Apple’s new iPad Pro improves upon last year’s with a faster processor and 5G support – but the upgrade is really for power users

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Apple Event April 2021
iPad Pro

  • The 2021 Apple iPad Pro features improved specs while keeping the 2020 model‘s $799 starting price.
  • You can preorder the new tablet starting April 30, and units are expected to ship in mid-May.
  • The M1 processor and 5G option are nice features, but 2020 iPad owners should wait for a bigger upgrade.

On April 20, Apple announced the fifth-generation of its iPad Pro line. The new tablet has a lot of the same features as the 2020 edition, but adds an upgraded display, 5G connectivity support, Apple’s M1 processor (CPU), and bigger storage capacity.

You can order the 2021 Apple iPad Pro from Apple and other retailers starting April 30, and tablets will be available in mid-May, according to Apple.

Prices for the 11-inch tablet start at $799, and the new 12.9-inch version starts at $1,099. Here’s how the new iPad Pro models stacks up to their predecessors.

The 2021 iPad Pro has the same resolution as the 2020 iPad Pro, but the new 12.9-inch edition uses a mini-LED design versus the standard LED backlight found on the 2020 model. Mini-LED can provide better contrast and higher peak brightness to create a more realistic image with better high dynamic range (HDR) performance.

2021 iPad Pro models also incorporate a faster CPU and better graphics performance thank to the addition of Apple’s M1 chip. We’ve been impressed with the performance improvements this chip makes in other recent Apple products, like the MacBook Air.

Other upgrades include new support for 5G on cellular models, as well as a new option for up to 2TB of storage versus last year’s max of 1TB. The front camera has been upgraded as well, making the jump from 7MP to 12MP.

These improvements make the new iPad Pro a better buy for power users over the previous version, especially the 12.9-inch model thanks to its advanced display. That said, we view this as more of a mid-cycle upgrade rather than a full overhaul.

Apple iPad Pro (2021) versus Apple iPad Pro (2020)

Specifications 2021 iPad Pro 2020 iPad Pro
Starting price $799 for 11-inch, $1,099 for $12.9-inch $799 for 11-inch, $999 for $12.9-inch
Display Up to 12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR mini-LED display Up to 12.9-inch Liquid Retina display
Processor Apple M1 Apple 12Z Bionic
Rear Camera 12-megapixel wide-angle, 10-megapixel ultra-wide-angle 12-megapixel wide-angle, 10-megapixel ultra-wide-angle
Front Camera 12 megapixels 7 megapixels
Ports USB-C, Thunderbolt/USB 4 support USB-C
Battery Life Up to 10 hours Up to 10 hours
Biometrics Face ID Face ID
Storage Options Up to 2TB Up to 1TB
Cellular connectivity 5G, 4G LTE 4G LTE

2021 iPad Pro (small)

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I’ve been using Apple’s iPad Pro and iPad Air to see which is right for most people, and the more affordable Air is the obvious choice

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ipad pro (2020) vs ipad air (2020) 4x3

  • The iPad Air is best for most people since it offers some of the Pro’s best features for less.
  • The iPad Pro is only worth it if you need a larger screen and a better camera.
  • Check out our guide to the best iPad cases.

Table of Contents: Masthead StickyProduct Card (small)Product Card (small)

With iPads available at different sizes and prices, it can be difficult to know which model is right for you. Is it worth splurging on the $800 iPad Pro, or should you go for Apple’s less expensive, but still fairly pricey $600 iPad Air? Both tablets share many similarities, particularly when it comes to their size, design, and compatibility with accessories.

Just like any other shopping decision, figuring out which iPad is right for you comes down to one important question: What do you intend to use it for? The iPad Air and iPad Pro may look alike, especially if you’re eyeballing the 11-inch iPad Pro, but they come with some nuanced differences that are worth considering.

Those differences could become more pronounced in the next week, as Apple is holding an event on April 20th where it is expected to release new iPad Pros. We’ll be sure to update our recommendations as soon as we get our hands on the new product.

Overall, the iPad Air is the better choice for most people. Its new design gives it a more modern look that feels similar to the iPad Pro and Apple’s latest iPhones, it’s powerful enough for gaming, productivity, and basic tasks, and it’s incredibly lightweight. The Pro, on the other hand, comes with a few extra features that could be useful for specific circumstances and workflows, but aren’t necessary for most people.

Here’s a closer look at how the two compare.

Apple iPad Air vs. iPad Pro: Which is best?

iPad Air Apple Pencil
The 2020 iPad Air and Apple Pencil

The iPad Air’s more affordable price and powerful chip that matches the one in Apple’s iPhone 12 lineup make it a great choice for anyone looking for a tablet that serves well for both work and play.

You’re not missing out on much by opting for the Air instead of the Pro. The most important factor in deciding between the two – other than the option for a larger 12.9-inch screen – comes down to the processor and camera. The A12Z Bionic chip in the iPad Pro should be better-suited for graphics performance compared to the Air, which could make it a superior choice for video and photo editors.

The iPad Pro also has a dual-lens camera with an ultra-wide-angle camera unlike the iPad Air, and since it has Face ID it can also capture Portrait Mode selfies unlike the Air. Other iPad Pro features that are missing from the iPad Air include a display that can increase its refresh rate for smoother scrolling, more storage space, and a LiDAR sensor for measuring depth.

But, the iPad Air has a lot of the other benefits that were previously only available on the Pro, such as a nearly borderless screen, USB-C charging, and compatibility with Apple accessories like the Magic Keyboard, Smart Folio Keyboard Case, and second-generation Apple Pencil.

Apple iPad Air vs. iPad Pro Specifications

iPad Air (2020)

iPad Pro (2020)
Starting price $599 $799
Display size 10.9 inches 11 inches or 12.9 inches
Display resolution 2360 x 1640, 264 pixels per inch 2388 x 1668 , 264 pixels per inch (11-inch) or 2732 x 2048, 264 pixels per inch (12.9-inch)
Processor A14 Bionic A12Z Bionic
Camera (rear) 12-MP wide lens 12-MP wide lens, 10-MP ultra-wide lens
Camera (front) 7-MP 7-MP
Storage 64GB, 256GB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB,1TB
Sensors and biometrics Touch ID Face ID, LiDAR
Audio Two speakers Four speakers
Battery Life 10 hours on Wi-Fi 10 hours on Wi-Fi
Ports USB-C USB-C
Colors Silver, space gray, rose gold, green, sky blue Silver or space gray

Design and display

Apple iPad Pro 12.9 inch 128 GB
Apple iPad Pro 12.9 inch 128 GB.

If it’s been a while since you’ve upgraded your iPad, the look and feel of both the iPad Air and iPad Pro will feel new and fresh.

Both tablets have Apple’s more modern design that features a display that nearly covers the entire front of the tablet and flat aluminum edges, distinguishing them from the standard iPad and iPad Mini. Those tablets, comparatively, have the familiar Touch ID home button, curved edges, and thicker borders located above and below the display.

Both the Air and Pro have a sleek and sharp look that’s not only more aesthetically pleasing, but is also more comfortable to hold. The iPad Air and Pro each have their advantages when it comes to choice. The iPad Pro, for example, is available in two different sizes – 11 inches and 12.9-inches – while the Air only comes in one 10.9-inch option. That bigger 12.9-inch model starts at $1,000.

But, the Air comes in more color options, with choices including silver, space gray, rose gold, green, and blue, while the Pro is only available in silver and space gray. The iPad Air also has Touch ID integrated into the top button, unlike the iPad Pro which instead has Face ID. That could factor into your decision depending on your preference.

iPad Air Landscape
The 2020 iPad Air

When it comes to their displays, both tablets have screens that pack 264 pixels per inch and are capable of offering a crisp and colorful viewing experience. When viewing them side-by-side, both screens look almost identical, displaying bold color and sharp detail. The only somewhat noticeable difference is that the iPad Pro’s screen is slightly brighter at 600 nits compared to the iPad Air’s 500-nit display.

They also both have Apple’s TrueTone feature, which adjusts the display’s color to match surrounding lighting conditions, and support for P3 Wide Color. But, the iPad Pro has ProMotion technology, which can boost the screen’s refresh rate up to 120Hz depending on the content being displayed. This could be useful for artists who plan to do a lot of sketching with the Apple Pencil on their iPad, but I didn’t experience much of a difference when drawing and coloring on both the iPad Air and iPad Pro.

All told, both tablets have slim, lightweight designs and screens that are plenty sharp enough for watching movies, viewing photos, reading, and working. But, the Pro’s screen is more fluid and comes in two different size options, while the Air offers more selection when it comes to color choices.

Performance

iPad Air Game
The 2020 iPad AIr

Apple’s iPad Pro and iPad Air both run on some of the company’s most powerful mobile chips. Driving the iPad Air is Apple’s A14 Bionic, the same processor found inside the iPhone 12 and the first one to be built on Apple’s 5-nanometer (nm) manufacturing process. That means the company was able to cram even more transistors into this chip for improved performance and battery life.

But, the iPad Pro’s A12Z chip has more cores when it comes to its central processing unit (CPU) and graphics processing unit (GPU), which should make it better at multitasking and graphically-intensive tasks like photo and video editing. The A12Z’s has an eight-core CPU and an eight-core GPU, while the iPad Air’s A14 Bionic has a six-core CPU and a four-core GPU.

Still, in most real-world scenarios, the differences in performance aren’t very noticeable. From sketching with the Apple Pencil to launching apps and playing games, the iPad Pro and iPad Air perform pretty much the same.

The Apple Pencil feels buttery smooth when drawing in Adobe Illustrator, and the first-person shooter “Shadowgun: Legends” runs seamlessly when set to the ultra-high graphics setting on either tablet. Editing photos and processing changes made to images in apps like FaceTune 2 and Adobe Lightroom is also a breeze on both the iPad Pro and iPad Air.

However, there are some differences in performance when exporting video clips, although it varies depending on the app being used. When exporting a 4K 25-second video clip to 1080p in Adobe Rush, the iPad Air is surprisingly, noticeably faster than the iPad Pro in every instance during my testing.

The iPad Air exported the clip in between 10 and 11 seconds, while the iPad Pro took between one and two minutes. But, when exporting a 25-second 4K video from iMovie, the iPad Pro beat the iPad Air by about 10 seconds every time.

When it comes to benchmark tests designed to simulate real-world app usage and graphics performance, the iPad Air and iPad Pro each excel in different areas. During Geekbench 5’s test that’s meant to assess the single-core performance of a device’s processor, the iPad Air’s A14 Bionic chip scored higher than the iPad Pro’s A12Z processor.

The iPad Air scored an average of 1,583 on this test while the iPad Pro scored 1,116. Yet the iPad Pro outscored the iPad Air during Geekbench’s test for measuring multi-core performance, which isn’t entirely surprising since the A12Z Bionic processor has more cores than the A14 Bionic. The iPad Pro had an average score of 4,676 during this test, while the iPad Air scored 4,257 on average.

The iPad Pro also scored higher than the Air on 3DMark Wild Life, a benchmark that measures graphics performance by rendering a demanding scene that simulates a video game in real time. Apple’s high-end tablet scored an average of 13,483 and reached 80 frames per second (fps), while the iPad Air scored an average of 8,895 and with a frame rate of 53 fps.

All told, the iPad Air’s performance is more than enough power for gaming, productivity, web browsing, and photo editing. But, the Pro should have a little bit of an edge when it comes to graphically demanding tasks, although it’s unclear why it performs more slowly than the Air in Adobe Rush.

Accessories

iPad Pro Keyboard 3
The iPad Pro being used with Apple’s Magic Keyboard

Another characteristic that the iPad Pro and latest iPad Air share: they each work with Apple’s latest accessories. Both tablets are compatible with the second-generation Apple Pencil, which launched in 2018 and charges and pairs by magnetically attaching to the iPad.

The previous version required that you plug the stylus into the iPad’s Lightning connector. Not only was that a less convenient design, but it also became obsolete for the iPad Pro and newest Air now that they use USB-C instead.

Apple’s newest iPad Air and iPad Pro tablets also both work with the company’s Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio cases. The Magic Keyboard is Apple’s top-of-the-line keyboard that most closely resembles that of a laptop keyboard. It comes with tactile, comfortable keys and a trackpad, while the $179 Smart Folio Keyboard case is smaller with softer, shallower fabric-laden keys. Both keyboards are expensive, but the Magic Keyboard is especially pricey starting at $300.

Cameras and battery life

iPad Pro Camera
The iPad Pro’s double camera and LiDAR sensor

There are many similarities between the new iPad Air and iPad Pro, but one of the biggest ways in which they differ is in their cameras. The iPad Pro is the only Apple tablet to come with two cameras: a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens and a 10-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens. That means you can take images with a broader field of view on the iPad Pro in addition to standard photos just like you can with the iPhone 12.

The iPad Pro also has a brighter flash than the iPad Air, which only has a single 12-megapixel wide angle camera. And since the iPad Pro supports Face ID, you can take selfies in Portrait Mode using the front-facing camera, another feature that’s missing from the iPad Air.

The iPad Pro was also the first Apple device to come with a LiDAR sensor, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging. This sensor enables the iPad to measure the distance between objects by detecting how long it takes for light to reach an object and reflect back. The iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max also have this LiDAR sensor, but on the iPad Pro Apple is pushing this sensor as being ideal for augmented reality applications.

These types of apps also run just fine on the iPad Air, but the iPad Pro is noticeably faster in certain scenarios. For example, when using Apple’s digital tape measure app to determine the length and width of furniture in my living room, the iPad Pro can automatically detect and focus on surfaces much more quickly than the iPad Air.

The LiDAR sensor is a nice perk that will probably make the iPad Pro more useful for those with occupations that call for taking a lot of real-world measurements – perhaps architects, interior designers, and artists – but it shouldn’t be the only reason you’re considering buying the iPad Pro.

Both tablets are also estimated to last for 10 hours when browsing the web and watching video on Wi-Fi, which I found to be generally accurate during my anecdotal testing.

The bottom line

iPad Air Screen
The iPad Air

Overall, the iPad Air is a better choice for those interested in a tablet for entertainment, general usage like browsing the web and checking email, and some light productivity. It has the same thin and sleek design as the iPad Pro, a sharp screen, powerful performance, and is compatible with the same accessories as the Pro. Not to mention, it also charges via USB-C instead of Lightning like the iPad Pro, so you can use your non-iPhone chargers with it.

The iPad Pro is only worth it if you intend to use it in a specific way that calls for a larger screen, a dual camera, and a LiDAR sensor, perhaps making it better-suited for artists, graphic designers, and others working in creative fields.

If you do feel like the iPad Pro is a better fit, don’t buy one just yet. Apple is expected to announce two new iPad Pros at an event on April 20 with improved processors similar to the M1 chip in the latest MacBook laptops, according to Bloomberg. That processor brought big gains in performance and battery life to Apple’s laptops, and the 12.9-inch model is also said to come with a better micro-LED screen for enhanced contrast. Even if you don’t need the newest model, you might be able to find the current iPad Pro at a discount once the updated versions debut.

iPad Air

Product Card (button)

iPad Pro

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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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