The best iPads in 2021 for every size and budget

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • The 10.2-inch iPad offers solid performance at a reasonable price, making it our top pick.
  • Those who want a nicer screen and other features without splurging on the Pro should consider the Air.
  • The new M1-powered iPad Pro models are for those looking for the most powerful tablet they can buy.

Apple is the uncontested king of tablets. The iPad is the most popular tablet in the world, with Apple beating Samsung and Lenovo by claiming 36.5% of the global tablet market.

Apple’s tablet lineup is varied and surprisingly affordable. On the high end, Apple recently announced an update to the iPad Pro lineup which adds the powerful M1 chip, as well as 5G capability to the iPad for the first time, while maintaining the $799 price for the 11-inch model.

At $329.99, the 10.2-inch iPad is the cheapest iPad Apple has ever sold, but it’s quite powerful and supports the Apple Pencil, making it a great choice for anyone in need of a general purpose tablet.

Other iPads offer higher performance and more features and functionality, all of which come at higher prices.

Here are the best iPads in 2021:

The best iPad overall

Apple ipad 8th gen widgets

The 2020 10.2-inch iPad offers the best balance of value, performance, and features, and is the best deal for most people.

Pros: Incredible price for an iPad, slick aluminum design, Touch ID for security and Apple Pay, gorgeous screen, supports the Apple Pencil

Cons: Low resolution front camera, very little storage at base price

The 2020 10.2-inch iPad is the most affordable model, and it’s the best option for those picking up their first iPad. It’s also a great choice if you’re looking to upgrade from an aging iPad or iPad Mini.

The 2,160 x 1,620-pixel resolution on the 10.2-inch model is sharp and clear. The A12 processor is still perfectly capable for most apps and tasks, the battery life is long, and you can buy things on iPad with Apple Pay, thanks to the Touch ID fingerprint sensor.

Best of all, this iPad supports the first-generation Apple Pencil, an incredible stylus with virtually no lag. You will have to pay $100 extra for the Pencil, but if you like to take notes or draw on your iPad, it is well worth it. 

You simply can’t beat those specs at that price point. Comparable Android tablets cost hundreds of dollars more, and the iPad still has a better app library and accessory support.

The aluminum build looks and feels premium. Both iPads are quite light, too, so you can happily binge-watch Netflix in bed or take them with you. Tech nerds will say the iPads have a boring old design, but it’s tried and true. Plus, the aluminum build is durable.

However, there are some drawbacks that are worth considering. The 1.2-megapixel front camera isn’t very sharp, which is something to keep in mind if you make a lot of FaceTime calls. And, the base model only comes with 32GB of storage. That means you won’t be able to store many apps, videos, and photos on the device and will have to keep most of your content in the cloud unless you upgrade to the $429 model with 128GB of storage.

The best mid-range iPad

ipad air 4th gen 2020 with magic keyboard

The 2020 iPad Air brings power and a premium updated design and features for $600

Pros: Updated design, sharp screen, Touch ID, works with accessories like the newer Apple Pencil, fast performance, new processor, mouse support, close to iPad Pro functionality and power while costing less

Cons: Only 64GB of storage, price gets expensive when you add on accessories Price is creeping up

The iPad Air got a big upgrade when the newest version debuted in September 2020. New features include an all-screen design with sharper edges that’s similar to the iPad Pro’s look, the powerful A14 Bionic processor that powers the iPhone 12 series, USB-C for faster charging and connecting to computers, and a Touch ID sensor on the top button.

The tablet also supports the second-generation Apple Pencil, which is widely considered the best stylus for drawing on a tablet and features an improved design compared to the first-generation pencil. The iPad Air also has a sharp 10.9-inch Liquid Retina True Tone screen with a resolution of 2,360 × 1,640 pixels.

If you’re looking for an iPad for work-related tasks, the 2020 iPad Air supports Apple’s Smart Keyboard Folio and the Magic Keyboard, which includes a trackpad for mouse control. Support for the Magic Keyboard, in particular, brings the 2020 iPad Air closer than ever to the iPad Pro’s high level of functionality, making the 2020 iPad Air a less expensive alternative to the iPad Pro.

You can buy the iPad Air with either 64GB or 256GB of storage, and it comes in five color options: Silver, Space Gray, Green, Sky Blue, or Rose Gold. You can also choose either a Wi-Fi-only connection or a combination of cellular and Wi-Fi connections.

The best small iPad

iPad Mini 2019

The 2019 iPad Mini is essentially the smaller version of the 10.2-inch iPad, and it’s the best option if you prefer a smaller tablet.

Pros: Compact, affordable, new processor, sharp screen, works with the Pencil

Cons: Older design with bigger bezels, more expensive than larger 10.2-inch 2020 iPad

With a 7.9-inch display, the 2019 iPad Mini is Apple’s smallest tablet. It may not have the newer iPad-Pro style design, but it has all the latest specs we wanted in this update.

It’s powered by the same powerful A12 Bionic processor found inside  the 2020 iPad, and it supports the first-generation Apple Pencil. We’re thrilled Apple gave the Mini Pencil support, as it’s the best stylus we’ve ever used, and it makes the Mini a great tablet for note taking or drawing.

The Mini’s True Tone, 7.9-inch screen has a sharp 2,048 x 1,536 pixel resolution, too, so you can really enjoy watching videos, reading, and creating on the screen.

You can choose between 64GB or 256GB of storage and three color options: Silver, Space Gray, or Gold).

Overall, the iPad Mini is the best choice for those who prioritize portability above all else in a tablet. If you want a screen that’s slightly bigger than your phone for reading, watching movies, and checking email, the iPad Mini is worth considering. 

The best iPad for pros

ipad pro

Apple’s newest iPad Pros come with fast performance and excellent cameras at a high price, making them best for creative professionals.

Pros: Fast performance, great selfie camera that keeps you in frame, improved vibrant screen on the 12.9-inch model

Cons: Expensive, gets even more expensive when you add accessories, multitasking and general productivity is still better on a laptop

Apple’s recently launched iPad Pros come equipped with the company’s M1 processor, bringing faster processing and better camera performance to an already-powerful tablet. But the iPad Pro’s high price and extra power mean that it’s best-suited for creative professionals looking to get work done on their tablet rather than everyday users.

The 11-inch model starts at $800, while the 12.9-inch version begins at $1,100, just like their predecessors. 

The new iPad Pro’s headlining feature is a camera trick called Center Stage, which adjusts the front-facing camera as you move to ensure that you remain centered in frame. Plus, the iPad Pro benefits from the Apple image signal processor in the M1 chip, resulting in more colorful selfies. That makes the iPad Pro a strong choice for those who plan to take a lot of video calls from their iPad, or for those who plan to record video projects using the iPad’s selfie camera. 

The iPad Pros also have a dual-camera system with a 12-megapixel main camera and a 10-megapixel wide lens, another factor that makes it more appealing than the iPad Air for those who want to shoot and edit multimedia content on one device. 

The larger-sized model also has a new display that uses mini-LED technology, meaning that it has much greater brightness and contrast compared to Apple’s other tablets. 

But for that price, the iPad Pros are really best for those who want a tablet for more than just watching videos, browsing the web, and getting light work done. That’s especially true since the iPad Air is now compatible with Apple’s Magic Keyboard and second-generation Apple Pencil. All told, the iPad Pro’s increased storage capacity, faster performance, better cameras, and Thunderbolt connectivity make the iPad Pro best for creatives that want a portable work device.

The best stylus

ipad pro

The first-generation Apple Pencil is the best for the 2020 10.2-inch and 2019 iPad Mini, while the second-generation stylus is ideal for the 2020 iPad Air and 2020 iPad Pro models.

Pros: Works with even the cheapest 10.2-inch iPad, lack of latency, pressure sensitivity, made for the iPad’s screen, easy to charge, comfortable to hold

Cons: Expensive 

Over the years, we’ve tested a lot of styluses from companies like Adonit, 53, Wacom, and more. None of those styluses can hold a candle to the Apple Pencil. Whether you buy the first-generation Pencil or the second, you’re getting a stylus that was made by Apple in tandem with the iPad.

As such, the Pencil works with the iPads’ screens in special ways that no other stylus can. The result is improved pressure sensitivity and an impressively low level of latency. You won’t even notice a lag because it’s imperceptible. When you use an Apple Pencil, you actually feel like you’re using a normal graphite pencil.

There are a few differences between the first- and second-generation Pencils: the second-gen model has wireless charging and magnetically attaches to the side of the iPad. The first-gen Pencil charges with a lightning port on the end and doesn’t attach to your iPad. It’s also a bit cheaper.

As far as compatibility, the first-generation Apple Pencil is for the older iPad models, as well as the 2020 10.2-inch iPad and the 2019 iPad Mini. The second-generation Apple Pencil and supports newer and higher-end iPads, including most iPad Pros and the 2020 iPad Air.

Choose whichever makes the most sense to you, but the newer Pencil’s easier charging method and magnetic attraction to the iPad make it a winner in our book.

The best keyboard for your iPad

logitech k780 keyboard

The Logitech K780 works with any device, connects wirelessly, and offers a full-sized keyboard with satisfying keys for typing.

Pros: Nice design, comfortable, two-year battery life

Cons: Needs AAA batteries

The Logitech K780 is the best Bluetooth keyboard for just about any device, including the iPad. Sure, it’s not a keyboard case, so it won’t protect your iPad and provide a keyboard, but that means you get a full-sized keyboard with a number pad and satisfying keys that have good travel.

The K780 supports connections to multiple devices, so you can use it with your iPad, phone, and computer if you want. The circular keys are comfortable to type on because they are full size. Logitech also incorporated a tablet and phone stand into the keyboard’s design, so it’s easy to prop your iPad up without needing to buy a separate stand or case.

The only downsides here are that it needs AAA batteries to run and it’s not the most portable keyboard you can buy. If you want a more portable option, the foldable iClever Ultra Slim 3 Keyboard folds up to one-third of its size and can be used in both wireless and wired modes.

What to consider when buying an iPad

  • Price: The biggest factor you’ll want to consider when purchasing an iPad is how much you’re willing to spend. The 10.2-inch $329 iPad is the best choice for anyone on a tight budget, since it’s Apple’s most affordable iPad. But if you want more storage space than the 32GB that comes with the cheapest standard iPad by default and are looking for something more compact, the $400 iPad Mini is your best bet. If you’re willing to invest in a tablet that you’re also planning to use for work purposes, particularly for photography, the top-of-the-line $800-$1,000 iPad Pro may be right for you. And then there’s the $600 iPad Air, which falls right in the middle and is best if you want a tablet for casual productivity and entertainment.
  • Size: Aside from price, size is one of the most important aspects to consider when buying an iPad. The 7.9-inch iPad Mini is Apple’s smallest tablet, and it’s the right choice if you mostly think you’ll be using your iPad during your commute or while traveling. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is best for those who want a laptop-sized tablet for getting work done or watching movies. And for those looking for something in between, there’s the 10.2-inch iPad, 10.9-inch iPad Air, and 11-inch iPad Pro.
  • Performance: When picking out an iPad, you’ll also want to consider what kinds of tasks you think you’ll be using it for. If you just want an iPad that can serve as a larger and more suitable screen for doing many of the things you’d normally do on your smartphone, like browsing the internet, watching Netflix, playing casual games, light productivity such as note-taking, and checking email, then the iPad or iPad Mini will do just fine. But if you need something more powerful that packs more graphics performance, which could be important for video and photo editors, you’ll want to check out the iPad Pro. And then, of course, the iPad Air falls right in the middle, offering performance that’s just as fast and snappy as the iPhone 12 for a lower price than the iPad Pro.
  • Features: All of Apple’s iPads run on the same software and can download the same apps from the App Store. But they do differ in several important ways when it comes to hardware-based features. Compared to Apple’s cheaper tablets, the iPad Air and iPad Pro offer sleeker designs, nearly borderless screens, USB-C input, compatibility with newer Apple accessories, and sharper cameras. The iPad Pro is also the only iPad to come with two rear camera lenses, Face ID, and a LiDAR sensor for augmented reality apps. Consider which features matter to you most when deciding which iPad is right for you. 
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How to tell exactly which iPad generation and model you have in two different ways

woman using ipad typing notes app
It should only take a minute to find what generation of iPad you have.

  • To find what generation of iPad you have, you should check the model number.
  • You can find your iPad’s model number by looking at the Settings app or the back of your device.
  • Once you know your iPad’s model number, search for it on Google or check our comprehensive list to find what generation it is.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

It’s been more than a decade since the iPad first hit the market, and Apple has since released over two dozen different models and “generations.” This means that if it’s been a while since you bought your iPad, it’s easy to forget which version you have.

Figuring out exactly which iPad model you own lets you know how much storage space you’re supposed to have, which accessories to buy, and how old your device is. It’s also useful if you ever need troubleshooting help from Apple.

Luckily, finding out which iPad generation you have isn’t hard. Here’s how to find your iPad’s model number, and use that to check the device’s version.

How to find which iPad generation and model you have

Every iPad has a model number that denotes exactly what kind of iPad it is, when it was made, and more. To quickly see what iPad you have, find this model number, and then search for it online or consult the list at the end of this article.

You can find the model number in two ways.

Finding the model number in your Settings app

If you can turn on and use your iPad, this is the fastest way to find the model number.

1. Open the Settings app on your device and tap “General.”

2. In the next menu, tap “About” at the top of the list.

ipad generations 1
Open the “About” menu.

3. Look for the two tabs that say “Model Name” and “Model Number.” Tap Model Number to reveal a short code that starts with the letter “A.”

The Model Name line will tell you the name of your iPad and likely its screen size, but multiple iPad generations can share this name. The Model Number that begins with an A, however, is unique to your specific iPad model.

ipad generations 2
You’ll have to tap “Model Number” once to get the right code.

Finding the model number on the back of your iPad

If your iPad can’t turn on, you can still get the model number.

Just turn your iPad over and look at the back. Underneath the iPad logo, beside the word “Model,” you’ll see a capital letter A followed by a few numbers.

ipad model number
Every iPad has the model number engraved on the back.

That’s the model number, and with it you can search for your specific iPad generation online, or you can just reference our list below.

Every iPad generation and model ever released

apple ipad types
There are four major iPad types: the iPad, mini, Air, and Pro.

Every iPad generation has a unique model number. Take your model number and find it in the tables here to see which version you have. You can also press Ctrl + F or Command + F and type in your model number to find it in the tables immediately.

These tables are separated by iPad type, of which there are four: the iPad, the iPad mini, the iPad Air, and the iPad Pro.

Every iPad generation

iPad model

Year of Release

Internet capability

Model Number(s)

iPad

2010

Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi + 3G

A1219 for Wi-Fi, A1337 for Wi-Fi + 3G

iPad 2 (2nd generation)

2011

Wi-Fi, GSM, CDMA

A1395 for Wi-Fi, A1396 for GSM, A1397 for CDMA

iPad (3rd generation)

Early 2012

Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi + Cellular

A1416 for Wi-Fi, A1430 or A1403 for Wi-Fi + Cellular

iPad (4th generation)

Late 2012

Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi + Cellular

A1458 for Wi-Fi, A1459 or A1460 for Wi-Fi + Cellular

iPad (5th generation)

2017

Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi + Cellular

A1822 for Wi-Fi, A1823 for Wi-Fi + Cellular

iPad (6th generation)

2018

Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi + Cellular

A1893 for Wi-Fi, A1954 for Wi-Fi + Cellular

iPad (7th generation)

2019

Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi + Cellular

A2197 for Wi-Fi, A2200 or A2198 for Wi-Fi + Cellular

iPad (8th generation)

2020

Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi + Cellular

A2270 for Wi-Fi; A2428, A2429, or A2430 for Wi-Fi + Cellular

Every iPad mini generation

iPad model

Year of Release

Internet capability

Model Number(s)

iPad mini

2012

Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi + Cellular

A1432 for Wi-Fi, A1454 or A1455 for Wi-Fi + Cellular

iPad mini 2 (2nd generation)

Late 2013 and early 2014

Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi + Cellular, Wi-Fi + Cellular (TD-LTE)

A1489 for Wi-Fi, A1490 for Wi-Fi + Cellular, A1491 for Wi-Fi + Cellular (TD-LTE)

iPad mini 3 (3rd generation)

Late 2014

Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi + Cellular

A1599 for Wi-Fi, A1600 for Wi-Fi + Cellular

iPad mini 4 (4th generation)

2015

Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi + Cellular

A1538 for Wi-Fi, A1550 for Wi-Fi + Cellular

iPad mini (5th generation)

2019

Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi + Cellular

A2133 for Wi-Fi; A2124, A2125, or A2126 for Wi-Fi + Cellular

Every iPad Air generation

iPad model

Year of Release

Internet capability

Model Number(s)

iPad Air

Late 2013 and early 2014

Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi + Cellular, Wi-Fi + Cellular (TD-LTE)

A1474 for Wi-Fi, A1475 for Wi-Fi + Cellular, A1476 for Wi-Fi + Cellular (TD-LTE)

iPad Air 2 (2nd generation)

Late 2014

Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi + Cellular

A1566 for Wi-Fi, A1567 for Wi-Fi + Cellular

iPad Air (3rd generation)

2019

Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi + Cellular

A2152 for Wi-Fi; A2123, A2153, or A2154 for Wi-Fi + Cellular

iPad Air (4th generation)

2020

Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi + Cellular

A2316 for Wi-Fi; A2324, A2325, or A2072 for Wi-Fi + Cellular

Every iPad Pro generation

iPad model

Year of Release

Internet capability

Model Number(s)

iPad Pro [12.9-inch]

2015

Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi + Cellular

A1584 for Wi-Fi, A1652 for Wi-Fi + Cellular

iPad Pro [9.7-inch]

2016

Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi + Cellular

A1673 for Wi-Fi, A1674 or A1675 for Wi-Fi + Cellular

iPad Pro [10.5-inch]

2017

Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi + Cellular

A1701 for Wi-Fi, A1709 or A1852 for Wi-Fi + Cellular

iPad Pro [12.9-inch] (2nd generation)

2017

Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi + Cellular

A1670 for Wi-Fi, A1671 or A1821 for Wi-Fi + Cellular

iPad Pro [11-inch]

2018

Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi + Cellular

A1980 for Wi-Fi; A2013, A1934, or A1979 for Wi-Fi + Cellular

iPad Pro [12.9-inch] (3rd generation)

2018

Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi + Cellular

A1876 for Wi-Fi; A2014, A1895 or A1983 for Wi-Fi + Cellular

iPad Pro [11-inch] (2nd generation)

2020

Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi + Cellular

A2228 for Wi-Fi; A2068, A2230, or A2231 for Wi-Fi + Cellular

iPad Pro [12.9-inch] (4th generation)

2020

Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi + Cellular

A2229 for Wi-Fi; A2069, A2232, or A2233 for Wi-Fi + Cellular

Steven John contributed to a previous version of this article.

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Apple sells several different iPad models – here’s how much they all cost

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iPad Pro 2020
The 2020 iPad Pro is pictured above using an AR app.

  • Apple iPad lineup consists of the iPad, iPad Mini, iPad Air, and iPad Pro models.
  • The newest iPads are the standard 10.2-inch iPad and the 10.9-inch iPad Air.
  • Apple’s standard 10.2-inch iPad is the cheapest, while the priciest is the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

Although they’re not for everyone, the enduring popularity of tablets stands as a testament to their appeal. Tablets inhabit a middle zone between a smartphone and a laptop, giving you more computer-like capabilities for work and entertainment without the bulk.

Apple’s tablet family runs the gamut in pricing from as low as $329 for a standard iPad to around $1,649 for the latest iPad Pro with all the bells and whistles. So, whatever you’re looking to spend, there’s probably an iPad out there for you.

Below, we’ve rounded up all of the current iPad models available online right now so you can find the right Apple tablet for your needs and budget.

For more shopping advice, check out our full buying guide to the best iPads.

How much does the iPad cost?

10.2-inch iPad (8th-gen, 2020)

apple_ipad 8th gen

Apple announced a new 8th-generation 10.2-inch iPad during its launch event in September  2020. 

It’s powered by Apple’s A12 chip, the same chip that powers the iPhone XS from 2018, which means it’s powerful enough for basic tasks like watching Netflix, checking email, and browsing the web. It’ll easily run advanced power-hungry games now, but this older chip will become outdated and slow over the years. 

The 8th-generation iPad supports Apple Pencil and Apple’s Smart Keyboard, which connects to the iPad through a specific port and doesn’t require Bluetooth. 

We’ve called the 10.2-inch iPad  the best iPad for most people because of its excellent balance of performance and value, at least compared to its more expensive counterparts. In our full review, we praised the tablet for its long battery life, affordable price, and solid performance given the specifications. 

On the flip side, buyers should be aware that the base model only comes with 32GB of storage, which is half the amount of space you get with the cheapest iPhone configuration. The 1.2-megapixel camera also isn’t very sharp, which may be important if you spend a lot of time on FaceTime or Zoom.

It starts at $329 from Apple for the 32GB Wi-Fi model. You can get the 128GB Wi-Fi model for $429, the 32GB Wi-Fi + Cellular model for $459, and the 128GB Wi-Fi + Cellular model for $559. These are the prices on Apple’s website; keep an eye on third-party sellers for deals and discounts.

2020 iPad 10.2-inch (8th Gen) (small, Preferred: Apple)
iPad Mini (5th-gen, 2019)

iPad Mini 2019

The current iPad Mini is in its 5th generation, and was released in March 2019.

Running on the A12 Bionic processor, it shares many qualities with the eighth-generation iPad that was released in September 2020. Other than its more compact size, the biggest differences between the two iPads are that the Mini has a sharper 7-megapixel selfie camera, a more advanced screen with Apple’s True Tone tech and support for the P3 wide color gamut, and more storage at the high end. 

However, the iPad Mini isn’t compatible with Apple’s Smart Keyboard, so you’ll have to use a Bluetooth keyboard if you want to get some work done on the Mini. But it is compatible with the first-generation Apple Pencil, which as we wrote in our full review is particularly great for the iPad Mini since its size makes it feel similar to scribbling in a notebook.

Unless you want a smaller tablet with a better camera for video chatting, it’s not the best deal at $399 considering the standard iPad starts at $329. Still, it’s the best option for a small tablet, if that’s what you’re after. 

iPad Mini (5th Gen., 64GB) (small)
iPad Air (4th-gen, 2020)

ipad air 4th gen 2020

Apple announced the 4th generation of its iPad Air with a 10.9-inch display during its launch event in September 2020. 

It runs on Apple’s A14 chip, which powers the iPhone 12 series. The new iPad Air also comes with an updated look that more closely resembles the iPad Pro, namely with the all-screen design and sharper squared-off edges. It was also updated to include USB-C instead of Apple’s proprietary Lighting ports and cables for charging and connecting to computers. The Touch ID fingerprint sensor has moved to the top button.  

It supports Apple Pencil and Apple’s new Magic Keyboard that comes with a trackpad. 

The iPad Air’s main allure has always been its light weight, but at 1-pound, the latest 4th-gen isn’t much lighter than other iPads. Still, we love the iPad Air’s larger display, sleeker design, long battery life, and Touch ID support. The biggest downside is that it only comes with 64GB of storage, which is low for a premium tablet. 

With a starting price of $599, it’s an ideal iPad if you want current powerful specs for performance and longevity, but don’t want to spend as much as the iPad Pro.

iPad Air 2020 (4th Gen, 64GB) (small)
iPad Pro (4th-gen, 2020)

iPad Pro (2020)

The current and latest iPad Pro is in its 4th generation and was launched on March 18, 2020

The iPad Pro is the most high-end tablet in Apple’s iPad lineup. Because it has more advanced hardware such as Apple’s A12Z processor — which has more cores for computing and graphics processing — the iPad Pro is best-suited for those who intend to use their tablet primarily for work.

The iPad Pro really shines when paired with peripherals like the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard Folio, although the cost of Apple’s peripherals do drive up the overall price significantly.

The iPad Pro also comes with an enhanced rear camera with LiDAR depth sensing and a dual-lens system, making it more ideal for creative professionals than everyday users.  

The 11-inch model starts at $799, while the 12.9-inch version calls for $999 to start. 

2020 iPad Pro 11-inch, WiFi, 128GB (small)
We also recommend the Apple Pencil Stylus

Apple Pencil iPad Mini
The first-generation Apple Pencil is pictured above with the 2019 iPad Mini.

The Apple Pencil officially works with every iPad Apple currently sells. The first-generation Apple Pencil works with the new iPad Mini and iPad Air, as well as the older 10.5-inch iPad Pro and the 2018 and 2019 standard iPads.

If you buy the new 11- or 12.5-inch iPad Pros, you should buy the second-generation stylus, which was made for those tablets and is even better than the original.

Over the years, we’ve tested a lot of styluses from companies like Adonit, 53, Wacom, and more. None of those styluses can hold a candle to the Apple Pencil. Whether you buy the first-generation Pencil or the second, you’re getting a stylus that was made by Apple in tandem with the iPad.

As such, the Pencil works with the iPads’ screens in special ways that no other stylus can. The result is improved pressure sensitivity and an impressively low level of latency. When you use an Apple Pencil, you actually feel like you’re using a normal graphite pencil.

There are a few differences between the first and second-generation Pencils: The newer model has wireless charging and magnetically attaches to the side of the iPad. It was made for the new 11 and 12.9-inch iPad Pros, while the first-generation Pencil is for the older 9.7-inch iPad and the 10.5-inch iPad Pro. The older Pencil charges with a Lightning port on the end and doesn’t attach to your iPad. It’s also a bit cheaper.

Choose whichever works for the iPad you buy.

Pencil (small)

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The best iPads

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Apple is the uncontested king of tablets. The iPad is the most popular tablet in the world, with Apple beating Samsung and Lenovo by claiming 36.5% of the global tablet market. 

Apple’s tablet lineup is varied and surprisingly affordable. At $329.99, the 10.2-inch iPad is the cheapest iPad Apple has ever sold, but it’s quite powerful and supports the Apple Pencil, making it a great choice for anyone in need of a general purpose tablet. 

Other iPads offer higher performance and more features and functionality, all of which come at higher prices. 

Here are the best iPads in 2021:

The best iPad overall

Apple ipad 8th gen widgets

The 2020 10.2-inch iPad offers the best balance of value, performance, and features, and is the best deal for most people.

Pros: Incredible price for an iPad, slick aluminum design, Touch ID for security and Apple Pay, gorgeous screen, supports the Apple Pencil

Cons: Low resolution front camera, very little storage at base price

The 2020 10.2-inch iPad is the most affordable model, and it’s the best option for those picking up their first iPad. It’s also a great choice if you’re looking to upgrade from an aging iPad or iPad Mini.

The 2,160 x 1,620-pixel resolution on the 10.2-inch model is sharp and clear. The A12 processor is still perfectly capable for most apps and tasks, the battery life is long, and you can buy things on iPad with Apple Pay, thanks to the Touch ID fingerprint sensor.

Best of all, this iPad supports the first-generation Apple Pencil, an incredible stylus with virtually no lag. You will have to pay $100 extra for the Pencil, but if you like to take notes or draw on your iPad, it is well worth it. Naturally, any Bluetooth keyboard also works with the iPad, so if you want to use it as a quasi-laptop, you can pick up a great keyboard.

You simply can’t beat those specs at that price point. Comparable Android tablets cost hundreds of dollars more, and the iPad still has a better app library and accessory support.

The aluminum build looks and feels premium. Both iPads are quite light, too, so you can happily binge-watch Netflix in bed or take them with you. Tech nerds will say the iPads have a boring old design, but it’s tried and true. Plus, the aluminum build is durable.

However, there are some drawbacks that are worth considering. The 1.2-megapixel front camera isn’t very sharp, which is something to keep in mind if you make a lot of FaceTime calls. And, the base model only comes with 32GB of storage. That means you won’t be able to store many apps, videos, and photos on the device and will have to keep most of your content in the cloud unless you upgrade to the $429 model with 128GB of storage.

Check out our full review of Apple’s 10.2-inch iPad.

The best mid-range iPad

ipad air 4th gen 2020 with magic keyboard

The 2020 iPad Air brings power and a premium updated design and features for $600

Pros: Updated design, sharp screen, Touch ID, works with accessories like the newer Apple Pencil, fast performance, new processor, mouse support, close to iPad Pro functionality and power while costing less

Cons: Only 64GB of storage, price gets expensive when you add on accessories Price is creeping up

The iPad Air got a big upgrade when the newest version debuted in September 2020. New features include an all-screen design with sharper edges that’s similar to the iPad Pro’s look, the powerful A14 Bionic processor that powers the iPhone 12 series, USB-C for faster charging and connecting to computers, and a Touch ID sensor on the top button.

The tablet also supports the second-generation Apple Pencil, which is widely considered the best stylus for drawing on a tablet and features an improved design compared to the first-generation pencil. The iPad Air also has a sharp 10.9-inch Liquid Retina True Tone screen with a resolution of 2,360 × 1,640 pixels.

If you’re looking for an iPad for work-related tasks, the 2020 iPad Air supports Apple’s Smart Keyboard Folio and the Magic Keyboard, which includes a trackpad for mouse control. Support for the Magic Keyboard, in particular, brings the 2020 iPad Air closer than ever to the iPad Pro’s high level of functionality, making the 2020 iPad Air a less expensive alternative to the iPad Pro.

You can buy the iPad Air with either 64GB or 256GB of storage, and it comes in five color options: Silver, Space Gray, Green, Sky Blue, or Rose Gold. You can also choose either a Wi-Fi-only connection or a combination of cellular and Wi-Fi connections.

Check out our full review of the 2020 iPad Air.

The best small iPad

iPad Mini 2019

The 2019 iPad Mini is essentially the smaller version of the 10.2-inch iPad, and it’s the best option if you prefer a smaller tablet.

Pros: Compact, affordable, new processor, sharp screen, works with the Pencil

Cons: Older design with bigger bezels, more expensive than larger 10.2-inch 2020 iPad

With a 7.9-inch display, the 2019 iPad Mini is Apple’s smallest tablet. It may not have the newer iPad-Pro style design, but it has all the latest specs we wanted in this update.

It’s powered by the same powerful A12 Bionic processor found inside  the 2020 iPad, and it supports the first-generation Apple Pencil. We’re thrilled Apple gave the Mini Pencil support, as it’s the best stylus we’ve ever used, and it makes the Mini a great tablet for note taking or drawing.

The Mini’s True Tone, 7.9-inch screen has a sharp 2,048 x 1,536 pixel resolution, too, so you can really enjoy watching videos, reading, and creating on the screen.

You can choose between 64GB or 256GB of storage and three color options: Silver, Space Gray, or Gold).

Overall, the iPad Mini is the best choice for those who prioritize portability above all else in a tablet. If you want a screen that’s slightly bigger than your phone for reading, watching movies, and checking email, the iPad Mini is worth considering. 

Check out our full review of the 2019 iPad Mini here.

The best iPad for pros

ipad pro

Apple’s 2020 iPad Pro comes in 11-inch and 12.9-inch sizes with hardware inside that is so high-end these tablets can surpass some laptops.

Pros: Gorgeous screens, excellent specs, high-end performance, Pencil is superb for drawing, two screen sizes, mouse support

Cons: Very expensive, not a laptop replacement, accessories are extra

The latest 2020 iPad Pro tablet has slim bezels, a stunning sharp screen in two sizes, a powerful processor, and tons of great accessories to go with it, including the Apple Pencil and the Magic Keyboard with a trackpad. Professionals intending to use this tablet for work should opt for the larger 12.9-inch size, which has a more spacious screen that’s about the same size as a laptop’s display. 

It’s also the only iPad to come with two cameras: a standard wide lens and an ultra-wide angle lens, making it a more attractive choice for photographers that want to shoot and edit directly on their device.  

You can get it in 11- and 12.9-inch screen sizes to suit your preferences.  The 11-inch model brings all the power, features, and functionality in a more compact form. But if you prefer this smaller size, we’d recommend considering the iPad Air instead. 

Regardless of which model you buy, the iPad Pro is a powerhouse thanks to its A12Z Bionic processor. It’s the same processor Apple included in its developer transition kit to help app makers optimize their programs for its new Apple silicon processors for the Mac.

That alone should tell you the iPad Pro has enough performance to go toe-to-toe with laptops. Apple’s entry-level model comes with 64GB of storage, but you can get up to 1TB if you don’t mind spending a whole lot of money. Both iPad Pros have really high screen resolutions: 2,388-by-1,668 pixels (11-inch model) and 2,732-by-2,048 pixels (12.9-inch model).

We recommend picking up the new Apple Pencil if you like to take notes or draw. It may cost $129.00, but it is worth it. The Apple Pencil is the best stylus we’ve ever used, and the new version even charges wirelessly and magnetically attaches to your iPad for easy storage.

Apple’s Keyboard will also cost you a pretty penny, so we recommend going for a third-party case and keyboard.

There are three downsides to the iPad Pro, as we see it: It’s expensive, it won’t fully replace your laptop, and you have to pay extra for the keyboard and the stylus. Otherwise, it’s a great tablet that’s well worth the cost — if you have the money.

The best stylus

ipad pro

The first-generation Apple Pencil is the best for the 2020 10.2-inch and 2019 iPad Mini, while the second-generation stylus is ideal for the 2020 iPad Air and 2020 iPad Pro models.

Pros: Works with even the cheapest 10.2-inch iPad, lack of latency, pressure sensitivity, made for the iPad’s screen, easy to charge, comfortable to hold

Cons: Expensive 

Over the years, we’ve tested a lot of styluses from companies like Adonit, 53, Wacom, and more. None of those styluses can hold a candle to the Apple Pencil. Whether you buy the first-generation Pencil or the second, you’re getting a stylus that was made by Apple in tandem with the iPad.

As such, the Pencil works with the iPads’ screens in special ways that no other stylus can. The result is improved pressure sensitivity and an impressively low level of latency. You won’t even notice a lag because it’s imperceptible. When you use an Apple Pencil, you actually feel like you’re using a normal graphite pencil.

There are a few differences between the first- and second-generation Pencils: the second-gen model has wireless charging and magnetically attaches to the side of the iPad. The first-gen Pencil charges with a lightning port on the end and doesn’t attach to your iPad. It’s also a bit cheaper.

As far as compatibility, the first-generation Apple Pencil is for the older iPad models, as well as the 2020 10.2-inch iPad and the 2019 iPad Mini. The second-generation Apple Pencil and supports newer and higher-end iPads, including most iPad Pros and the 2020 iPad Air.

Choose whichever makes the most sense to you, but the newer Pencil’s easier charging method and magnetic attraction to the iPad make it a winner in our book.

The best keyboard for your iPad

logitech k780 keyboard

The Logitech K780 works with any device, connects wirelessly, and offers a full-sized keyboard with satisfying keys for typing.

Pros: Nice design, comfortable, two-year battery life

Cons: Needs AAA batteries

The Logitech K780 is the best Bluetooth keyboard for just about any device, including the iPad. Sure, it’s not a keyboard case, so it won’t protect your iPad and provide a keyboard, but that means you get a full-sized keyboard with a number pad and satisfying keys that have good travel.

The K780 supports connections to multiple devices, so you can use it with your iPad, phone, and computer if you want. The circular keys are comfortable to type on because they are full size. Logitech also incorporated a tablet and phone stand into the keyboard’s design, so it’s easy to prop your iPad up without needing to buy a separate stand or case.

The only downsides here are that it needs AAA batteries to run and it’s not the most portable keyboard you can buy. If you want a more portable option, the foldable iClever Ultra Slim 3 Keyboard folds up to one-third of its size and can be used in both wireless and wired modes.

What to consider when buying an iPad

  • Price: The biggest factor you’ll want to consider when purchasing an iPad is how much you’re willing to spend. The 10.2-inch $329 iPad is the best choice for anyone on a tight budget, since it’s Apple’s most affordable iPad. But if you want more storage space than the 32GB that comes with the cheapest standard iPad by default and are looking for something more compact, the $400 iPad Mini is your best bet. If you’re willing to invest in a tablet that you’re also planning to use for work purposes, particularly for photography, the top-of-the-line $800-$1,000 iPad Pro may be right for you. And then there’s the $600 iPad Air, which falls right in the middle and is best if you want a tablet for casual productivity and entertainment.
  • Size: Aside from price, size is one of the most important aspects to consider when buying an iPad. The 7.9-inch iPad Mini is Apple’s smallest tablet, and it’s the right choice if you mostly think you’ll be using your iPad during your commute or while traveling. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is best for those who want a laptop-sized tablet for getting work done or watching movies. And for those looking for something in between, there’s the 10.2-inch iPad, 10.9-inch iPad Air, and 11-inch iPad Pro.
  • Performance: When picking out an iPad, you’ll also want to consider what kinds of tasks you think you’ll be using it for. If you just want an iPad that can serve as a larger and more suitable screen for doing many of the things you’d normally do on your smartphone, like browsing the internet, watching Netflix, playing casual games, light productivity such as note-taking, and checking email, then the iPad or iPad Mini will do just fine. But if you need something more powerful that packs more graphics performance, which could be important for video and photo editors, you’ll want to check out the iPad Pro. And then, of course, the iPad Air falls right in the middle, offering performance that’s just as fast and snappy as the iPhone 12 for a lower price than the iPad Pro.
  • Features: All of Apple’s iPads run on the same software and can download the same apps from the App Store. But they do differ in several important ways when it comes to hardware-based features. Compared to Apple’s cheaper tablets, the iPad Air and iPad Pro offer sleeker designs, nearly borderless screens, USB-C input, compatibility with newer Apple accessories, and sharper cameras. The iPad Pro is also the only iPad to come with two rear camera lenses, Face ID, and a LiDAR sensor for augmented reality apps. Consider which features matter to you most when deciding which iPad is right for you. 
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