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iPad generations: the complete guide to all the Apple iPad models

Included in this guide:

iPad generations: an iPad being help at a desk
(Image credit: Neustockimagesjpg on Getty Images)

Apple's iPad generations list grows with each year, and for good reason. Apple create and sell four iPads and each one has a specific user in mind. There's the iPad mini, the iPad, the iPad Air and the iPad Pro - all getting (roughly) yearly updates with faster, cleverer chips and features, and all worth a look at. But which one is best for your needs? 

That's what this page is for, so you can make the most informed buying decision. We've brought the full iPad model list together, with the specs of the very latest and oldest iPads all in one place. Speaking of the latest, September 2021 saw the addition of the 9th Gen iPad 10.2 and the 6th Gen iPad mini, which followed the 5th Gen iPad Pro, earlier in 2021. So if that interests you, head straight to those models below. 

Each of these new iPad models brings new functionality and improved specs, making them among the best tablets on the market. But it also makes choosing between them more complicated. And that's before you think about the different sizes and storage and connectivity options offered by each model.

Well, we've taken the homework out of your decision making. Our iPad generations list looks at each different model and their generations in turn. We'll look at the key features of each device to help you decide which one to go for. For example, the iPad Pro (2021) may be the 'best iPad' in general, but if you've got no need for all its power, it may be overkill for your specific needs. It still remains true today that the best iPad for the majority of users is still the 'standard' iPad (but there's nothing standard about the 2021, 9th Gen model in our opinion). 

Once you've got you iPad, it's also worth checking out our roundups of the best iPad cases and the best iPad stands, so you can make the most of your iPad with peace of mind. 

iPad generations list: every iPad model available now

Apple iPad Pro (2021, 5th generation) product shot from the side

(Image credit: Apple)

The most advanced device on the iPad model list.

Specifications
Display size: 11in or 12.9in
Processor: 8-core M1 processor
Storage options : Up to 2TB
Apple Pencil compatibility: 2nd generation
Screen: Mini LED Liquid Retina XDR
Reasons to buy
+Faster performance+Powerful camera+Strong 5G coverage+More storage
Reasons to avoid
-Pricey, and accessories cost extra

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 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 makes it super-fast and efficient. It also supports Thunderbolt 3, USB4, eSIM support and global 5G coverage at speeds of up to 4Gbps.

This is the best iPad camera you can get too, with a 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.

This tablet 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, and we've given 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.

Apple iPad Pro (2020, 4th generation) product shot - two ipads front and back viewsCB endorsed

(Image credit: Apple)

02. Apple iPad Pro (2020, 4th generation)

Still one of the best iPads money can buy.

Specifications
Display size: 11in or 12.9in
Processor: A12Z Bionic
Storage options : 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Apple Pencil compatibility: 2nd generation
Reasons to buy
+Large screen +Up to 1TB of storage 
Reasons to avoid
-Still expensive considering it's been super-seeded-Less portable than other iPads

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.

Apple iPad Pro (2018, 3rd generation) product shot

(Image credit: Apple)

Pro-level features but still pricey considering its age.

Specifications
Display size: 11in or 12.9in
Processor: A12X Bionic
Storage options : 64GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Apple Pencil compatibility: 2nd generation
Reasons to buy
+Large screen+Up to 1TB of storage
Reasons to avoid
-12.9-inch model is bulky-Hard purchase to justify with two newer models available

The 2018 iPad Pro has been left in a bit of an awkward position now two newer versions of the iPad Pro have joined the iPad lineup, and we're not sure how much longer it will feature in the iPad generations list. 

First the plusses. It's 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. 

However, considering there's not such a big difference in price with the later models, this 2018 version of the iPad Pro now seems rather expensive for what you get. It is more likely to come in for big discounts though, and it's certainly worth bearing in mind if you spot a good deal.

Apple iPad 10.2 (2021, 9th generation) product shot

(Image credit: Apple)

A new, affordable iPad that boasts plenty of storage.

Specifications
Display size: 10.2in
Processor: A13 Bionic
Storage options : 64GB, 256GB
Apple Pencil compatibility: 1st generation
Reasons to buy
+Excellent value for money+Compatible with +Huge storage
Reasons to avoid
-No new design

The brand new edition of the basic iPad (2021) went on sale on 24 September 2021. The first thing 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 iPad 10.2 (2021) review.

Apple iPad 10.2 (2020, 8th generation) product shot

(Image credit: Apple)

A more affordable iPad that still packs plenty of power.

Specifications
Display size: 10.2in
Processor: A12 Bionic
Storage options : 32GB, 128GB
Apple Pencil compatibility: 1st generation
Reasons to buy
+Excellent value for money+Includes all essential iPad features
Reasons to avoid
-Thick bezels-Lacks advanced features

This iPad was previously the best point of entry into Apple's tablet ecosystem if you didn't want to break the bank. It's since been superseded by the 2021 model above, but still get 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 with our iPad 2020 review.

Apple iPad 10.2 (2019, 7th generation) product shot

(Image credit: Apple)

06. Apple iPad 10.2 (2019, 7th generation)

An earlier, cheaper model on the iPad generations list.

Specifications
Display size: 10.2in
Processor: A10 Fusion
Storage options : 32GB, 128GB
Apple Pencil compatibility: 1st generation
Reasons to buy
+Very affordable +Lots of key iPad features 
Reasons to avoid
-Slower A10 processor -Old design

The 7th 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 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.

Apple iPad Air (2020, 4th generation) product shot

(Image credit: Apple)

Still one of the most advanced tablets on the market.

Specifications
Display size: 10.9in
Processor: A14 Bionic
Storage options : 64GB, 256GB
Apple Pencil compatibility: 2nd generation
Reasons to buy
+Beautiful full-screen display +Extremely powerful 
Reasons to avoid
-Quite expensive and still not a Pro-No Face ID

With the 4th 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 5th generation iPad Pro, 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 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. Fore more info, see our iPad Air (2020) review.

Apple iPad Air (2019, 3rd generation) product shot

(Image credit: Apple)

Worth a look if you don't want to splash out on the newer iPad Air.

Specifications
Display size: 10.5in
Processor: A12 Bionic
Storage options : 64GB, 256GB
Apple Pencil compatibility: 2nd generation
Reasons to buy
+Cheaper than new iPad Air +256GB storage option 
Reasons to avoid
-Harder to get hold of-Chunky bezels

The 2020 iPad Air is a great piece of kit, but it's not going to be at the top of most people's lists now that there's a newer version available. This 2019 3rd generation iPad Air offers a cheaper alternative with a 256GB storage option. That said, we'd generally recommend the 7th or 8th generation of the entry-level iPad as the best option for those on a budget. 

Apple iPad mini (2021, 6th generation) product shot

(Image credit: Apple)

The portable iPad with a big heart (of storage).

Specifications
Display size: 8.3in
Processor: A15 Bionic
Storage options : 64GB, 256GB
Apple Pencil compatibility: 1st generation
Reasons to buy
+New design, new tech+Super portable +Good price for tech 
Reasons to avoid
-Still no Smart Keyboard support

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, it'll feel more at home with one of the bigger boys on this page, the iPad Air. And now it supports the Apple Pencil 2, making it a proper 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 with our iPad mini (6th gen) review.

Apple iPad mini (2019, 5th generation) product shot with person using the Apple Pencil

(Image credit: Apple)

The perfect iPad to use on the move.

Specifications
Display size: 7.9in
Processor: A12 Bionic
Storage options : 64GB, 256GB
Apple Pencil compatibility: 1st generation
Reasons to buy
+Small and light +Affordable price 
Reasons to avoid
-Old design -No Smart Keyboard support

Finishing off our 2021 iPad generations list is the 5th gen iPad mini. If you find most iPads are too big 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 1st generation Apple Pencil. 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)

Older iPads 

  • 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)

Should you buy an older iPad?

Apple want you to buy its latest iPads, and there's some good reasons to do just that. Because the price point of Apple products rarely drops massively, you'll often see older iPads, with their older specs, on sale for close to their original price. That's due to a number of reasons, chief amongst them Apple valuing its most recent products close to (if not under) the price of its previous model. So for example, the most recent 2021, 12.9-inch iPad Pro retails for $1,099/£999, while the 2020, 12.9-inch iPad Pro went on sale at $999/£949 - just $100/£50 less. 

Of course, you can get last year's iPad Pro for around $800/£800 in a sale, but that still posses an interesting question for the prospective consumer: spend just a couple hundred dollars more, and get the up-to-date, all-singing, all-dancing iPad Pro, or save a little and be one step behind the pack.

Don't get us wrong, all previous models of iPads are still great iPads, and many users won't necessarily notice the difference between a millisecond loading time here and there. But the pricing of the new tablets and the value retention of the older iPads makes for an interesting quandary. Ultimately, if you want an iPad and don't think you're going to upgrade anytime soon, it makes sense to get the most recent model of your choice. If budget is the primary factor in your decision making, going back one, or even two, iterations makes total sense (just make sure you get it in a sale).

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Beren Neale

Beren Neale is the deals editor at Creative Bloq. After editing several creative and design magazines - including the graphic design mag Computer Arts - he found his home on the biggest global art and design website, helping digital creatives get the best deals on the kit that they need.