Apple's iPad generations list just keeps growing, with the most recent addition being the fifth generation iPad Pro earlier this year. They are undoubtedly some of the best tablets on the market, with powerful chips, gorgeous Retina displays, and tons of functionality. But now there's so many iPad models, it can be tricky to figure out which one is right for you. And that's before you get to the question of accessories, such as selecting the best iPad stylus.
If the wealth of options feels overwhelming, this guide will help strip away the confusion and make everything clear. We've gone through all the iPad generations to pick out the key features of each device. Read on to find out which is the best iPad model for you. Once you've made your choice, head over to our list of the best iPad deals to see how much you could save, or if you've already got an iPad, check out our guide to the best iPad cases and the best iPad stands.
iPad generations list: Every iPad model available now
The iPad Pro 5th generation is the newest addition to the iPad model list, and it comes with a fair few improvements in terms of performance.
The newest iPad Pro has an eight-core M1 processor, which is the same chip behind the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini. That means improved graphics performance – 1,500 times faster according to Apple. The new iPad Pro also supports Thunderbolt 3, USB4, eSIM support and global 5G coverage at speeds of up to 4Gbps.
The camera's also been souped up. An ISP and LIDAR scanner promises to capture more detail in low-light conditions, while the ultrawide 12MP camera offers a 120-degree field of view. It also features Center Stage, a feature that pans automatically to follow you during video calls.
We gave this new iPad Pro 4.5 stars in both our iPad Pro 12.9-inch (M1, 2021) review, and iPad Pro 11-inch (M1, 2021) review. We loved it as a drawing tablet, especially with the Apple Pencil, and it has plenty of enticing features for video editors, 3D artists and other creative professionals. If you want the best performance in an iPad Pro and can spare the cash, this model is worth going for.
Second on our iPad generations list is the iPad Pro 4th generation, which, despite the new arrival above, is still a great option for professional creatives who need a tablet to work on.
Despite carrying a less powerful chip than the latest iPad Air, it has some advantages, such as built-in Face ID. The iPad Pro comes in a large 12.9-inch version, as well as an 11-inch option, which allows extra space for design work when paired with the second generation Apple Pencil. It also comes with larger storage options than the iPad Air, going right up to 1TB.
The 2018 iPad Pro has been left in a bit of an awkward position now that two newer versions of the iPad Pro have joined the iPad model list. So much so we're not sure how much longer it will feature in this iPad generations list. It's certainly still very powerful – the A12Z Bionic in the 2020 model is basically a slightly modified version of 2018’s A12X, so you don't lose much in that sense. Like the 4th generation model, it also comes with up to 1TB of storage and has a large-screen option perfect for creative work.
Considering there's not such a difference in price with the later models, this 2018 version of the iPad Pro now seems rather expensive for what you get, but it's worth bearing in mind if you spot a good deal.
The brand new iPad (2021) was recently announced, and will go on sale 24 September (though you can pre-order right now through Apple). Priced the same as 2020's model, at $329 / £319 for the 64GB storage option, the first thing that stands it apart from the last version is its storage. More space for all your media, games, photos and more.
The other differences between this and the last model are under the hood. Looking almost identical to 2020's iteration, this model boasts Apple's TrueTone tech, allowing the screen image to adjust to the ambient lighting wherever you are. The camera is also upgraded, growing to 12MP with Apple's Center Stage features, first seen on the iPad Pro of 2020.
Other than that, the 2021 model has the same 10.2-inch 1620 x 2160 LCD screen as last year's, with a max 500 nits brightness, which will be just fine for most users. At that asking price, this sounds like a great all-rounder tablet.
This entry-level iPad used to be the best point of entry into Apple's tablet ecosystem if you don't want to break the bank (now see the 2021 model). However, you still get everything you need for the core iPad experience here, including Apple Pencil support (see here for Apple Pencil alternatives), a powerful processor and a great Retina display, all for the joint most affordable price on this iPad model list. However, as the 2021 model has the same price point for the 64GB version, this would only be a good choice if you were to get a good deal on it (of which there are many).
The 10.2-inch screen size puts this model in the Goldilocks zone between the bite-sized iPad mini and the large-scale 12.9in iPad Pro, making it ideal for media consumption without it becoming unwieldy. It might already start to look a little outdated, but there's no doubting its capabilities.
The seventh generation model of the iPad released in 2019 is another good option to consider if you're on a budget. The Apple iPad 10.2 (2019) has almost exactly the same package as the eighth generation version, including Apple Pencil support, the same storage options, the same camera, Touch ID and more. The only real difference is the processor, which is the older A10 Fusion chip. You might notice the difference if you want to do more demanding tasks, but if you just need a simple, affordable tablet, you won't go far wrong with this iPad model.
With the fourth generation iPad Air, Apple took the entry-level iPad and dialled everything up a notch. This tablet is fitted with the A14 Bionic, Apple's most advanced tablet chip until the fifth generation iPad Pro, and it works with the second generation Apple Pencil, which magnetically charges by snapping to the edge of the iPad. It also supports the Magic Keyboard case with trackpad.
The Home button has been eliminated, with Touch ID located in the power button, allowing the bezels to be slimmed down. That all combines to make the iPad Air a top-of-the-line Apple tablet for those who want it all.
The 2020 iPad Air is a great piece of kit, but it's not exactly cheap, especially when you consider there's a newer version now available. The 2019 third generation iPad Air offers a cheaper alternative with a 256GB storage option. However, we'd generally recommend the seventh or eighth generation of the entry-level iPad as the best option for those on a budget.
The iPad mini got a pretty big upgrade with its September 2021 release. It may still be the same diminutive size... well, it's not actually. Bumping up to 8.3-inch (from 7.9-inches), that's not the only new thing about the 2021 mini's display. It's now Liquid Retina, boasting 2266x1488 resolution at 326 pixels per inch.
That's not all. It's got an A15 Bionic chipset, a USB-C port (at last), and with 5G connectivity, it'll feel more at home with one of the bigger boys on this page, the iPad Air. As with the new iPad 2021, the rear camera got upgraded to a 12MP snapper, able to record in 4K, while the front camera also maxes at 12MP, but also comes with ultra-wide, and the Centre Stage feature that the higher end iPads now sport.
Finishing off our 2021 iPad generations list is the 5th gen iPad mini. If you find most iPads are too large for your needs, this lightweight device is probably the solution you're looking for. Its 7.9in display makes it the most compact of any iPad, and it's light enough to easily pop into a bag to take on your travels. Think of this tablet as a more capable Kindle or Kobo for reading or watching content on the go, although it has the iPad's A12 chip so its performance is by no means weak. It doesn't work with any of Apple's keyboard cases, but it is compatible with the first generation Apple Pencil.
Older iPad models
Older iPad Pros
- iPad Pro (3rd generation, 2018)
- iPad Pro (2nd generation, 2017)
- iPad Pro (9.7-inches, 1st generation, 2016)
- iPad Pro (12.9-inches, 1st generation, 2015)
- iPad (2018, 6th generation)
- iPad (2017, 5th generation)
- iPad (2012, 4th generation)
- iPad (2012, 3rd generation)
- iPad (2011, 2nd generation)
- iPad (2010, 1st generation)
Older iPad Airs
- iPad Air (2014, 2nd generation)
- iPad Air (2013, 1st generation)
Older iPad minis
- iPad mini (2015, 4th generation)
- iPad mini (2014, 3rd generation)
- iPad mini (2013, 2nd generation)
- iPad mini (2012, 1st generation)