iPad with keyboard cover and stylus sitting on wood table
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Update, 11/21/2022: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and have updated our best for drawing pick with the new iPad Pro 12.9-inch model.

What to Look For in an iPad in 2022

iPad is Apple’s line of tablet computers. They’re powered by iPadOS, a modified version of the iOS operating system that runs on the iPhone. Using an iPad, you can run both tablet-optimized “universal” apps and standard iOS apps designed for iPhones.

Apple has introduced several different iPad models since the original came to market in 2010. This includes the “mini” range of smaller iPads, higher-end “Pro” models, and a premium “Air” range that offers a step up over the base model.

Depending on which model you opt for, you can expand your tablet’s capabilities with a range of first-party accessories like snap-on keyboards and the Apple Pencil stylus. The iPad’s status as a premium tablet also means many third parties produce accessories like cases, flash storage, charging docks, and even game controllers.

To pick the right iPad you first need to figure out what you’ll be using it for. Generally speaking, the more you spend, the more you can do. Cheaper models can handle basic tasks like checking social media, sending email, and playing games.

Higher-end “Pro” models have more powerful hardware that is better at multitasking and running creative or professional software with ease. These models have color-accurate, higher-quality displays for drawing, photo editing, and video production. The inclusion of USB-C and Thunderbolt further expands their usefulness since you can connect to high-speed external devices.

Let’s look at how the iPad range stacks up for some of the most common usage scenarios.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I do split-screen on my iPad?
Open the first app and then slide your finger up from the bottom of the screen. When the dock appears, tap and hold on the second app you want to open and drag it up and to the left or right. The apps will snap into split-screen mode.
How do I connect my Apple Pencil to my iPad?
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Place the Apple Pencil on the magnetic connector on your iPad, remove the end cap and tap the Pair button when it appears on screen. You can also remove the end cap, plug the Apple Pencil into the Lightning port, and tap Pair when it appears on screen.
How do I factory reset my iPad?
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Open the iPad Settings and go to General > Transfer or Reset iPad. You can then choose to reset the iPad or erase all content and settings. You will need to confirm the action by entering your passcode or Apple ID password.
How do I take a screenshot on my iPad?
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Taking a screenshot is easy. Press and release both the top button and either the up or down volume button at the same time. The screenshot will appear briefly as a thumbnail at the corner of the screen.
How do I turn off my iPad?
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Press and hold the top button and either volume button until the slider appears on screen. You can then use the slider to turn off your iPad.
What are the current generation iPads?
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The iPad Pro 12.9-inch is in its 6th generation, and the 11-inch Pro is 4th generation. The current iPad Air is the 5th generation, and the standard iPad is in its 10th generation. The iPad Mini, which wasn’t updated in 2022, is on its 5th generation.

Best iPad Overall: iPad Air (5th Gen)

Person drawing with iPad Air 2022
Apple

Pros

  • Powered by the Apple M1 desktop-class system-on-chip
  • Center Stage, Touch ID in the power button, and modern design
  • Excellent accessory support including Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil 2
  • USB-C connector
  • Most iPad Pro features for much less money

Cons

  • Upper limit of 256GB internal storage
  • More expensive than an entry-level iPad

The iPad Air sits right in the middle of the iPad range, starting at $599 for the Wi-Fi-only model, or $729 for the cellular option. With a screen size of 10.9-inches, the Air carefully treads the line between portability and usefulness.

The iPad Air range uses the Apple M1 desktop chip, as seen in the MacBook Air and iMac. This chip features an 8-core GPU for a silky smooth gaming and graphics-intensive workflow, ideal for drawing, video editing, or 3D modeling. It also features a 16-core Neural Engine for machine learning workflows, boosting performance in optimized apps.

The iPad Air also now features Center Stage, which uses the ultrawide 12MP front-facing camera to intelligently follow you around the room. This makes it ideal for video calling, conferencing, and streaming. The tablet also features the same thin bezels, Touch ID power button, and modern form factor introduced in the previous iPad Air refresh.

You can also use Apple’s latest and greatest accessories with the iPad Air, including the second-generation Apple Pencil and Apple’s flagship Magic Keyboard with its integrated trackpad and USB-C pass-through charging. This makes the Air as versatile as the Pro range in terms of accessories while still being a few hundred dollars cheaper.

A single 12MP wide camera can be found on the back which takes advantage of the improved image signal processor on the M1 chip to enable Smart HDR and cleaner stills and video. This is a considerable step up from the base iPad model, but if taking photos or shooting video is important to you on a tablet, you should perhaps consider the iPad Pro 11-inch instead.

The iPad Air is ideal if you want a fast, modern tablet with excellent accessory support. It provides a much more modern iPad experience than the base model, and it will last longer in terms of software support and raw performance.

Best Overall iPad

2022 Apple iPad Air (10.9-inch, Wi-Fi, 64GB) - Purple (5th Generation)

The iPad Air is Apple's mid-range tablet, providing a great mix of features, expandability, and modern design at a more reasonable price point than their Pro line.

Best Budget iPad: iPad (9th Gen)

Person using iPad with case
Apple

Pros

  • Perfect for basic tablet tasks like social media or email
  • Get the iPad experience at a cheaper price point
  • Some support for older Apple accessories

Cons

  • Outdated design compared with other models
  • Upper limit of 256GB internal storage
  • Older chip means support will end before more expensive, newer iPads
  • Doesn't work with Apple's latest first-party accessories

The entry-level iPad is the cheapest tablet Apple makes at just $329 for the Wi-Fi model, or $459 for the cellular version. With a 10.2-inch Retina display (plus Apple’s True Tone technology to match the white balance to your surroundings) and an A13 Bionic chip at the helm, the no-frills iPad is perfect for work and play on a budget.

The slightly older Bionic chip, first introduced to the iPhone 11 in 2019, lags the faster hardware seen in the iPad Pro and iPad Air but still provides enough power to handle common tasks. It’s perfect for schoolwork, web browsing, casual gaming, streaming video, and most other things people use their tablets for.

The base iPad uses Apple’s older design, which retains a physical Home button (also doubling as a fingerprint scanner) and thicker bezels than those seen on the Air and Pro line. On the back of the unit is an 8MP wide camera, while the front-facing camera has been boosted to a 12MP ultra-wide version.

That wider front-facing camera enables Apple’s Center Stage feature, which allows the iPad to follow you around the room while on a FaceTime call. Battery life is passable but nothing to write home about, with Apple quoting around 10 hours of wireless web or video playback.

You can expand the iPad with accessories like a first-generation Apple Pencil, the iPad Smart Keyboard, or your own choice of wireless Bluetooth keyboard. There’s no USB-C support on this model, so you’ll have to make do with Lightning peripherals and charging.

If you want more for your money and you’re happy to settle for an older model, consider buying an Apple-refurbished iPad instead.

Best Budget iPad

2021 Apple 10.2-inch iPad (Wi-Fi, 64GB) - Space Gray

Save some money and get the same great iPad experience with Apple's cheapest, entry-level tablet.

Best iPad for Drawing: iPad Pro 12.9‑inch (6th Gen) with Apple Pencil 2

Person using iPad Pro and Apple Pencil
Apple

Pros

  • Crisp, detailed and bright 12.9-inch display
  • The latest M2 Apple processor
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • Supports the latest Apple Pencil

Cons

  • Top-spec version is pretty expensive

The large, bright, and detailed display on the iPad Pro 12.9-inch makes it the perfect choice for digital artists, graphic designers, and amateur doodlers alike. And when combined with the Apple Pencil stylus, the artistic possibilities are greatly expanded.

That huge Liquid Retina XDR display features ProMotion and True Tone. These produce a refresh rate of 120Hz, double that of other iPad models, and colors that adapt to ambient lighting. And just like the previous iPad Pro, it uses mini-LED technology to generate darker blacks and improve contrast.

The computing power behind that impressive display, and everything else the iPad Pro offers, is provided by Apple’s latest M2 chip. Up to 18% faster than the previous M1 chip, this 8-core powerhouse can easily handle professional graphics apps, 4K video editing, and any game the App Store has to offer.

The 6th generation iPad Pro supports the Apple Pencil 2, which features tilt and pressure sensitivity, almost zero lag, excellent palm rejection, and wireless pairing. The pencil can be magnetically attached to the edge of the iPad to charge it and to keep it close at hand.

If you are looking for a tablet that can be used for, and even enhance, your artistic creations, the iPad Pro 12.9-inch should definitely be at the top of the list.

Best iPad for Drawing

Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch

An outstanding display and powerful processor combine to make the 6th generation iPad Pro 12.9-inch perfect for anyone creating digital art on the move.

Need a Stylus?

Apple Pencil 2

The Apple Pencil (2nd Gen) is the best stylus available for your iPad. This latest iteration features wireless charging, palm rejection, and an intuitive touch interface.

Best iPad for Kids: iPad (9th Gen)

child using iPad in virtual classroom
Apple

Pros

  • Cheap and capable tablet for school and play
  • Plenty of third-party accessories available like cases
  • Works with Apple Pencil 1 and older Smart Keyboard

Cons

  • A13 Bionic is slower than the rest of the iPad line
  • No support for latest accessories like Magic Keyboard
  • Only 64GB of storage on the base model

The entry-level iPad is perfect for what most kids will use their tablets for, and it won’t break the bank starting at just $329 for the Wi-Fi model. This makes it the cheapest iPad to repair or replace should an accident occur.

The A13 Bionic chip inside the ninth-generation iPad debuted in 2019 and still packs plenty of punch. It can easily handle most things that kids use their tablets for, including word processing for school work, watching and listening to streaming video and music, browsing the web, and social media.

The iPad can also handle most App Store games without breaking a sweat, including 3D titles like Minecraft, online experiences like Roblox, and Apple’s own Swift Playgrounds which introduces tablet owners of all ages to programming basics. There’s a simple 8MP camera on the back and a better 12MP front-facing camera on the front.

Be aware that the base iPad only ships with 64GB of internal memory, which can disappear quickly if you install a lot of apps and games. For 2021 Apple has upped the next storage tier to 256GB which starts at $479.

One of the best things about the base iPad is that it has been around for a long time, so accessory support is fairly widespread. This means you can easily find kid-friendly cases like the iconic HDE Kids Case with Handle for additional protection.

Best Budget iPad

2021 Apple 10.2-inch iPad (Wi-Fi, 64GB) - Space Gray

Save some money and get the same great iPad experience with Apple's cheapest, entry-level tablet.

Best iPad for Travel: iPad mini (6th Gen)

Person using iPad mini outside
Apple

Pros

  • Revised portable design for 2021, with an 8.3inch display and thinner bezels than the previous model
  • A15 Bionic is faster than a base iPad in a smaller package
  • USB-C connectivity and compatibility with the second-generation Apple Pencil

Cons

  • 5G connectivity on the cellular model
  • 10 hours of battery life may disappoint some
  • Maximum of 256GB storage (and only 64GB in the base model)

If you’re looking for an iPad for travel, the portable form factor of the iPad mini (from $499 for the Wi-Fi model) is a solid choice. The design has been revised for the ninth generation, released in late 2021, with a new 8.3″ Liquid Retina display.

The new design does away with the Home button in favor of the thin bezel design of the latest iPad Air and Pro models. There’s no Face ID for unlocking your device with facial recognition, but the power button on the side of the unit doubles up as a fingerprint reader.

At the heart of the iPad mini is the same A15 Bionic in the iPhone 13, albeit slightly down-clocked compared with the chip on Apple’s flagship smartphone. There are brand new cameras for 2021 too, with a 12MP wide on the rear and 12MP ultra-wide on the front which enables Apple’s intelligent Center Stage subject tracking on FaceTime calls.

For the first time, the iPad mini has a USB-C port plus support for the second-generation Apple Pencil which snaps to the side of the unit for charging. If you splash out for the cellular version (from $649) you’ll also get 5G connectivity, perfect if you’re traveling in a country with good 5G coverage.

Battery life and storage capacity mirror the base iPad, with 10 hours of wireless web or video playback and a paltry 64GB capacity on the base model.

Best iPad for Travel

2021 Apple iPad Mini (Wi-Fi, 64GB) - Space Gray

The iPad mini has an 8.3-inch screen that makes it about as pocketable as a large paperback book, with more bells and whistles than you'll find on a standard iPad.

Best Laptop Replacement: iPad Pro 11‑inch (3rd Gen) with Magic Keyboard

ipad with keyboard and pencil on blue and green background
Apple

Pros

  • Powered by the desktop-class M1 processor
  • Support for the latest Apple accessories including Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil 2
  • Up to 2TB internal storage
  • High-quality cameras on the back and front, plus Face ID support
  • USB-C with USB 4 and Thunderbolt support
  • 5G connectivity on cellular models

Cons

  • Expensive compared with iPad and iPad Air
  • Overkill for many users
  • Still runs iPadOS, so cannot fully replace your laptop

For desktop-class performance, the iPad Pro range can’t be beat. While the 12.9-inch model is perfect for drawing and videography, the 11-inch model delivers the same great performance in a more compact form factor. It’s also a bit cheaper, starting at $799 for the Wi-Fi version or $999 for cellular.

At the heart of the iPad Pro 11-inch is Apple’s desktop-class M1 system-on-chip. This is the same silicon that Apple is putting in computers like the MacBook Air and iMac. It allows the iPad Pro to run professional applications like video editors, digital audio workstations, and the most demanding 3D applications.

RELATED: The Best iPad Pro 11-inch Cases of 2022

As a laptop replacement, the iPad Pro 11-inch has just about everything you’d need. It’s compatible with the latest accessories, including Apple’s Magic Keyboard that features an integrated trackpad. In addition, you can have up to 2TB of internal storage, and connect external devices like storage via the USB-C connector (with support for Thunderbolt and USB 4 speeds).

There are 12MP wide and 10MP ultra-wide cameras on the rear, with a high-quality 12MP front-facing FaceTime HD camera for amazing selfies, video calls, and live streams. There’s also Face ID support for unlocking and authorizing your device using your likeness, just like on the latest iPhones. If you opt for the cellular version, you’ll get 5G support too.

If the iPad Air comes up a little short, the iPad Pro 11-inch is the tablet for you.

Best Laptop Replacement

2021 Apple 11-inch iPad Pro (Wi?Fi, 128GB) - Silver

The iPad Pro 11-inch is a premium tablet, with excellent support for accessories including the Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil 2, powered by Apple's desktop-class M1 system-on-chip.

Apple's Best Keyboard Accessory

Apple Magic Keyboard

Apple's latest keyboard accessory for iPad Pro and iPad Air delivers a desktop-like typing experience, USB-C pass-through charging, a multi-touch trackpad, and adjustable viewing angles.

The Best iPad Accessories of 2022

Best iPad Case
JETech iPad Case
Best iPad Screen Protector
Xiron Paperfeel Screen Protector
Best iPad Pencil
Apple Pencil 2
For Standard iPad Owners
Apple Pencil 1
Best iPad Keyboard
Logitech iPad Keyboard
Best iPad Earbuds
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)
Profile Photo for Tim Brookes Tim Brookes
Tim Brookes is a technology writer with more than a decade of experience. He's invested in the Apple ecosystem, with experience covering Macs, iPhones, and iPads for publications like Zapier and MakeUseOf.
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