Confused by the various iPad generations and iPad models? In this guide, we'll compare all of the iPad generations and models currently available, from the standard iPad to iPad Pro generations.
All iPad models have a use, and we've tested them for creative work, general productivity and entertainment to be able to recommend the best options whether you want something basic or super-powered. Below, we compare all the iPad models available based on our hands-on reviews, which we conducted by spending several weeks on each device. Some of the iPads listed have been discontinued by Apple but are still on the market at other retailers and can sometimes provide opportunities to find bargains.
Not sure which iPad series to pick? Head to the bottom of this guide, where we've shared some tips on what to consider when choosing. And if you're searching for accessories, we also have guides to the best iPad cases, the best iPad stands and the best iPad stylus to help you get the most from your tablet.
The latest M2-chipped iPad Pro is the fastest, most powerful iPad to date, and comes with all-new Apple Pencil hover features and Wi-Fi 6E. Its lightning-fast upload and download speeds make it a potential laptop-replacing super-tablet, and it has a Liquid Retina XDR display, which makes for a stunning canvas.
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Released in April 2022, the versatile, portable 5th generation iPad Air is a lot more Pro-like thanks to the M1 processor. This combined with the superb 1640 x 2360 Liquid Retina IPS LCD screen makes it basically an iPad Pro-lite at an affordable price.
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Apple released a new iPad in October 2022, which feels a lot like the 2020 iPad Air; it has the same A14 Bionic chip, the same screen resolution and the same 12MP rear camera. However, it has a few new features and differences which set it apart from the Air.
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iPad Pro generations
The latest M2-chipped iPad Pro, released in October 2022, is the fastest, most powerful iPad to date, available in 11-inch and 12.9-inch models. It comes with all-new Apple Pencil hover features (which we love, by the way), and Wi-Fi 6E. Add to that lightning-fast upload and download speeds and you've got a potential laptop-replacing super-tablet.
In our iPad Pro M2 2022 review, we declared it the tablet of dreams for creatives. We were particularly impressed by the Liquid Retina XDR display, which makes for a stunning canvas both to display digital art and create it on (it's incredibly responsive). The camera is amazing, and the support for ProRes video capture means it's like carrying a mini studio around with you. But beyond the M2 chip, Apple Pencil hover and Pro Res capability, many of the specs are in line with the previous iPad Pro.
It is also eye-wateringly expensive, which will be prohibitive to many – it'll only be serious iPad users that make the leap into buying the new addition to the range. There aren't a host of upgrades that aren't already available on the previous 2021 model, and the design is exactly the same, too. If the upgraded features are important to you and you've got money to spend, this could be the one for you. If you're okay with not having the latest features, though, you could save money by grabbing the 2021 iPad Pro instead.
If you need protection for the new tablet, see our pick of the best iPad Pro cases.
Need the best iPad you can buy? Well, that's now the iPad Pro 2022, but until recently it was this one. It offered the most computing power available in an Apple tablet, the finest display, and the fastest user experience. It was the flagship model, the best of the best, and though it may no longer have the title, the 5th-generation iPad Pro is still a beast of a tablet.
With an eight-core M1 processor, it's got a laptop-grade processor, and this means it loads apps in the blink of an eye. Want to edit 4K video on a tablet? It'll handle that with ease. It supports Thunderbolt 3 and USB4, as well as eSIM, and offers global 5G coverage with speeds going up to 4GBps. It also comes in two sizes (an 11-inch model and a 12.9-inch version), giving you great options for screen real estate. In short, this is an intensely powerful tablet.
In our full review of the 2021 iPad Pro, we were hugely impressed. With the best iPad camera you can get and clever extra features like Center Stage (which keeps you centered in the frame during video calls), it's a superb iPad for just about everything. Pair it with the Apple Pencil 2 and you've got one of the best drawing tablet experiences it's possible to get. It's hard to think of any creative Pro who couldn't get a lot of use out of this iPad.
Of course, all this comes at a cost (though less of a cost since the new release). This is not a cheap tablet, and if you don't need all that power we've detailed above, then there are definitely cheaper options that will suit you better. Still, if you want a brilliant iPad for a little less than the M2 iPad Pro, this is a great choice.
iPad Air generations
Released in April 2022, the iPad Air has now moved into its 5th generation. With this launch, Apple made its mid-range 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 12.9-inch iPad Pro, 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 5th-generation iPad Air, the 4th-generation model from 2020 is still a fine tablet and might be more likely to come in for discounts now that it's been superseded. This tablet is fitted with the A14 Bionic, Apple's most advanced tablet chip until the 5th-generation iPad Pro launched with the M1 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, this 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 2019 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.
Apple released a new iPad in October 2022, and there are plenty of updates to be found. Apple has been walking a fine line with its crammed iPad range, and it was only a matter of time until they released a tablet in one section that actually looked and acted like another iPad from a different section. That's the new 2022 iPad, which feels a lot like the 2020 iPad Air. It has the same A14 Bionic chip, the same screen resolution and the same 12MP rear camera, making it feel remarkably familiar.
There are a few differences, though. It works with a new Magic Keyboard Folio, offers 5G instead of 4G, and uses the 1st-generation Apple Pencil instead of the newer 2nd-generation version. Oh, and the camera is now positioned in the middle of the landscape side of the body, which is better for video calls.
With these new updates, the 10th Gen iPad is $449 in the US, which is a little steep for the 'base-level' iPad. Our initial thoughts were that if you want to pay that much, why not look at 2020's iPad Air and be able to use the 2nd-generation Apple Pencil? Or seek out an amazing deal on 2021's iPad (below) and you've still got a cracking tablet.
However, when going hands-on, our reviewer loved the tablet's bigger, brighter screen and the amount of power available for complex tasks. The lack of 2nd-generation Apple Pencil support is annoying, but the tablet feels luxurious and runs Procreate like a dream. Find out more in our iPad 2022 review.
The 9th Gen edition of the entry-level iPad went on sale in 2021. The first thing we noticed that sets it apart from the previous version is its storage capacity, as you get more space for all your media, games, photos and more compared to previous versions.
There are more differences between this and the preceding 8th-generation model inside. While it looks almost identical to 2020's iteration, the 2021 model boasts Apple's TrueTone tech, allowing the screen to adjust to ambient lighting wherever you are. The camera is also upgraded, growing to 12MP with Apple's Center Stage features, first seen on the 2020 iPad Pro.
Other than that, the 2021 model has the same 10.2in 1620x2160 LCD screen as the 8th-generation version, with a maximum 500 nits of 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 at a very good price. It's since been superseded by the 2021 and 2022 models, but this could be a good buy if you find it on sale since it still offers everything you need for the core iPad experience. 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 with its chunky bezels and Home button, but there's no doubting its capabilities. Find out more in our iPad 2020 review.
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 8.3 inches across (up from 7.9 inches). It also now boasts a Liquid Retina display with a 2266x1488 resolution at 326 pixels per inch.
That's not all. It comes with an A15 Bionic chip, a USB-C port (at last), and with 5G connectivity, we feel that it's now more on par with the iPad Air. Added to that, it now supports the 2nd-generation Apple Pencil, making it a good choice for creatives on the move.
As with the 2021 iPad, the rear camera got upgraded to a 12MP snapper (which is able to record in 4K). The front camera also maxes out at 12MP, but comes with an ultra-wide lens 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-generation iPad mini. Like the 6th-generation iPad mini, it's an ideal tablet if you find most iPads are too big for your needs. It's lightweight and its 7.9-inch 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 Apple's A12 Bionic 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 iPad mini, it's only compatible with the 1st-generation Apple Pencil. 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 (if you can find it that is, because few retailers have new models in stock nowadays). Find out more with our iPad mini (5th generation) review.
Older iPad Pros
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- iPad Pro (4th generation, 2020)
- 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 (2019, 3rd generation)
- 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 14 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.
How we review iPads
We have reviewed all of the currently available iPads by spending several weeks using the devices for a range of different tasks, including for general productivity and entertainment, for creative work such as photo and video editing and for drawing use the Apple Pencil or Apple Pencil 2 depending on the tablet's compatibility. We have linked to our full in-depth reviews in the entries above.