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The best iPad 2020: is the iPad Air, Mini or Pro the best for you?

Best iPad 2019
The iPad Pro 11

Trying to decide on the best iPad for you in 2020? Well the choice is trickier than you might expect, as Apple currently offers several different ranges at different sizes and prices.

There’s the flagship iPad Pro 11 for example, along with the cheaper iPad Air (2019), the even cheaper iPad 10.2, and the compact iPad Mini (2019). So far so simple, but that’s before you add in different slate sizes, like the iPad Pro 12.9 (2018) and the iPad 9.7 (2018).

And there are also older models to consider, which, while not still sold direct from Apple, are in many cases easy to get hold of elsewhere, and often at a hefty discount.

With all that in mind, the number of options can start to feel overwhelming, and it’s easy to end up spending more than you need to, or splashing out on an iPad that doesn’t quite suit your needs. But you can avoid that fate, and this guide is here to help.

Below you’ll find an overview of the best iPad options available, along with pros, cons, specs lists and links to our full reviews, in case you want to get better acquainted with any of the options.

Best iPads 2020: is the iPad Pro, Mini, Air or base the best iPad you can get right now?

(Image credit: Apple)

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

(Image credit: Future)

(Image credit: Apple)

2. iPad Pro 12.9

The best big iPad around

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

Massive display
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

(Image credit: Apple)

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

(Image credit: Apple)

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

(Image credit: Apple)

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
Bezel-heavy design
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)

(Image credit: Apple)

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

Great speakers
512GB version
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

Image Credit: TechRadar

Image Credit: TechRadar (Image credit: Apple)

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

Affordable
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)

(Image credit: Future)

(Image credit: apple)

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
Design unchanged

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)

(Image credit: Apple)

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
Tremendous power
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)

(Image credit: Apple)

10. iPad Mini 4

Dated but decent

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

Good screen
Sleek design
Dated chipset
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:

  1. iPad Pro 11
  2. iPad Pro 12.9
  3. iPad 10.2
  4. iPad Air 10.5
  5. iPad Mini (2019)
  6. iPad Pro 10.5 (2017)
  7. iPad 9.7 (2018)
  8. iPad (2017)
  9. iPad Pro 12.9 (2017)
  10. iPad Mini 4