IPads are among the best computers you can buy. They can do everything from keeping your kids entertained to being used to create breathtaking works of digital art, and they can do it from anywhere. Before you buy one, though, you need to ask yourself what you can afford, keeping in mind that affordability isn’t just about the cost. It’s also about knowing what high-level functions you need and can’t afford to give up to shave down the cost.
Apple currently has four lines of iPad with five models between them.
- The iPad: This is the base model and a perfect introduction to tablets.
- The iPad mini: This is the smallest model, though it still packs a punch.
- The iPad Air: This is the best nonprofessional-grade model.
- The iPad Pro: There are two models in the Pro line: an 11-inch size and a 12.9-inch size. They have slightly different specifications, but both are must-haves for professionals.
Although these are what are currently being produced, Apple still supports older models of iPad for several years. If your budget is particularly tight, you can get one of these older models instead. That said, you’ll likely only find refurbished versions of these older models.
How much data an iPad can store is more important for iPads than other tablet brands, as iPads don’t offer expandable storage. More data storage means a higher cost, but it’s always better to overestimate your needs.
Each model of iPad offers different data storage tiers. IPads, iPad minis and iPad Airs offer 64 gigabytes and 256GB. Both iPad Pros offer 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1 terabyte and 2TB.
All iPad models have two versions: One can only connect to the internet using Wi-Fi, and the other can connect with Wi-Fi and your cellular service. Wi-Fi and cellular models cost $100 to $200 more than Wi-Fi-only models with the same total data storage. All cellular models can use 5G data speeds — except for the base iPad, which can only use 4G LTE. Additionally, all models have Bluetooth connectivity.
The cost of an iPad is determined by three aspects: what model it is, how much data storage it has and how it can connect to the internet.
- The iPad: This model has four price tiers: $330, $460, $480 and $610.
- The iPad mini: This model has three price tiers: $500, $650 and $800.
- The iPad Air: This model has three price tiers: $600, $750 and $900.
- The 11-inch iPad Pro: This model has nine price tiers: $800, $900, $1,000, $1,100, $1,300, $1,500, $1,700, $1,900 and $2,100.
- The 12.9-inch iPad Pro: This model has nine price tiers: $1,100, $1,200, $1,300, $1,400, $1,600, $1,800, $2,000, $2,200 and $2,400.
Screen size and quality
Each iPad model has a different screen size and quality.
- The iPad: This model has a 10.2-inch Retina display with True Tone.
- The iPad mini: This model has an 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display with True Tone.
- The iPad Air: This model has a 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display with True Tone.
- The 11-inch iPad Pro: This model has an 11-inch Liquid Retina display with ProMotion and True Tone.
- The 12.9-inch iPad Pro: This model has a 12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR display with ProMotion and True Tone.
The processor of an iPad determines how well it can perform. For example, better processors mean an increased ability to multitask and let intensive apps work without lagging or stuttering. If your iPad is just for streaming and playing games, you don’t need to worry much. However, you should get an iPad with the best processor possible if you plan on using it for work.
The iPad has an A13 Bionic chip, which is the weakest available. The iPad mini has a slight upgrade in the A15 Bionic chip. The iPad Air and both iPad Pros use an M1 chip, which is the best processor.
Among the best features of any tablet is its high portability, but the degree of portability is restricted by its battery life. All iPad models have up to 10 hours of battery life on a full charge when only web browsing, but this length will decrease if you’re multitasking or using intense apps.
Each iPad model’s back comes in a range of colors. The iPad and both iPad Pros come in space gray and silver. The iPad mini and iPad Air come in space gray, purple, starlight and pink with the Air also available in blue.
The two main accessories used with any iPad are the Apple Pencil and various Apple keyboards, but not all iPad models are compatible with these accessories.
- The iPad: This model is compatible with Apple Pencil (First Generation) and Smart Keyboard.
- The iPad mini: This model is compatible with Apple Pencil (Second Generation).
- The iPad Air, the 11-inch iPad Pro and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro: These models are compatible with Apple Pencil (Second Generation), Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio.
This model is the perfect introduction to tablets, thanks to its solid specifications and low cost. Grab it if you want an affordable entertainment center or a mobile computer for students.
Sold by Amazon
This model is another great option for an affordable mobile entertainment center and workstation. It may be smaller than the iPad, but it’s more powerful in return.
Sold by Amazon
This model is perfect for people who need a good mobile workspace or want a high-quality entertainment center but don’t need the extra abilities of the iPad Pros.
Sold by Amazon
This model upgrades several aspects of the iPad Air for high-level, professional-grade performance. If you’re looking for an iPad for daily work, this is what you need.
Sold by Amazon
This is Apple’s current best model with the largest and highest-quality screen. If you’re a high-end creative, you can’t afford not to get one, but noncreative professionals should be fine with the iPad Pro 11-inch.
Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
- If you need more power than an iPad, grab the entry-level MacBook Pro 2022.
- If you need the most power possible, consider the MacBook Pro 2021 16-Inch.
- The MacBook Air 2022 is a great iPad alternative if a standard computer works better for you than a tablet.
- Save the most money possible on the low-end MacBook Air 2020.
Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
Copyright 2023 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.