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Which is the best iPad? Is it the Air, Pro, Mini or regular model?

Update: iPad Air (2022) Added
best ipads 2022 hero
© Apple / NextPit

Apple updated its iPad lineup in March/2022 with the introduction of a new iPad Air. And with that, there is now another model equipped with the powerful M1 SoC. In our big iPad buying guide, we tell you the exact differences between the iPad: regular, Air, Pro, and mini. Then you can easily decide which is the best Apple tablet for you.

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All iPads 2022 compared

  Basic iPad Smallest iPad Best value-for-money Small Pro model Large Pro model
Product name
Photo Apple iPad (9. Generation) Apple iPad Mini (6. Generation) Apple iPad Air (5. Generation) Apple iPad Pro 11 Apple iPad Pro 12.9
Technical data 10.2-inch display with 2,160 x 1,620 pixels | True Tone | 500 nits
Apple A13 Bionic SoC | 3 GB RAM
64 or 256 GB of internal storage
WiFi and LTE model
8 MP rear camera with f/2.4 aperture
12 MP ultra-wide-angle selfie camera with f/2.4 aperture | follow mode
Up to 10 hours runtime on WLAN
Up to 9 hours runtime on a mobile network






8.3-inch display with 2,266 x 1,488 pixels | True Tone | 500 nits
Apple A15 Bionic SoC
64 or 256 GB of internal storage
WiFi and 5G model
12 MP rear camera with f/1.8 aperture
12 MP ultra-wide-angle selfie camera with f/2.4 aperture | follow mode
Up to 10 hours of WLAN runtime
Up to 9 hours runtime on a mobile network






10.9-inch display with 2,360 x 1,640 pixels | True Tone | 500 nits
Apple M1 SoC
64 or 256 GB of internal storage
WiFi and LTE model
12 MP rear camera with f/1.8 aperture
12 MP selfie camera with f/2.2 aperture
Up to 10 hours runtime on WLAN
Up to 9 hours runtime on a mobile network






11-inch display with 2.388 x 1.668 pixels | True Tone | 600 nits | 120 Hz
Apple M1 SoC
128 GB to 2 TB of internal storage
WiFi and 5G model
Dual rear cameras (12 & 10 MP) | LiDAR sensor
TrueDepth camera on the front | Face ID | follow mode
Up to 10 hours runtime on WLAN
Up to 9 hours runtime on a mobile network






12.9-inch display with 2,732 x 2,048 pixels | True Tone | 1,600 Nits | 120 Hz | Mini LED technology
Apple M1 SoC
128 GB to 2 TB internal storage
WiFi and 5G model
Dual rear cameras (12 & 10 MP) | LiDAR sensor
TrueDepth camera on the front | Face ID | follow mode
Up to 10 hours runtime on WLAN
Up to 9 hours runtime on a mobile network






Pros
  • Great software
  • Fast processing capability
  • Front camera with Center Stage feature
  • Good build quality
  • The ideal tablet form factor
  • iPadOS 15 runs perfectly on it
  • Super performance
  • Very fast and powerful
  • Center Stage: The new Apple system for video calls is on board
  • Great battery life
  • Compatible with Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard
  • Thanks to USB-C, faster data exchange and connection options for external screens
  • Great performance thanks to the M1 chip and Thunderbolt port
  • Integrated 5G also makes the iPad faster when mobile
  • Great sound
  • Very good battery life, especially on standby
  • Center Stage is absolutely great!
  • 1st generation Magic Keyboard also works with the new model
  • Not reviewed
Cons
  • Expensive prices for larger capacity and LTE model
  • Lightning connector
  • Stereo speakers located on the underside
  • Outdated design
  • Display has no 120 Hertz  refresh rate and ProMotion support
  • No Face ID
  • It could be tight for people with a hunger for storage space
  • No Face ID (which doesn't bother me personally)
  • iPadOS urgently needs an update to make the performance worthwhile
  • The small 11'' version doesn't have an XDR display
  • The front camera is not optimally placed
  • Not reviewed
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In March 2022, Apple introduced the latest iPad — the 5th generation iPad Air. As an innovation, the manufacturer now offers the powerful M1 chip in the Air model. The integration of the chip also upgraded the 4G/LTE option into a 5G model. In 2021, Apple last updated the iPad mini, adapted its design, and also integrated the A15 chip.

Thus, the two Pro models and the iPad Air now offer the same performance level as the cheaper MacBook Air models. Only the basic iPad (9th gen), and iPad mini (6th gen), still rely on a smartphone chip. In the following buying guide, we will introduce you to each iPad model in more detail and put it in the context of its predecessor versions and alternatives.

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In the following, we'll take a closer look at all iPad models. We present the pros of each model and reveal who the iPad is suitable for. Of course, we will also include current prices to help you make a decision, even though we tend to focus on the recommended retail prices in our assessment.

Apple iPad (9th generation): Starting from $329

The latest basic iPad was released in September 2021. Like its predecessor, it comes with a 10.2-inch IPS display with LED backlight. The 2,160 x 1,620 pixels resolution is paraded as a Retina Display. For the very first time, Apple integrated its True Tone technology into the base iPad model, which ensures natural colors regardless of the environment. Of course, support for Apple's input stylus, Apple Pencil, remains. However, you are limited to just the first generation.

2021 12 14 Apple iPad 2021 MacBook Screen
You can also use your iPad as a "sidecar" for MacBooks. / © NextPit

Apple's basic iPad is available in silver and space gray colors, with the back being made out of 100 percent recycled aluminum. With its distinct bezels, the iPad 2021 measures 250.6 x 174.1 x 7.5 millimeters (L x W x H). Right below the display, Apple places its Touch ID fingerprint sensor, which is located in the home button. The Wi-Fi model tips the scales at 487 grams, while the LTE version is slightly heftier at 498 grams.

In terms of hardware, Apple has stuck to the A13 Bionic SoC, which was first introduced with the Apple iPhone 11. In addition to the LTE and Wi-Fi versions, you can also choose between 64 and 256 GB of internal storage. Apple does not make any exact offers regarding the working memory, but the 9th generation iPad is touted to feature 3 GB of RAM.

Another big innovation is the use of a front camera with an ultra-wide-angle lens. This enables the use of Apple's follow mode, also known as Center Stage. For FaceTime calls, the iPad will automatically track your head. When it comes to group calls, you can also get more friends in the picture. The rear-facing camera has a resolution of 8 MP and records videos at 1,080p resolution. Apple has not improved anything here.

2021 12 14 Apple iPad 2021 Camera Front
The ultra-wide-angle camera of the iPad 2021. / © NextPit

Apple did not reveal the iPad's battery capacity in the technical specifications for the 2021 edition. However, usage times of up to 10 hours for web browsing proved to be rather realistic in everyday, practical usage. The cellular model with LTE connectivity can be used for up to 9 hours via the cellular network. Apple still relies on the Lightning port for charging, possibly to ensure compatibility with accessories and the Apple Pencil 1.

iPad 9th generation: Price

iPad 9th generation 64 GB 256 GB
WiFi $329 $479
LTE $459 $609

The 9th generation iPad starts from $329. However, the price increases exponentially with more memory and an LTE module. You can refer to the prices in the table above.

Apple iPad mini 2021: Starting from $499

While Apple has retained the familiar design of the basic iPad, the iPad mini experienced a redesign in 2021. The new iPad mini appeared with far thinner bezels than before, sans the home button and the Touch ID sensor. The chassis houses an 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display with IPS technology. Thanks to its resolution of 2226 x 1488 pixels, the pixel density of the iPad mini is very impressive. Fortunately, True Tone support is also included as well as support for the P3 color space and Apple's second-generation Apple Pencil.

You can choose between Space Gray, Rose, Violet and Polaris colors for the iPad mini. The build material used is also 100 percent recycled aluminum. The dimensions of the smallest iPad stand at 195.4 x 134.8 x 6.3 millimeters (H x W x D). In large pockets, the WiFi model weighs 293 grams while the LTE model is 4 grams heftier. Other features include a USB-C port at the bottom and a magnetic port for the Apple Pencil 2 on the right side. Compared to the iPad 2021, the iPad mini also offers stereo speakers on both the top and bottom sides.

NextPit Apple iPad Mini Display Case
Small and pretty - the iPad mini 2021! / © NextPit

In terms of performance, the iPad mini 2021 is clearly ahead of the base model. This is due to Apple's A15 Bionic chipset, which is also used in the iPhone 13 range. Half a dozen CPU cores and five graphics cores ensure that you can edit 4K videos or play the latest mobile games without having to suffer long loading times. You can read more about the seemingly inexhaustible performance of the iPad mini in our review.

At this point, we would first like to point out the differences in the cameras to you. The selfie camera offers an ultra-wide-angle field of view, which allows you to use Apple's follow mode. It has a 12 MP resolution and supports the Smart HDR 3 standard as well as video recordings in 1080p at 60 frames per second. The main camera on the back can record videos in 4K and also supports 60 FPS. However, you have to settle for 12 megapixels for videos - but the main camera is much faster with an aperture of f/1.8.

NextPit Apple iPad Mini Fabi Test
The size of the iPad mini with "Fabi for scale"! / © NextPit

Although the iPad mini's battery capacity is no doubt smaller due to its construction, Apple advertised battery runtimes of up to 10 hours when surfing the web via WLAN networks. When surfing via the cellular network with the LTE model, you can manage 9 hours without a power outlet. If the iPad mini needs to be plugged in, it can be done via USB-C. Thanks to USB 3.1 Gen 1, the port also allows connections to external displays or hard drives. The data rates are correspondingly high with a maximum of 5 gigabits per second.

iPad mini 2021: Price

iPad mini 2021 price 64 GB 256 GB
WiFi $499 $649
LTE $649 $799

If you decide to buy the iPad mini, you will have to spend at least $499 a pop. In addition to the 64 GB model, there is also a 256 GB model. As with the basic iPad, Apple also differentiates between cellular and WiFi-only models. All prices can be found in the table above this paragraph.

Apple iPad Air 2022: Starting at $599

On March 8, 2022, Apple updated the iPad Air. The new version offers the same display in the same form factor as the previous generation and offers quite a few new features overall. Nevertheless, the update is significant because Apple has integrated the powerful M1 SoC into the 5th generation iPad Air. This puts the Air model roughly on par with the iPad Pro models from 2021 in terms of performance.

As another innovation, Apple now has the front camera of the iPad Air with an ultra-wide-angle lens and a resolution of 12 megapixels. This makes the Air the last remaining model to support the "Center Stage" feature, which automatically tracks you during video conferences and is better suited for multiple people on group calls.

apple ipad air colors 2020
You can buy the iPad Air in these colors / © Apple

In terms of connectivity, Apple still relies on a USB-C port at the bottom, with USB 3.1 in the 2nd generation, data rates of up to 10 gigabits per second are also possible. You can connect displays with up to 6K at 60 hertz.

You can connect to the iPad Air wirelessly via WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0. The new SoC also turns the cellular model into a 5G version, which ensures faster data rates on the go. These are the suggested prices for the new model, with a price increase of 20 dollars for the 5G models:

iPad Air 2022: Costs

iPad Air 2022 64 GB 256 GB
Wi-Fi $599 $749
5G $749 $899

Apple iPad Pro 2021: Starting from $799

The two Pro models start from $799 onwards with the iPad Pro (11-inch) while the larger 12.9-inch variant is priced from $1,099. You can only choose between Space Gray and Silver colors. As we will find out later, there is a lot more storage options to choose from.

Since there are two models for the Pro model, the displays also differ. Apple uses an IPS panel with LED backlight on the 11-inch variant with a resolution of 2,388 x 1,668 pixels. For the first time, the manufacturer offers a refresh rate of 120 Hertz. The display is also True Tone compatible, and it also supports the large P3 color space.

Apple uses a Liquid Retina XDR display for the 12.9-inch model, where the modern mini-LED background technology delivers a resolution of 2,732 x 2,048 pixels. Pro Motion support is also on board here. However, the display of the 12.9-inch model is superior in terms of brightness as it achieves a maximum of 1600 nits, provided you watch HDR content. The contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1 is almost as good as OLED. Both displays are compatible with the second generation of the Apple Pencil.

NextPit Apple iPad Pro 2021 display
The iPad Pro in the 11-inch variant with Magic Keyboard. / © NextPit

The different display sizes naturally lead to different device sizes. The iPad Pro 11 measures 247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9 millimeters, while the 12.9-inch model is much larger and thicker at 280.6 x 214.9 x 6.4 millimeters. Needless to say, the weight of the larger iPad Pro is also higher, where the 11-inch model weighs 466 grams sans the LTE module and 468 grams with the LTE module. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro tips the scales at 682 or 684 grams, respectively. The case is made of aluminum for both.

Compared to all other iPad models, the Pro models offer a clear performance advantage. This is due to the presence of Apple's M1 chips. The ARM-based SoCs offer eight CPU cores, eight GPU cores, and are mated to either 8 or 16 GB RAM. Thus, the iPad Pro models from 2021 are currently the most powerful tablets available on the market.

The tablets also offer advantages in terms of multimedia features. The iPad Pros offer four speakers at the top and bottom and a total of four microphones. In addition, the models support Apple's reliable Face ID, which allows you to unlock the tablet by looking at the display. A Smart Connector for accessories is also on board, and the Pro models even support USB 4 and Thunderbolt 3 via USB-C.

MG 9860
Here is also a picture with "Fabi for scale". / © NextPit

Apple also offers more powerful cameras on the most expensive iPads. The selfie camera, which is located next to the sensors for Face ID, comes at 12 megapixels resolution. As a "TrueDepth" camera, it supports a digital portrait mode. The aforementioned follow mode is also included as well. The selfie camera covers a field of view of 122 degrees. One thing that is worth mentioning is the support of Smart HDR 3 apart from video recordings in 1080p at a maximum of 60 frames per second.

At the back, the most expensive iPad models offer two cameras combined with a LiDAR sensor. The Pro camera system offers a 12 MP main camera and an f/1.8 aperture as well as an ultra-wide-angle camera with a 125-degree field of view and an aperture of f/2.4. The wide-angle camera manages video recording at 60 frames per second at maximum 4K resolution, while for the ultra wide-angle lens, you will have to be content with Full HD. Another exciting feature is the LiDAR sensor, which can obtain accurate depth information. This makes the Pro models particularly suitable for AR applications and you can even record 3D scans of objects.

NextPit Apple iPad Pro 2021 camera
The camera offers a LiDAR scanner. / © NextPit

The battery capacities also differ between the two models. The 11-inch model offers 28.65 watt-hours, while the 12.9-inch version offers 40.88 watt-hours. Like all other iPads, this should allow up to 10 hours of surfing or videos on WLAN or 9 hours when surfing via the mobile data network.

iPad Pro 2021: Costs

iPad Pro 2021: 11 inch 128 GB 256 GB 512 GB 1 TB 2 TB
WiFi $799 $899 $1,099 $1,499 $1,899
5G $999 $1,099 $1,299 $1,699 $2,099
iPad Pro 2021: 12.9 inch 128 GB 256 GB 512 GB 1 TB 2 TB
WiFi $1,099 $1,199 $1,399 $1,799 $2,199
5G $1,299 $1,399 $1,599 $1,999 $2,399

Pricing is particularly complicated for the Pro models. There are ten different prices for all LTE and Wi-Fi variants and the many storage versions. For the sake of an overview, we have summarized them for you above.

Upcoming iPad models

In 2022, Apple will most likely launch new iPad models. What is particularly exciting here is what Apple has in store for the basic iPad. After all, this model stands out from the existing range of iPads in terms of both design and some features. The manufacturer might decide to make the iPad compatible with USB-C in 2022, who knows? This means there will most likely be a new Apple Pencil in the pipeline, or the basic iPad will receive compatibility with the 2nd generation of the Apple Pencil.

However, that would also have a follow-up problem, since the stylus is charged on the side of the tablet. Apple would therefore have to take a look at the base iPad's form factor at the back, and thus an entire new design would be required. We will probably see what that looks like this year as new developments unfold. Or perhaps Apple will trust in the old qualities of its basic tablet? Who knows?

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The iPad Pro models could make another significant leap in performance by using Apple's new M1 Pro and M1 Max processors. The new SoCs are already being used in the new MacBook Pro models. Recently updated, the iPad Air and iPad mini are not expected to be updated in 2022.

There will probably be incremental updates, which means that there could be more powerful processors, sharper cameras, and better screens. It also remains exciting whether Apple will rely on more modern display technologies like OLED or its XDR displays in 2022. With these, Apple could draw level with competitors like Samsung or Xiaomi.

What are your hopes for the upcoming iPad generations? Let us know in the comments!

Software

iPadOS 15

In the introduction to this article, we wrote about one big advantage that all iPads have in common. This, of course, refers to Apple's operating system. iPadOS is sleek, easy to use and powerful. At the same time, it is a heavily customized version of Apple's iOS 15, and this sets Apple apart from the competition. After all, Android is still cumbersome and error-prone on tablets.

We have summarized all features of iOS 15 where we have taken a closer look at the accessories that Apple offers for its iPads. With keyboard covers or the already mentioned Apple Pencil, you can expand the functionality of your iPad even further.

Accessories

Cases and keyboard covers

NextPit Apple iPad Pro 2021 case
The practical Magic Keyboard is only available from Apple. / © NextPit

For additional flexibility and security in everyday life, Apple offers a number of accessories for all iPad models. Especially popular among users are cases and keyboard covers, which can add important functions in addition to more security. For example, you can use a Smart Folio cover to protect the display of your iPad as well as to angle the entire tablet a bit. The keyboard covers also help you type, and with more expensive models you even get an additional trackpad.

Buy iPad cases from Apple

Model Product page
Apple iPad 9th generation Order now*
Apple iPad mini Order now*
Apple iPad Air Order now*
Apple iPad Pro Order now*

Apart from Apple, other manufacturers also offer cases and keyboard covers for Apple's iPad. When buying, you should make sure that the case is actually compatible with your model and screen size. It is also particularly practical if the accessory makes use of Apple's Smart Connector.

Styluses for Apple's iPads

Apple's own styluses are called "Apple Pencil" and "Apple Pencil 2nd Generation". We have already described the compatibilities in detail. In short, all iPads are compatible with the 2nd generation, except for the basic iPad. This is because only this has the required Lightning port to charge the stylus. However, the first generation Pencil cannot be magnetically held on all the other iPads. It is priced from $99 and the 2nd generation Apple Pencil costs $129.

Apple is not the only supplier of styluses though as there are third-party styluses out there that are compatible with the Apple iPad. However, do be cautious as you might end up with a lemon. In order to avoid that, check out our list of best Apple Pencil alternatives

AirPods, MacBooks and other peripherals

All iPad models support the WLAN and Bluetooth wireless standards. This makes them compatible with many other accessories already available in the market. Apple especially integrates its own devices seamlessly into its respective operating systems. Here are two examples: If you power up Apple's AirPods headphones, your iPad automatically recognizes them. The headphones also automatically detect which Apple device is currently playing music.

If you also use your Apple hardware with a shared Apple ID, you automatically link the devices together. If you click "Take Photo" on your Mac desktop, you can select your iPad here. Linking multiple devices is one of the clear strengths of choosing an iPad and other Apple devices.

All iPad generations at a glance

Apple iPhone: Model overview

Year Models Highlights
2022

iPad Pro 11" and iPad Pro 12.9" 2022

  • Not yet released
2022 iPad Air 2022
  • iPad Air now with M1 SoC
  • 5G connection in the cellular model
  • Increased base price
  • Center-stage support thanks to 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle front camera
2021

iPad mini 6th generation
iPad 9th generation
iPad Pro 5th generation

  • Base iPad with ultra wide-angle front-facing camera
  • Redesigned iPad mini with Pro model look, 8.3-inch display and Touch ID, improved cameras, 5G compatible
  • Pro models now available with M1 chip, 5G compatible
  • New display technology mini LED in Pro model
2020 iPad 8th generation
iPad Air 4th generation
iPad Pro 4th generation

  • 8th generation iPad only with new SoC
  • iPad Air with Pro model look and 10.9-inch display
  • Better cameras and Magic Keyboard compatibility
  • Pro model available in 11-inch and 12.9-inch sizes
  • Dual cameras and LiDAR sensor on the back
  • Up to 1 TB of internal storage
  • Magic Keyboard launch
2019
iPad 7th generation
iPad Air 3rd generation
iPad mini 5th generation

  • Base iPad increased in size from 9.7-inches to 10.2-inches
  • Now supports smart keyboard via smart connector
  • RAM increased from 2 to 3 GB
  • iPad Air with Touch ID in the on button
  • With 10.5-inch display, support for True Tone and P3 color space
  • iPad mini compatible with Apple Pencil
2018 iPad 6th generation
iPad Pro 3rd generation
  • Cheapest iPad supports Apple Pencil
  • iPad Pro now with facial recognition
  • Narrower display bezels like the iPhone X
  • Lightning connector of iPad Pro replaced with Lightning
  • Pro model without headphone jack
2017 iPad 5th generation
iPad Pro 2nd generation
  • Introduction of the A9 SoC
  • 9.7-inch display with Retina resolution
  • Pro model with 10.5-inches or 12.9-inches
2016 iPad Pro with 9.7 inches
  • New variant with smaller display
2016 -
  • No new iPad released
2015 iPad mini 4
iPad Pro
  • mini model with thicker bezels but with Touch ID
  • iPad Pro introduced - with 12.9-inch display
  • Stereo speakers
  • Up to 256 GB of internal storage
2014 iPad Air 2
iPad mini 3
  • iPad Air 2 in gold color variant, now 6.1 mm thin
  • No mechanical mute switch for the first time
  • Barometer and Touch ID sensor
  • mini model also comes with Touch ID sensor
2013 iPad Air
iPad mini 2
  • First iPad Air in the style of iPad mini is lighter than ever
  • WLAN technology MIMO introduced
  • In addition, the iPad mini with Retina display came on the market
2012 iPad 3rd generation
iPad 4th generation
iPad mini

  • 0.6 millimeter thicker
  • 5-megapixel camera with full HD videos
  • First Retina display in iPad
  • First iPad with Siri support
  • Successor with Lightning connector appeared in the fall
  • iPad mini with 7.9-inch display launched
2011 iPad 2
  • Same display size with same resolution
  • Camera in front and back
  • GPS on board
2010 iPad
  • The first iPad
  • 9.7-inch touchscreen display
  • WiFi and 3G version
  • Apple A4 with 256 MB RAM
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