Best iPad to buy right now – What is the best iPad out now

Best iPad to buy right now – What is the best iPad out now in 2022. Our ranking of the best iPads that you can buy right now. With the Air, Mini, or Pro, Apple’s tablets have a wide range of prices and capabilities. So, which one has the best features?

From the iPad Mini to the iPad Air or iPad Pro, the tablets all consistently find their way to the top of performance charts. They offer 10 hours of battery life, clear and crisp displays, and access to hundreds of thousands of apps in the App Store. On top of that, retailers regularly run iPad deals on the base model making it even more affordable. 

Buying an iPad should be simple. You just get whatever’s new, right? If only. Apple sells four main iPad models, each with its own strengths. In addition, a growing number of older iPads are floating around the eBays of the world. Since all of these devices look pretty much the same, it’s important to know what you’re buying and what you should pay for it. This guide covers the best iPads available right now and the important differences between models.

To help you decide which iPad is right for your needs, we’ve assembled an easy-to-read list here detailing the strengths and weaknesses of each tablet. This is all based on our lab testing and hands-on reviews, with the goal of saving you from making a purchase you might later regret. 

What is the best iPad to buy right now?

Below we highlight the top 5 iPads you can buy now.

Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) – The ultimate iPad to buy right now

The iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) is a very big, very powerful, and very expensive tablet, it is considered the best iPad to buy right now. That’s true of all the 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, but on the power front, this one takes things to a whole new level, swapping out a mobile chipset for the Apple M1, which is found in top-end MacBooks and iMacs.

  • Weight: 682g
  • Dimensions: 280.6 x 214.9 x 6.4mm
  • OS: iPadOS 14
  • Screen size: 12.9-inch
  • Resolution: 2048 x 2732 pixels
  • CPU: Apple M1
  • Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB
  • Battery: Up to 10 hours
  • Rear camera: 12MP + 10MP + LiDAR
  • Front camera: 12MP

This means it’s a tremendously high-powered device, ideal for demanding tasks like video editing, graphic design, and top-tier games.

On top of that, the iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) also has a superb 2048 x 2732 Mini LED screen. This is the first iPad to use that display technology, and it allows for a seriously bright screen with great contrast. This impressed us greatly in our review.

Elsewhere you get 10 hours of battery life, a typically premium aluminum shell, up to 2TB of storage, and support for the Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil 2, allowing you to take this beyond a mere productivity device.

Apple iPad 10.2 (2021) – The best basic iPad to buy right now

  • Weight: 487g
  • Dimensions: 250.6 x 174.1 x 7.5mm
  • OS: iPadOS 15
  • Screen size: 10.2-inch
  • Resolution: 1620 x 2160 pixels
  • CPU: A13 Bionic
  • Storage: 64/256GB
  • Battery: Up to 10 hours
  • Rear camera: 8MP
  • Front camera: 12MP

The iPad 10.2 (2021) is Apple’s basic tablet for 2021, and arguably also the best value iPad of the year. It’s not a huge upgrade on the previous model, but the new 12MP ultra-wide selfie camera makes it much better for video calls, while the True Tone display makes it more pleasant to use in a variety of environments, with the screen automatically adjusting based on the ambient light. This especially makes the iPad 10.2 (2021) a joy to use outdoors.

We find the iPad Air 4 (2020) better for sketching and audio, but for all the tablet basics, the iPad 10.2 (2021) does an admirable job.

Apple iPad Pro 11 (2021) – The best 11-inch iPad

The iPad Pro 11 (2021) is a powerful, expensive slate, and a great choice for anyone who wants the best specs possible in a relatively compact and portable size. That said, it lacks the iPad Pro 12.9 (2021)’s Mini LED screen, making it a significant step down from that slate.

  • Weight: 466g
  • Dimensions: 247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9mm
  • OS: iPadOS 14
  • Screen size: 11-inch
  • Resolution: 1668 x 2388 pixels
  • CPU: Apple M1
  • Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB
  • Battery: Up to 10 hours
  • Rear camera: 12MP + 10MP
  • Front camera: 12MP

That disappointment and our ongoing issues with Apple’s restrictive iPad software aside though, the iPad Pro 11 (2021) is an excellent tablet, with a big, sharp, smooth screen, and an enormous amount of power, thanks to its desktop-class M1 chipset.

It also has around 10 hours of battery life, which is fairly typical for Apple tablets but good nonetheless, and it comes with up to 2TB of storage – a mammoth amount that should be more than enough for almost anyone. With a sleek, stylish design too plus a selection of optional accessories, such as the Apple Pencil and the Magic Keyboard, this is a tablet that should suit almost anyone – though it’s likely to be overkill for many.

Apple iPad Air 4 (2020) – The best iPad for students

The iPad Air 4 (2020) is almost an iPad Pro, yet it’s a whole lot cheaper than any recent Pro model, making it a very tempting buy for all but the most demanding of users. It looks a lot like an iPad Pro for one, with its all-screen front, and like an iPad Pro, it supports both the second-gen Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard. The iPad Air 4 is the best iPad for students to buy right now.

  • Weight: 458g
  • Dimensions: 247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1mm
  • OS: iPadOS 14
  • Screen size: 10.9-inch
  • Resolution: 1640 x 2360 pixels
  • CPU: A14 Bionic
  • Storage: 64GB/256GB
  • Battery: Up to 10 hours
  • Rear camera: 12MP
  • Front camera: 7MP

It also has an enormous amount of power thanks to its A14 Bionic chipset – that’s the same as you’ll find in the iPhone 12 range and actually newer than the chipset in the iPad Pro (2020) range. Plus there are four powerful speakers, a decent (albeit 60Hz) 10.9-inch screen, and good battery life. The iPad Air 4 also comes in a wide range of colors, which isn’t something you can say about other recent Apple tablets.

Apple iPad mini (2021) – The best portable iPad

The iPad mini (2021) is an obvious choice if you want a smaller, lighter, more portable slate than most other iPads. The iPad mini is the best portable iPad to buy right now.

  • Weight: 293g
  • Dimensions: 195.4 x 134.8 x 6.3mm
  • OS: iPadOS 15
  • Screen size: 8.3-inch
  • Resolution: 1488 x 2266 pixels
  • CPU: A15 Bionic
  • Storage: 64GB/256GB
  • Battery: Up to 10 hours
  • Rear camera: 12MP
  • Front camera: 12MP

But despite its small size, the iPad mini (2021) doesn’t lack power, leaving us thoroughly impressed by its performance. It has a modern, home button-less design too, and also supports 5G, which all make for good upgrades.

What we were slightly less impressed by was its battery life, which is still good but not up there with the best of Apple’s slates. Still, if you want a premium iPad in a small size, this is it.

How to choose the best iPad for you in 2022

If you know you want to buy an iPad, you’ve already made your buying decision easier by eliminating a large swath of Android and Windows tablets from the running. 

Next, think about how you plan to use this iPad. Is it mostly going to stay within easy reach of the couch, and be used primarily for light entertainment like browsing Reddit, watching YouTube videos, or looking up trivia on IMDB? Then you don’t need all the power of Apple’s new M1 chip, and you’ll probably be very happy with the svelte iPad Air or the less expensive base iPad.

But if this is a tablet you plan to use for creative purposes, either as a laptop replacement (which basically requires investing in a Magic Keyboard attachment) or as a device for editing photos and videos, you should consider paying the premium for a new iPad Pro. Both the 11-inch and 12.9-inch models of the 2021 iPad Pro are incredibly performant since they’re the only iPads that currently have Apple’s speedy M1 chip. 

If you have money to burn, consider splurging on the 12.9-inch model: not only is it nice to have the extra screen space, but it’s the only iPad to sport an eye-catching mini-LED display, which Apple is marketing as a pro-grade screen that will make your photos and videos look their best. Just be aware that it really requires HDR content to look its best, and that’s still hard to find within the iPadOS ecosystem.

Also, give careful thought to how much storage you’ll need on your new iPad because it can’t be upgraded after you buy it. Frankly, Apple is pretty unfriendly about storage on iPads, often equipping the entry-level models with barely enough storage to get by. You don’t want anything less than 64 GB, and if you’re planning on storing a good amount of high-res videos and apps on your iPad you’ll probably want to get a model with at least 128 GB of storage space.

Finally, consider whether you need cellular connectivity for your iPad. Having an iPad that can access cellular data networks really improves your quality of life by letting you use Internet-reliant apps wherever you can get a signal. However, if you’re not planning on taking your iPad on the go, you’ll probably be just fine with a simple Wi-Fi-only model. 

Best iPad to buy FAQ

Which is the best iPad for you?

If you’re stuck between getting the base model iPad or the iPad Air (or for that matter, the Air or the Pro), I recommend sitting down and thinking of all the ways you want to use the iPad. 

If your list primarily consists of consumption activities, such as watching videos and reading news, odds are the base model iPad is what you should go with. However, if you want to do a fair amount of emailing, messaging, writing, or web browsing, then the iPad Air is where your search should begin. As for the iPad Pro, it’s clear that it’s now meant for users who plan to push it to its limits, be it with connecting multiple accessories and monitors, or other peripherals while they work. 

What are the differences between an iPad and an Amazon Fire tablet?

it’s easy to see the price difference between one of Amazon’s Fire tablets and an iPad and immediately write off the iPad. However, you have to remember that Amazon designs and builds its tablets as entry-level tablets that do the bare minimum. Performance is going to be slower, and app selection is going to be worse on Amazon’s Fire tablet lineup. The iPad has access to the same App Store the iPhone does, with most of those apps optimized to take advantage of the larger display in the iPad. 

Who is the iPad Mini for?

Good question. It’s getting harder to find a justification for Apple to keep the iPad Mini in its tablet lineup, especially with Apple’s iPhone models getting bigger and bigger. The iPad Mini was recently refreshed, so Apple is still seeing some demand for it. My best guess is that the Mini is best suited for kids as learning and education devices, in an enterprise setting as payment kiosks and information stations, along with those who don’t like big phones or tablets but want a bigger screen for gaming and entertainment. 

If I have a Windows computer or Android phone, will the iPad still work?

Yes, it’ll even sync with your Windows PC using iTunes. You’ll miss out on some features — such as iMessage — on your non-Apple devices, but you can still use an iPad without being all the way inside Apple’s walled garden. In fact, I know a lot of Android users who refuse to buy a Google-powered tablet because they prefer the experience on the iPad. 

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