An iPad Air next to an iPad Mini

Tablets: Which iPad should I buy?

  • How does the iPad mini compare to the iPad Air?
  • Should I pay more for an iPad with more storage space?
  • What's the benefit of a 3G or 4G model?

Since Apple announced the original iPad in January 2010 the brand has dominated the tablet computer market. But if you want to join the iPad crowd, there are a few models and several variations to choose between.

See how the iPad's rivals measure up - choose the best tablet for you

There are four models of the iPad available to buy today. These are the iPad mini with Retina display, the 10-inch flagship iPad Air (5th generation), the original iPad mini (now with enticing price reduction) and the older iPad 2. They are available with different memory sizes and mobile internet options, but at different price points.

We give our verdict on the iPad Air, iPad mini with Retina display, iPad 2 and iPad mini, with our full and independent lab test scores, in the table below.

To see our scores and Which? verdicts in the table below, try Which? for £1. If you're already member, go to the log-in page and unlock the table.

Which iPad should I buy?
iPadClick for full reviewStarting priceScore

Apple iPad Air

Apple iPad Air£399Subscriber only content
  • The iPad Air is slimmer and lighter than previous iPads. Apple claims its streamlined tablet still packs a punch, but do our lab testers agree?
  • Choose an iPad Air over an iPad 2 and you can connect to 4G mobiles internet. But is this worth the additional cost?
  • Read the full review and discover the benefits with a £1 trial Which? subscription

Apple iPad mini with Retina display

Apple iPad mini with Retina display£319Subscriber only content
  • The iPad mini with Retina display costs £70 more than the original iPad mini. Read on to find out if its sharper display and faster processor justify the increased price.
  • With tablets such as the Nexus 7 and Galaxy Tab 3 providing worthy alternatives to the iPad mini, does the iPad mini with Retina display restore Apple's advantage in the 7-inch tablet market?
  • Read all of our latest tablet reviews by taking out a £1 trial Which? subscription

Apple iPad Mini

Apple iPad mini£249Subscriber only content
  • Does the scaled-down iPad mini cut any corners compared to the full-sized iPad Air? Read our full test review to find out if this 7-inch tablet is up to scratch.
  • The iPad mini costs over £100 more than 7-inch tablet rivals like the Google Nexus 7. Does its screen quality, battery life and speed justify the cost?
  • Discover the benefits of Which? by taking out a £1 trial subscription

Apple iPad 2

Apple iPad 2£329Subscriber only content
  • Choose the iPad 2 over the iPad Air and you'll save yourself some money. But will you still be buying a tablet that can compete with the best models?
  • The iPad 2 has an older processor than the latest iPad. Log in to read our full review and find out what difference this makes in practice.
  • Is this the tablet for you? Try Which? for £1 to find out

The Big Questions

Choosing the ideal iPad for you is complicated by more than the simple choice between iPad Air or iPad mini. You will also want to consider whether you want a mobile internet plan and how much storage you'll need. The latter point being particularly important as the no iPad yet has featured a way of expanding storage via a USB stick, unlike some of those made by Apple's rivals.

Should I get an iPad mini or larger iPad?

iPad Mini hand

What we think: The smaller screen makes either iPad mini a winner for portability, but the iPad Air’s new slimline design means it’s not that far behind its smaller brothers.

Both the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display are extremely quick when it comes to browsing the web, using apps and watching video, so ultimately it comes down to a personal choice in terms of what size tablet you prefer to use.

It's also worth saying that the original iPad mini and iPad 2 still offer a smooth user experience. The only downside being that neither offer the raw speed to make them truly future proof; especially as more and more apps are released going forward that take advantage of the faster processor featured in the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display.

Our comprehensive tablet tests include more than simply Apple devices too, and we've noticed a sharp upturn in the number of tablets available that rival the iPad range in terms of both performance and price. See our guide to the best iPad alternative tablets for more information.

Do I need 3G or 4G, or is wi-fi enough?

What we think: Much of the UK has 3G coverage, but 4G is still in its early stages, and this high speed mobile internet comes with expensive contracts.

With so many places to access wi-fi, it's worth saving money on your tablet and avoiding mobile data models, unless it’s essential that you have constant access to the internet.

Read our complete guide to 4G for the most up-to-date information.

What memory size should I get for my iPad?

iPad Air

What we think: The iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display come with four different memory sizes: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB. The costs go up significantly as you increase the storage size, so it's worth considering what you need.

If you're a heavy app and video content user then it might be worth paying for more storage. However, it’s only worth going beyond the 32GB size if you plan on storing multiple high definition films onto your iPad.

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