This page will give you the important iPad generations that currently represent a great buy. Since the first iPad went on sale in April 2010 there's been loads of new models, and though most of them are no longer on sale, we think it's a good idea to give you the best context before you buy the iconic Apple tablet. That's why we've listed the most current iPad in each of the main areas: Pro, Air, classic and mini. Then we show previous models that still offer great features for the price.
The latest iPad to be released is the 5th Gen iPad Air, which came out in March 2022. In fact, Apple treats us to new iPad generations regularly, with at least one new release each year. In 2021 we saw the release of the 9th Gen iPad, two new iPad Pros (5th generation available in 11- and 12.9-inch formats) and a 6th Gen iPad mini. We've reviewed them all, and we think they do certain things extremely well.
We've only included iPad generations that are readily available, and we've personally reviewed most of them to help you decide which one might be best for you, and you'll find our full reviews linked in the summaries below. Some of these models have been discontinued by Apple, but they can still be found at other retailers, either new or renewed. You can skip straight to the iPad model that you're interested in, or scroll down for the full iPad generations list for all the current models. For more advice on choosing see our tips on which iPad series is best at the bottom of this piece.
iPad generations list: every available iPad model
iPad Pro generations
If you're looking for the ultimate in power and sophistication, you'll want the iPad Pro 5th generation. Released in May 2021, it's not the newest device on the iPad model list, but it is still the most advanced.
The 2021 iPad Pro boasts an eight-core M1 processor, the same chip that powers the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini, which we found makes the tablet super-fast and efficient. It also supports Thunderbolt 3, USB4, eSIM support and global 5G coverage at speeds of up to 4Gbps. The latest Pro also has the best iPad camera you can get, with an ISP and LIDAR scanner for great low-light detail, an ultrawide 12MP sensor giving you a 120-degree field of view, and Center Stage, a software feature that automatically follows you during video calls.
When we reviewed it, we found the latest iPad Pro is perfect as a drawing tablet, especially when teamed with the Apple Pencil, and it has lots of cool features for video editors, 3D artists and other creative pros. It comes in 12.9in or 11in version – when we reviewed them we gave both 4.5 stars out of 5. See our iPad Pro 12.9in (M1, 2021) review and iPad Pro 11in (M1, 2021) review for full details.
If you just want a tablet for watching Netflix and a bit of light web use, one of the cheaper iPads on this list will probably be all you need, and you might be better off saving the money. However, 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. Despite the arrival of the Apple iPad Pro 2021 (see above), this 2020 release remains a great option for professional creatives who want a tablet to work on.
Like the newer iPad Pro, this device also comes in an 11in option, and a larger 12.9in version, which allows extra space for design work when paired with the 2nd generation Apple Pencil. It isn't quite as fast as the 2021 iPad but it's pretty darned close. So unless you're doing a lot of resource-intensive work such as video or photo editing, it's very tempting to go for this more affordable model.
Although it carries a less powerful chip than the latest iPad Air (see below), it still has some advantages over that model, such as built-in Face ID. It also comes with larger storage options than the iPad Air, going right up to 1TB.
The 2018 iPad Pro is probably the oldest generation of the iPad model that you might be able to find new at a major retailer, although it's becoming more difficult to find. We were very impressed when we reviewed the tablet on its release and it still offers decent specs, with the A12Z Bionic chip offered in the 2020 model basically a slightly modified version of this device’s A12X, so you don't lose much in performance really. And like the 4th generation model, it also comes with up to 1TB of storage and has a large-screen option perfect for creative work.
However, considering its age, if you have to pay the full price, it's not going to be such a great buy. Unless you find a good deal at retailer that's still looking to offload stock we'd such a big difference in price with the later models, you're probably going to want one of the newer iPad Pro generations.
Our iPad Pro 12.9 (2018) review goes into more detail.
iPad Air generations
Released in April 2022, the newest iPad of all is the 5th generation iPad Air. Apple's made its midrange tablet a whole lot more pro-like, giving it the same M1 processor as the 2021 iPad Pros. When we reviewed the new tablet, we found that the chip combined with a superb 1640 x 2360 Liquid Retina IPS LCD screen means the iPad Air is now well and truly an iPad Pro-lite at a more affordable price – although only just, because the price difference is now really very close unless you find a discount.
It's also more portable than the Ipad Pro 12.9, with its compact size making the new iPad Air a very versatile device for word processing, digital sketching, gaming, messaging and lots more. It also comes in five attractive colour options compared to the two colours offered for the iPad Pro. The 64GB storage offered in the base device is rather small, so you'll probably want to go for the 256GB version if you're handling a lot of media. See our complete iPad Air (5th Gen, 2022) review for more details, and see our guide to the best iPad Air 5 prices to find the best deal where you are.
Despite the release of the new iPad Air 5 above, the 4th generation iPad Air from 2020 is still a fine tablet and might be more likely to come in for discounts now it's been superseded. This tablet is fitted with the A14 Bionic, Apple's most advanced tablet chip until the 5th generation iPad Pro in May 2021, and it works with the 2nd 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 was eliminated in this model, with Touch ID located in the power button. That allowed the bezels to be slimmed down. All in all, the iPad Air is a top-of-the-line Apple tablet for those who want outstanding features and performance but don't need the power – or want the cost – of the latest iPad Pros. For more details, see our iPad Air (2020) review.
The 2010 iPad Air was a great piece of kit in its day but it's not going to be at the top of most people's lists now that there are two newer iPad Air generations available. While there's a chance you might still spot a good deal, this tablet is becoming less common to see. We'd generally recommend the newer entry-level iPad 10.2 as the best option for those on a budget. Our iPad Air (2019) review goes into more detail.
The newest edition of the basic iPad (2021) went on sale on 24 September 2021. The first thing we noticed that sets it apart from the previous version is its storage capacity. You get more space for all your media, games, photos and more.
There are more differences between this and the last model (the 8th generation device) inside. While it looks 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 10.2in 1620 x 2160 LCD screen as the 8th generation, with a max 500 nits brightness, which will be just fine for most users. At this price, it's a great tablet for general use.
For more information, read our more detailed iPad 10.2 (2021) review.
This is the previous iPad generation for those who want a quality tablet a very good price. It's since been superseded by the 2021 model above, but we liked this model a lot when we reviewed it on its release, and two years on, it still has everything you need for the core iPad experience here. That includes Apple Pencil support (see here for Apple Pencil alternatives), a powerful processor and a great Retina display. So if you spot a discount that makes it cheaper than the 2021 version, it's still a tempting buy.
The 10.2in 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. Find out more in our iPad 2020 review.
The 7th generation model of the iPad released in 2019 is another good option to consider if you're on a budget. While it's not so readily available now, it's worth looking out for in case you spot a deal. The Apple iPad 10.2 (2019) has almost exactly the same package as the 8th 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. It's worth considering if you see a good price. You may be more likely to spot renewed/refurbished options, but the price of those needs to be significantly cheaper than that of one of the newer iPad models to make it good value.
iPad mini generations
The iPad mini got a pretty big upgrade in its September 2021 release. It's still very portable, but it's been bumped up to 8.3in (from 7.9in). It also now boasts a Liquid Retina display with 2266x1488 resolution at 326 pixels per inch.
That's not all. It comes with an A15 Bionic chipset, a USB-C port (at last), and with 5G connectivity, we feel that it's now more on a par with one of the bigger boys on this page, the iPad Air. Added to that, it now supports the Apple Pencil 2, making it a good choice for creatives on the move.
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 the higher-end iPads now sport. Read more in our full iPad mini (6th gen) review.
Finishing off our iPad generations list is the 5th gen iPad mini. Like the newer generation of the mini above, it's an ideal tablet if you find most iPads are too big for your needs. It's lightweight and its 7.9in display makes it easy to 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, and unlike the newer 6th generation device above, it's only compatible with the 1st generation Apple Pencil, not the improved Apple Pencil 2. Having said that, we loved this device when we reviewed it on its release, and it remains a good option if you want to look out for a bargain rather than pay the full price of the newer model. Find out more with our iPad mini (5th generation) review.
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)
Which iPad series is best?
In very very simplistic terms, we could simply conclude that the iPad Pro (2021) is the 'best iPad' overall, be it the 11 in or 12.9in version. This is the iPad generation that currently offers the best specs in terms of sheer power and capability. That said, such a powerful tablet will be overkill for many people, and unless you're planning to use demanding apps, you probably don't need to spend that much money on a tablet.
The new iPad Air (5th generation – 2022) comes very close to the iPad Pro for performance while being more affordable, and also smaller, which can be a benefit in terms of portability since some people find the iPad Pro too large for use on public transport for example – in fact, many designers actually prefer to use the iPad mini when they're working remotely since it's so portable and easy to use on the go.
As for value, the best iPad is probably still the 'standard' iPad (although there's nothing standard about the 2021 9th Generation of this 10.2 tablet). It's very affordable and still offers a superb experience.
How to choose the best iPad generation for you
To choose the right iPad generation for you, you need to consider what you want to use the tablet for. In terms of raw specs, the latest iPad generation (so currently the iPad 13 range), is always going to be the most up-to-date (although how powerful the device is will depend on which particular model you look at since the Pro devices from the previous generation will still be more powerful than the standard device in the newest generation).
If you're only looking for a tablet to use for general internet browsing, checking emails and docs, and watching entertainment, you really don't need an iPad from the latest generation, and you might want to save money by going for an earlier model. However, if you're looking for a more powerful device for work, you'll probably want to consider the latest or at least the second-to-latest generation.
If you want an iPad for drawing, then you'll want Apple Pencil support, and ideally the Apple Pencil 2, which has a more practical matte finish and flat sides and a magnetic attachment with wireless charging. That means going for at least the 4th generation iPad Air (2020), first-generation 11-inch iPad Pro (2018), third-generation iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2018) or later – including the iPad Pro M1 2021 models.
Should you buy an older iPad?
Apple wants you to buy its latest iPads, and there are some good reasons to go along with it. Unlike with the products from many other brands, the price of Apple products doesn't tend to drop hugely even a long time after release. The latest iPad generations tend to go on sale at a very similar price to the generation before, and they tend to retain that price throughout their life. For example, the 202112.9-inch iPad Pro retails for $1,099/£999, while the 2020, 12.9-inch iPad Pro originally went on sale at $999/£949, just $100/£50 less.
Now you're likely to be able to find the 2020 iPad Pro for around $800/£800 in a sale, but the latest model offers such a boost in performance that we'd generally recommend paying a couple hundred dollars more to get more longevity from your device.
Having said that, the previous iPads models are still great tablets, and many users won't notice the small differences in loading times. Ultimately, if you want an iPad to use for several years before you next upgrade, it probably makes sense to get the most recent iPad generation of your preferred model. But if budget is the primary factor in your decision making, going back one, or even two, iterations makes total sense if you spot a particularly good deal.