The best iPad 2018: the top-ranked Apple tablet you can buy today

Best iPad 2018

In search of the best iPad? Then you've come to the right place, and we've reviewed and ranking Apple's tablets to give you a clear indication as to the best iPad around, but also the best iPad for you - which may not be our number one ranked slate.

Here's the basic breakdown: the new iPad Pro models are the most powerful Apple tablet on sale, with laptop-like performance, and they come in two sizes: the nearly 13-inch iPad Pro 12.9 and the more traditionally sized iPad Pro 11

Need a cheap iPad? It's very affordable to get the new iPad 2018 that launched earlier this year. It's the best way to get an entry-level Apple tablet – now with Apple Pencil support. It's a way better value for the average consumer and students who wants the basics a 9.7-inch screen that will be capable of running iOS 12.

Believe it or not, the iPad Air 2, also a 9.7-inch tablet, remains popular, even though Apple isn't selling it directly anymore. And the aging iPad mini 4 (launched way back in 2015) is still your best iPad option for an ultra-compact, portable slate.

Whatever the case, there's an iPad for you and they all run iOS 12, which is now available. We created a best iPad 2018 list to help narrow down Apple's top tablet choices for you.

Let's begin with a video overview of the best iPads

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1. iPad Pro 11 (2018)

The best iPad you can buy right now

Weight: 468g | Dimensions: 247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9 mm | OS: iOS 12 | 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. 

However, there are setbacks for the iPad Pro 11 that you should be aware of. The iOS 12 software feels limiting when trying to multitask and perform laptop-like tasks. 

Another strictly mobile challenge: 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

2. New iPad (2018)

The best Apple iPad for the average consumer

Weight: 469g | Dimensions: 240 x 169.5 x 7.5mm | OS: iOS 12 | Screen size: 9.7-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 pixels | CPU: A10 Bionic | 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 the best Apple iPad for the average consumer and for education, even if it isn't the most powerful one on sale. It's simply a great value. 

The new iPad (2018) replaces the very similar 2017 model and, before that, the iPad Air 2 in Apple's lineup, slotting in below the Pro range.

It 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. 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, iOS 12 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 (2018)

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3. iPad Pro 12.9 (2017)

The best really big iPad you can buy

Weight: 677g | Dimensions: 305.7 x 220.6 x 6.9 mm | OS: iOS 12 | 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 for its large size and it's the closest thing we have to a 2-in-1 touchscreen MacBook. It just happens to run iOS 12 instead of macOS. 

It's the best productivity and entertainment tablet around thanks to its 12.9-inch screen, four speakers and the iOS 12 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 people out there.

Read the full review: iPad Pro 12.9 (2017)

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4. iPad Pro 10.5 (2017)

An iPad Pro experience at a now-lower price

Weight: 469g | Dimensions: 250.6 x 174.1 x 6.1 mm | OS: iOS 12 | 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
iOS still isn't a good laptop replacement

The iPad Pro 10.5-inch version is an all-star tablet which has been recently superseded by the iPad Pro 11. There's good news for the Pro 10.5 though, as it means it's now cheaper.

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 iOS 12 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

5. iPad (2017)

A premium, affordable iPad that still performs

Weight: 469g | Dimensions: 240 x 169.5 x 7.5mm | OS: iOS 12 | 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 new iPad (2018), but it's still a solid buy if you're looking for a more affordable Apple slate.

The only real problem is the new iPad (2018) isn't that much more, so unless you simply can't spend more than £300, the newer version is the better buy.

Read the full review: iPad (2017)

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6. iPad Pro 9.7 (2016)

The latest iPad Pro is one of the best tablets on the planet

Weight: 437g | Dimensions: 240 x 169.5 x 6.1mm | OS: iOS 12 | Screen size: 9.7-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 pixels | CPU: A9X | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 32/128/256GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: Up to 10 hours | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 5MP

Great speakers
Up to 256GB of storage
Expensive starting price
Lower power than larger version

For the average user the iPad Pro 9.7 (2016) is one of the best all-round options. The 9.7-inch screen strikes a great balance between being big enough to get far more out of than a phone screen and small enough to still be fairly portable.

And although Apple has ditched the Air moniker, at 240 x 169.5 x 6.1mm and 437g the iPad Pro 9.7 is every bit as thin and light as the iPad Air 2.

But it lives up to the Pro name, with plenty of power afforded by its A9X chipset and 2GB of RAM, four speakers for serious media potential, a beautiful True Tone screen, which adapts the color and intensity to your environment, and of course the ability to use the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil with it, if you want to use the slate to actually get things done.

The iPad Pro 9.7 (2016) also comes with up to 256GB of storage if you're prepared to pay, so you needn't feel limited by the lack of a microSD card slot, and it's likely to remain a powerful and versatile tablet for years to come, so while it's expensive you might not feel the need to upgrade for a long time.

Read the full review: iPad Pro 9.7 (2016)

iPad mini 4

7. iPad Mini 4

The latest 7-inch iPad is a big step up from the previous version

Weight: 299g | Dimensions: 203.2 x 134.8 x 6.1mm | OS: iOS 12 | 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

Great 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, 10.5 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.

Read the full review: iPad Mini 4

iPad Pro

8. iPad Pro 12.9 (2016)

It's big, it's powerful and it's absolutely stunning

Weight: 713g | Dimensions: 305.7 x 220.6 x 6.9mm | OS: iOS 12 | Screen size: 12.9-inch | Resolution: 2048 x 2732 pixels | CPU: A9X | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32/128/256GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: 10,307mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP

Hugely powerful
Big screen
Powerfully huge
Battery life could be longer

The iPad Pro 12.9 (2016), or simply the iPad Pro as it's sometimes known, is in many ways a bigger and better version of the iPad Pro 9.7 (2016).

It matches that slate's four powerful speakers, accessory options and storage capacity, but at 12.9 inches the screen is significantly larger, while its 2048 x 2732 resolution ensures it retains the same 264ppi pixel density. It's also more powerful than its smaller sibling, combining the same Apple A9X chipset with a massive 4GB of RAM.

That power is undeniably a good thing, but the screen size will be more divisive, as while all that space is great if you plan to use it as a real laptop replacement, for running apps in split screen, or for watching a lot of movies, it leaves it a little unwieldy in other ways, especially as it makes the slate a hefty 713g. If you want the ultimate in portability this isn't it.

But if you can afford the high price and want the very biggest and most powerful tablet Apple has to offer there can be no other choice than the iPad Pro 12.9.

Read the full review: iPad Pro 12.9 (2016)

iPad Air 2

9. iPad Air 2

Still a strong tablet that's now cheaper

Weight: 437g | Dimensions: 240 x 169.5 x 6.1mm | OS: iOS 12 | Screen size: 9.7-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 pixels | CPU: A8X | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16/32/64/128GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: Up to 10 hours | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP

Powerful
Lovely screen
Volume silencer gone
16GB is too little storage

The iPad Air 2 is the predecessor to the iPad Pro 9.7 and the new iPad while it may not have the namely compatibility with the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil, or the latest Apple power under the hood, it's still worth considering.

It's not as strong for productivity, but in many other ways the iPad Air 2 can almost match up to the iPad Pro 9.7 and for a lower price.

For one thing it has the same premium metal body, along with the same weight and dimensions, leaving it a slim and light 6.1mm thick and 437g.

It also has the same size and resolution 9.7-inch 1536 x 2048 screen, though behind the scenes more vivid colors and the True Tone tech (for dynamically adjusted white balance) in the iPad Pro 9.7 make the display altogether more impressive.

But when the screen is already so good on the iPad Air 2 you might not miss those things, especially if you've not seen them in action.

If you don't need the productivity potential of the iPad Pro and can live with slightly dated but still solid specs, the iPad Air 2 is a strong choice.

Read the full review: iPad Air 2