Apple’s new 2021 iPad lineup is arguably the best tablet series on the market. Its performance is untouched by any other device maker, and the iPad Pro improves on everything from the regular variant and smashes competitors out of the park. From the iPad Mini to the iPad Pro, these tablets have consistently found their way to the top of every performance chart and easily offer 10+ hours of battery life. The new, improved mini LED displays provide a clear and crisp image, and the access to hundreds of apps in the App Store help improve the entire experience and productivity. This all sounds sweet but can be much more lovable as the base iPad model is generally discounted and under the Apple Student program, making it the best possible option for students.
Apple has also been continuously updating and adding new features to the iPadOS. With the latest generation, iPads have reached the point where they can easily compete with larger notebooks and laptops. Below, you’ll find the complete Apple iPad lineup and all the details about what you should look for and what differentiates every model to help you decide the best iPad for you.
Buying advice for current tablet owners
If you own the last-gen iPad Pros – So, if you own any of the last-gen iPad Pro models, we would highly suggest you wait and not get the M1 model as it barely would be an upgrade, and you could get the 2022 model to get a better value.
If you have the older iPad – If you currently own the older iPads from 2018 or so and are looking for an upgrade. We would recommend you give the 11-inch iPad Pro a shot as it brings a lot of changes to the table and if you have some cash leftover, get the Magic keyboard to get a terrific productivity experience.
If you own any competitor (Android or Windows) tablet – If you currently own any other tablet from the android or windows lineup and are not satisfied with the experience. We would suggest you first get started with the iPad Air as it would be a better choice to get you into the Apple ecosystem. After that, you can upgrade to the pro lineup with the 2022 or later upcoming models.
- Apple iPad Pro (11 or 12.9-inch) – The Best of the Best
- Apple iPad Air (10.9-inch) – The Everyday Option
- Apple iPad (10.2-inch) – The Students Device
- Apple iPad Mini (7.9-inch) – The Portable Beast
- Apple iPad Pro 2020 (11-inch) – The Extra Choice
Pricing: $899 (11-inch), $1099 (12.9-inch)
- Processor – M1 processor
- Screen Size – 11 or 12.9 inch with a resolution of 2048 x 2732 pixels
- Weight and Dimensions – 682g/684g and 280.6 x 214.9 x 6.4mm
- Storage – 64GB/256GB/512GB/1TB
- Battery and Port – 7,812mAh, 9,720mAh with USB-C Thunderbolt
Pros: Massive display, Unrivaled Performance, Excellent Battery-Life and has built-in Face ID support
Cons: It is a costly purchase, Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard are added expensive extras, and it doesn’t include Touch ID.
The 2021 iPad Pro 11 and 12.9-inch tablets are the best iPad you can buy right now. It is expensive, but the experience is breathtaking. The UI also feels a lot smoother with the upgraded display, and overall it is the best option. If you pair this with a magic keyboard and an Apple Pencil, it brings a laptop-like experience in design and performance. With superb and clear speakers with an excellent screen-to-body ratio, it’s hard not to fall for this and make a purchase.
The performance is the best compared to any other tablet right now, and with the current domination of Apple products on the market, you could expect great material choices. The 2021 iPad Pro will release in a few more days, and it will surely keep on going for years without any degradation. The glass and metal build feels premium and gives the iPad Pro a decent look that is professional and sturdy. So, if you do require the extra performance that the M1 chip delivers, don’t hesitate and get the device.
In Short: The 2021 iPad Pro lineup is probably the best tablet you can buy. We would highly recommend this as an upgrade as it delivers excellent performance and productivity paired with the specially made Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil. It also has a LIDAR sensor that can help with mapping 3D structures, and if your workflow calls for using 3D designs, this is your sole option for doing so.
2. Apple iPad Air (10.9-inch) – The Everyday Option
- Processor – A14 Bionic
- Screen Size – 10.9-inch with a resolution of 1640 x 2360 pixels
- Weight and Dimensions – 458g and 247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1mm
- Storage – 64GB/256GB
- Battery and Port – Up to 10 hours of video playback with USB-C
Pros: Great performance, Incredible Build, Decent Battery-Life, Minimal bezels, and modern look
Cons: 64GB storage is limited, and it has a higher price than its last-gen counterpart
The latest 2020 iPad Air is an iPad Pro but sacrifices a lot of other things. It is a whole lot cheaper than any upgraded Pro models, making it the best option recommended to users. It has a modern design scheme and minimal bezels, which help improve the experience and can attach to accessories such as S12 Bionics. Hence, if getting an iPad Air is the only choice for you, opt for the Magic Keyboard and Apple mouse, which will help out a tonne for improving your research.
The A14 Bionic is no slouch either, and it delivers excellent performance on all games and apps. The RAM management is also excellent. However, it is not comparable to the M1 chip and should primarily be used as your backup to a school machine or a media entertainment system. The build is excellent too, and it comes in five various colors.
In Short: If you’re a beginner in the iPad series and need a current iPad feel, then the Air would be the best option. It isn’t wallet-draining, and the performance it delivers is exceptional for the price. Ohh, and did we mention it has support for a keyboard cover as well, and getting it would improve productivity a tonne.
3. Apple iPad (10.2-inch) – The Students Device
- Processor – A12 Bionic
- Screen Size – 10.2-inch with a resolution of 1620 x 2160 pixels
- Weight and Dimensions – 490g and 250.6 x 174.1 x 7.5mm
- Storage – 32/128GB
- Battery and Port – Up to 8-9 hours of battery life with a Lightning Connector
Pros: Budget Price Tag, Student Discount Applicable, Decent Build Quality and is Touch ID enabled
Cons: Chunky bezels and Bad Cameras
The regular iPad is perfect for students and budget seekers alike. Apple has always been proud of its iPad series, and it all started with the first iPad. This follows on the same step and provides a tremendous budget-friendly price with some features (Touch ID) missing in the pro lineup. So, if you need the best tablet for under $300, then the regular iPad is your best bet, and it will deliver on all your expectations.
The all-aluminum build is sturdy, and the small size makes it a comfortable device to use. The rounded-off corners are great, and the A12 Bionic still holds up well with most tasks and applications. So don’t worry about the performance, as it can handle all your note-taking usage and media experience without breaking a sweat.
In Short: The regular iPad is a great budget-friendly option. It also supports the keyboard cover and Apple Pencil to get into the Apple ecosystem without spending a lot and getting the iPad experience with exceptional security and performance.
4. Apple iPad Mini (7.9-inch) – The Portable Beast
- Processor – A12 Bionic
- Screen Size – 7.9-inch with a resolution of 1536 x 2048 pixels
- Weight and Dimensions – 304g and 203.2 x 134.8 x 6.1 mm
- Storage – 64GB/256GB
- Battery and Port – 5,124mAh with a Lightning Connector
Pros: Portable Form Factor, Great performance, Impressive build quality, Has Touch ID and fingerprint recognition built-in
Cons: The design is outdated and the storage can be limited
Are you looking to get a reading tablet? Do you prefer portability and a small-sized tablet? Then you’re at the right place, my friend, as the iPad Mini is perfect for you. The price is affordable, and the experience it delivers on all apps is just stunning. It is equipped with the same processor as the regular iPad, which means you could expect similar performance with a compact package.
The performance of the A12 Bionic is excellent, and it can handle most apps with ease. However, if you plan to use any intensive games, I suggest you go either with the M1 or the iPad Air option. The build is on par with the other options on the list and comes with an aluminum body that feels sturdy and delivers a great user experience.
In Short: If you need a portable media tablet, this is your best bet, and it also delivers a great experience with fast performance and security with Touch ID. It is also great for students, and it offers a great video calling experience.
5. Apple iPad Pro 2020 (11-inch) – The Extra Choice
- Processor – A14 Bionic
- Screen Size – 11 inch with a resolution of 2388 x 1668 pixels
- Weight and Dimensions – 682g and 280.6 x 214.9 x 6.4mm
- Storage – 64GB/256GB/512GB/1TB
- Battery and Port – 7,812mAh with a USB-C Thunderbolt
Pros: Impressive build, No waiting time for release, and has a great design
Cons: It is still an expensive purchase,and it will be outdated soon
This last-gen option is a unique pick as it still delivers some of the best performance for a reasonable price and with the newly announced 2021 iPad Pro lineup, expect to see its price drop, which will be a steal for budget seekers. The display is gorgeous, and the design is modern, so pick this up if you don’t have a lot of money at hand to spend on the new tablet lineup.
The performance holds up well to the M1 chips in day-to-day usage and can deliver great gaming and streaming experience. The chassis is made out of a durable glass and metal sandwich and looks premium for a great in-hand experience. It is also identical to the new upcoming devices with minor internal differences and will serve you as a decent device for a long time. You get the same build as the upcoming devices, and it also includes the LIDAR sensor for 3D modeling and designs.
In Short: If you do need an iPad Pro and you can’t wait for the upcoming series or don’t have the required cash for it, then opt for the 2020 iPad Pro as it would deliver a similar experience and build quality without skipping out on a lot of the performance.
Note: Avoid any of the older models as they are outdated and wouldn’t be a good choice as the current lineup has massive leaps in design and performance.
What should you look for in an iPad?
Remember, the best iPad isn’t simply the most expensive option as there are various features and things to look at before making a purchase. While the iPad Pro is the best option for many people, it will be overkill if you’re using it as a media or reading device. So take a look at what you should understand and expect before getting yourself an iPad:
Budget and Price Tag – The primary concern for most people is the budget, and reasonably so as it is necessary that you manage your hard-earned money and don’t spend on features you’re not going to use. All the iPads listed below are at various price points, and do check the price tag before you make your mind on buying one.
Pro Tip: If you’re a student, you can get the student discount by simply submitting your ID to Apple and getting into the Apple Student Program.
Performance – All newer iPads come with the M1 chip, which is blazing fast and can deliver some excellent performance, but if you’re buying an older-gen model. However, note that the older iPads will be equipped with the A12 Bionic chips, a downgrade from the powerful M1 variants.
Accessories – Accessories are vital in improving your overall experience. With the new Magic keyboards, mouse, and Apple Pencil options, rest assured that you will be presented with excellent choices that will last you a lifetime.
WIFI only or SIM-enabled – Do know that all the iPads listed below come with two models being either only a WIFI capable or a SIM + WIFI enabled device. So, if you’re someone who travels a lot and needs internet connectivity on the way, then get a SIM-enabled variant, and if your iPad is going to spend most of the time home, then get the WIFI-only device. Also, considering most people are stuck at home and traveling is put to a halt, the WIFI only options seem to be the best deal.
What other options for consideration?
If this post ends up changing your mind on whether you should get an iPad or not, consider the following alternatives.
The Tab S7+ is an excellent choice from Samsung and is the best Android tablet on the market. So, if you’re not sure if you want to go with the Apple route, try Android and enjoy all the freedom and creative possibility it delivers. Oh, it also has a keyboard cover that you can purchase and comes with a stylus built-in.
Microsoft’s Surface lineup has always been the direct competitor to Apple products, and Surface Go is no different. It fails to deliver a blazing fast performance such as the iPads. Still, it is a great little device that runs a full copy of Windows 10, which allows it to get all the benefits of Windows, and you can even upgrade it with one of the best type covers on the planet to make it a productivity beast. So, go this route if you’re comfortable with Windows and need a great build as Apple products have.
If you’re still stuck on deciding between getting the iPad Air or the iPad Pro, we would wholeheartedly recommend getting the iPad Air as it is fantastic for beginners and would deliver on all your expectations.
However, if your list consists of activities, such as watching videos or reading the news, we recommend saving a few bucks and getting the base iPad. If you’re looking to get a device for typing and productivity and need a portable laptop replacement device, then the Pro is where you should look first.