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Best iPad 2024: All Apple tablets tested and reviewed

Apple never stops (and never will stop) releasing new tablets. We test out the range to find out which is the best iPad for you

Having tested almost 100 tablets in our time, we can safely say that Apple makes the best tablets on the market. Where things get tougher, however, is when it comes time to consider which is the best iPad for you.

Here at Expert Reviews, we’ve put every iPad ever released through their paces over the years, including the entire current iPad range. Whether it’s the dinky iPad Mini, the original iPad line, the sleek iPad Air or the all-powerful iPad Pro range, there’s now an iPad for almost everybody. From casual media consumption to full-on laptop replacements, Apple’s tablet range covers an awful lot of ground.

Below, you’ll find a selection of the best iPads depending on your specific requirements. We’ve also provided a breakdown of how we test each and every iPad that comes through our doors.

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Best iPad: At a glance

Best iPad for most peopleApple iPad (2021) (~£319)Check price at John Lewis
Best value iPadApple iPad Air 5 (2022) (~£649)Check price at John Lewis
Best iPad tablet12.9in Apple M2 iPad Pro (2022)  (~£1,194)Check price at John Lewis
Best iPad for travelling lightApple iPad Air 5 (2022) (~£449)Check price at Amazon

How we test iPads

Just as we do when we’re reviewing smartphones or Android tablets, we generally begin our iPad tests by downloading the Geekbench and GFXbench applications from the Apple App Store. These give us benchmark results for CPU and GPU performance that we can use to compare the iPad to its competitors.
Using DisplayCal software and a display colorimeter, we then measure the screen’s colour accuracy, contrast, black level and peak brightness.

Next, we test the iPad’s battery life. To keep consistency across all devices, we set the brightness to 170cd/m2 (again, using a display colorimeter) and engage aeroplane mode, then we set a looping video running until the iPad powers down. After charging it back up, we’ll record the final timestamp from the video.

For the cameras, we take a variety of photographs, including scenic, low-light and indoor shots, as well as any video recording features. We also test how clear the front-facing lens is, for video call purposes.

READ NEXT: Refurbished iPhones

The best Apple iPad you can buy in 2024

1. Apple iPad (2021): Best iPad for most people

Price when reviewed: £319 | Check price at John Lewis

  • Great for… advanced FaceTime camera and affordable price
  • Not so great for… no USB-C port and not the most powerful

The best tablet from Apple’s labs, the iPad 10.2in (9th-gen, 2021), is very much an iterative update but it’s undeniably a welcome one and maintains its position as the best-value iPad out there. Physically, it’s identical to the 8th-gen model from 2020, with the same design, dimensions and 10.2in 2,160 x 1,620 IPS touch display. But there are a handful of updates that we feel make it worth upgrading, if not from the previous iPad, then definitely from the 2019 or 2018 models.

Not only has this generation of iPad moved from an A12 Bionic chip to the A13 Bionic (the same as inside the iPhone 11 Pro Max), but it also packs a brand new ultrawide-angle FaceTime HD camera. This allows the iPad to take advantage of Apple’s Centre Stage feature, where the camera follows your face as you move around the room.

That’s not all, however. Apple has also, at long last, brought its True Tone display tech to its cheapest iPad, ensuring a more comfortable viewing experience, especially indoors. Unless you need an absolute powerhouse tablet or would prefer something a little smaller, this is almost certainly the Apple iPad for you.

Read our full Apple iPad (2021) review 

Key specs – Processor: Hexa-core Apple A13 Bionic; Screen: 10.2in (2,160 x 1,620); Storage: 64GB, 256GB; Size: 174 x 7.5 x 215mm; Weight: 487g; Operating system: iPadOS 16

Check price at John Lewis

Also consider: Apple iPad (2022)

While the next iteration of the iPad would usually step in to replace its predecessor on this list, the 10th gen iPad complicates things by improving only a little and charging quite a lot more. Starting at £499, the iPad (2022) offers the same storage options as the 9th Gen but uses a slightly faster A14 Bionic processor. For the extra money, you also get a larger 10.9in display, and perhaps most excitingly, USB-C charging.

The swap to USB-C isn’t seamless – the 1st Gen Apple Pencil is supported, for instance, but you need to use the provided Lightning adaptor to charge it from the tablet – and battery takes a minor hit compared to the 9th Gen iPad. Still, this tablet fills a small gap in the market, and if this is where you’re shopping, then the iPad (2022) is the one for you.

Check price at Amazon

2. Apple iPad Air 5 (2022): Best value iPad

Price when reviewed: £649 | Check price at John Lewis

  • Great for… pro-level performance and design at a cheaper price
  • Not so great for… slightly stingy storage

The Apple iPad Air might not be an iPad Pro in name but it’s almost as fast as one. Powered by Apple’s revolutionary M1 processor, its performance is considerably quicker than the previous-gen model and matches the speeds of the iPad Pro 12.9in (2021). That’s an incredible feat for a tablet that costs several hundred pounds less, and it makes it the most powerful iPad in pound-for-pound terms.

We’re happy to go out on a limb and say that the iPad Air 5, like the pricier iPad Pro, is actually a viable 2-in-1 laptop replacement. Its CPU performance can handle any task that a similarly priced laptop could and, when combined with the Apple Pencil 2 and Magic Keyboard, it becomes a fully functioning – and incredibly slimline – workstation. The camera and display aren’t as advanced as on the iPad Pro (2021), notably lacking the 120Hz refresh rate, but that’s a fair trade when the Air is so much cheaper.

It doesn’t have the same screen appeal as the iPad Pro, but it comes remarkably close considering how much cheaper it is. Battery life is almost on par with the iPad Pro, too, and display brightness and colour accuracy are as good as we’ve come to expect from an Apple device. For those who want the best balance of price and performance, the iPad Air 5 is clearly the iPad to choose right now.

Read our full Apple iPad Air 5 (2022) review

Key specs – Processor: Octa-core Apple M1; Screen: 10.9in, (2,360 x 1,640); Storage: 64GB, 256GB; Size: 179 x 6.1 x 248mm; Weight: 461g; Operating system: iPadOS 15

Check price at John Lewis

3. 12.9in Apple M2 iPad Pro (2022): Best iPad tablet

Price when reviewed: £1,194 | Check price at John Lewis

  • Great for… incredible performance and a vibrant mini-LED screen
  • Not so great for… minimal improvements over the previous model

The M2 iPad Pro (2022) is a tough sell, offering minimal advancements over the 2020 model while charging a fair chunk more, but the bottom line is that, if you want the most powerful iPad on the market, this is the one to go for. The new M2 chipset delivered incredible performance in our tests – which arguably the iPad Pro wasn’t really wanting for – as well as the new hover functionality for the Apple Pencil 2.

Otherwise, the hardware is pretty much identical to the 2020 iPad Pro, with storage options ranging from 128GB up to 2TB and a stunning mini-LED display on the 12.9in model (the 11in version uses a less impressive LCD panel). These similarities make it questionable whether or not the iPad Pro (2022) is better value than its predecessor, but if you want the absolute best iPad on the market, and you’ve got the deep pockets for it, this is the pinnacle.

Read our full Apple M2 iPad Pro (2022) review

Key specs – Processor: Octa-core Apple M2; Screen: 12.9in (2,732 x 2,048); Storage: 128GB–2TB; Size: 11in – 179 x 5.9 x 248mm, 12.9in – 215 x 6.4 x 281mm; Weight: 11in – 468g, 12.9in – 684g; Operating system: iPadOS 16

Check price at John Lewis

4. Apple iPad mini (2021): Best iPad for travelling light

Price when reviewed: £499 | Check price at Amazon

  • Great for… compact design and Apple Pencil 2 support
  • Not so great for… mediocre battery life

Despite its popularity, the iPad mini hasn’t enjoyed updates with as much regularity as Apple’s other tablets in recent times. With the 2021 model, however, Apple gave its smallest iPad a big overhaul, lavishing it with a completely new design, new internals and a whole load of new features.

With its squared-off edges and slim bezels, it now looks a bit like a compact iPad Pro and it shares some of the premium iPad’s features as well. Chief among these is support for the Apple Pencil 2, which can be recharged by attaching it magnetically to one of the iPad mini’s edges. The front-facing camera also supports Apple’s clever Center Stage tech, which enables it to track your face and keep it in frame while you’re on video calls.

The iPad mini (2021)’s internals have also been updated and it’s now powered by the same processor – the A15 Bionic – as found in Apple’s iPhone 13 handsets. Anyone after a compact iPad for watching video content, playing games or sketching/taking notes on the move will want the iPad mini (2021).

Read our full Apple iPad mini (2021) review

Key specs – Processor: Hexa-core Apple A15 Bionic; Screen: 8.3in (2,266 x 1,488); Storage: 64GB, 256GB; Size: 135 x 6.3 x 195mm; Weight: 293g; Operating system: iPadOS 16

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