Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024


iPads are among the best tablets money can buy. However, as Apple’s iPad portfolio has expanded, picking the best iPad for your specific needs can be tricky. Fortunately, we’re here to help you make the right choice.


What to Look For With an iPad in 2024

The Apple iPad lineup has long been the go-to for a premium tablet experience for most people for good reason. All iPads deliver an incredible experience, and the iPadOS has access to tons of tablet-optimized apps. However, depending on what you want to get from your iPad, not all of the models will suit you. So, while shopping for an iPad, the most crucial consideration is your use case.

Even the most affordable iPad models are enough if you only plan to browse the web, check social media, and stream content. But if you want powerful hardware to handle intensive apps and games, you’ll want to shell out for the expensive models.

Attaching peripherals and other accessories can also help you get more out of an iPad. All current-generation iPads have USB-C ports and Bluetooth connectivity for this, and the Pro models even have support for Thunderbolt and USB4.


However, it’s also important to remember that an iPad can’t fully replace a laptop, at least not yet. iPadOS is quite capable and can do many things that a desktop-grade operating system can do, but it also has limited multi-tasking and split-screen functionality. iPad apps are also often less comprehensive than their desktop counterparts.

Now, let’s look at the best iPads for the most common usage scenarios.

How Did We Research

Models Evaluated

Hours Researched

Reviews Analyzed

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How-To Geek’s product recommendations come from the same team of experts that have helped people fix their gadgets over one billion times. We only recommend the best products based on our research and expertise. We never accept payment to endorse or review a product.
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apple ipad air 11-inch m2
Apple


Pros

Cons

Powerful M2 processor

iPadOS is slightly limiting

Excellent battery life

Sleek design

The iPad Air provides a perfect middle ground between Apple’s most affordable base iPad and the more professional-grade Pro models. Although the company has introduced a new 13-inch model of the Air, the 11-inch version remains the best option for most people because of its relative portability.

The 11-inch iPad Air (M2) is not just a powerful device—it’s also reliable. Packed with the same M2 chip as the previous iPad Pro models, it’s faster than any chip you’ll find on competing tablets and more than enough for pretty much anything you throw at it. 128GB storage in the base iPad Air model is also a welcome improvement, ensuring you have ample space for all your files and apps.


While the iPad Air display may not be OLED like the more expensive Pro models, it surpasses the base iPad in quality. With a wide color gamut, it displays colors more accurately, enhancing your viewing experience. So, whether you’re watching movies or TV shows, you can expect the visuals to be pleasing to the eye. Battery life is also excellent, and you’ll easily get 10 hours of backup while working, watching, or browsing.

You can choose between Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi + Cellular variants, and there are four storage options and four colors.

apple-ipad-air-m2-11-inch

Apple iPad Air 11-inch (M2)

Best iPad Overall

$569 $599 Save $30

Thanks to its powerful chip and excellent display, the 11-inch iPad Air is the best iPad for most people. It’s fast, responsive, and supports the new Pencil Pro.

apple ipad 10th-generation
Apple

Pros

Cons

Excellent battery life

Display limited to sRGB gamut

Good performance

Only 64GB storage in the base model

Value for money


The 10th generation iPad, Apple’s most affordable tablet, is a wise investment for anyone on a tight budget or who needs a tablet for basic tasks. It offers good performance, making it perfect for checking social media, streaming content, casual gaming, and more. Rest assured, even though you aren’t spending much money, you’ll still get a great experience with access to many amazing apps, relieving you of any cost-related concerns.

The 10th-gen iPad is powered by the chip in the iPhone 12 series, but despite its age, it still feels responsive and snappy. The tablet has the same modern design as the company’s other iPad models and a USB-C connector for power and data. Wi-Fi 6 is helpful for fast wireless connectivity, and cellular variants support 5G. Like other iPads, it also has excellent battery life.

There is Touch ID for biometric authentication, stereo speakers, and support for USB-C Apple Pencil. If you have the first-generation Apple Pencil lying around, you can also use it, but you’ll need an adapter for pairing and charging.


The only area where you compromise compared to other iPads is the display. The 10th generation iPad’s display is limited to the sRGB color gamut, whereas other iPads support the much wider Display P3 color gamut, allowing them to display more colors accurately. However, this won’t be a significant issue for most people.

The 10th-generation iPad is available in Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi + Cellular variants starting at $349. It also comes in four color options and two storage variants.

Apple ipad 10th-generation

Apple iPad (10th generation)

Best Budget iPad

$329 $349 Save $20

The 10th-generation iPad may be the most affordable tablet in Apple’s lineup, but it’s pretty capable and powerful enough to handle everyday tasks.

apple ipad pro 13-inch 2024
Apple

Pros

Cons

OLED panel is beautiful and bright

Expensive

Thinnest iPad at 5.1mm

Powerful M4 chip


If you are a professional and need a serious tablet for drawing and creating content, it’s hard to go wrong with the 13-inch iPad Pro. Its screen gives you a large canvas for your drawing, and the Tandem OLED panel is also the best display on any iPad. Like any excellent OLED panel, it produces inky blacks and vibrant colors.Apple has also ensured it can deliver up to 1,000 nits of peak brightness in SDR and 1,600 nits in HDR.

As someone who plans to use the iPad for drawing, you’ll appreciate the new Pencil Pro, which supports a nifty new squeeze gesture for bringing up menus and other options. Developers can also determine what this gesture does in their apps, making the Pencil Pro even more versatile. Additionally, the Barrel Roll feature gives you precise control of a shaped pen or brush by just rotating the pencil with your fingers. Just keep in mind that the Pencil Pro is a separate purchase—at $129 MSRP, it’s an expensive stylus but worth the investment.


Moreover, the M4 chip is insanely powerful and can handle even the most intensive tasks, including drawing and content creation tools. You’ll also be happy to know that Apple includes 256GB storage in the base model. Of course, you can go up to 2TB if you need more.

iPad Pros already looked slick, but with the 2024 version, Apple has further refined the design. The company has managed to slim down the 13-inch model to just 5.1mm, making it the thinnest iPad. Another useful little design tweak is the placement of the front shooter in the middle of the long side.

However, all these impressive features add to the cost, and the 13-inch iPad Pro starts at $1,299. So, if it’s out of your budget, the 13-inch iPad Air is another good option. The Air lacks the OLED panel and the M4 chip, but it supports the Pencil Pro, and its M2 chip is still quite powerful.

apple ipad pro 13-inch m4

Apple iPad Pro 13 (2024)

Best iPad for Drawing

The 13-inch iPad Pro is Apple’s most powerful iPad, and it houses a beautiful OLED display. Combined with Apple’s Pencil Pro, it becomes an excellent tool for sketching, drawing, and more.

apple ipad mini 6th generation
Apple


Pros

Cons

Compact, lightweight design

Under-sun visibility can sometimes be an issue

Excellent display

Access to tons of content through apps

If the best eReaders aren’t cutting it out for you and you need a tablet for reading, the iPad Mini is your best bet. It’s the most compact and lightweight option in Apple’s portfolio, making it comfortable as a reading companion. You can easily slip it into a bag or a big jacket pocket, and its compact design is also the perfect size for extended, one-handed reading.

Whether you read regular eBooks, comics, magazines, manga, or your textbooks, you’ll have an excellent experience on the iPad Mini’s 8.3-inch IPS screen. Text and images look crisp and sharp on this 326 ppi resolution screen, and the anti-reflective coating ensures you don’t have to worry about glare.


Moreover, unlike a Kindle or Kobo eReader, which are limited to their respective stores for buying books, the iPad Mini gives you access to so much more with a variety of apps and Reading Mode in Safari. And, of course, there is also Apple Books with millions of titles available to buy.

Thanks to the powerful A15 Bionic chip, the iPad Mini feels responsive and snappy. You also get good cameras, Touch ID, stereo speakers, Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, and optional 5G support. Additionally, the Apple Pencil (2nd generation) and Apple Pencil (USB-C) are supported.

In terms of downsides, while the iPad Mini offers excellent battery life for a tablet, it pales in comparison to an eReader. It can also struggle with visibility in direct sunlight and isn’t rated for water resistance.

ipad mini

iPad Mini (6th generation)

Best iPad for Reading

$400 $499 Save $99

The iPad Mini’s compact design and excellent display make it a great tablet for reading. It’s also fast and can do much more than a simple eReader.

Lock screen of the 10th Generation iPad
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek


Pros

Cons

Good performance

Base model is limited to 64GB storage

Affordable

Excellent battery life

Besides being an excellent budget option, the 10th-gen iPad is a great companion device for young kids. It’s affordable, and its large screen will give kids plenty of real estate to consume or create content. It also packs a decent camera for any FaceTime calls or any Zoom classroom sessions.

The A14 Bionic may not be the latest chip, but it delivers enough power for the iPad to run anything your kid needs for school work smoothly. There is also support for the USB-C Apple Pencil and the 1st-gen Apple Pencil with the Lightning connector, so your school-going kids can take notes, draw, sketch, and do much more.


The regular iPad’s battery life is a plus, as it can last up to 10 hours while watching videos, browsing the web or social media, or reading eBooks. Moreover, iPadOS offers a plethora of apps and games for kids. There are also built-in parental controls to limit what your kids can do on the iPad.

The 10.9-inch display isn’t the best in Apple’s portfolio, but considering the 10th-generation iPad’s price tag, there is little to complain about. Other highlights include stereo speakers, Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, and Touch ID for seamless biometric authentication.

If the regular iPad is too big for your child, the iPad Mini is a compact alternative. You’ll spend more money but get a higher-resolution display and faster processor. Otherwise, the Mini is pretty much the same as the regular iPad.

Apple ipad 10th-generation

Apple iPad (10th generation)

Best iPad for School

$329 $349 Save $20

The regular iPad is an excellent companion device for school-going kids. It’s not terribly expensive but still delivers a good experience.

apple ipad air-11-inch m2 in all colors
Apple


Pros

Cons

M2 chip delivers snappy performance

iPadOS can be slightly limiting

Excellent display

Apple Pencil Pro support

Our best overall iPad pick, the 11-inch iPad Air, is an excellent option for college students looking for a capable laptop replacement. It’s not the most powerful iPad in Apple’s portfolio, but its M2 chip can deliver more than enough power for most college students.

If you’re willing to shell out the cash, you can combine this tablet with Apple’s Magic Keyboard or an excellent third-party keyboard case like the Logitech Combo Touch to get an experience similar to a laptop. Remember, while the iPad Air can do a lot of what a traditional laptop does, iPadOS also limits it. So make sure it can run any specific apps or software you need.


The 11-inch iPad Air is also reasonably portable, so you won’t have to carry a big bulky tablet around. Additionally, the aluminum and glass construction is durable, but using a case for peace of mind is always a good idea.

Other features of the tablet aren’t shabby either. For example, it’s equipped with a 12MP ultra-wide front camera with Center Stage to keep you in the frame while making a video call. Additionally, there is Wi-Fi 6E support for fast wireless connectivity and support for Apple’s new Pencil Pro.

If you want an even bigger screen, the iPad Air comes in a 13-inch variant. The two iPad Air variants are identical in overall size and weight.

apple-ipad-air-m2-11-inch

Apple iPad Air 11-inch (M2)

Best iPad for College Students

$569 $599 Save $30

The 11-inch iPad Air’s powerful hardware and fantastic display are perfect for handling the needs of a college student. Combined with a keyboard case, it becomes even more versatile.

FAQ

How do I connect my Apple Pencil to my iPad?

It’s a simple process to connect an Apple Pencil to an iPad. If you have the first-generation Apple Pencil, you’ll need to remove the cap and plug it into the Lightning port of your iPad. You’ll then see a Bluetooth pairing request on the iPad screen. Accept it, and the Apple Pencil will be paired. iPad (10th generation) owners trying to pair the first-generation Apple Pencil will need a USB-C to Apple Pencil adapter as the iPad has no Lightning port.


If you have a second-generation or newer Apple Pencil, simply attach it to the magnetic connector on the side of the iPad. You’ll receive a pairing request. Accept it, and the Apple Pencil will connect.

How do I take a screenshot on my iPad?

You can take a screenshot on any modern iPad with the home button by pressing the top button and either volume button simultaneously. If your iPad has a home button, press the home and top buttons simultaneously to capture a screenshot.

Can I use my iPad as a laptop replacement?

Sure, you can use the iPad as a laptop replacement by connecting a keyboard and trackpad accessory. Most iPads feature incredibly powerful processors that can run professional-grade applications. But remember, as it uses the iPadOS, you’ll face some software and multitasking limitations.

What are the current iPad generations?

As of June 2024, Apple offers four different iPad models. The base iPad, or the regular iPad, is currently in its 10th generation, which was released in 2022. The iPad Mini hasn’t been updated since 2021, when the sixth-generation model was released. The 11-inch and 13-inch models of the iPad Air and the iPad Pro are the newest iPads in the company’s portfolio and were introduced in 2024.


The 11-inch iPad Air is technically the sixth-generation iPad Air, but it’s the first generation of the 13-inch iPad Air. Similarly, the 2024 model of the 11-inch iPad Pro is technically the fifth-generation iPad Pro 11-inch, but it’s the first-generation iPad Pro 13-inch.



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By John P.

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