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Best iPad 2022: is the Air, Mini or Pro the right choice for you?

PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
The iPad Pro against a green background
(Image credit: TechRadar / Apple)

You might think the best iPad is just the newest one, and admittedly that'd make buying one a lot simpler, but unfortunately it's not the case. Apple has four different iPad lines, aimed at different buyers, and sitting at different price points.

The entry-level options, just called the 'iPad' line, is your low-cost minimum-feature tablet, and it's great for families or seniors. The iPad Mini is smaller so it's good for someone who wants an easily-portable tablet.

Then there's the iPad Air, a mid-range tablet with a bigger screen, lots of processing power and a medium price, and it's useful for students or similar workers like that. At the top-end is the expensive iPad Pro family, and these tablets have top screens, loads of processing power and endless storage space - they're designed for creative or business professionals.

So whichever of those categories you fall into, this guide to the best iPads will get you your dream tablet in no time. This list is pretty similar to our ranking of the best tablets overall, but if you don't want one made by Apple, or guide to the best Android tablets will be more your thing.

The following tablets will be a great complement to the best iPhone, as Apple's devices play well together.

We see a new iPad unveiled a couple of times each year, so this list gets updated fairly frequently - you can currently see a list containing all the devices currently on sale, with key specs and our synopsis on why we've ranked them how we have.

Best iPads 2022: which iPad should you buy?

The iPad Pro 12.9 2021 with a Magic Keyboard

(Image credit: TechRadar)
The best iPad

Specifications

Weight: 682g
Dimensions: 280.6 x 214.9 x 6.4mm
OS: iPadOS 14
Screen size: 12.9-inch
Resolution: 2048 x 2732 pixels
CPU: Apple M1
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB
microSD slot: No
Battery: Up to 10 hours
Rear camera: 12MP + 10MP + LiDAR
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Phenomenal power
+
Fantastic display

Reasons to avoid

-
The most expensive iPad
-
Lackluster color options

We've picked the iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) as our favorite iPad because it ticks all the boxes you need for a professional tablet.

The slate has a giant 2048 x 2732 Mini LED screen, an incredibly powerful Apple M1 chipset (also found in MacBooks and iMacs), compatibility with Apple's various keyboard folios and the Apple Pencil, and also up to 2TB storage.

What does this mean? Well, it's a versatile and powerful little machine that we found handles video editing, loads of writing, drawing and animation and gaming with aplomb. 

You won't find a more powerful tablet (well, apart from other iPads) - it handled everything we threw at it.

So why might you consider something else? Well, it's incredibly expensive - especially if you're considering 5G connectivity, or storage that goes anywhere near the max of 2TB.

Plus, while it's great for professionals and creatives, not everyone will need the extras it provides - if that's you, the other iPads on this list are better for you.

Read the full iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) review

The Apple iPad Air 2022 being held in hand

(Image credit: Future)
Nearly as powerful as the best

Specifications

Weight: 461g
Dimensions: 247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1mm
OS: iPadOS 15
Screen size: 10.9-inch
Resolution: 1640 x 2360 pixels
CPU: Apple M1
Storage: 64GB/256GB
microSD slot: No
Battery: Up to 10 hours
Rear camera: 12MP
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Great design
+
Speedy performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited storage options
-
Battery life only average

We'd recommend this iPad Air to people who were interested in the iPad Pro, but perhaps don't need all its bells and whistles.

The tablet has the same Apple M1 chipset, so it's just as powerful - plus, it has a similar design, battery life and accessory compatibility.

Its two key differences are that it doesn't have as much storage space and its screen is smaller (and technically uses different technology, though we're not sure most people will notice). When we tested the devices we didn't mind these differences most of the time, and unless you're a power-user, you might find the Air a better device.

That's especially the case for students. Since the thing feels the same as the iPad Pro, but costs less, people on a budget might find it perfect. Although there are lots of devices lower on this list that are even cheaper.

Read the full iPad Air (2022) review

The Apple iPad 10.2 (2021) with the smart keyboard attached, with an Apple Pencil resting on the keyboard, outside

(Image credit: TechRadar)
A top lower-cost iPad

Specifications

Weight: 487g
Dimensions: 250.6 x 174.1 x 7.5mm
OS: iPadOS 15
Screen size: 10.2-inch
Resolution: 1620 x 2160 pixels
CPU: A13 Bionic
RAM: TBC
Storage: 64/256GB
microSD slot: No
Battery: Up to 10 hours
Rear camera: 8MP
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent value
+
Upgraded selfie camera

Reasons to avoid

-
Only iPad without Face ID
-
Doesn’t support newer accessories

The iPad 10.2 (2021) is Apple’s entry-level tablet for 2021, and arguably also the best value iPad of the year. 

Sure, it’s not a huge upgrade on the previous model, but the new 12MP ultra-wide selfie camera makes it much better for video calls, while the True Tone display makes it more pleasant to use in a variety of environments, with the screen automatically adjusting based on the ambient light. This especially makes the iPad 10.2 (2021) a joy to use outdoors.

From testing all the iPads on this list, we found that the 10.2 provides the best value-for-money proposition. Sure, it's not as good for sketching and audio as the iPad Air, or as useful for high-performance tasks as the Pro, but it's also a lot cheaper.

And that's all relative too - compared to lots of non-iPad alternatives you might be considering, we found the iPad 10.2 feels smooth to use and has enough power for most tasks. So unless you're going to need all the bells and whistles of the Air or Pro, this is a great choice.

Read the full iPad 10.2 (2021) review

The Apple iPad Pro 11 (2021) leaning against a wall

(Image credit: Future)
Like the best iPad, but with some compromises

Specifications

Weight: 466g
Dimensions: 247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9mm
OS: iPadOS 14
Screen size: 11-inch
Resolution: 1668 x 2388 pixels
CPU: Apple M1
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB
microSD slot: No
Battery: Up to 10 hours
Rear camera: 12MP + 10MP
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Desktop PC-level performance
+
Good battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
iPadOS doesn't utilize the power of M1
-
Doesn’t feature a Mini LED display

The iPad Pro 11 we've listed here is basically the exact same tablet as the 12.9-inch model listed right at the top of this guide.

The key difference is the screen size - the iPad Pro 11 has an 11-inch screen, while the iPad Pro 12.9 has a... well, you can probably guess. There are a few knock-on effects from this - mainly, that the battery for this tablet is a little smaller, though that doesn't matter since the screen is drawing less charge.

One other downgrade is that it doesn't get a Mini LED screen, sticking with LCD instead - that's why it's here, lower in our list.

In terms of chipset, charging speed and accessory compatibility, though, this is basically the same device, and it'll be great for people who need a powerful slate yet don't want to carry around a massive model.

And, most importantly, it feels exactly the same to use - so creatives and business users won't be disappointed here. It's a little cheaper than the 12.9 too.

Read the full iPad Pro 11 (2021) review

The iPad Air 4 leaning against a bookshelf

(Image credit: TechRadar)
A great choice for students

Specifications

Weight: 458g
Dimensions: 247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1mm
OS: iPadOS 14
Screen size: 10.9-inch
Resolution: 1640 x 2360 pixels
CPU: A14 Bionic
Storage: 64GB/256GB
microSD slot: No
Battery: Up to 10 hours
Rear camera: 12MP
Front camera: 7MP

Reasons to buy

+
All-screen design
+
Lots of power

Reasons to avoid

-
64GB storage is limited
-
Higher price than last-gen

This iPad Air is the predecessor from the one listed higher in this ranking, and it came out two years prior. It's not a massive downgrade though - the two key differences are that it's not got 5G options, and it has a slightly weaker chipset.

For the vast majority of people, those 'downgrades' aren't really considerations, and using that two-year-old tablet now, you'd be forgiven for not knowing it's old. It still runs just fine and supports all the apps you need.

That makes you've got the same chic design, the same good-looking screen and the same decent battery life.

In addition, two years of sales and price cuts makes the iPad Air (2020) a really tempting option for people who need a more affordable mid-range tablet.

Something we really like about this tablet is that it comes in a broad range of colors - you've got more options than most the other devices on this list.

Read the full iPad Air 4 (2020) review

The iPad mini 2021 being held in a hand

(Image credit: TechRadar)
A small-form iPad

Specifications

Weight: 293g
Dimensions: 195.4 x 134.8 x 6.3mm
OS: iPadOS 15
Screen size: 8.3-inch
Resolution: 1488 x 2266 pixels
CPU: A15 Bionic
Storage: 64GB/256GB
microSD slot: No
Battery: Up to 10 hours
Rear camera: 12MP
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Stylish compact design
+
Lots of power

Reasons to avoid

-
Battery life could be better
-
5G connectivity is limited

The iPad mini (2021) is arguably a more niche offering than Apple's other tablets, and that's why you're finding the first mention of this range so far down on the list. 

On paper, the iPad mini is a smaller, lightweight alternative to the other slates, so if you want a device you can easily slip into your bag (or a big pocket), it's useful for you.

We found it powerful, and really liked its modern design and easy portability. 

However at a higher price than the entry-level tablet, and underwhelming us in several departments like the battery life and accessory compatibility, this isn't the slate you should consider first when you're looking for a new iPad.

There's definitely a market for the iPad Mini, but we imagine it's a more select one than for the Pro or Air iPads.

Read the full iPad mini (2021) review