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While shopping for a smartphone, you’re spoiled for choice, and I’d say that both iPhones and top-end Android phones are equally good and offer a lot of features for the price. If you’re shopping for a tablet, however, it makes a lot more sense to go for an iPad because of just how good they are. In terms of hardware capabilities, design, and even pricing, Apple dominates its competitors with such superiority that you need a very specific reason to choose a Windows or Android tablet instead. But we’re happy to note that both Android and Windows tablets have been improving steadily with time because competition makes the market better for us buyers.

Back to Apple, there’s a variety of iPads to choose from, depending on your requirements. Whether you’re a designer or creative professional on the move or just looking for a tablet to browse while you laze on your couch, there’s an iPad for you. In fact, there are so many options that it can get confusing to pick the right one for you — which is why we wrote this article for you.

Our top picks for iPads in 2023

iPad Pro m2
Apple iPad Pro M2
Best overall

The best iPad you can buy

$749 $799 Save $50

The iPad Pro M2 (2022) is the highest-end tablet the company sells, featuring a stunning display, Apple Pencil 2 support, and much more.

  • Incredibly powerful
  • Amazing app ecosystem
  • Ultra-fast and efficient M2 processor
  • Beautiful screen with vivid colors and deep blacks
  • Can get expensive depending on the configuration
  • You need to buy accessories like Apple Pencil separately

The 12.9-inch 2022 iPad Pro is so powerful it's borderline overkill. Powered by the same M2 chip that runs on Apple's MacBooks and is available with up to 16GB of RAM, it's a beast of machinery that can double as a real computer for some.

The reason we and many others say the iPad is the best tablet isn't necessarily the tablet's raw power but rather its superior app ecosystem and unparalleled synergy between hardware and software. Virtually any app you can think of runs fine on the iPad and will often look better than the Android tablet's counterpart. The M2 is so capable and efficient that I've done a two-hour-long 4K video editing session on LumaFusion while flying, and it rendered the video in seconds. Then, I still had enough juice the play a couple more movies from my Netflix download queue.

With a gorgeous Mini-LED screen that produces deep blacks and punchy colors (almost as much as an OLED panel), it's a gorgeous canvas to get creative or consumer content. If you splurge a bit and pair this with Apple's Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil, you'll have yourself a do-it-all creativity machine.

You also get the very useful Center Stage feature that allows the iPad's front-facing camera to automatically track your face and keep you center-framed during video calls.

If you want the most powerful tablet, this is it. The 2022 M2 iPad Pro can handle anything you throw at it, from video editing to Netflix binges, sending long emails to prolong gaming sessions.

If you want to save a bit of money, the smaller 11-inch iPad Pro model still offers the M2 chip, Thunderbolt USB-C port, and TrueDepth camera system with a LiDAR scanner. However, it lacks the groundbreaking Mini-LED panel used by its larger sibling. Still, the screen here (a more traditional LCD panel) is no slouch, and it still refreshes at 120Hz for smoother animations. Really, the only differences here are the size and the display. Otherwise, you're getting the same powerhouse tablet.

The 2022 5th-generation iPad Air is powered by the Apple M1 processor, it supports 5G for the first time, and it comes in an array of beautiful colors.
iPad Air 5 (2022)
Apple iPad Air (2022)
Best iPad for most

Will suit most people just fine

$559 $599 Save $40

The 2022 iPad Air brings the M1 chip along with double the RAM for a more powerful iPad that's almost Pro-level

  • The size will be just right for most
  • Big bump in the chip from the previous generation model with M1
  • Ultra lightweight
  • Upgraded front camera
  • Might feel cramped for longer work sessions

The iPad Air 5 (2022) brings back almost the exact same design and outer hardware as the 2020 model, so you're still getting a 10.9-inch LCD 60Hz display, Touch ID fingerprint sensor embedded in the power button, and the same just-about-right size (not as big as the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but not as small as the iPad mini).

But this new iPad Air has major upgrades inside, mostly in the chip. It has been bumped up to the M1, which isn't as powerful as the M2 but is still great. The RAM has also been doubled to 8GB (not that Apple discloses it anyway). The only other hardware change is the front-facing webcam is now upgraded to a 12MP ultra-wide camera that can handle Apple's Center Stage feature.

While its 10.9-inch screen may feel slightly cramped as a full-time work machine, it's more than suitable for shorter stretches of work on the go at coffee shops or airport lounges, and it's arguably the perfect size for fun things like watching Netflix, playing games, or sketching with the Apple Pencil.

That it runs on the M1, comes in a lightweight package, and has a great display makes this iPad Air a very attractive deal.

Apple iPad (2021)
Best budget iPad

Good for those on a tight budget

The bare bones base model iPad got a late 2021 refresh with an A13 Bionic chip and support for the Apple Pencil 1.

  • Ultra-affordable option, great for students and occasional use
  • Still a capable tablet
  • Is a tad outdated
  • Only supports the first-get Apple Pencil

As the name implies — just iPad, with no "Air" or "Pro" moniker affixed at the end — this is the vanilla iPad using the old but iconic circular home button design with thicker bezels. While there's no denying this design looked a bit outdated even in 2021 (it still charges via Lightning cable instead of USB-C), it's still quite capable, with a 7nm A13 Bionic chip (the same SoC used in iPhone 11 series two years ago), and support for Apple Pencil (although the first-gen version). Factor in the low starting price of $329, and this is a great option for those on a budget or young students.

While Apple released a new entry-level iPad with the iPad 10, it's more expensive and doesn't upgrade much from the 2021 model.

A render of the Apple iPad Mini 2021.
Apple iPad Mini (2021)
Best small iPad

Small but mighty

Apple’s smallest tablet got a major physical design in 2021. It's also powered by the A15 Bionic chip and supports the Apple Pencil 2, making it a great tablet for people who want something smaller.

  • Ultra-portable, slim, and lightweight
  • Easier to carry
  • Still quite powerful
  • Supports the 2nd Gen Apple Pencil
  • Not suitable for intense work
  • Screen might be too small for some
  • You need to buy the Apple Pencil separately

Apple's tiny iPad - measuring just 7.69 x 5.3 x 0.25 inches and weighing just 0.65 pounds - finally got a modern refresh at the iPhone 13 launch event with slimmer bezels and a home button-less design that matches up with the top-end iPad series in terms of aesthetics. The slimming of bezels brings practical benefits, too. The iPad mini 6 has a larger screen (8.3 inches) than the 2019 model, yet it has smaller dimensions. This thing is so petite that when you attach the Gen-2 Apple Pencil to it, the Pencil's length almost covers the entire side of the iPad Mini.

This means this is a very easy carry for small bags or in one hand. And it’s not lacking in power either, running on the Apple A15 Bionic, which will have enough processing power to last you years. And yes, as spoiled in the last paragraph, this new iPad mini supports the newer Apple Pencil 2.

Apple Pencil 2
Apple Pencil (2nd Gen)
Best iPad accessory

Be more productive

The Apple Pencil (2nd gen) is an excellent stylus, offering over 4,000 pressure sensitivity levels. It also clips onto iPads magnetically.

  • The latest version of the Apple Pencil
  • Lots of pressure sensitivity points
  • Supported by plenty of apps
  • Only works with certain iPad models
  • Best when paired with the Magic Keyboard, which adds more to the cost

While there are many excellent third-party keyboard options for the iPad (so users don't have to buy the official Magic Keyboard unless they want to), there are no real stylus alternatives to the Apple Pencil for the iPad. So if you want to sketch, take notes, or just have a finer point for photo or video editing, the Apple Pencil is the only option in town.

The good news is Apple's Pencil 2 is really good. It's arguably the best consumer-grade stylus, with over 4,000 pressure sensitivity points and dozens of excellent creativity apps that support the Pencil.

Do note that the second-generation Apple Pencil only works with the modern slim-beveled iPads without a home button. If you want a stylus for the iPad Mini or iPad with the circular home button, you need to get the first-generation Apple Pencil, which we've listed below.

A render of the Apple Pencil 2nd gen in white color.
Apple Pencil
Best budget iPad accessory

Good for older model iPads

$75 $99 Save $24

The original Apple Pencil is a bit long in the tooth but still the only stylus the older iPads support.

  • Most affordable Apple Pencil you can buy
  • Only option for older-model iPads that don't support the 2nd-Gen Pencil
  • Replaced by the 2nd-Gen Apple Pencil
  • Does not attach magnetically to the iPad
  • Awkward charging set-up

The original Apple Pencil is the one you want if you need it for the regular iPad 10 or something older like the iPad mini 5. This stylus works mostly the same way as the improved generation two versions above, except it cannot attach magnetically to the iPad and has to be charged by removing a cap at the top of the stylus. A bit awkward, but still an excellent tool for drawing and sketching.

iPad Smart Keyboard case
Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro 12.9-inch
Most productive accessory

Type on the go

The Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro can convert your boring little iPad into a powerful work laptop, thanks to the added keyboard and trackpad functionalities.

  • Adjustable stand
  • Has a pass-through USB-C port for charging iPad
  • Great build quality
  • Expensive
  • Consumes your iPad?s battery

There’s no doubt that the Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro is expensive — it costs $299 for the 11-inch model and $349 for the 12.9-inch model — but it’s also incredibly useful and compact in a way that you will see the value in the hefty price tag within a week of use. You get a keyboard plus a trackpad, making working on the move a breeze. The case also adequately protects your iPad’s front and back, both. You can also adjust the iPad for different viewing angles, thanks to the floating cantilever design.

You can also pick a cheaper option like the Smart Keyboard Folio for $199, but you'll miss out on the trackpad and the floating stand design of the Magic Keyboard case.

Best iPads in 2023: The bottom line

Regardless of the iPad you pick from all the options above, you can expect top-notch performance for both work and play. While the Pro models can be overkill for someone looking for a basic tablet to browse on, something like the 2022 iPad Air — our personal fave — still delivers the goods in terms of processing power, thanks to the M1 chipset.

And we highly recommend getting an Apple Pencil to go with your iPad — it can really transform your usage experience. If you plan to use your iPad as a work machine, the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro keyboard will elevate your experience by a huge margin.