So, you’re in the market for a new iPad. Maybe you already have an iPhone or a MacBook and want to keep adding Apple products to your device arsenal. Or maybe you’re thinking of moving away from your Android tablet in favor of something that gives you access to the iPad app ecosystem. Regardless of your reasons, if you’re thinking of buying an Apple tablet, there’s a good selection to choose from.
Apple recently launched two new models, replacements for theand the entry-level , which means you’ll probably need to reevaluate if you’d already set your mind on one particular iPad model. The reviews are now in on the and the and overall they hold their positions in the which-is-best hierarchy.
The currentmodels are powered by the company’s , the chip found in its latest MacBooks as well as . Along with the new processors, the iPad Pros have a , at least on the 12.9-inch size, high-speed Thunderbolt USB-C port and optional 5G mobile wireless. The while the .
However, the Pro model sits at the top of Apple’s iPad lineup, which now includes the 2021 ninth-gen 10.2-inch iPad, fourth-gen 10.5-inchand sixth-gen 2021 8.3-inch iPad Mini. You’re also able to get older models like the eighth-gen 10.2-inch iPad at reduced prices from third-party retailers.
Regardless of which iPad or screen size you go with, though, all the current iPad models support the latest version of iPadOS (a special version of iOS specifically for iPads) and either the first- or second-gen Apple Pencil. All but the Mini work with Apple’s Smart Keyboard, though you can use any Bluetooth keyboard instead. That’s good news for anyone who’s looking to do more than stream videos and music, look at websites and play. Plus, all of the current iPad models support mouse and . The Apple Magic Keyboard is compatible with the iPad Pro and iPad Air.
iPad 2021 vs. iPad Air 2020 vs. iPad Pro 2021 specs
|iPad 2021 (10.2)||iPad Air 2020 (10.9)||iPad Pro 2021 (11)||iPad Pro 2021 (12.9)|
|Display resolution||2,160×1,620-pixel resolution||2,360×1,640-pixel resolution||2,388×1,668-pixel resolution||2,732×2,048-pixel resolution|
|Pixel density (ppi)||264 ppi (Retina)||264 ppi (Liquid Retina True Tone)||264 ppi (Liquid Retina True Tone with ProMotion)||264 ppi (Liquid Retina XDR True Tone with ProMotion)|
|Rear camera||8-megapixel f2.4||12-megapixel f1.8||12-megapixel f1.8 wide, 10-megapixel f2.4 ultrawide||12-megapixel f1.8 wide, 10-megapixel f2.4 ultrawide|
|Video recording||1080p at 30fps||4K at 24, 30 or 60fps; 1080p slo-mo at 120 or 240fps||4K at 24, 30 or 60fps (wide); 60fps (ultrawide)||4K at 24, 30 or 60fps (wide); 60fps (ultrawide)|
|FaceTime front-facing camera||12-megapixel photos; 1080p video||7-megapixel photos; 1080p video||12-megapixel TrueDepth; 1080p video||12-megapixel TrueDepth; 1080p video|
|Dimensions||9.8×6.8×0.29 inches||9.7x7x0.24 inches||9.7x7x0.23 inches||11×8.5×0.25 inches|
|Weight||1.07 lbs. (Wi-Fi); 1.09 lbs. (LTE)||1 lbs. (Wi-Fi); 1.01 lbs. (LTE)||1.03 lbs. (Wi-Fi); 1.04 lbs. (LTE)||1.5 lbs. (Wi-Fi); 1.51 lbs.(LTE)|
|Battery||Up to 10 hours use over Wi-Fi; up to 9 hours over cellular||Up to 10 hours use over Wi-Fi; up to 9 hours over cellular||Up to 10 hours use over Wi-Fi; up to 9 hours over cellular||Up to 10 hours use over Wi-Fi; up to 9 hours over cellular|
|Connector port||Lightning; Apple Smart Connector||USB-C; Apple Smart Connector||USB-C with Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 support||USB-C with Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 support|
|Apple Pencil-compatibility||Yes; first generation||Yes; second generation||Yes; second generation||Yes; second generation|
|Unlock with||Touch ID||Touch ID||Face ID||Face ID|
|Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2||802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.0||802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.0||802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.0|
|SIM card support for cellular model||Nano-SIM; eSIM||Nano-SIM; eSIM||Nano-SIM; eSIM; 5G support (sub-6 GHz and mmWave)||Nano-SIM; eSIM; 5G support (sub-6 GHz and mmWave)|
|iPad Keyboard compatibility||Smart Keyboard||Magic Keyboard, Smart Keyboard Folio||Magic Keyboard, Smart Keyboard Folio||Magic Keyboard, Smart Keyboard Folio|
|Capacity and price: Wi-Fi models||$329 (32GB) / $479 (256GB)||$599 (64GB) / $749 (256GB)||$799 (128GB) / $899 (256GB) / $1,099 (512GB) / $1,499 (1TB) / $1,899 (2TB)||$1,099 (128GB) / $1,199 (256GB) / $1,399 (512GB) / $1,799 (1TB) / $2,199 (2TB)|
|Capacity and price: LTE models||$459 (32GB) / $609(128GB)||$729 (64GB) / $879 (256GB)||$999 (128GB) / $1,099 (256GB) / $1,299 (512GB) / $1,699 (1TB) / $2,099 (2TB)||$1,299 (128GB) / $1,399 (256GB) / $1,599 (512GB) / $1,999 (1TB) / $2,399 (2TB)|
The new iPad’s price starts at $100 more than the older iPad model it replaces at $499; that’s certainly not cheap, but you also get a lot more with it than you do with the now dated iPad Air. It’s just a little smaller than that, but it offers optional 5G, USB-C for faster charging and broader connectivity, new digital-zoom Center Stage camera and works with second-gen Pencils, so you can magnetically snap a Pencil right onto the side, which is nice. Plus it incorporates the new A15 Bionic chip for better performance. You might feel a bit cramped for using it for work or professional graphics, but 8.3 inches doesn’t feel quite so tiny anymore. This smallest iPad has a Liquid Retina display with True Tone and wide color, and promises up to 10 hours of battery life. Given that the 2021 model remains the smallest in the line, we continue to recommend it as the best option for commuters.
Read our Apple iPad Mini 2021 review.
The new ninth-gen entry level iPad gains a couple of useful extras over last year’s solid but unexciting model: more storage for $329 (64GB, rather than the ridiculously low 32GB of the last model), a faster A13 chip and better cameras (most importantly, a wider-angle higher-res front-facing Center Stage camera that tracks your face via digital pan and zoom). It still uses the first-gen Apple Pencil, which is fine for the money, and it’s still compatible with a range of keyboard cases. Its predecessors were often on sale for $299 or less and that should be true this holiday season as well.
If you’re planning to do any sort of art on it or download a lot of videos to go, it’s definitely worth opting for the 256GB model. It really needs a 128GB option — its annoying that you’re forced to buy more than you need, since 128GB would probably be the sweet spot for price and storage.
The 2020 model has the slower A12 Bionic chip, but it’s also the last remaining full-size iPad with a headphone jack. Going back yet another generation to its seventh incarnation, it’s still a decent pick if you can find the 128GB model for a pittance; you’re best off avoiding the insufficient 32GB model. It can handle the latest iPadOS just fine and should perform all the standard iPad tasks for some years to come.
Read our iPad 2021 review.
Whether you’re a digital artist or have waited years for a new iPad Pro that blurs the line between tablet and MacBook, the latest iPad Pro is what you want. The 11- and 12.9-inch Pros are nearly the same, save for their screen sizes and higher resolution and XDR technology in the 12.9-inch version based on Mini LED display backlighting technology. If you’re an intensive user of graphics apps like those in Adobe Creative Cloud, you’ll definitely appreciate the higher performance of the M1-driven Pro.
If you’re considering the iPad Pro as a laptop replacement, you’ll likely want to spring for the 12.9-inch version for the significant increase in workspace; if you’re a screen buff, you may also want it for the Liquid Retina XDR display. Also note that there’s a price jump when you get a 1TB or 2TB model because the RAM doubles from 8GB to 16GB for those who really need as much power as possible.
Along with the increased performance, these were the first iPads to offer support for wireless 5G connectivity, though now Apple has expanded the 5G option to other models in the line. They’re still not quite the MacBook replacement some crave, but they’re getting closer every year.
Read our iPad Pro 2021 review.
With the release of the 2021 iPad, the Air doesn’t look so shiny anymore, especially for the money. Yes, its 10.9-inch display is marginally larger, but it’s no longer much fancier than the entry-level iPad model, which is more powerful as well. It does have one advantage over the rest of the line, though: It comes in colors other than space gray and silver.
Read our Apple iPad Air 2020 review.