Compared: Apple 2019 iPad 7th generation vs 6th and 5th generations

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We pick over the bones of the last three iPads to see what you get, what's really new about the iPad 7th generation vs 6th — and whether it's worth buying the older devices.

Apple's new seventh Generation iPad

While Apple has just brought out its latest iPad, and used the much-awaited, high-profile September 10 iPhone event in which to do it, you can still readily get the previous models. Even if Apple isn't selling them, you can pick up a sixth or even fifth generation iPad online, and that means you have choices.

This entry-level iPad has traditionally sat on its own, unlike the iPad Pro which always comes in a couple of different editions at a time. This iPad is Apple's way of saying it's simple, buy this one. And at $329, it's as close to cheap as Apple will ever go.

Very often, though, it's worth checking out the most recent previous editions because aren't always that much different and, depending where and when you buy them, they can represent more of a bargain.

In this case, though, just take a look at precisely how the new seventh generation iPad compares to the fifth and sixth generation models.

iPad (Fifth)iPad (Sixth)iPad (Seventh)
Screen size9.79.710.2
Screen resolution (pixels)2048x1536 at 264dpi2048x1536 at 264dpi2160x1620 at 264dpi
Screen brightness (nits)500500500
ProcessorA9A10 FusionA10 Fusion
Apple PencilNoFirst GenerationFirst Generation
Smart ConnectorNoNoYes
Dimensions (inches)9.4x6.6x0.299.4x6.6x0.299.8x6.8x0.29
Weight (lbs)
Battery (hours)Up to 10Up to 10Up to 10
Rear Camera (megapixels)888
Front Camera (megapixels)
BiometricTouch IDTouch IDTouch ID

If you search online, you're likely to find a fifth or sixth generation iPad for less than the $329 that they or the seventh originally retailed at (the last-gen 2018 9.7-inch iPad is currently on sale for $249). Unusually, though, it's also true that you will find extremely little difference between these three generations. There are differences that are significant, but really, working through all of these specifications meant wondering what was actually new about the new iPad.

What's actually new

The answer, of course, is the screen size. That is the chief reason to buy a new iPad instead of an older model. Where the previous six generations of the iPad have had a 9.7-inch screen, the new one has a 10.2-inch display. Half an inch may not sound as if it should set the world alight, but try comparing the two and you'll see the new one is enormously better.

And if you don't think that, then try going back to the 9.7-inch screen. Size matters and 10.2-inches is a better size than the old 9.7-inch. That's also because alongside the larger dimensions, the screen has a greater pixel count so that overall the image quality is as good as it was before, even though it's spread out over a larger area.

That's really it, though. You'll see and, perhaps more importantly, feel a performance difference between the fifth and the seventh generation, too. That's because the fifth runs on an Apple A9 processor whereas the seventh uses the A10 Fusion. Only, so does the sixth generation.

The only other significant difference you can find between these three most recent generations is that the fifth can't support the Apple Pencil. The sixth and new seventh can, though in both cases it is solely the first-generation Apple Pencil that you can use with them, not the second.

Which means this. If you already have a fifth or sixth generation iPad, you're not getting a lot from the new one, and you should probably just stick with it.

If you're in the market for a new iPad, though, just go right ahead and buy the seventh generation one. You might, conceivably, save a buck or two if you shop smartly and quickly, but this is one case where you won't get any other benefit from buying the older model.

It's just unfortunately also that you won't get a giant benefit from buying the new one, although that larger screen is compelling.

Where to buy

Apple's latest 10.2-inch iPad is currently available for purchase from multiple Apple Authorized Resellers. In the case of Adorama, the prices shown are the final prices for shoppers in 46 states. B&H is also throwing in free expedited shipping within the contiguous U.S. on 7th generation iPad orders. To compare the latest prices on the Apple 2019 iPad 7th generation vs 6th generation, be sure to check out our iPad Price Guide.

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