Finding the best iPad for you can be complicated. Between the 10th-generation iPad, the iPad Air and the M2 iPad Pro, Apple sells three roughly 11-inch tablets with broadly similar designs but key differences in terms of internal components and accessory support. The older 10.2-inch iPad and iPad mini are still hanging around, too. If you’re looking to buy a new iPad, we’ve tested each model and rounded up the best values of the bunch.
First, though, a word of warning: Most people should hold off on buying an iPad right now. It’s been nearly 16 months since Apple unveiled a new tablet, but the company now looks poised to introduce new models in the near future. According to reliable Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman, Apple plans to update its entire iPad lineup throughout 2024, with the first releases possibly arriving toward the end of March. Those are expected to include overhauled iPad Pros with OLED displays, a refreshed iPad Air and an all-new Air model with a larger 12.9-inch display. Updates to the base iPad and iPad mini may not arrive until later in the year but are reportedly in the works as well. So if you can wait, you should. But if you’re absolutely sure you need a new tablet as soon as possible, or if you just want to grab an existing model at a discount, here’s how the current lineup stacks up.
Apple iPad Air
Best iPad for most
Apple iPad (9th gen)
Best budget iPad
Apple iPad Mini
Best iPad for one-handed use
Apple iPad Pro (12.9-inch)
Best iPad for power users
How long do iPads typically last?
If history is any indication, expect Apple to update your iPad to the latest version of iPadOS for at least five years, if not longer. The new iPadOS 17 update, for example, is available on iPad Pros dating back to 2017 and other iPads dating back to 2018. How long your iPad’s hardware will last depends on which model you buy and how well you maintain it (if you’re particularly clumsy, consider an iPad case). A more powerful iPad Pro will feel fast for a longer time than an entry-level iPad, but each model should remain at least serviceable until Apple stops updating it, at minimum.
What’s the difference between the iPad and the iPad Air?
Compared to the 10th-gen iPad, the 5th-gen iPad Air runs on a stronger M1 chip (instead of the A14 Bionic) and has twice as much RAM (8GB instead of 4GB). Having an M-series SoC gives the Air access to certain iPadOS features such as Stage Manager. Its display supports a wider P3 color gamut, has an anti-reflective coating and is fully laminated. Being laminated means there’s no “air gap” between the display and the glass covering it, so it feels more like you’re directly touching what’s on screen instead of interacting with an image below the glass.
The Air also works with Apple’s latest Pencil stylus, Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio. Its USB-C port supports data transfer speeds up to 10 Gbps (the iPad’s goes up to 480 Mbps). Although the two tablets look very similar, the Air is marginally lighter (1.02 pounds instead of 1.05 pounds) and thinner (0.24 inches instead of 0.28 inches).
The 10th-gen iPad is less expensive than the iPad Air, with an MSRP starting at $449 instead of $599. It’s the only iPad with a front-facing camera along the long edge of the tablet, which can be a more natural position for video calls. It also supports Bluetooth 5.2, whereas the Air uses Bluetooth 5.0. It works with the first-gen and USB-C Apple Pencils – which are more convoluted to charge – and a unique keyboard accessory called the Magic Keyboard Folio.
Apple also sells the 9th-gen iPad, as we detail above. That one uses a more dated design language with larger bezels, a Home button and a Lightning port, but it starts at $329.
How do I take a screenshot on an iPad?
As we note in our screenshot how-to guide, you can take a screenshot on your iPad by pressing the top button and either volume button at the same time. If you have an older iPad with a Home button, simultaneously press the top button and the Home button instead.