Mac (TechRepublic Premium)

What is the 8th generation iPad?

The iPad is Apple's middle-of-the-road tablet with the traditional screen size of 10.2", which Apple switched to years ago. The device runs Apple's iPadOS, and this 8th generation model will ship with the newest iteration of iPadOS, version 14. The iPad 8th generation will be able to take advantage of all the new features in iPadOS 14.

What are the specs of the 8th generation iPad?

Design 
The iPad 8th generation largely carries over the design from previous models and comes in space gray, silver, or gold finishes. The iPad weighs only 1.08 pounds (490 grams) for the Wi-Fi model and 1.09 pounds (495 grams) for the Wi-Fi + Cellular models. The dimensions are 9.8" (250.6mm) tall, 6.8" (174.1mm) wide, 0.29" (7.5mm) thickness. This iPad retains the incredible thinness and lightness from its predecessor. 

Storage 
The iPad 8th generation is available in both 32 GB and 128 GB variants, depending on the amount of local storage that you require. 

Display
Apple is well-known for its displays, and the iPad 8th generation is no slouch in this area. It features a 10.2" LED Retina display with IPS technology, 500nits brightness, and 2160x1620 resolution, and Apple Pencil 1st generation support.

Cameras 
The front-facing FaceTime HD camera is a 1.2MP camera with an f/2.4 aperture. While it doesn't feature a physical flash, it does use the screen as a flash through the Retina Flash feature.

The rear-facing camera received a spec bump and is now an 8MP camera with f/2.4 aperture and has support for Live Photos, Autofocus, Panorama, HDR, exposure control, burst mode, tap to focus, timer mode, auto-image stabilization, body and face detection, and photo geotagging. 

The rear camera also supports video recording at 1080p HD at 30fps, slow-mo video support for 720p at 120fps, and support for time-lapse video with stabilization, video image stabilization, body and face detection, 3x video zoom, and video geotagging.

Connectivity 
The Wi-Fi and Cellular models contain Wi-Fi connectivity capable of working with 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, dual band (2.4Ghz and 5Ghz), and Bluetooth 4.2. 

If you get the Wi-Fi + Cellular model, it includes cellular connectivity for data-only networks using UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz), GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz), and Gigabit-class LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 25, 26, 29, 30, 34, 38, 39, 40, 41, 66, 71). There's also eSIM support for digital SIM cards.

Battery life 
The iPad 8th generation includes a 32.4-watt-hour rechargeable lithium polymer battery that Apple says will give you up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi or watching video, and up to 9 hours of surfing on the cellular network with the cellular capable model. Charging is done through the lightning power adapter or USB to computer.

What are the key features of the 8th generation iPad?

The 8th generation version of the iPad includes some spec bumps over the previous 7th generation version, as well as some new chips that make it faster at certain tasks.

The iPad 8th generation retains the classic features of the iPad, including the Home / Touch ID sensor, the lightning connector, headphone jack, and the Smart Connector that was added with the 7th generation. While there is still a reliance on the Lightning connector, Apple does supply a Lightning-to-USB-C Cable as well as a USB-C power adapter in the box.

A12 Bionic chip

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Apple's iPad 8th generation

Image: Apple

This is a new chip to the iPad, which brings a few firsts to the iPad 8th generation, including: A 6-core CPU and 4-core GPU. These additions to the Apple Silicon mean that you'll get 40% faster CPU performance over the 7th generation iPad and 2x faster graphics. This translates into faster gaming, better graphics performance while gaming, and better graphics handling of high-resolution content in apps that handle photo manipulation or graphic design features.

Apple touts that this new A12 Bionic chip in the iPad 8th generation has been put head-to-head with some common devices and found to be faster than:

  • 2x faster than the top-selling Windows laptop
  • 3x faster than the top selling Android tablets
  • 6x faster than the top selling Chromebook

Neural Engine

The iPad 8th generation also includes the Neural Engine for the first time in this model of iPad. This engine is an additional chip in the iPad that handles machine learning (ML) operations. This chip is capable of handling more than 5 trillion operations per second for better color transforms on photos, analyzing the camera motion for augmented reality (AR), and much more. Games and other apps that use machine learning tasks will find a much-improved speed boost when using this chip over the CPU or GPU to handle the same tasks.

Accessories

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Apple's iPad 8th generation

Image: Apple

The 7th generation iPad included Apple Pencil support, and Apple is continuing to offer the same Apple Pencil support on this 8th generation model. I was expecting to see Apple introduce the Apple Pencil 2 support for this model iPad, but currently the 8th generation iPad will only support the original Apple Pencil.

In addition to Apple Pencil support, Apple will be releasing a full-size Smart Keyboard case that works with the iPad to give users an external keyboard for better typing. Apple is partnering with Logitech to provide external keyboards and rugged cases for education customers.

iPadOS 14 support

The iPad 8th generation will ship with the latest version of iPadOS 14, which will be released publicly to users beginning on Sept. 16, 2020. For more information on iOS/iPadOS 14, read our cheat sheet on iOS 14.

SEE: All of TechRepublic's cheat sheets and smart person's guides

How does the iPad 8th generation compare to Chromebooks, the iPad mini, and the new iPad Air?

The iPad remains in its own league of tablet computers--even in 2020, Android has largely been unsuccessful at saturating the tablet market in the same way Apple has with iPad. The only real competitors to the iPad 8th generation are other iPads and Chromebooks. Let's take a look at each of the main alternatives. 

Chromebooks
Apple is aiming to tackle the education market with this new iPad, and as such, the iPad 8th generation will get compared to the Chromebooks that many schools and students use to complete classwork and other tasks. This iPad can handle all of the same tasks as a Chromebook--plus, it can run graphics-intensive tasks, games, and native apps. Chromebooks average around the same price as the iPad 8th generation.

iPad mini
The iPad mini has not received an update in more than a year, and really only exists as a stopgap between the iPad 8th generation and the iPod touch. It's a great reading device, but it lacks the power and screen real estate that the iPad 8th generation has. I would only consider the iPad mini if I were replacing an eReader or wanting a smaller tablet for a specific task.

iPad Air
Apple unveiled a new iPad Air at its September 15, 2020 event. The iPad Air is targeted towards a market that is interested in the iPad Pro but is willing to wait for cutting-edge features at a lower price point. The iPad Air is receiving some of the (now) older features of the iPad Pro for a reduced price point. The iPad Air is an upgrade option to the iPad 8th generation if you're looking for a newer, refined design, faster processor and graphics, Apple Pencil 2 support, increased storage options, and Smart Keyboard support.

When will the 8th generation iPad be available, and how much will it cost?

The 8th generation iPad is available for pre-ordering starting on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, with devices shipping and arriving in customers' hands on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020.

There are several device options in the iPad lineup to consider when buying an 8th generation iPad--the first is color. The device comes in Space Gray, Silver, and Gold finishes. The second is storage options: There's a 32 GB model for $329 or 128 GB for $429. Wi-Fi comes standard, but if you want to add cellular connectivity, add an additional $130 for the cellular modem.

Apple is clearly targeting this new iPad 8th generation at the education market; it has special pricing for education customers in order to get this model of the iPad into the hands of students and teachers. Apple notes that the 8th generation iPad will start at $299 for education customers.

The iPad 8th generation is replacing the outgoing iPad 7th generation and will be available in all countries where the iPad 7th generation was sold initially. The new iPad 8th generation can be purchased at all Apple authorized resellers and at Apple.com (or the Apple website in your country). Education customers can contact their Apple education representative to order with the education discount.

Also see

Editor's note: This article has been updated to include specs, details about alternatives, and more information about where to purchase the tablet.