Picking the Best iPad to Buy in 2024

In May 2024, Apple introduced a major update for the iPad Pro, a smaller spec update and a new size for the iPad Air, and a price cut for the 10th-generation iPad, as well as the discontinuation of the 9th-generation ‌iPad‌, making for the cleanest ‌iPad‌ lineup in quite some time. We're still expecting updates for the entry-level ‌iPad‌ and the iPad mini as soon as later this year, but for now we're taking a look at how the various models compare to help potential buyers choose which one is right for them.

iPad Comparison

ipad lineup comparison may 2024Click for larger

Which iPad Is Right for You?

To address the elephant in the room, 2023 marked the first time since the introduction of the original ‌iPad‌ in 2010 that Apple did not update a single model in the lineup. That's starting to change as of mid-2024, but at the moment we have a combination of freshly updated models and ones that are quite long in the tooth, so read on below for help with your buying decision!

If price is your biggest consideration, you'll want to look at the standard 10th-generation ‌iPad‌, knowing that it contains some older technologies and limitations but is still plenty good enough for many users. If you're looking for portability, check out the ‌iPad mini‌, and if you want a mid-sized ‌iPad‌ with more to offer than the entry-level ‌iPad‌, check out the ‌iPad Air‌, which is now available in two sizes.

What about the ‌iPad Pro‌? Apple's high-end iPads are in a class of their own, and it shows in their higher prices. Unless you're a pro-level user or price is no object, you'll probably want to look to cheaper options, but the ‌iPad Pro‌ models deliver cutting-edge technology for those who need it.

With that quick overview out of the way, let's take a look at what each model has to offer.

iPad Models

10.9-inch iPad

Apple's 10th-generation version of the ‌iPad‌ has a 10.9-inch display and the A14 Bionic chip, and as of May 2024 it starts at $349 for the Wi-Fi only model. This is the cheapest ‌iPad‌ currently sold by Apple, and it offers a good mix of features, although it was released in October 2022 so it's definitely getting up there in age.

It has an entirely updated design compared to the previous generation, ditching the Home button and adopting the slim bezel design of the ‌iPad Air‌ and ‌iPad Pro‌. It does still have Touch ID, but it's been moved to the power button on the top edge of the device. It also adopts USB-C instead of Lightning, and it has an improved 12MP Wide rear-facing camera.

10th Gen iPad Feature Fanned Gray
This is still on the low end of the ‌iPad‌ family lineup, however, so you won't get support for the Apple Pencil 2 (only the first-generation model or the USB-C model) and storage caps out at 256GB.

Key specifications include:

  • A 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display with True Tone
  • Side button with ‌Touch ID‌
  • A14 Bionic chip
  • 12MP Wide back camera and 12MP Landscape Ultra Wide front camera
  • First-generation ‌Apple Pencil‌ and ‌Apple Pencil‌ with USB-C compatibility
  • Magic Keyboard Folio compatibility
  • USB-C port
  • Available in Blue, Pink, Silver, and Yellow

iPad mini

Next up is the ‌iPad mini‌, which starts at $499 for Wi-Fi only models. That's $100 more than the previous generation's starting price, but the September 2021 update brought a massive upgrade to Apple's smallest tablet. Yes, that's right, the ‌iPad mini‌ is almost three years old now, and we're looking toward an update in the latter part of 2024, but the current model is still a sufficiently powerful device for most users.

With a display size of 8.3 inches, you can't quite call it pocketable, but the ‌iPad mini‌ is definitely great for having something small on the go that still offers a much larger screen size than even Apple's largest iPhones.

ipad mini purple
Looking beyond the display size, this is a capable device using the same A15 Bionic chip from the iPhone 13 (albeit running slightly slower), so it's a fairly speedy tablet. You'll get an improved display compared to the entry-level ‌iPad‌, a 12-megapixel rear camera with LED flash, and support for the more advanced second-generation ‌Apple Pencil‌.

Key specifications include:

  • Fully laminated 8.3‑inch Liquid Retina display with True Tone
  • ‌Touch ID‌ in the power button
  • A15 Bionic chip with 5-core graphics and 16-core Neural Engine
  • 12MP Wide back camera with Smart HDR 3 and 4K video
  • 12MP Ultra Wide front camera with Smart HDR 3 and 1080p HD video
  • Landscape stereo-speaker audio
  • Second-generation ‌Apple Pencil‌ compatibility
  • Bluetooth keyboard compatibility
  • USB-C port
  • Available in Space Gray, Pink, Purple, and Starlight

iPad Air

Moving toward the higher end of the ‌iPad‌ family is the ‌iPad Air‌, which has just been updated in May 2024 and now comes in two sizes, 11 inches and 13 inches. The smaller model starts at $599 for Wi-Fi only connectivity, while the larger model starts at $799. The ‌iPad Air‌ is the perfect mid-tier option that offers many of the same features as the top-of-the-line ‌iPad Pro‌ but at a lower price point, and the fact it's brand-new means this is a great option for many users.

m2 iPad Air Horizontal Feature Teal
Key specifications of the ‌iPad Air‌ include:

  • Fully laminated 11‑inch or 13-inch Liquid Retina display with True Tone
  • ‌Touch ID‌ in the power button
  • M2 chip
  • 12MP Wide rear camera with Smart HDR 4 for photos and 4K video at up to 60 fps
  • Landscape 12MP FaceTime HD front camera with Smart HDR 4
  • ‌Apple Pencil‌ Pro and ‌Apple Pencil‌ with USB-C compatibility
  • Magic Keyboard and Bluetooth keyboard compatibility
  • USB-C port
  • Available in Space Gray, Blue, Purple, and Starlight

iPad Pro

If you're looking for true portable workstation power, then the last two iPads in the lineup, the ‌iPad Pro‌ models, could be what you're interested in. These tablets were updated in May 2024 with an all-new M4 chip, OLED displays, thinner designs, higher starting storage capacities, and more.

These iPads, which start at $999 for the 11-inch model and $1,299 for the 13-inch model, are a step up from the ‌iPad Air‌ in almost every way, from the crisp OLED displays with 120Hz ProMotion technology for smoother display responsiveness, a USB-C connector with Thunderbolt support, and support for a redesign Magic Keyboard, to a more powerful M4 chip, Face ID, and a maximum of 2TB of storage.

m4 iPad Pro Horizontal Feature Purple and Blue
The ‌iPad Pro‌ is overkill for most users, but if you're a pro-level user or just want the latest technology, the ‌iPad Pro‌ has a lot to offer.

Key specifications of the two ‌iPad Pro‌ models include:

  • 11‑inch or 13-inch Ultra Retina XDR OLED display
  • ‌Face ID‌
  • M4 chip
  • 12MP Wide rear camera
  • Smart HDR 4 for photos, 4K video at up to 60 fps
  • Landscape 12MP TrueDepth front camera with Center Stage, Portrait mode, Portrait Lighting, and Smart HDR 4
  • Four-speaker audio
  • 5G connectivity
  • ‌Apple Pencil‌ Pro and ‌Apple Pencil‌ with USB-C compatibility
  • Magic Keyboard and Bluetooth keyboard compatibility
  • Thunderbolt / USB 4 connector
  • Available in Silver and Space Black

Customization Options

Now that we've looked at the base specs of each of ‌iPad‌ models, it's time to think about various options like storage, cellular connectivity, and AppleCare+.

Storage: There are several storage options for each ‌iPad‌, so think about how much you might need. For the 10th-generation ‌iPad‌ and ‌iPad mini‌, Apple is offering the same two storage options: 64GB ($349 for ‌iPad‌, $499 for mini) and 256GB (a $150 upgrade on the previous prices).

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The two ‌iPad Air‌ models are available in four storage capacity options, with the entry-level 128GB models ($599 for 11-inch and $799 for 13-inch) offering double the storage of the previous generation. On both display sizes, 256GB is available for an additional $100, 512GB is available for an additional $300 over the base model, and 1TB is available for an additional $500 over the base model.

Lastly, the ‌iPad Pro‌ offers the highest storage capacity options, with the base models of both sizes now starting at 256GB, double that of the previous generation. Those base models start at $999 for 11-inch and $1,299 for 13-inch, with additional storage options including 512GB ($200 upgrade from base), 1TB ($600 upgrade from base), and 2TB ($1,000 upgrade from base).

Power-heavy users should always look to the higher-capacity ‌iPad‌ models to ensure they don't have to worry about constantly deleting apps and other files for storage space. Otherwise, Apple's iCloud is a great way to offload files and lets you opt for a cheaper ‌iPad‌ with less storage.

Unless you're storing a large local music library, downloading lots of video for offline playback, have a ton of huge apps, or doing pro-level work requiring lots of large files, mainstream users can usually get away with the lowest-tier storage options, particularly now that all models start with at least 64GB and more expensive models start much higher than that.

Display: For the first time, Apple is offering a nano-texture display option on an ‌iPad‌, but only on the ‌iPad Pro‌ and only on the higher-end 1TB and 2TB storage capacity options. This $100 upgrade is intended for users with high-end color-managed workflows or who use their devices in demanding ambient lighting environments such as outdoors. Think real estate agents and home inspectors, but there are plenty of other use cases where the reduced glare could be beneficial.

Cellular Connectivity: If you need to ensure that you can use your ‌iPad‌ at any time, including when you're not near a Wi-Fi connection, you can opt for a Wi-Fi + Cellular option to ensure you're always connected.

Cellular support adds $130–$200 onto the price of all corresponding Wi-Fi ‌iPad‌ models, depending on which ‌iPad‌ and which storage capacity. You'll also have to sign up for a data plan for an additional cost with a supported carrier, like AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon in the United States.

All told, it's not a cheap upgrade, and many users prefer using their phone as a hotspot to deliver connectivity to a Wi-Fi ‌iPad‌ while on the go. But if your phone plan doesn't allow for hotspot usage or you just want the convenience of having your ‌iPad‌ connected directly to a cellular network at all times, the option is there.

All current ‌iPad‌ models support sub-6GHz 5G with data speeds that will be plenty fast for most users, but lacking support for the fastest mmWave 5G technology available in some urban areas.

AppleCare+: New iPads come with one year of hardware repair coverage through Apple's limited warranty policy, as well as up to 90 days of complimentary support. But if you want more coverage, Apple offers optional ‌AppleCare‌+ packages priced at $69 for the ‌iPad‌, $79 for the 11-inch ‌iPad Air‌, $99 for the 13-inch ‌iPad Air‌, $149 for the 11-inch ‌iPad Pro‌, and $169 for the 13-inch ‌iPad Pro‌. Monthly pricing options are also available.

‌AppleCare‌+ extends your ‌iPad‌'s coverage to two years from the purchase date and adds unlimited incidents of accidental damage coverage, subject to a service fee of $49 plus applicable taxes in the United States on the ‌iPad‌ and ‌iPad mini‌. ‌iPad Pro‌ and ‌iPad Air‌ are covered at a service fee of $29 for screen damage and $99 for other types of accidental damage. Prices vary elsewhere.

applecare apple care banner
‌iPad‌ ‌AppleCare‌+ plans also cover accidental damage to the ‌Apple Pencil‌ and Apple-branded ‌iPad‌ keyboard accessories for up to two years with a $29 fee plus tax per incident. ‌AppleCare‌+ provides 24/7 priority access to support advisors via online chat or phone for up to two years after the ‌iPad‌'s original purchase date.

Apple charges high fees for accidental damage to a new ‌iPad‌ without ‌AppleCare‌+, so as with most forms of insurance, the plan can pay for itself if ever used. ‌AppleCare‌+ must be added within 60 days of purchasing a device.

Accessories

Each ‌iPad‌ has a plethora of accessories to choose from for protection, style, or usability, many of which Apple creates and sells itself on Apple.com and in Apple retail stores.

Apple Pencil: The ‌Apple Pencil‌ is a stylus most popular with artists but also used by others, providing a comfortable and streamlined way to interact with the tablet. The second-generation ‌Apple Pencil‌ introduced sleek design changes, magnetic charging on the ‌iPad mini‌, ‌iPad Air‌, and ‌iPad Pro‌, and gesture controls, none of which are available on the original ‌Apple Pencil‌. A new USB-C ‌Apple Pencil‌ introduced in late 2023 complicated the situation even further, and then the ‌Apple Pencil‌ Pro expanded the family to four in 2024 with advanced features like squeeze and barrel roll gestures, haptic feedback, and Find My support.

Apple Pencil Pro Newsroom
It might be unclear which iPads support which ‌Apple Pencil‌ models, so check out our list below. In short, the latest ‌iPad Pro‌ and ‌iPad Air‌ models can use the ‌Apple Pencil‌ Pro and the ‌iPad mini‌ uses the second-generation ‌Apple Pencil‌, while older ‌iPad‌ models with Lightning ports work with the first-generation ‌Apple Pencil‌. The USB-C ‌Apple Pencil‌ is the cheapest and most flexible model, supporting a mix of recent devices.

  • First-Generation Apple Pencil ($99): 9.7-inch ‌iPad‌ (2018), 10.2-inch ‌iPad‌ (2019, 2020, and 2021), 10th-generation ‌iPad‌ (2022), 5th-generation ‌iPad mini‌ (2019), 3rd-generation ‌iPad Air‌ (2019), 9.7-inch ‌iPad Pro‌ (2016), 10.5-inch ‌iPad Pro‌ (2017), 1st- and 2nd-generation 12.9-inch ‌iPad Pro‌ (2015 and 2017)
  • Second-Generation Apple Pencil ($129): 6th-generation ‌iPad mini‌ (2021), 4th-generation ‌iPad Air‌ (2020), 5th-generation ‌iPad Air‌ (2022), 11-inch and 12.9-inch ‌iPad Pro‌ (2018, 2020, 2021, and 2022)
  • USB-C Apple Pencil ($69): 10th-generation ‌iPad‌ (2022), 6th-generation ‌iPad mini‌ (2021), 4th-generation ‌iPad Air‌ (2020), 5th-generation ‌iPad Air‌ (2022), 11-inch and 13-inch ‌iPad Air‌ (‌M2‌, 2024), 11-inch and 12.9-inch ‌iPad Pro‌ (2018, 2020, 2021, and 2022), 11-inch and 13-inch ‌iPad Pro‌ (M4, 2024)
  • Apple Pencil Pro ($129): 11-inch and 13-inch ‌iPad Pro‌ (M4, 2024), 11-inch and 13-inch ‌iPad Air‌ (‌M2‌, 2024)

In the end, if you're only looking to purchase an ‌iPad‌ as a convenient app-browsing, email-checking, or ‌FaceTime‌ device, you don't need an ‌Apple Pencil‌. But if you're an artist or other creative with a penchant for drawing or taking digital handwritten notes, Apple's stylus is definitely an enhancement to the ‌iPad‌ experience.

For a more in-depth look at the differences between the four Apple Pencils, check out our comparison.

Cases: Apple sells Smart Cover and/or Smart Folio cases for all of its iPads, priced depending on the size of the device. You'll pay $39 for an ‌iPad mini‌ or 9.7-inch ‌iPad‌ Smart Cover, $59 for an ‌iPad mini‌ or 5th-generation ‌iPad Air‌ Smart Folio, $79 for a tenth-generation ‌iPad‌ or 11-inch ‌iPad Air‌ or ‌iPad Pro‌ Smart Folio, and $99 for a 13-inch ‌iPad Air‌ or ‌iPad Pro‌ Smart Folio.

ipad mini smart covers new
These cases magnetically attach to your ‌iPad‌, offering a degree of protection while also allowing you to place the tablet in numerous angled positions. The difference between the two is that the ‌iPad Pro‌'s Smart Folio cases protect the rear of the tablet as well as the front, while the Smart Cover cases only protect the front.

Keyboards: If you're looking to do a lot of work on an ‌iPad Air‌ or ‌iPad Pro‌, Apple now has several models of the Magic Keyboard that includes a trackpad, USB-C port with passthrough charging, and backlit keys. They certainly aren't cheap, priced at $299 for 11-inch versions and $349 for 13-inch versions, but for pro-level users, it's a serious upgrade to the ‌iPad‌ experience. Note that there are separate Magic Keyboard models for the latest ‌iPad Pro‌ and ‌iPad Air‌ models, with the ‌iPad Pro‌ models featuring a thinner and lighter design, a row of function keys, a larger trackpad with haptic feedback, and aluminum palm rests.

magic keyboard 3
For users of previous-generation ‌iPad Pro‌ models who still want a keyboard but don't want to spend quite as much money, Apple also sells the Smart Keyboard Folio at $179.00 for 11-inch devices and $199.00 for 12.9-inch devices. This case is just like the Smart Folio, with an added Bluetooth keyboard for enhanced productivity.

ipadprosmartkeyboard
The 10th-generation ‌iPad‌ also has its own Magic Keyboard Folio, priced at $249.00 and available in White. It has a built-in trackpad, a 14-key function row, and a two-piece design with a detachable keyboard and protective back panel that both attach magnetically to the ‌iPad‌.

These Apple-made cases are compatible with iPads that have a Smart Keyboard connector, which is a special port that magnetically attaches the keyboard to the side or rear of the ‌iPad‌.

Otherwise, you can also look into popular ‌iPad‌ keyboard manufacturers like Logitech and Belkin, all of which sell Bluetooth keyboards that connect to iPads wirelessly. Keyboard cases are more expensive than your average case due to the added input use, but if you really plan on doing a lot of work and writing on your ‌iPad‌, the two-in-one keyboard/protection combo is the way to go. The hardware keyboards give a much better typing experience and free up screen space on your ‌iPad‌ by getting rid of the software keyboard.

Cables: With the discontinuation of the 9th-generation ‌iPad‌ in May 2024, Apple has completed the transition of its ‌iPad‌ lineup from Lightning to USB-C, simplifying cable purchases.

All iPads come with their required cables in the box, but if you don't have many around the house it's always a good idea to stock up on more. Apple sells individual cables, but you can always shop around on Amazon for cheap and reliable brands like Anker.

So... Which iPad Should You Buy?

Overall, Apple's iPad Air is a perfect all-encompassing tablet that should hit the checkmarks for many buyers and is available in two sizes to suit. It has many of the most important features of the ‌iPad Pro‌ but starts at $400 less.

If you're on a bit more of a budget or looking for a relatively cheap tablet for a kid, the 10th-generation iPad saves you an additional $250 compared to the ‌iPad Air‌ while giving you a similar form factor and the same display size as the smaller ‌iPad Air‌, but with a few compromises. At $349 or even cheaper on sale, it's hard to beat if you're a less-demanding user.

If you're someone who has preferred the small form factor of the iPad mini over the years, Apple's latest small-sized tablet is definitely showing its age, but remains well worth a purchase for those looking for an e-reader that can perform other tasks while not taking up a huge amount of space. The ‌iPad mini‌ doesn't have a ‌Smart Keyboard‌ connector like the ‌iPad Air‌ or a ‌Smart Keyboard‌ case of its own, but since the ‌iPad mini‌ isn't exactly a workstation device, that's not a bad trade-off (plus, you can still connect it to a Bluetooth keyboard if you want).

For $100 less than the ‌iPad Air‌ at $499 (64GB Wi-Fi), the ‌iPad mini‌ still gives you a nice laminated display with True Tone and antireflective coating, ‌Touch ID‌ in the power button, second-generation ‌Apple Pencil‌ support, and solid cameras.

ipad lineup may 2024 compact
And, of course, on the other end are the power users. If you're willing to spend the money to spec out an 11-inch or 13-inch iPad Pro, you'll get a super reliable mobile workstation with 10-hour battery life in a compact package. If you travel frequently for work, or just like setting up at a coffee shop during the day, the ‌iPad Pro‌ has a chance to become your MacBook replacement with a Magic Keyboard.

Related Roundups: iPad mini, iPad Pro, iPad, iPad Air
Related Forum: iPad

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Top Rated Comments

sracer Avatar
68 months ago
The iPad line is now looking pretty good. Something for (nearly) everybody. But I expect that the 2018 iPad will not see an update and may even be discontinued by this time next year.


Either go big (12.9" Pro w/ LTE and 256GB) or go home (home button-equipped iPad Air)


Attachment Image
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
QCassidy352 Avatar
68 months ago
The list of differences between the Air 3 and 2017 Pro 10.5", which in my opinion are so significant that I'm leaning towards the latter when I replace my Air later this year, are as follows:
* The Air 3's CPU (A12) is 20% faster than that of the Pro 10.5" (A10X) as per Geekbench 4 scores
* The Pro 10.5" has 1GB more RAM which may mean that Apple might give it some features it doesn't the Air 3 in future versions of iOS
* The Pro 10.5" has a 120Hz ProMotion display while the Air 3 has a 60Hz display. This, in my opinion, is a major feature as it makes the overall experience much smoother
* The Pro 10.5" has quad speakers as opposed to stereo ones on the Air 3
* The Pro 10.5" has a 12MP camera w/ flash; the Air 3 has an 8MP one
Air also has a flush camera (no bump), which for me is a bigger deal than most of the other things you mentioned.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
KawaiiAurora Avatar
68 months ago
The 2017 iPad Pro 10.5" should've also been mentioned as it's more premium with features such as a 120Hz and Quad Speakers, has very similar performance, and costs around the same (or less if refurb) as the iPad Air 3
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mad Mac Maniac Avatar
68 months ago
I'm firmly in the camp of "this is the best range of iPads ever." There were many messy years, but finally the dust has settled and it starts to make sense. Hopefully Apple doesn't mess it up in the ensuing years.

Now time for Apple to fix the Macbook lineup....
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Joniz Avatar
68 months ago
I’ve never owned a cellular iPad so I’m ignorant of how it works. Does the mini 5 have an a la cart option for data?

I don’t need a constant LTE connection but I will have times when I’ll need it.
I think it depends on how you buy it, direct from a carrier or a carrier through Best Buy, or direct from somewhere like Apple. Used to be, you could just turn it on for a month at a time. Don’t know if that’s true anymore.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that I’ve switched to getting WiFi-only iPads and tethering (damned auto-correct!) to my iPhone, which works perfect and saves me in the cost of the iPad itself and the data plan. But, apparently, according to this article, it depends on if your phone carrier allows this, I guess. AT&T does and it works with both my MBA & iPad great.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
KawaiiAurora Avatar
68 months ago
Ah okay. I didn’t really think of the Air 3 and 2017 Pro 10.5” as comparable but in terms of just price for features, that does make sense.
I'd be curious what the longevity differences are between the 2. The Air 3 seems to be faster in most (all?) ways, but also has a little less ram. Might be a toss up.
The list of differences between the Air 3 and 2017 Pro 10.5", which in my opinion are so significant that I'm leaning towards the latter when I replace my Air later this year, are as follows:
* The Air 3's CPU (A12) is 20% faster than that of the Pro 10.5" (A10X) as per Geekbench 4 scores
* The Pro 10.5" has 1GB more RAM which may mean that Apple might give it some features it doesn't the Air 3 in future versions of iOS
* The Pro 10.5" has a 120Hz ProMotion display while the Air 3 has a 60Hz display. This, in my opinion, is a major feature as it makes the overall experience much smoother
* The Pro 10.5" has quad speakers as opposed to stereo ones on the Air 3
* The Pro 10.5" has a 12MP camera w/ flash; the Air 3 has an 8MP one
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)