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Best Apple iPad: Which Apple iPad is best for you?

There may not be as much choice as smartphones when it comes to tablets, but there are still a number of decisions to be made. If you are reading this, it’s likely you have already decided on Apple, and you are now trying to figure out what size iPad is the right one for you and which one fits into how much you want to spend.

Apple offers a number of iPad options ranging from 7.9-inch displays to 12.9-inches in size. There are also some older models, which although discontinued by Apple, are still available elsewhere, usually at good prices.

Here we are comparing all the six current iPads offered by Apple, but you can head to our Apple hub to read our separate, more in depth features on how the latest iPads compare to their predecessors if you weighing up a decision between old and new.

We’ve reviewed – or seen – all the iPads in Apple’s current line up and these are the three models we would highly recommend buying if you are in the market for an Apple tablet.

  • Apple iPad (10th gen) - sqaure tag image
    Apple / Pocket-lint

    Apple iPad (2022)
    Perfect for everyday use
    $399 $449 Save $50

    The Apple iPad (10th generation) has a processor bump compared to the iPad (9th generation), as well as the same design as the iPad Air. It’s a little more expesnive than the 2021 model, but for the everyday tablet, it’s a perfect option.

  • Apple iPad Air - square tag image
    Apple / Pocket-lint

    Apple iPad Air (2022)
    Great for power and portability
    $551 $599 Save $48

    The Apple iPad Air (2022) offers a similar design to the iPad mini and iPad (10th generation) but it adds more power under its hood with an M1 chip. It’s the perfect tablet for those that need a little more power, whilst retaining excellent portability.

  • Apple iPad Pro 12.9 - square tag image
    Apple / Pocket-lint

    Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2022)
    Superb for productivity
    $1049 $1099 Save $50

    The Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2022) is the most expensive iPad available, as well as the most powerful alongside the 11-inch model. It has an M2 chip on board and a superb Mini-LED 12.9-inch display, making it an excellent workhorse.

Of course, it depends on what you are looking for from your tablet as to which iPad model might be the best for you. With that in mind, here’s a run down of all the current iPads in Apple’s portfolio and why you might choose them depending on what you are looking for.

Apple iPad Mini - main image
Apple / Pocket-lint

Apple iPad Mini (2021)
Excellent portability
$469 $499 Save $30

The Apple iPad mini (2021) is basically a mini version of the iPad Air (2022) – whilst also adding a number of upgrades when it comes to hardware, including processor and front camera. It is compatible with the second generation of Apple Pencil, like the iPad Air (2022) and it’s fantastic for portability. A great option if you’re in the market for a small form factor tablet.

Pros

  • Small form-factor with big display
  • Touch ID in power button
  • 5G connectivity
Cons

  • No MagSafe charging
  • No Face ID facial recognition
  • No ProMotion (120Hz screen refresh rate)

The Apple iPad mini 6 features a complete redesign compared to its predecessor, matching that of the iPad Air (2022) – a little further down this list – with uniform bezels around the display, flat edges and Touch ID placed in the power button at the top. The compact and portable build measures 195.4 x 134.8 x 6.3mm, weighs just 293g and comes in four colour options of Space Grey, Pink, Purple, Starlight.

There are numerous hardware upgrades over the iPad mini 5 too, with the iPad mini 6 running on the A15 Bionic chip, which is a step up from the iPad (9th gen) that runs on the A13, though a step down from the iPad Air (2022). There’s also around a 10-hour battery life, with charging taking place via USB-C, up to 256GB of storage and you’ll find 5G capabilities as an option too.

Elsewhere, like the iPad Air, the iPad mini 6 offers True Tone technology and Apple Pencil (2nd generation) compatibility. It also has the sharpest display of all the iPads available with a 326ppi pixel density across its 8.3-inch screen. Compared to the older iPad mini 5, the iPad mini 6 also has an upgraded front camera, moving from 7-megapixels to 12-megapixels, which is the same as the iPad Air (2022) and it delivers the Center Stage feature. Overall, it’s an exceptional little tablet that is perfect for portability.

Apple iPad (9th gen) - main image
Apple / Pocket-lint

Apple iPad (2021)
Great value

The Apple iPad (9th generation) offers much the same design as its predecessor. It has support for Apple Pencil, Apple’s Smart Keyboard and it is significantly cheaper than the iPad Pro models, as well as cheaper than the iPad Air. It’s the entry-level iPad and great for those on a budget.

Pros

  • Upgraded front camera
  • Robust design
  • Apple Pencil (1st Gen) support
Cons

  • Dated design
  • No touch-to-wake screen
  • Still charges with Lightning

The 2021 standard iPad sticks to much the same design as its predecessor with a larger 10.2-inch (2160 x 1620) display compared to the iPad 9.7. It’s been succeeded by the 10th generation model – which has a larger screen again – but it remains in the line as the entry-point to iPad, measuring 250.6 x 174.1 x 7.5mm and weighing 487g. Touch ID is on board in the home button below the screen, as it was on the 8th generation model, and there is no fully laminated display or anti-reflective coating like the iPad Air – further down this list – though it does offer True Tone technology.

The processor sees a bump to the A13 Bionic chip compared to the A12 in the 2020 model, and there is support for Apple’s Smart Keyboard, like the iPad Air. It is compatible with the first generation of Apple Pencil too, as the older model was, though colour options have reduced to only Silver and Space Grey, ditching the Gold. There is up to 256GB of storage and up to 10 hours of battery life, which is charged via Lightning rather than USB-C like some of the newer models.

You’ll also find an 8-megapixel rear camera and 12-megapixel ultra wide-angle front snapper on this iPad, with the latter allowing for the Center Stage feature first introduced on the iPad Pro (2021). If you’re looking for an iPad on a budget and you’re not too worried about the latest design, this is a great model to consider.

Apple iPad (10th gen) - main image
Apple / Pocket-lint

Apple iPad (2022)
Perfect for everyday use
$399 $449 Save $50

The Apple iPad (10th generation) has a processor bump compared to the iPad (9th generation), as well as the same design as the iPad Air, ditching the home button and moving Touch ID into the power button. It remains only compatible with the first generation Apple Pencil, though it has USB-C and a repositioned front camera. For the everyday tablet, it’s a perfect option.

Pros

  • Lovely design and display
  • Solid performance
  • Logical front camera position
Cons

  • No anti-reflective or fully laminated display
  • No Stage Manager support
  • Base storage still 64GB

The Apple iPad (10th generation) offers a complete redesign compared to the entry-level 9th generation model and its predecessor. Now, almost identical to the iPad Air, the iPad (10th generation) has Touch ID built into the power button at the top of the display, allowing for uniformed bezels around the screen and a larger 10.9-inch (2360 x 1640) display within a very similar footprint (248.6 x 179.5 x 7mm, 477g) to the 2021 model.

There’s still no fully laminated display or anti-reflective coating like the iPad Air, but the iPad (10th generation) does feature True Tone technology whilst also making a move to USB-C and upgrading the chip under its hood to the A15 Bionic. The battery stays the same as the 2021 model but the colour options are more striking, with brighter and bolder options including Silver, Blue, Pink and Yellow.

Though still compatible with only the first generation Apple Pencil – you need an adpater to charge now – the iPad (10th generation) does reposition the front camera to the right edge when being held vertically. Aside from that, it doesn’t have all the technology of the iPad Air, or the iPad Pro models, but with up to 256GB of storage, 5G capabilities if you want them and a great new design, it’s a very solid option in the iPad portfolio for the everyday tablet.

Apple iPad Air - main image
Apple / Pocket-lint

Apple iPad Air (2022)
Power and portability
$551 $599 Save $48

The Apple iPad Air (2022) opts for Touch ID over Face ID but within the power button at the top like the iPad mini and iPad (10th generation), offering a design in line with the more expensive Pro models. It has an M1 chip under its hood and 5G, plus it is compatible with the second generation Apple Pencil, like the iPad Pro models. It’s the perfect tablet for those that need a little more power, whilst still offering excellent portability.

Pros

  • Excellent performance
  • Improved front-facing camera
  • 2nd Gen Apple Pencil stylus support
Cons

  • No Face ID
  • Storage limited to 256GB
  • Rear camera isn’t great

The Apple iPad Air (5th generation) sits between the iPad Pro 11 and the cheaper iPad (10th generation) in the iPad line-up. The design is the same as its predecessor, which sees Touch ID placed within the power button at the top and uniform bezels around the 10.9-inch (2360 x 1640) display, like the iPad (10th generation). It comes in some great colour options including Space Grey, Starlight, Pink, Purple, Blue – all of which are a little more muted compared to the iPad (10th generation) options – and it’s around the same size as that model too, at 247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1mm, though a little lighter, weighing just 461g.

There’s an M1 chip under the hood, which is a huge power boost over its predecessor that puts it in line with the 2021 iPad Pro models, and the iPad Air comes with both Apple Pencil (second gen) and Apple Smart Keyboard support too. The iPad Air’s display has an anti-reflective coating and a wider colour gamut than the standard iPad (9th generation) and iPad (10th generation), though it misses out on the ProMotion technology found in the Pro models, as well some other features like the option of more RAM and the Apple Pencil hover feature.

There is a 12-megapixel rear camera like the iPad Pro, though it doesn’t have the secondary Ultra-Wide lens that the Pro has. You’ll find a 12-megapixel front camera too though, which is a bump from its predecessor, allowing for support of some features like Centre Stage. There are two speakers, up to 256GB of storage, and up to 10 hours of battery, which is charged via USB-C. There are also 5G capabilities if you want them. Overall, the iPad Air is a fantastic all-rounder tablet, offering enough power to use it for heavier duty tasks, but excellent portability too.

Apple iPad Pro 11 - main image
Apple / Pocket-lint

Apple iPad Pro 11-inch (2022)
Superb performance
$749 $799 Save $50

The Apple iPad Pro 11 (2022) is one of the most powerful iPads available. It comes with super-slim bezels, Face ID and excellent specs including Apple’s M2 processor and 5G. It offers support for the second-gen Apple Pencil and it offers all the latest features in a more compact format than the 12.9 model. This model is all about power in a portable format.

Pros

  • Lightweight, slim and portable
  • Great sound from the four speaker system
  • Superb performance
Cons

  • No Micro-LED display
  • Expensive
  • Battery life could be better

The iPad Pro 11 succeeded the iPad Pro 10.5 with a completely new design in 2018 that was then refreshed in 2020, in 2021 and again in 2022. It ditches Touch ID for Face ID and squares off the aluminium edges for a more refined design, like the iPad Air and iPad mini, though colour options are more serious with just Silver and Space Grey on offer. The 11-inch model has a 2388 x 1668 pixel resolution display with ProMotion within its super slim 247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9mm build, which weighs only slightly more than the iPad Air at 466g.

Under the hood is the M2 processor, which is the same as what you’ll find in the MacBook Air (2022), so it’s pretty powerful and a step up from the M1 chip found in the 2021 iPad Pro models and iPad Air. It also comes in a choice of 8GB or 16GB of RAM and up to 2TB of storage, and there’s 5G connectivity too for those that want it. The front camera on the iPad Pro 11 is the same as its predecessor, with the Center Stage that sees the camera track and follow you around the room, among other things and the battery is the same too at up to 10 hours, like all iPads.

There is a feature called Apple Pencil hover on the 2022 model though, along with support for Wi-Fi 6E. Like the iPad Air (2022), this tablet is compatible with the second-generation of the Apple Pencil, which attaches magnetically and charges wirelessly. There is also Thunderbolt/USB 4 for the iPad Pro, allowing for faster data transfer. If you’re looking for an iPad to serve as a laptop replacement but remain lightweight, the iPad Pro 11-inch is a great option.

Apple iPad Pro 12.9 - main image
Apple / Pocket-lint

Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2022)
Superb for productivity
$1049 $1099 Save $50

The Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2022) is the most expensive iPad available, as well as the most powerful alongside the 11-inch model. Launched in October 2022, this model is for those that want to treat their tablet more like a computer. It offers the same hardware as the 11-inch model but in a larger size and with a superb Mini-LED display.

Pros

  • Stunning Mini-LED display
  • Huge amounts of power from M2 chip
  • Easy to use
Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Front camera should have moved
  • Battery life not exceptional

In 2018, the iPad Pro 12.9 delivered a complete design overhaul with slimmer bezels, no Touch ID home button and flatter edges. This new design – available in Space Grey and Silver – allowed the 12.9 model to reduce in size (280.6 x 214.9 x 6.4mm) compared to the old 12.9 model, despite offering the same size 12.9-inch 2732 x 2048 pixel resolution display and the 2022 model continues with this design, as did the 2021 model. An XDR display was introduced in 2021 though, which continues on the latest model and it’s glorious.

The 2022 iPad Pro 12.9-inch also offers an M2 processor – like the 11-inch model and the latest MacBook Air – and it also comes with a feature called Apple Pencil hover and support for Wi-Fi 6E. The same front camera from the 2021 model is on board, along with up to 2TB of storage, a choice of 8GB or 16GB of RAM, Thunderbolt/USB 4 for charging in and out, up to 10 hours of battery and 5G capabilities in the Wi-Fi and Cellular models. The rear camera remains the same as the 2021 model and Face ID is on board again too.

The iPad Pro 12.9 is compatible with the second-generation Apple Pencil which attaches magnetically to the iPad Pro 12.9 and charges wirelessly when attached. Like the Magic Keyboard, it’s still sold separately though, making this one pricey tablet. It’s also pretty heavy on its own at 682g, but especially when the Magic Keyboard is attached. If you are after everything Apple has to offer in the biggest possible format though, the iPad Pro 12.9 is the one you’ll want.

Quick summary

There are four ranges within Apple’s iPad line-up consisting of the iPad mini, the iPad, the iPad Air and the iPad Pro. The iPad mini was first introduced in 2012 and it is now in its 6th generation with the latest iPad mini having launched in 2021. The standard iPad first launched in 2010 and it looks remarkably different now – check out our iPad history feature to see how much it has changed over the years. The latest model is the 10th generation and it launched in 2022, though this model is sold alongside the 9th generation model from 2021.

The iPad Air first launched in 2013 with the latest model being the 5th generation, arriving in 2022. It’s also changed quite a bit since the first device of its category, though it is now very similar to the standard iPad, which got a redesign in 2022.

Lastly, the iPad Pro model first launched in 2015 with Apple launching the 12.9-inch model first. It followed this up with a 9.7-inch model in 2016. We’re now in the 6th generation of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro model and the iPad 11-inch model, which has seen its screen size expand over the years but its footprint remain largely the same.

 

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