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?
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
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 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 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
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) 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