Wednesday , September 15 2021

Best iPad 2021

Here’s help picking out the best iPad — from Mini to Pro — to meet your feature and performance needs.

Here’s what you should know if you want to buy a new iPad. The new 11- and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models are powered by the company’s M1 processor, the chip found in its latest MacBooks as well as the new 24-inch iMac, and were recently released by Apple. Along with the new processors, the updated iPad Pros have a Liquid Retina XDR display on the 12.9-inch size, high-speed Thunderbolt USB-C port and optional 5G mobile wireless. The 11-inch version starts at $799 (£749, AU$1,199) while the 12.9-inch model price begins at $1,099 (£999, AU$1,649). They are available to buy now.

However, the Pro is at the top of the iPad lineup with the 2020 eighth-gen 10.2-inch iPad, fourth-gen 10.5-inch iPad Air and fifth-gen 2019 7.9-inch iPad Mini filling out the rest of Apple’s tablet options. Those likely won’t be updated until later in the year. You’ll also still be able to get the second-gen 11- and fourth-gen 12.9-inch iPad Pro models at reduced prices. 

Also see: Best Apple iPad deals: Save $100 or more on previous-gen iPad Pro models

Regardless of which iPad you go with, though, all the current iPad models support the latest version of iPadOS (a special version of iOS specifically for iPads) and work with Apple’s Smart Keyboard and with either the first-generation Apple Pencil or second-generation Apple Pencil. That’s good news for anyone who’s looking to do more than stream videos and music, look at web sites and play Apple Arcade games. Plus, all of the current iPad models support mouse and trackpad use for a more MacBook-like experience

The new iPad Pro models come in two sizes. 

Stay up-to-date on the latest news, reviews and advice on iPhones, iPads, Macs, services and software.

The least expensive iPad is also the one we’re most likely to recommend for people looking for a new iPad for the family and general use. For 2020, Apple put in a faster A12 bionic chip for the 10.2-inch iPad, giving it a performance boost over the previous iPad model. That’s the same processor running the third-gen iPad Air. It’s also the last remaining full-size iPad with a headphone jack.

That said, the last-gen model is still a good pick. It can handle the latest iPadOS just fine and should perform all the standard iPad tasks for some time. Regardless if you go with the old or new model we have one word of caution: The base 32GB of storage can fill up fast, so we recommend going with the 128GB version if possible.

Read our iPad 2020 review.


Read more: The 30 best iPad games you need to play

Apple recently released the update to its iPad Air with a supercharged new processor, the A14. The 2020 Air is the first Apple product to use this chip, and it goes without saying that it’s a considerable improvement over the A12 in the 2019 Air. 

The 2020 iPad Air gets a bigger 10.9-inch display but its slimmer bezels make it about the same size as the 2019 10.5-inch Air. Touch ID is embedded in the power button now, which should make unlocking easy. The newer iPad Air also supports Apple Pencil 2 now as well as Apple’s Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio. Plus, it has better cameras, faster Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 and switches from a Lightning port to a more universal USB-C port. But with all the improvements, it starts at $100 more than the prior generation. We haven’t tested the new model yet, but this is a must-get iPad for anyone looking for something fancier than a regular iPad. 

The third-gen Air is still worth considering, however, especially if you can find it at a lower price now. The 2019 iPad Air is a lot like the 10.5-inch iPad Pro models from 2017. Starting at $499, it’s built around a 10.5-inch Retina display like the 2017 Pro but has an updated A12 Bionic processor like the one powering the iPhone XS. If you want better performance and more storage space — there are 64GB or 256GB options — you should consider stepping up the Air. Plus, while it’s larger than the entry-level iPad, it actually weighs a hair less.

Read our Apple iPad Air 2020 review.


Whether you’re a digital artist or have waited years for an iPad 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. 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. 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 are the first iPads to offer support for 5G wireless. They’re still not quite the MacBook replacement we crave, but they’re getting closer every year. 

Read our iPad Pro 2021 review.


The littlest iPad doesn’t look any different than it did in 2015, but for 2019 it got a faster A12 processor and Apple Pencil support. Those additions make the 7.9-inch Apple iPad Mini — starting at $399 (£399, AU$599) — a smart choice for those who want a smaller device for notetaking and sketching while also giving you better performance for games and more screen space than your phone for reading and videos (and you won’t be eating into your phone’s battery life, either). While its wide bezels make it look a bit dated compared to the rest of the lineup, at least the iPad Mini has Touch ID and a headphone jack to go along with them. 

It’s worth noting, though, that the processor is now the same one found in the new 10.2-inch iPad, which starts at $329 with 32GB of storage. You do get 64GB in the base iPad Mini and, although it’s smaller, it does have a higher-quality display and Bluetooth 5.0. We’ve seen prices for the iPad Mini start around $300 though, so you do save a little over the bigger model.

Read our Apple iPad Mini 2019 review.


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