Best iPad for 2021 - CNET

8 months ago 74

So, you're successful the marketplace for a caller iPad. Maybe you already person an iPhone oregon a MacBook and privation to support adding Apple products to your instrumentality arsenal. Or possibly you're reasoning of moving distant from your Android tablet successful favour of thing that gives you entree to the iPad app ecosystem. Regardless of your reasons, if you're reasoning of buying an Apple tablet, there's a bully enactment to take from.

Apple precocious launched 2 caller models, replacements for the iPad Mini and the entry-level 10.2-inch iPad, which means you'll astir apt request to reevaluate which exemplary successful the iPad lineup you should buy if you'd already acceptable your caput connected 1 peculiar iPad model. The reviews are present successful connected the new iPad Mini and the ninth-gen entry-level iPad and wide they clasp their positions successful the which-is-best hierarchy.

The existent 11- and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models are powered by the company's M1 processor, the spot recovered successful its latest MacBooks arsenic good arsenic the caller 24-inch iMac. Along with the caller processors, the iPad Pros person a Liquid Retina XDR display, astatine slightest connected the 12.9-inch size, high-speed Thunderbolt USB-C larboard and optional 5G mobile wireless. The 11-inch mentation starts astatine $799 while the 12.9-inch exemplary terms begins astatine $1,099

However, the Pro exemplary sits astatine the apical of Apple's iPad lineup, which present includes the 2021 ninth-gen 10.2-inch iPad, fourth-gen 10.5-inch iPad Air and sixth-gen 2021 8.3-inch iPad Mini. You're besides capable to get older models similar the eighth-gen 10.2-inch iPad astatine reduced prices from third-party retailers.

Also see: Best Apple iPad deals: Save $100 oregon much connected previous-gen iPad Pro models

Regardless of which iPad oregon surface size you spell with, though, each the existent iPad models enactment the latest mentation of iPadOS (a peculiar mentation of iOS specifically for iPads) and either the first- oregon second-gen Apple Pencil. All but the Mini enactment with Apple's Smart Keyboard, though you tin usage immoderate Bluetooth keyboard instead. That's bully quality for anyone who's looking to bash much than watercourse videos and music, look astatine websites and play Apple Arcade games. Plus, each of the existent iPad models enactment rodent and trackpad usage for a much MacBook-like experience. The Apple Magic Keyboard is compatible with the iPad Pro and iPad Air.

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iPad 2021 vs. iPad Air 2020 vs. iPad Pro 2021 specs

iPad 2021 (10.2) iPad Air 2020 (10.9) iPad Pro 2021 (11) iPad Pro 2021 (12.9) Display resolution Pixel density (ppi) Rear camera Video recording FaceTime front-facing camera Processor Dimensions Weight Battery Headphone jack Connector port Apple Pencil-compatibility Unlock with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth SIM paper enactment for cellular model iPad Keyboard compatibility Audio Capacity and price: Wi-Fi models Capacity and price: LTE models
2,160x1,620-pixel resolution 2,360x1,640-pixel resolution 2,388x1,668-pixel resolution 2,732x2,048-pixel resolution
264 ppi (Retina) 264 ppi (Liquid Retina True Tone) 264 ppi (Liquid Retina True Tone with ProMotion) 264 ppi (Liquid Retina XDR True Tone with ProMotion)
8-megapixel f2.4 12-megapixel f1.8 12-megapixel f1.8 wide, 10-megapixel f2.4 ultrawide 12-megapixel f1.8 wide, 10-megapixel f2.4 ultrawide
1080p astatine 30fps 4K astatine 24, 30 oregon 60fps; 1080p slo-mo astatine 120 oregon 240fps 4K astatine 24, 30 oregon 60fps (wide); 60fps (ultrawide) 4K astatine 24, 30 oregon 60fps (wide); 60fps (ultrawide)
12-megapixel photos; 1080p video 7-megapixel photos; 1080p video 12-megapixel TrueDepth; 1080p video 12-megapixel TrueDepth; 1080p video
A13 A14 M1 M1
9.8x6.8x0.29 inches 9.7x7x0.24 inches 9.7x7x0.23 inches 11x8.5x0.25 inches
1.07 lbs. (Wi-Fi); 1.09 lbs. (LTE) 1 lbs. (Wi-Fi); 1.01 lbs. (LTE) 1.03 lbs. (Wi-Fi); 1.04 lbs. (LTE) 1.5 lbs. (Wi-Fi); 1.51 lbs.(LTE)
Up to 10 hours usage implicit Wi-Fi; up to 9 hours implicit cellular Up to 10 hours usage implicit Wi-Fi; up to 9 hours implicit cellular Up to 10 hours usage implicit Wi-Fi; up to 9 hours implicit cellular Up to 10 hours usage implicit Wi-Fi; up to 9 hours implicit cellular
Yes No No No
Lightning; Apple Smart Connector USB-C; Apple Smart Connector USB-C with Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 support USB-C with Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 support
Yes; archetypal generation Yes; 2nd generation Yes; 2nd generation Yes; 2nd generation
Touch ID Touch ID Face ID Face ID
802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.0 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.0 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.0
Nano-SIM; eSIM Nano-SIM; eSIM Nano-SIM; eSIM; 5G enactment (sub-6 GHz and mmWave) Nano-SIM; eSIM; 5G enactment (sub-6 GHz and mmWave)
Smart Keyboard Magic Keyboard, Smart Keyboard Folio Magic Keyboard, Smart Keyboard Folio Magic Keyboard, Smart Keyboard Folio
Two-speaker Two-speaker Four-speaker Four-speaker
$329 (32GB) / $479 (256GB) $599 (64GB) / $749 (256GB) $799 (128GB) / $899 (256GB) / $1,099 (512GB) / $1,499 (1TB) / $1,899 (2TB) $1,099 (128GB) / $1,199 (256GB) / $1,399 (512GB) / $1,799 (1TB) / $2,199 (2TB)
$459 (32GB) / $609(128GB) $729 (64GB) / $879 (256GB) $999 (128GB) / $1,099 (256GB) / $1,299 (512GB) / $1,699 (1TB) / $2,099 (2TB) $1,299 (128GB) / $1,399 (256GB) / $1,599 (512GB) / $1,999 (1TB) / $2,399 (2TB)

Stay up-to-date connected the latest news, reviews and proposal connected iPhones, iPads, Macs, services and software.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The caller iPad's terms starts astatine $100 much than the older iPad exemplary it replaces astatine $499; that's surely not cheap, but you besides get a batch much with it than you bash with the present dated iPad Air. It's conscionable a small smaller than that, but it offers optional 5G, USB-C for faster charging and broader connectivity, caller digital-zoom Center Stage camera and works with second-gen Pencils, truthful you tin magnetically drawback a Pencil close onto the side, which is nice. Plus it incorporates the caller A15 Bionic spot for amended performance. You mightiness consciousness a spot cramped for utilizing it for enactment oregon nonrecreational graphics, but 8.3 inches doesn't consciousness rather truthful tiny anymore. This smallest iPad has a Liquid Retina show with True Tone and wide color, and promises up to 10 hours of artillery life. Given that the 2021 exemplary remains the smallest successful the line, we proceed to urge it arsenic the champion enactment for commuters.

Read our Apple iPad Mini 2021 review.


The caller ninth-gen introduction level iPad gains a mates of utile extras implicit past year's coagulated but unexciting model: much retention for $329 (64GB, alternatively than the ridiculously debased 32GB of the past model), a faster A13 spot and amended cameras (most importantly, a wider-angle higher-res front-facing Center Stage camera that tracks your look via integer cookware and zoom). It inactive uses the first-gen Apple Pencil, which is good for the money, and it's inactive compatible with a scope of keyboard cases. Its predecessors were often connected merchantability for $299 oregon little and that should beryllium existent this vacation play arsenic well. 

If you're readying to bash immoderate benignant of creation connected it oregon download a batch of videos to go, it's decidedly worthy opting for the 256GB model. It truly needs a 128GB enactment -- its annoying that you're forced to bargain much than you need, since 128GB would astir apt beryllium the saccharine spot for terms and storage.

The 2020 exemplary has the slower A12 Bionic chip, but it's besides the past remaining full-size iPad with a headphone jack. Going backmost yet different procreation to its seventh incarnation, it's inactive a decent prime if you tin find the 128GB exemplary for a pittance; you're champion disconnected avoiding the insufficient 32GB model. It tin grip the latest iPadOS conscionable good and should execute each the modular iPad tasks for immoderate years to come.

Read our iPad 2021 review.

Scott Stein/CNET

Whether you're a integer creator oregon person waited years for a caller iPad Pro that blurs the enactment betwixt tablet and MacBook, the latest iPad Pro is what you want. The 11- and 12.9-inch Pros are astir the same, prevention for their surface sizes and higher solution and XDR exertion successful the 12.9-inch mentation based connected Mini LED show backlighting technology. If you're an intensive idiosyncratic of graphics apps similar those successful Adobe Creative Cloud, you'll decidedly admit the higher show of the M1-driven Pro.

If you're considering the iPad Pro arsenic a laptop replacement, you'll apt privation to outpouring for the 12.9-inch mentation for the important summation successful workspace; if you're a surface buff, you whitethorn besides privation it for the Liquid Retina XDR display. Also enactment that there's a terms leap erstwhile you get a 1TB oregon 2TB exemplary due to the fact that the RAM doubles from 8GB to 16GB for those who truly request arsenic overmuch powerfulness arsenic possible.

Along with the accrued performance, these were the archetypal iPads to connection enactment for wireless 5G connectivity, though present Apple has expanded the 5G enactment to different models successful the line. They're inactive not rather the MacBook replacement immoderate crave, but they're getting person each year.

Read our iPad Pro 2021 review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

With the merchandise of the 2021 iPad, the Air doesn't look truthful shiny anymore, particularly for the money. Yes, its 10.9-inch show is marginally larger, but it's nary longer overmuch fancier than the entry-level iPad model, which is much almighty arsenic well. It does person 1 vantage implicit the remainder of the line, though: It comes successful colors different than abstraction grey and silver.

Read our Apple iPad Air 2020 review.

Read more: The champion iPad games you request to play

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