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Updated: 5 May 2022

Which iPad should I buy?

Everything you need to know about buying an iPad, whether you want a standard iPad, iPad Mini, iPad Air or iPad Pro, or if you're not sure. Our experts will help you choose the right iPad
Martin Pratt
Man sat on balcony with tablet

The Apple iPad brand still dominates the tablet market, despite iPads first being launched back in 2010 and being some of the most expensive tablets you can buy. There are four current models, each with a different user (and budget) in mind.

Here, we take you through the similarities and differences between the latest Mini, standard, Air and Pro versions of Apple's iconic tablet. As well as taking a look at whether it's still worth buying some of the older-generation models, and helping you to make the most of your iPad once you've got it.

Want to see how iPads compare to Amazon Fire, Android, Samsung and Windows tablets? Take a look at our expert pick of the best tablets.

Which iPad is best for me?

Given there are four distinct iPad models – five if you include the two sizes of iPad Pro – there's never been more choice. Here we summarise what sort of buyer should choose each type.

You can follow the links to find out how each iPad scored in our lab tests, and how they compare with rival models. 

Standard iPad – £319

  • Screen size: 10.2 inches
  • Good for: watching video and web browsing at home 

The standard 10.2-inch iPad is the cheapest you can buy, but also the heaviest and thickest of all the non-Pro iPads. While it still weighs under 500g, the large screen and slightly bulkier size means it's best suited for use when you're sitting down. 

It doesn't have the very latest tech powering its processor or cameras, and it doesn't have Apple's Face ID facial recognition features. All that said, if you just want a tablet for watching videos or web browsing, it should deliver the goods.

For more information about how this model performs in our tough tests, see our full, expert Apple iPad 2021 review.

iPad Mini – £464

Apple iPad Mini 2021 with screen on showing an array of app icons
  • Screen size: 8.2 inches
  • Good for: anyone who wants iOS on a small screen

The iPad Mini now has the A15 processor, which means there's a clearer difference between the Mini and the standard iPad. The Mini is now a stronger option if you want a powerful, quick tablet without a huge display. It's more of an iPad Pro Mini thanks to the processor.

Despite the smaller screen, it's almost £200 more than a standard iPad.

Is it worth the extra money? Read our iPad Mini 2021 review to find out.

iPad Air – £569

  • Screen size: 10.9 inches
  • Good for: people who want a bigger screen, but don't want to fork out for the iPad Pro

The iPad Air ups the specs compared with the standard iPad. It uses the M1 processor, which is the same as the iPad Pro. Plus it can magnetically connect to Apple's range of Smart Keyboards so it can be used like a laptop. 

It has a large, 10.9-inch screen but weighs less than the standard, smaller iPad. On the downside, some may find the larger screen size makes it a touch unwieldy to use while standing up.

The iPad Air was refreshed in 2022 (which is when it got the M1 processor and a sharper display) but the older 2020 model is still available.

See if the M1 iPad Air can compete with an iPad Pro despite being far cheaper in our Apple iPad Air 2022 review.

iPad Pro – £649 (11-inch), £959 (12.9-inch)

iPad Pro 12.9-inch 2021 with screen on showing an array of app icons
  • Screen size: 11-inch or 12.9-inch
  • Good for: If you're looking for a tablet that doubles as a laptop

The iPad Pro comes in two sizes: the smaller is more or less on par with the iPad Air, while the screen on the larger is more like that of a medium-sized laptop. 

The latest 2021 models are as fast as your typical laptop and are powered by the M1 processor. You also get an upgraded screen that can show colours more accurately and four speakers surrounding the device for a more immersive sound. Plus, like the iPad Air, the iPad Pro can connect to Apple's Smart Keyboard accessories. 

For most people these extras will be overkill. But if you are a creative professional who wants to edit photos, videos or 3D projects on the move, an iPad Pro could be a great choice.

To find out more, and to see whether you can get away with saving money on the 11-inch model, see our iPad Pro 11-inch 2020 review and iPad Pro 12.9-inch 2021 review

Looking to buy the best tablet or iPad for a cheaper price? Our experts found the best iPad deals in the sales.

What's the latest iPad?

The iPad Air was updated most recently. We got a new version in March 2022, but the others aren't exactly old.

  • iPad - latest version was released in September 2021
  • iPad Mini - latest version was released in September 2021
  • iPad Air - latest version was released in March 2022
  • iPad Pro - latest version was released in July 2021

Streamline your working with iPad, iPhone and Mac Continuity

If you already have an iPhone or Mac computer, you’ll unlock extra iPad features from the off thanks to Apple’s Continuity feature. 

This includes Handoff, which lets you start work on an app on one device and continue it on another where you left off. You could start writing a note on your iPad before you leave home and immediately continue it on your iPhone on your commute.

There’s also a Universal Clipboard, which means any content you copy on one device can be pasted on another. Make calls on your iPad as if it were your phone and auto-unlock your phone if your iPad is nearby, and vice-versa.

Do I need a 4G or 5G-connected iPad?

As standard, iPads connect to the internet over wi-fi; you pay a premium to get a 4G or 5G-enabled iPad, and that’s not including the monthly cost of the subscription. 

Most phones nowadays feature so-called ‘hotspots’, letting you easily share your 4G or 5G connection from your phone to your iPad as a wi-fi network. Plus, free public wi-fi is now very common on long-distance trains and cafés. 

So you probably don’t need to pay extra for this added connectivity.

Pick the best 4G and 5G provider with our guide to the best mobile networks.

How much storage do I need on an iPad?

Because iPads can’t have extra storage added post-purchase – unlike Android tablets with microSD card slots – it’s important to pick the right amount for you. 

This is what we’d recommend for different uses:

  • 32GB Pick this option if you're only streaming video and reading on an iPad or iPad Mini. Newer iPads from 2021 onwards start at 64GB, which makes sense given the increasing size of files and software.
  • 64GB Choose this amount of storage if you download TV and films. Also pick this if you take photos and videos on your iPad. 
  • 128GB If you have lots of apps and games, and also plan on downloading lots of TV and films, it's worth getting more storage.
  • 256GB This option is only available on the iPad Pro. If you're planning to use your iPad Pro like a laptop – with multimedia projects such as music, video and photos – it's sensible to invest in this amount. 
  • 1TB and 2TB These enormous hard drives (1,000GB and 2,000GB respectively) are only available on the iPad Pro range. Most people won't need it, but if you're editing raw 4K footage it might be wise to go with the most storage you can.

Do I need a keyboard or stylus with an iPad?

As of October 2021, all current iPad models support Apple Pencil, which is Apple's name for its stylus.

The 10.2-inch iPad and iPad Mini released before 2021 do support the Apple Pencil, but only the first-generation model. This has an awkward charging mechanism that requires it to be shoved into the charging port of the tablet. 

The iPad Air, iPad Pro, iPad 2021 and iPad Mini 2021 models all support the second-generation model, which charges when attached to the edge of your iPad using a magnet.

All iPads work with Bluetooth keyboards, such as those made by Logitech and other companies. All the most recently released iPads from 2021, as well as the iPad Pro and iPad Air from 2020, support the official Apple keyboard.

Should I buy an older iPad?

It’s still possible to pick up a new version of a previous-generation iPad. If you’re buying new, a last-generation model of a 9.7-inch iPad will cost around £20 less than the current model. Saving money is great, but Apple’s policy on updating devices typically means that older iPads will stop receiving updates sooner than newer models.

This isn’t necessarily a disaster, but people using older Apple devices have eventually found that some apps will no longer update to the latest version because their device is too old to support it.

You can use our free tablet support guide to see exactly how many years of updates the iPad you have or would like to buy will get.

If you're looking to buy an older version of the iPad, you can find out how last-generation models fared in our full round-up of Apple iPad reviews

Your iPad queries answered

iPads are basically big smartphones and our tests find them to be intuitive to use, but there are still intricacies and functions that aren't immediately apparent.

  • How to take a screenshot on an iPad - press the power and either volume button quickly, there's no need to hold it down. When you release the buttons your screenshot will be taken and you'll see a small thumbnail of it in the corner of the screen for a few seconds. If you have an iPad with a power button then the process is the same but you press the home and power button instead. 
  • How to reset an iPad - this is an important operation if you're planning on selling or giving away your iPad since it gets all your data off it. Go to Settings then General and scroll down until you see Reset. Press it then select Erase All Content and Settings. Enter your password and your iPad will be as personal data-free as the day you bought it. You may also need to remove your Apple ID account, too.
  • How to clear the cache on an iPad - this is more to do with your browser than your iPad, but since this is Apple you're more than likely using its Safari browser. Open Settings and scroll all the way to Safari (it's quite far down). Press it then select Clear History and Website Data. That's it, all selected website data will be cleared, so you'll need to log in to websites again.
  • How to get rid of splitscreen on an iPad - seeing two apps at once on screen is useful, until you can't figure out how to get back to just seeing one. You'll see a black divider between the two windows and you can drag this around to resize the two boxes. Drag the slider left or right to make one of the windows smaller and, if you drag it all the way to the side of the screen then the window you've been making smaller will disappear.
  • How to rotate the screen on an iPad - this should happen automatically when you hold the tablet upright, also known as portrait, or horizontally, also known as landscape. If it doesn't then either the app doesn't support landscape or portrait mode, or the auto screen rotate is turned off. To turn it on again, swipe down from the top right corner of the screen to open the Control Centre, then find Rotation Lock and make sure it's turned off.

Wondering how Apple iPads compare to their rivals? Check out all of our independent tablet reviews.