Apple’s iPad lineup spans four different models, with varying capabilities and accessories. There’s the iPad, the iPad Air, the iPad Mini and the iPad Pro — but which iPad does what, and is that new iPad Pro worth the money?
Truth be told, all iPads run the same software and have access to the same apps in the App Store. Heck, almost all of them will even work with Apple’s own keyboard accessory, and they all work with the Apple Pencil.
So why not just get the least expensive model and call it a day? Well, screen size and performance, that’s why. Here, we break down the differences between iPad models so you can choose the one that fits your needs.
The iPad Pro (fourth generation)
The iPad Pro line is designed for and targeted toward those who want the most powerful and capable tablet Apple has to offer. From the A12Z processor and up to 1TB of storage, to the USB-C port and the new Magic Keyboard with a trackpad, the iPad Pro line can keep up with nearly any laptop.
The iPad Pro starts at $799 for an 11-inch screen or $999 for a 12.9-inch display. The Wi-Fi + LTE model is an extra $150. If you really want to go all out, the 12.9-inch model with LTE and 1TB of storage is $1,649.
Both models use Apple’s Liquid Retina display, which is clear and bright, and have a battery life up to 10 hours.
The new Pro lineup features a rear-facing LiDAR camera that can be used to scan nearby objects and rooms and should improve the experience for augmented reality apps and services. It’s the first time any of Apple’s products has included a LiDAR camera.
Alongside the new iPad Pro models, Apple announced that dedicated trackpad support will come to the iPad with the release of iPadOS 13.4. The new Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro includes a dedicated trackpad that you can use to click, swipe and select text on your iPad’s display.
The new iPad Pro with the Magic Keyboard sure looks like it will be able to replace a laptop, or, at the very least, be used in place of a laptop for most computing tasks.
The $129 second-generation Apple Pencil will work with the new iPad Pro for taking notes or drawing.
Order a new iPad Pro right now, with deliveries expected to arrive starting March 24. The best bet for delivery this week is through B&H Photo, Expercom or Walmart as Amazon.com is showing deliveries about a month away. If you don’t want to wait for the Magic Keyboard in May, check out these alternative options.
The iPad (seventh generation)
For years, the entry-level iPad had a 9.7-inch display. Then, last year, Apple updated the $329 iPad, increasing its screen to 10.2 inches and adding Smart Keyboard support and storage options up to 128GB.
The iPad uses Apple’s A10 processor, which may be an older processor in Apple’s lineup, but is more than powerful enough if you just want to triage your email, browse the web and stream videos.
The base iPad is the ideal tablet for someone who doesn’t necessarily want a laptop replacement or need something to do heavy photo or video editing. It’s more than enough for a young student or anyone who views the iPad more as an entertainment device.
That said, if you do want to sit down and write a school paper or a lengthy email, you can pick up the Smart Keyboard Cover for $159. Or if you want an iPad to draw or sketch on, the first-generation Apple Pencil will work and is only $99.
The iPad with Wi-Fi starts at $329 for 32GB of storage or $429 for 128GB. Add another $130 to either price for an LTE model. For the quickest delivery, we’d recommend ordering from B&H Photo, Expercom or Walmart.
The iPad Air (third generation)
One step up from the base iPad is the third-generation iPad Air. This model has a 10.5-inch display and a faster A12 processor, and it works with Apple’s Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil.
Aesthetically, the iPad and iPad Air look very similar. Both have Apple’s traditional home button with Touch ID for unlocking and approving purchases with your fingerprint.
It’s not quite as powerful as the iPad Pro (more on that in a minute), but it should be fast enough for everyday computing tasks and gaming, with the occasional photo and video editing.
To be clear, all iPad models will perform fine when editing photos and videos, but the iPad Air and Pro will process changes and edits faster, saving you time.
If you’re looking for a tablet you can get some work done on, that’s more powerful than the basic iPad and reasonably priced, the iPad Air is a good fit.
The iPad Air with Wi-Fi starts at $499 for 64GB of storage, or $649 for 256GB. For the same storage amounts, but with LTE connectivity, you’re looking at $649 and $779, respectively. B&H Photo, Expercom or Walmart are shipping the quickest as of now.
The iPad Air will work with the $159 Smart Keyboard Cover and the $99 Apple Pencil.
The iPad Mini (fifth generation)
The iPad Mini is essentially a smaller version of the iPad Air. It uses the same A12 processor and comes with up to 256GB of storage and Apple Pencil support. There isn’t a Smart Keyboard Cover for the Mini, but you can connect any Bluetooth keyboard to the tablet for long-form typing.
Of course, as its name implies, the Mini is smaller than the rest of the iPad lineup, with a 7.9-inch Retina display.
The Mini is ideal for someone who is constantly on the go and wants to have access in a portable form factor to the power an iPad affords and the App Store ecosystem. Pair the iPad Mini with an Apple Arcade subscription, and you have a compelling Nintendo Switch competitor for gaming.
The Wi-Fi version of the iPad Mini starts at $399 for 64GB of storage or $549 for 256GB. The Wi-Fi + LTE version will set you back $529 or $679 for the same storage amounts. For the fastest arrival, we’d recommend ordering from B&H Photo, Expercom or Walmart.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailer’s listed prices at the time of publication.