The Best iPads in 2024

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The best iPads offer levels of performance for certain needs at prices that make sense for different users, whether you’re looking for a tablet for casual day-to-day tasks or running power-hungry apps for professional creative work.

If you’re stuck figuring out which iPad is best for you, it’s probably because distinguishing between models is more complicated than ever. Currently, Apple sells five main models: the 2021 iPad, the 2022 iPad, the iPad Mini, the iPad Air, and the iPad Pro, and all of them share industry-leading hardware, excellent battery life, and support for iPadOS 17. 

To help you decide which iPad to buy, we break down the pros and cons of the best iPads below — all based on our hands-on testing. Overall, the best iPad for most people is the 2022 standard iPad with its combination of performance, design, features, and price. The best budget option is the 2021 standard iPad, which offers unbeatable value, even if it has an outdated design.  

Our top picks for the best iPads

Best overall: iPad (2022) – See at Amazon

Best budget: iPad (2021) – See at Amazon

Best mid-range: iPad Air (2022) – See at Amazon

Best small size: iPad Mini (2021) – See at Amazon

Best for power users: iPad Pro (2022) – See at Amazon

Best overall

Apple iPad (2022)

The 10th-generation iPad includes a modern Apple iPad design, USB-C, the A14 Bionic chip from the iPhone 12 series, and a centered front camera for better video calls. Its $120 price increase from the ninth-generation iPad means you need to consider whether its upgrades are worth it if you’re shopping in the budget range.

For the 10th and latest generation, Apple’s basic iPad has a larger 10.9-inch display and a modern design that’s in line with the rest of the iPad lineup relative to the 9th-generation iPad. As such, it’s closer to the iPad Air and iPad Pro in terms of looks and feel for a lower price. It has more than enough power to run basic apps, games, and streaming video, making it the best option for most people.  

Gone is the Lightning port, in favor of USB-C. Charging and data speeds are the same as the 2021 iPad’s Lightning port, but it’s gratifying that you can charge the 2022 iPad with the same cable that charges your laptop, iPhone 15 series, and many other devices. 

The 2022 iPad’s USB-C connection means you can’t simply plug in the first-generation Apple Pencil with a Lightning connector. For that older Apple Pencil model, you’ll need an adapter, which isn’t ideal. However, Apple has since released an Apple Pencil with USB-C, which is the clear option if you plan on buying the 2022 iPad.  

Apple’s 10th-gen iPad with the home screen showing.

The 2022 iPad introduced a modern design, a larger screen, and a universal USB-C charging port to Apple’s basic iPad for the first time.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

One of the things we love about the 2022 iPad is its front-facing camera is centered on the long horizontal edge of the iPad, which captures a better forward-facing angle of your face during video calls. No other iPad has this feature.

The 2022 iPad erodes one of the best things about the standard iPad — its affordability. It’s still modest, starting at $449, but significantly less so than the $329 price of previous generations. That said, the 2022 iPad can often be found at a discount with $50 off. 

While the 2022 iPad runs on a newer and more powerful processor than the 2021 iPad, we don’t think that should count toward the price increase — Apple previously included processor upgrades without raising prices in the past.

However, if the price difference doesn’t deter you, we recommend the latest model because it will have a slightly longer lifespan than the 2021 model in terms of performance and iOS software support.

Read our full 2022 iPad review.

Best budget iPad

Apple iPad (2021)

The 2021 9th-gen 10.2-inch iPad is an absolute steal at $329 for those who need an iPad for simple and basic tasks, like streaming videos, browsing the web, and running apps.

The ninth-gen iPad from 2021 and the 10th-gen iPad from 2022 are Apple’s base iPads, and both are in the current lineup. 

The ninth-gen iPad doesn’t house the latest hardware Apple has to offer to its basic iPad, nor does it offer the fastest performance, but it’s still extremely capable of doing essential daily tasks like running apps, playing games, or streaming video. If you’re looking to pick up your first Apple tablet, the 2021 iPad is an excellent option, particularly for students and the budget-minded.

In almost every respect, it’s hard to find fault in the ninth-gen iPad. The 10.2-inch Retina display with 2,160 x 1,620 resolution is sharp and clear. The display also supports True Tone, a feature that automatically adjusts the screen color’s temperature based on ambient light. The ultra-wide 12-megapixel front camera is on par with premium iPad models, even though it’s not landscape-oriented like the 10th-gen iPad. 

The 2021 iPad sitting up, resting against a wall with blue tiles.

The ninth-gen iPad is the best budget option in Apple’s current lineup.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

The ninth-gen iPad runs on Apple’s A13 Bionic processor, the same chip used in 2019’s iPhone 11 series. It’s perfectly capable for most apps and even demanding games. The tablet also supports Apple’s Smart Keyboard and the first-generation Apple Pencil, a reliable stylus with virtually no lag. 

The ninth-gen iPad is the only tablet in the current lineup that adheres to Apple’s older design language, which means it’s marginally thicker than the 10th-gen iPad and features larger top and bottom bezels. It is also the last iPad to use a Lightning port. 

But don’t let the outdated design deter you. The ninth-gen iPad is still an ideal tablet for most needs. At the end of the day, it offers an outstanding combination of price and performance. 

Read our full 2021 iPad review.

Best mid-range iPad

Apple iPad Air (2022)

The 2022 iPad Air has the same power as the 2021 iPad Pro for a lower price. It offers a sharp screen, Touch ID, and 2nd-gen or USB-C Apple Pencil support. It’s not uncommon to find it discounted by as much as $100, but drops below that are rarer.

The most noteworthy aspect of the 2022 iPad Air is that it runs on Apple’s M1 chip, the same computer-grade processor as the 2020 13.3-inch MacBook Air. It has the most power out of any tablet in the $600 range. 

The fifth-gen iPad Air shares many commonalities with the 2022 iPad, like a USB-C port, a fingerprint sensor, identical speaker setups, similar camera quality, and 64GB/256GB storage options. However, it’s best understood as a more affordable version of the 2022 iPad Pro than a premium version of the standard iPad due to its performance and P3 wide color display, which photo editors would benefit from.

It would be misguided to recommend anyone who uses the iPad for simple day-to-day tasks to splurge $270 more for the 2022 iPad Air unless they specifically want to use a second-generation Apple Pencil or a larger display.

The 2022 iPad Air propped up on a stand in the vertical position showing its screen on the home screen with app icons.

The fifth-gen iPad Air is more of a budget iPad Pro than it is an upgrade to the basic iPad.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

While there are differences worth noting, the biggest to consider is storage options. The 2022 iPad Air base model is a measly 64GB, with a $150 upgrade option to 256GB, which bumps the price up to $750. If you need more than 64GB of storage but not as much as 256GB, your best bet is to snag the 11-inch iPad Pro, which starts at 128GB and costs $800. You’d get an upgrade to the M2 chip, plus Apple’s ProMotion display that runs at 120Hz instead of 60Hz for super smooth animations. 

But if you think the limited storage and differences in display won’t make or break your experience, the iPad Air is the best option for price and performance for those who want a step up from the basic iPad. 

With all this in mind, the iPad Air is an ideal “budget” pro machine for those who could use the extra power in visual-based tasks, like photo and video editing, and especially rendering. It’s just a shame it doesn’t come with at least some iPad Pro premium features, like Apple’s 120HZ ProMotion display, Face ID, or more storage options.

Read our full 2022 iPad Air review.

Best small size

Apple iPad Mini (2021)

The iPad Mini’s ultra-portable form factor is a hit with our experts. The tablet is a few years old now, but still very capable and uniquely petite with its 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display.

With an 8.3-inch display, the 2021 iPad Mini is Apple’s smallest and most portable tablet.

The sixth-gen iPad Mini’s Liquid Retina display is the same as the 2022 iPad Air, and it produces slightly bolder colors than the ninth-gen iPad. It has more pixel density than those two iPads, so it’s technically sharper. 

This iPad Mini is powered by the same A15 Bionic processor found inside the iPhone 13 lineup, which means it has ample power for years to come. Arguably, it has two extra years of performance than the ninth-gen iPad, which runs on the A13 Bionic processor two generations old. 

The iPad Mini supports the second-gen Apple Pencil and the new USB-C Apple Pencil, which, combined with the tablet’s compact size, make the Mini a truly useful tablet for note-taking or quick drawing.

Side by side images of The 2021 iPad Mini held in the author’s hands showing the screen on the home screen and The 2021 iPad Mini held in the author’s hands showing the rear metal casing.

The sixth-gen iPad Mini is a smaller, more powerful version of the 10th-gen iPad.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

Overall, the iPad Mini is the best choice for those who prioritize portability above all else in a tablet. I’d even say that most people would find the iPad Mini more comfortable to use than larger iPads. If you want a screen that’s bigger than your phone for running apps and streaming videos, all while maintaining a portable footprint, the iPad Mini is absolutely worth considering. 

Keep in mind that the iPad Mini’s list price hasn’t changed since its release in September 2021, which means it’s not the best deal among the iPads. With that in mind, we think the iPad Mini is due for a refresh if Apple is going to charge $500 for it. 

Read our full 2021 iPad Mini review.

Best for power users

Apple iPad Pro (2022)

The 2022 iPad Pro remains the most capable tablet in Apple’s current iPad lineup. It’s available in two sizes, 11 and 12.9 inches, and features the M2 processor, which makes it faster than previous generations and unlocks the “hover” feature for the Apple Pencil. If you want the best of the best and are willing to pay for it, the 2022 iPad Pro is worth a look.

Apple’s 2022 iPad Pros come equipped with the company’s M2 processor, bringing the power of the 2022 MacBook Air to a thin and lightweight device. It also includes a super-fast Thunderbolt 4 USB-C port for transferring large files from an external hard drive.

Arguably, you could simply buy the 2022 MacBook Air if you’re looking for a powerful, slim, and light machine — the iPad Pros become much heavier, thicker, and more expensive once you add a keyboard/trackpad cover like Apple’s Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro that starts at $299. 

However, the 2022 iPad Pros are indispensable if you like to use an Apple Pencil for your work, which the MacBook Air doesn’t support. The 2022 iPad Pros with the M2 processor also unlock Apple’s Hover feature with the second-generation Apple Pencil and USB-C Apple Pencil, which adds better accuracy and useful interactions.

Apple 2022 iPad Pro showing the home screen with app icons.

The 2022 iPad Pro is a powerhouse tablet designed for professionals.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

Also, the 2022 iPad Pros includes premium features like a 120Hz ProMotion display, Face ID, better speakers, and more storage options. They can also take high-quality photos or videos for your project, either as a primary camera or a substitute that happens to be your workstation, too.

The larger 12.9-inch model has a display that uses mini-LED technology and includes XDR (Apple’s version of HDR), meaning it has much greater brightness and contrast than Apple’s other tablets for HDR projects and content. 

At the end of the day, the iPad Pro’s high price and power mean that it’s best-suited for creative professionals looking to get power-hungry work done on their tablet rather than casual users.

Read our full 2022 iPad Pro review.

The best iPads compared

What to look for in an iPad

A group of iPad Air models displayed on a table. One is held by a person's hand, one balanced on a display, one standing up using a kickstand case, and the other laid flat on the table.

What you do on an iPad will narrow down which iPad you should buy.

Isabel Fernandez Pujol/Business Insider

There are three main iPad traits to look for when making a decision. In no particular order, those traits include screen size, performance, and storage. Add Apple Pencil support if you’re a note-taker or artist or like the extra control from a stylus. 

Screen size and portability could be the deciding factor early on. Most iPad screens are between 10 and 11 inches, but if you want a more portable tablet, you’ll know to buy the iPad Mini. Similarly, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is the biggest of Apple’s lineup, which makes things easy if you want the biggest screen available. If the standard 10 to 11-inch iPad screen is enough for you, you’ll be deciding between Apple’s 2021 standard iPad, the 2022 standard iPad, the 2022 iPad Air, and the 11-inch iPad Pro. 

Even the most affordable 2021 iPad can run the same apps and perform the same tasks as the most expensive iPad Pro, but how quickly you want to run those apps and perform those tasks will help you decide which model to go for. If you’re running simple apps or streaming video, you won’t find that the iPad Air or iPad Pro will offer significantly better performance. If you’re often editing photos and videos, especially with rendering, the iPad Air and iPad Pro’s speeds start to make sense. 

Factoring in storage needs can make a big impact on your choice. If you need over 256GB of storage to store huge amounts of videos, music, photos, games, or anything else, you’ll know to buy an iPad Pro, as the basic iPads and iPad Air aren’t available with higher storage options.  

If you’re agonizing between the iPad Air and iPad Pro, think about this — the base iPad Air’s meager 64GB could lead you to upgrade to the 128GB iPad Pro for just $50 more. Conversely, if you need 256GB of storage, the $749 256GB iPad Air offers excellent value against the $899 256GB iPad Pro.

And finally, if you’re an Apple Pencil devotee, every iPad supports at least one Apple Pencil model, but the iPad Pro models are the best iPads to use with the second-generation Apple Pencil or USB-C Apple Pencil thanks to their exclusive Hover feature. 

How we test iPads

The bottom rears of the 2022 iPad Air and 2022 iPad Pro stacked on top of each other showing their model names.

Each iPad goes through the same tests.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

We use each iPad we review as if it were our own for daily use for running apps, games, and streaming video. We note the screen, audio, and design quality and consider how much storage a base model comes with related to the price. 

We also consider the upgrades to new models compared to previous generations. We compare peripheral specifications, like data transfer speeds through the USB-C ports, and support for accessories like the Apple Pencil and keyboard cases.

For performance, we’ve used the Geekbench 5 benchmarking app to test performance, and we test their real-world performance with workloads that require more power than casual apps, like light photo and video editing. 

For battery life, we stream a video over WiFi at full brightness until the battery dies and compare the results of the battery’s duration. 


When does Apple release new iPads?

Apple typically announces new iPads in the fall and spring, though the company has uncharacteristically gone more than a year without releasing a new iPad model. 

Apple released its latest iPads, the 10th-generation iPad and 6th-generation iPad Pros, in October 2022. According to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via MacRumors), we might see a new iPad Mini in early 2024. 

What are the best iPad cases?

A wide range of iPad cases is available for each current iPad model. Check out our guides to the best standard iPad cases, best iPad Air cases, and best iPad Pro cases.