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  • 11 Models Considered
  • 6 Hours Spent
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 123 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Shopping Guide for Best iPads

    Whether you want to watch movies on an airplane, read books on your commute, or play games on your couch, an iPad is the perfect device for when you need something bigger than a smartphone, but smaller and less bulky than a laptop.

    But you'll find a number of different iPads to choose from. Your new iPad will likely be a significant investment, and choosing the one that most suits your needs can be tricky – especially if you're a first-time tablet buyer, or you're not exactly sure what you want from an iPad.

    If you want to discover which iPad will give you what you need and offer the best value for money, you're in the right place. At BestReviews, our goal is to find you, the consumer, the perfect products to fit your requirements. We test items in our labs, consult experts, dig through customer reviews, and analyze a range of data — all to bring you reviews and buying guides you can trust. We never accept free samples from manufacturers, so you can count on our recommendations to be fair and unbiased.

    Read the full guide below to find out all you need to know to select the right iPad for you. When you’re ready to make a decision, check out our specific recommendations in the product matrix above.

    There's a reason "iPad" is nearly synonymous with "tablet" – because they're some of the highest quality devices out there.

    Why Choose an iPad Over Another Tablet?

    iPads might have brand recognition, but are they really better than other tablets? While you can find excellent Android or Windows tablets, simply prefer the Apple brand.

    Here are some reasons why many consumers choose iPads:

    • The iPad runs on the iOS operating system, so if you already have an iPhone or a Mac, an iPad will feel more natural to use.

    • Certain apps are exclusive to the App Store, meaning you won't find them on a Windows or Android tablet.

    Product in Depth

    Product in Depth

    Apple iPad Mini 2

    Features

    The iPad Mini 2 is an affordable option for anyone who wants a small and highly portable tablet. The 7.9-inch screen makes it easy to pop in a handbag — or even a large pocket — and take with you on the go, but it won't compete with larger 10- or 12-inch screens when it comes to watching movies or TV shows. That said, the retina display means the display is extremely sharp and image quality is surprisingly good, despite the smaller size.

    • Likewise, your iOS devices work nicely together. For example, when you receive a text message from another iPhone owner, you can answer it from your iPhone, iPad, or MacBook.

    • Both FaceTime and iMessage are integrated services on an iPad, making it free to video call and instant message other people with an iOS device.

    • Since iPads are hugely popular, many compatible accessories — such as cases or wireless keyboards — are available from both Apple and other manufacturers.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    All apps in the App Store are tested by Apple before being made available to the public, which means it's highly unlikely you'll download a malware-infected app. Android apps, on the other hand, aren't tested before release.

    Considerations for Selecting an iPad

    Considerations

    Screen Size

    Screen size is one of the first things you should consider when deciding which iPad to buy, as it will help narrow down your choices before you get to the more technical differences. You'll find four different sizes of iPad — 7.9-inch, 9.7-inch, 10.5-inch, and 12.9-inch — but not all iPad models are available in all four sizes. Think about what you want out of your iPad. For instance, if you want to watch movies in bed, you'll probably want a tablet with a larger screen. If you want to easily take your tablet wherever you go, a smaller option may be preferable.

    EXPERT TIP

    Many people assume screen size is measured horizontally across the width of the screen, but it's actually measured diagonally from top left corner to bottom right corner.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    Considerations

    Cellular Capability

    A standard iPad is only able to connect to the internet via Wi-Fi. However, you have the option of buying an iPad with cellular capability. This means you can surf the web using 3G or 4G.

    This is useful for those who need to use the internet on the go, in places without Wi-Fi, but you do have to pay an extra monthly fee for a cellular data plan.

    Product in Depth

    Product in Depth

    Apple iPad Air

    Usability

    Despite its sizable 9.7-inch screen, the iPad Air is surprisingly thin and lightweight. Offering internal memory of 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB, you have plenty of options to choose from to meet your storage needs. With both forward-facing and rear-facing cameras, this tablet is just as useful for taking regular snaps as it is for video-calling or taking selfies. While you'll find newer models on the market, the original Air still holds up well and is a solid choice for anyone who doesn't like the higher price tags on the newest iPads.

    Considerations

    Internal Storage

    Depending on the model, you may find iPads with internal storage anywhere between 16GB and 256GB. You'll generally have a few internal storage sizes to choose from with each model, so you can opt for a small, medium, or large amount of storage. Unless you utilize cloud storage, this is where you'll keep all your photos, videos, apps, and various files.

    If you do a lot of photography, take HD videos, have a large MP3 collection, plan to download movies to watch on the go, or are going to use you iPad for video editing or graphic design, make sure you opt for plenty of internal storage. If, on the other hand, you'll mostly use your tablet for surfing the net rather than storing multimedia, you won't need as much internal storage.

    Bear in mind iPads don't have SD or microSD card slots, so you can't easily expand on the fixed internal storage.

    Staff
    BestReviews
    Considerations

    Speed

    We all want a tablet that runs quickly and smoothly, without long loading times, glitches, and lag.

    Two main factors affect the speed of an iPad: its processor and how many GB of RAM it has.

    Product in Depth

    Product in Depth

    Apple iPad Air 2

    Characteristics

    Weighing in at less than a pound, the iPad Air 2 is one of the lightest tablets of its size. Its 9.7-inch HD retina display screen offers exceptional image quality that competing brands just can't touch. The impressive 8MP camera is one of the main selling points of this iPad. With an improved sensor, advanced optics, and an image signal processor, the quality of both videos and photos taken on this tablet are truly outstanding. Its advanced A8X chip with 64-bit architecture makes the Air 2 work quickly and smoothly.

    Considerations

    Battery Life

    Battery life is particularly important if you often use your tablet in places where you don’t have access to an electrical outlet.

    Luckily, iPads boast respectable battery lives. Most models claim to last about ten hours between charges, but independent tests have shown some last even longer than advertised.

    EXPERT TIP

    If you're considering buying a used iPad, it's likely the battery life has diminished somewhat from when the device was new.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    Considerations

    Processor

    A processor — or chip — is the "brain" of a tablet. Newer, higher-quality chips process information more quickly, so tablets containing them them run faster.

    The newest and fastest iPad processor currently available is the A10X Fusion, which runs 2.5 times faster than the A8 found in some older models.

    Product in Depth

    Product in Depth

    Apple iPad Pro (9.7 inch)

    Performance

    The iPad Pro 9.7-inch is simply one of the best iPads available today. We love the 12MP iSight camera, with true tone flash and panorama — if we didn't know better, we wouldn't believe the images and videos it turns out were taken on a tablet. Although its screen measures almost 10 inches, it's thin and light enough to carry around, and with a ten hour battery life, you can use it all day without having to recharge.

    Considerations

    RAM

    RAM stands for random access memory. There's no need for the layman to understand exactly what it does or how it works — all you need to know is that the more RAM your iPad has, the faster it should run.

    Most iPads on the market today have 2GB or 4GB of RAM, but some have even more, up to 32GB. More RAM means faster processing, but also means a higher price.

    It's worth noting that the forward-facing cameras in iPads are usually of a poorer quality, boasting fewer megapixels than their rear-facing counterparts.

    Staff
    BestReviews
    Considerations

    Portability

    If you want to carry your iPad around with you, consider how portable it's going to be. While size factors into portability, thickness and weight do, too. You might be surprised at how thin and light even the largest of the newest models are.

    Check the specs for exact values of the model you're considering, but expect to find even larger models weighing around a pound and measuring about a quarter-inch thick.

    Product in Depth

    Product in Depth

    Apple iPad Pro (12.9 Inch)

    Capability

    The Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch is a behemoth, but in the best possible way. Its exceptional retina display, with 2732 x 2048 HD resolution, and quad speakers give an outstanding combination of sound and image quality — making this the perfect iPad for watching TV and movies. With internal storage available up to a maximum of a healthy 256GB, you won't be short on space for apps, music, films, and other media. While it is pricey, it could effectively replace a laptop for some people.

    Price

    The price of an iPad depends primarily on the model, size of the screen, and how much internal storage it has.

    • A 7.9-inch iPad Mini costs between around $180 and $400, depending on how much internal storage you opt for.

    • A 9.7inch iPad Air starts at about $390 for an older model with less storage, and can cost almost $500 for a newer model with more internal storage.

    • Older iPad Pros with smaller 9.7-inch screens and less internal storage can cost as little as $450, whereas the newest models with 12.9-inch screens and lots of internal storage are priced around $1000.

    Some colors of iPad can cost more than others, so think about whether you really want that limited edition color, or whether you're happy with a more standard hue.

    FAQ

    Q. Do iPads have both forward-facing and rear-facing cameras?

    A. Yes, iPads have a rear-facing camera for taking regular photos and videos, and a forward-facing camera for snapping selfies and video calling.

    Q. Do iPads come in different colors?

    A. Yes, most models of iPad come in a range of colors. The colors offered vary but include space gray, gold, rose gold, black, and white.

    Q. Do I need a case for my iPad?

    A. While a case isn't essential, most people choose to use one as it protects the iPad from bumps and scratches if you drop it. It also protects the screen from scrapes, if you choose a wallet-style or sleeve case.

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