Which iPad Should You Buy?

Which is the Best iPad for You?

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The process of buying an iPad got a little tougher when Apple unveiled its line of "Pro" iPads. The iPad now comes in three different sizes (12.9-inch, 9.7-inch, and 7.9-inch) and the top-of-the-line models include enterprise-level processors that can compete with most laptops. But do you even need that much power? While the iPad Pro tablets blow the doors off anything we've seen, the iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 2 may be a better fit for your needs. And your wallet.

For those who already own an iPad, the choice becomes whether to upgrade your iPad, and if you do, should you go with an iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4, or reach for the sky with an iPad Pro? We'll take a look at each iPad in the lineup and find out which one might be the best for specific needs.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: iPad Pro 10.5-inch

A little more than a year after Apple introduced its 9.7-inch iPad Pro, it released the bigger, and dare we say better, iPad Pro 10.5 inch. Compared to the regular iPad, the Pro has a larger, sharper screen; a more powerful processor and support for the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard. It’s also the only iPad that comes in Rose Gold.

There’s no doubt that this iPad is one of the most powerful tablets on the market. With a beautiful LED-backlit with Multi-Touch display with a 2224 x 1668 resolution, and a A10X Fusion fourth-generation chip with 64-bit desktop-class architecture, it’s capable of replacing your laptop, especially considering it’s compatible with the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard. If you will primarily be surfing the Web, gaming and watching Netflix, though, this Pro might be a tad too powerful, if that’s even possible. But if price is no object and you want the truly best iPad out there, we’d be remiss not to recommend the iPad Pro 10.5 inch.

Best Value: iPad

If you’ve paid any attention to technology the past few years, you’ve probably noticed that the excitement around tablets has died down a bit. In response to this, Apple released its latest iPad (simply called “iPad”) in early 2018 with an entry-level price to spur new interest.

The new iPad looks, feels, and runs like most other iPads, except it doesn’t have as many cutting-edge features and high-end specs as the iPad Pro. (It's also a fraction of the price, so that's to be expected.) This new model has a 9.7-inch multi-touch Retina Display screen with 2,048 x 1,536 resolution for great image quality. Inside, the new iPad has an upgraded A10 Fusion chipset with 64-bit architecture and an embedded M10 motion coprocessor (an improvement on the prior iPad model), plus a 1.2MP front-facing camera and an 8MP camera on the back with 1080p video resolution. The new iPad supports Apple Pencil and other third-party styluses. The whole thing weighs just over a pound, making this tablet as both powerful and portable, and holds up to 10 hours of battery life for extended use on the go. 

You can purchase this model in silver, gold and space gray and it offers either 32GB or 128GB of storage, depending on your needs. With all this tech stuffed into a reasonably priced package, this model is perfect for upgrading an iPad that you’ve had for several years or for buying your first iPad.

Runner-Up, Best Value: iPad Air 2

iPad Air 2
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Want to get the biggest bang for your buck? Pound for pound, the iPad Air 2 is the best value of the bunch and has most of the features that the iPad Pro line of tablets do, minus four-speaker audio (it only has two) and some of the new accessories such as the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard (and its A8X processor is just a tad slower than the newer models). But, it's equipped with the same 9.7-inch retina display that offers a 2048 x 1536 resolution. It weighs less than a pound and offers 8MP photos on the rear-facing camera (an ƒ/2.4 aperture), as well as 1080p HD video recording. It comes in 16GB, 64GB or 128GB and there are three color options (gold, silver and space gray).

If you're looking to save a few hundred dollars and don't mind sacrificing the faster A9X processor that some of the iPad Air 2's siblings come with, then this is a great choice. You'll be able to watch immersive movies and viral YouTube clips on the beautiful display, and even though the speakers might pale in comparison to the two Pro versions, it still has the same Bluetooth 4.2 technology that they do, so it's easy to tether the device to speakers that offer better sound quality.

Best to Replace Laptop or Desktop PC: 12.9-Inch iPad Pro

iPad Pro 12.9-inch
Courtesy of Amazon.com

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is what you should strongly consider when you're in the market for replacing a laptop or desktop PC. The large display and ability to buy in 32GB, 128GB or 256GB means you'll have plenty storage capacity. It's 12 x 8.68 x .27 inches and weighs just 1.57 pounds (say goodbye to lugging around your laptop). This version of the iPad ups the resolution to 2732 x 2048 beautiful pixels, and has the same super-fast A9X processor as its smaller sibling, as well as a larger battery. If you're into snapping photos, though, it does only offer an 8MP rear-facing camera, whereas the 9.7-inch iPad Pro has a 12MP camera. The device also has Bluetooth 4.2 technology and the ability to record videos in 1080p HD.

Bottom line: If you're looking to get rid of your laptop or bulky desktop, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro clearly the best (and most powerful) choice. The top-notch display makes watching movies and TV shows via Netflix or Hulu a great experience. Need to do some work? Typing up documents and creating PowerPoint presentations in Google Drive is a breeze. Although a bit pricey, this iPad won't have you missing your old computer.

Best for Portability: iPad mini 4

iPad mini 4
Courtesy of Amazon.com

In terms of portability, the iPad mini 4 is your best bet. It uses an A8 processor that’s only a teeny bit slower than the iPad Air 2’s A8X chip, but can perform all the same software functions as the larger tablet such as side-by-side multitasking; it also has the same 8MP rear-facing camera as the Air 2. While its small screen might not be for everyone (and it is pricier than competitors), the device offers a sharp 2048 x 1536 resolution, 1080p HD video recording, slow-mo video support for 720p at 120 fps and measures just 8 x 5.3 x .24 inches, so it's perfect to store in your purse or a small backpack if you're traveling and want to consume some entertainment on-the-go. The iPad mini 4 weighs just over half a pound and comes in 32GB and 128GB, and is available in three colors (gold, silver, and space gray).

Still can't decide on what you want? Our round-up of the best tablets can help you find what you're looking for.