Our best iPad guide is sure to get a new entry very soon, as Apple recently launched the iPad Pro 2020 and we’re in the process of putting it through a full review. So if you’re curious about how that will rank, make sure to check back soon.
And yet more iPads are on the horizon, as we’re expecting to see the iPad Air 4 this year, likely followed by a new iPad Mini in 2021. So there will be new options before too long, and we’ll be sure to update this list with Apple’s latest slates as and when they arrive.
There’s no need to wait though as there are already loads of excellent iPads, as you can see below, coming in at a range of sizes and prices.
In fact, our best iPad list has something suited to almost everyone, from the high-end iPad Pro 11 to the comparatively budget iPad 10.2, and from the massive iPad Pro 12.9 (2018) to the compact iPad mini (2019).
Those are just some of the tablets we’ve included, so really, as long as you’re happy with iPadOS there should be an ideal slate for you here. And with iPadOS 14 landing before long there will also soon be new software to enjoy on whatever iPad you opt for.
But to help you decide on the ideal Apple hardware this guide is more than just a ranked list – it includes full details of each included iPad, such as the specs, the main good and bad points, an overview, and a link to our full review, for an even closer look.
And if you decide an iPad isn’t for you, make sure to check out our best tablet, best Android tablet, and best cheap tablet guides for other options.
Best iPads 2020: which is the best iPad you can get right now?
1. iPad Pro 11
The best iPad you can buy right now
Weight: 468g | Dimensions: 247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9 mm | OS: iPadOS 13 | Screen size: 11-inch | Resolution: 2388 x 1668 pixels | CPU: A12X Bionic | Storage: 64GB/256GB/512GB/1TB | microSD slot: No | Battery: 7,812mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 7MP
Pencil clips on, finally
Insane amount of power for a tablet
Software limits laptop experience
Pencil and keyboard expensive extras
The iPad Pro 11 is the best iPad you can buy right now. It may be expensive, but it’s Apple’s most powerful tablet and furthers the 2-in-1 design ethos if you spring for the pricey new keyboard cover folio.
It has a laptop-like experience in design and performance, and the new Apple Pencil magnetically clips onto the frame of the new iPad Pro. With superb speakers and a great new screen-to-body ratio, it’s hard not to fall in love with the finely crafted hardware design.
And with the arrival of iPadOS its software has been transformed, making it even better than it was at launch.
However, it doesn’t have a headphone jack. If you want the standard 3.5mm jack in a computer-like device, you’ll spring for an actual computer.
Everything about the iPad Pro 11 makes it the best experience if you’re looking for the best Apple tablet – you’ll just need to swallow the high price – but it’s no MacBook replacement.
Read the full review: iPad Pro 11
Today’s best Apple iPad Pro 11″ (2018) deals
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2. iPad Pro 12.9
Weight: 632g | Dimensions: 280.6 x 214.9 x 5.9 mm | OS: iPadOS 13 | Screen size: 12.9-inch | Resolution: 2048 x 2732 pixels | CPU: A12X Bionic | Storage: 64GB/256GB/512GB/1TB | microSD slot: No | Battery: 9,720mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 7MP
Unrivalled music quality
Low battery life
Short range for Face ID
The iPad Pro 12.9 (2018) is a big monster – monster in the good kind of way, as it effortlessly crushes half the things you need in your life – goodbye mobile phone, laptop, coloring pad, music mixing table, games console. It’s the ultimate creativity and workflow tool, with its huge screen, useful peripherals and snappy iOS.
It has the fastest processing power we’ve ever seen in a mobile device, four powerful speakers and a vibrant screen and, depending on which model you get, more storage power than you’d ever need.
It doesn’t have the best battery life though, so it’s not going to last you too long. You might not be able to use it for long periods of time watching films on a journey or mixing your music, and it charges rather slowly too.
All in all, the iPad Pro 12.9 (2018) is one of the best iPads you can buy right now, but if you don’t need its huge display, the slighter cheaper iPad Pro 11 will save you a few bucks and be more portable.
Read the full review: iPad Pro 12.9
3. iPad 10.2
Apple’s basic iPad gets a slightly bigger screen
Weight: 483g | Dimensions: 250.6 x 174.1 x 7.5mm | OS: iPadOS 13 | Screen size: 10.2-inch | Resolution: 1620 x 2160 pixels | CPU: A10 Fusion | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32/128GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: 8,827mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP
Slightly bigger screen
Works with the Smart Keyboard
Marginally better than iPad 9.7
iPad Air is superior for sketching
The iPad 10.2 brings Apple’s basic tablet range a step closer to the iPad Pro line – or at least the latest iPad Air – with the addition of Smart Keyboard support and a slightly larger screen, growing from 9.7 inches to 10.2 inches.
The iPad 10.2 also got a power boost, with an extra gigabyte of RAM compared to the iPad 9.7 (2018), though it’s stuck with the same A10 chipset.
It also has broadly the same design, meaning big bezels and a home button. So if you want one of Apple’s sleekest slates, this isn’t it.
But with strong battery life, decent performance, and a fairly low price – at least by Apple standards – there’s a lot to like here, especially if you want some of Apple’s best iPad features on a more limited budget.
Read the full review: iPad 10.2
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4. iPad Air 10.5
The best compromise for students
Weight: 456g | Dimensions: 250.6 x 174.1 x 6.1 mm | OS: iPadOS 13 | Screen size: 10.5-inch | Resolution: 1668 x 2224 pixels | CPU: A12 Bionic | Storage: 64GB/256GB | microSD slot: No | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 7MP
Brilliant-looking laminated screen
Cheapest Smart Keyboard iPad
Uses the 1st Gen Apple Pencil
Traditional design doesn’t wow
The iPad Air, with a 10.5-inch screen, is the ultimate compromise between the entry-level iPads and the more powerful, but more expensive iPad Pro 11. It sits at the original iPad price in most countries, so it’s cheaper than the iPad Pro 10.5 (2017) that it replaces, and although it isn’t a ‘Pro’ tablet in name, it has several high-end features that make it a convincing laptop supplement.
It’s one of the cheaper iPad models that’s compatible with Apple’s Smart Keyboard Cover, meaning you don’t need to deal with tricky Bluetooth keyboard connections to get real work done on this thing.
It also has Apple’s A12 chipset, borrowed from the iPhone XS. It’s incredibly fast. Students will be able to take notes and respond to email on this tablet, but artists will hate the first-generation Apple Pencil.
Read the full review: iPad Air
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5. iPad Mini (2019)
The only small tablet you should consider
Weight: 304g | Dimensions: 203.2 x 134.8 x 6.1 mm | OS: iPadOS 13 | Screen size: 7.9-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 pixels | CPU: A12 Bionic | Storage: 64GB/256GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: 5,124mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 7MP
Perfect portable size
Surprisingly powerful specs
Uses the older Apple Pencil
Sometimes with a tablet you just want a slightly plus-sized phone, and the iPad Mini (2019) fits that bill. It’s a dinky device with some impressive specs, boasting Apple’s most recent processor and a decent battery life.
What makes the iPad Mini (2019) great is the fact you can use the Apple Pencil alongside it, turning the iPad Mini into a tiny notebook in your pocket.
The iPad Mini is one of the best small tablets you can get at its price point, so if you’re looking for an easily totable pocket powerhouse, you can’t get much better than this little monster.
Read the full review: iPad Mini (2019)
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6. iPad Pro 10.5
An iPad Pro experience at a now-lower price
Weight: 469g | Dimensions: 250.6 x 174.1 x 6.1 mm | OS: iPadOS 13 | Screen size: 10.5-inch | Resolution: 1668 x 2224 pixels | CPU: A10X Fusion | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB/256GB/512GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: 8,134mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 7MP
Screen adds a lot of expense
Still not quite a laptop replacement
The iPad Pro 10.5-inch version is an all-star tablet which has since been superseded by the iPad Pro 11. There’s good news for the Pro 10.5 though, as this means it’s now cheaper – though it’s also no longer sold direct from Apple.
Its bright ProMotion Retina HD screen is its best selling point. It adds an impressive layer of fluidity to daily use – if not strictly necessary – and the smaller bezels means you’re getting far more display in a footprint not much bigger than 2016’s 9.7.
It’s an iPad for the professionals – but also one that media munchers will adore using.
It takes advantage of the Apple Pencil and several tablet-focused features like the dock, Control Center and Instant Markup with the stylus. If you invest in the recommended Smart Keyboard, you can attach it to a Pro-level iPad without jumping through all of the hoops of Bluetooth.
Read the full review: iPad Pro 10.5
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7. iPad 9.7
A great Apple iPad for the typical consumer
Weight: 469g | Dimensions: 240 x 169.5 x 7.5mm | OS: iPadOS 13 | Screen size: 9.7-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 pixels | CPU: A10 Fusion | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 32/128GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: Up to 10 hours | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP
Works with Apple Pencil
Its education ambitions are overhyped
Smart Keyboard Cover incompatible
This is a good Apple iPad for the average consumer and for education, even if it isn’t the most powerful one available. It’s still great value. That said, the newer iPad 10.2 has it beat for most users, and has the advantage of still being sold direct from Apple, which this model isn’t.
The iPad (2018) replaces the very similar 2017 model, slotting in below the Pro and Air ranges with a dependable tablet that hasn’t changed much in years – but Apple clearly feels it doesn’t need to mess with success.
The basic iPad works with the Apple Pencil, offering you the cheapest way to doodle on the 9.7-inch glass – though you can’t get the Smart Keyboard with this non-Pro model, for that you’ll need the newer 10.2-inch one.
It also has the same luxurious metal unibody as the rest of Apple’s iPad range, though notably it’s ever-so-slightly thicker than the iPad Air 2 or iPad Pro at 7.5mm.
With the Touch ID fingerprint sensor included, iPadOS 13 under the hood and up to 10 hours of battery life when web browsing or watching videos, it’s a great media player and a strong tablet choice if you’re not planning to use it heavily for productivity.
Read the full review: iPad 9.7 (2018)
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8. iPad 9.7 (2017)
A premium, affordable iPad that still performs
Weight: 469g | Dimensions: 240 x 169.5 x 7.5mm | OS: iPadOS 13 | Screen size: 9.7-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 pixels | CPU: A9 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 32GB/128GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: 8,827mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP
Good screen quality
Powerful for the price
Apple Pencil costs extra
The iPad (2017) marked a name shift for Apple’s tablets, as the Cupertino, California firm dropped ‘Air’ in favor for the cleaner moniker.
The iPad from 2017 has since been replaced by the iPad (2018) and iPad 10.2, but it’s still a solid buy if you’re looking for a more affordable Apple slate.
The only real problem is the newer iPads aren’t that much more, so unless you’re on a really tight budget, the newer versions are a better buy, especially as this model isn’t still sold by Apple.
Read the full review: iPad (2017)
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9. iPad Pro 12.9 (2017)
An older, really big iPad
Weight: 677g | Dimensions: 305.7 x 220.6 x 6.9 mm | OS: iPadOS 13 | Screen size: 12.9-inch | Resolution: 2048 x 2732 pixels | CPU: A10X Fusion | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB/256GB/512GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: 10,875mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 7MP
Great, large tablet screen
Too expensive as a laptop replacement for some
We really like the iPad Pro 12.9 (2017) for its large size and – other than the newer iPad Pro 12.9 model – it’s the closest thing we have to a 2-in-1 touchscreen MacBook. It just happens to run iPadOS 13 instead of macOS.
It’s one of the best productivity and entertainment tablets around thanks to its 12.9-inch screen, four speakers and the dock and multitasking interface. Apple has redesigned its Control Center interface to make app switching even easier, and this tablet is compatible with the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard.
It’s biggest weakness? The iPad Pro 12.9-inch price, and the size isn’t a good fit for everyone. But If you can afford it and want the largest-sized iPad available, you’re going to love this – it’s a laptop-replacement for a lot of people out there.
Read the full review: iPad Pro 12.9 (2017)
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10. iPad Mini 4
Weight: 299g | Dimensions: 203.2 x 134.8 x 6.1mm | OS: iPadOS 13 | Screen size: 7.9-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 pixels | CPU: A8 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16/32/64/128GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: 5124mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP
No 3D Touch
Big screens aren’t for everyone, and that’s where the 7.9-inch iPad Mini 4 comes in. The screen size means it’s far more portable than Apple’s larger tablets, especially as it’s light at 299g. It’s not quite small enough that you can use it one handed, but you can comfortably hold it for a lot longer than most of Apple’s slates, or throw it in a bag and forget about it.
It’s also big enough to enjoyably browse the net or watch videos on when you’re away from home and bigger screens, but it’s obviously not quite as strong an experience for most visual media as Apple’s larger 9.7, 10.2, 10.5, 11 and 12.9-inch slates.
The small size and lack of Smart Connector also makes it worse for productivity than the iPad Pro range, but this isn’t designed as a laptop replacement.
It’s still fairly powerful thanks to 2GB of RAM and the aging but still impressive Apple A8 chip, while the screen is sharp, rich and easy to see even in bright sunlight.
The iPad Mini 4 is also a fraction of the price of Apple’s Pro range, and with 128GB of storage you needn’t be terribly limited in that area – though it’s no match for the 256GB you can get in the iPad Pro.
Notably it has now been replaced by the iPad Mini (2019), which will be a much better buy for most people, but this remains a solid slate.
Read the full review: iPad Mini 4
Best iPads at a glance:
- iPad Pro 11
- iPad Pro 12.9
- iPad 10.2
- iPad Air 10.5
- iPad Mini (2019)
- iPad Pro 10.5 (2017)
- iPad 9.7 (2018)
- iPad (2017)
- iPad Pro 12.9 (2017)
- iPad Mini 4
Also Publish AT: https://www.techradar.com/news/mobile-computing/tablets/best-ipad-2016-how-to-choose-the-right-one-for-you-1322489