Best iPad Models of 2024: Top Picks for Every User - GadgetMates (2024)

Overview of iPad Models

Choosing the right iPad can be straightforward once you understand the unique strengths of each model. Apple’s lineup caters to a variety of preferences, whether it’s screen size, processing power, or portability.

iPad Pro

Apple’s iPad Pro is the powerhouse of the lineup, boasting cutting-edge technology and robust features. It comes with a highly responsive Liquid Retina display, making it a prime choice for professionals and creatives. Offered in two sizes, 11-inch and 12.9-inch, the iPad Pro is equipped with the M1 chip, which delivers remarkable speed and performance comparable to most laptops.

  • Display: 11-inch or 12.9-inch Liquid Retina
  • Chip: M1
  • Year: 2022

iPad Air

The iPad Air strikes a balance between performance and portability, featuring a sleek design. Powered by the A14 Bionic chip, it’s more than capable of handling day-to-day tasks and some more demanding applications. It stands out as a versatile tablet that doesn’t compromise on speed, making it a solid choice for a broad user base.

  • Display: 10.9-inch Liquid Retina
  • Chip: A14 Bionic
  • Year: 2022

iPad Mini

iPad Mini is the most portable option in Apple’s selection. Its design is ideal for on-the-go use. Despite its smaller size, the iPad Mini doesn’t skimp on power—it employs the A15 Bionic chip to keep things running smoothly, catering to both casual users and those needing performance in a compact form.

  • Display: 8.3-inch Liquid Retina
  • Chip: A15 Bionic
  • Year: 2021


The standard iPad is the most affordable model, offering a great balance of functionality and value. It’s a perfect entry point into the world of tablets for students or anyone looking for a reliable, everyday device. The performance is steady, facilitating a range of activities from browsing to gaming.

  • Display: 10.2-inch Retina
  • Chip: A13 Bionic
  • Year: 2021

iPad Performance and Hardware

When it comes to performance, iPads are top-notch. The latest models incorporate chips like the M1 in the iPad Pro and the A15 Bionic in the iPad Mini, ensuring smooth and fast operation. Storage options vary, with higher-capacity models available for users who need more space for apps, photos, and videos. Across the board, iPads support the latest version of iPadOS, providing a consistent and user-friendly experience. With these specs, it’s clear why iPads remain best sellers among tablets.

Design and Display

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When looking at iPads, the dazzling display and sleek design are what make them stand out. It’s not just about good looks; these features are also about function and ease of use.

Screen Technology

The latest iPad Pro boasts an impressive Liquid Retina XDR display. With a high resolution and bright, lifelike colors, it sets the standard for tablet screens. This technology uses mini-LEDs, allowing for finer control of the backlighting, resulting in deeper blacks and more vibrant colors.

Size and Weight

iPads come in various sizes, with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro offering the largest screen, often considered the best in terms of display size for professional work. On the other end, the iPad mini provides portability with its smaller form factor. The weight of these devices varies as well, with the Pro model being heavier due to its larger screen and more robust build.

iPad ModelScreen SizeWeight
iPad Pro12.9-inch1.41 pounds
iPad Air10.9-inch1 pound
iPad10.2-inch1.07 pounds
iPad mini8.3-inch0.65 pounds

Materials and Build Quality

iPads are known for their high-quality aluminum chassis that gives them a premium feel and durability. The glass front is designed to be robust, and the borders or bezels around the screens tend to be slim, especially in the latest models, allowing for a more expansive display area. This combination of materials and build quality not only provides a better experience but also adds to the longevity of the device.

Operating System and Software

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Apple’s iPads have always been complemented by robust operating systems, and the current iPad lineup is no different. It is now powered by iPadOS 17, an OS that offers users an array of features, including improved multitask capabilities and the innovative Stage Manager.

iPadOS Overview

iPadOS is the operating system specific to Apple’s iPad. It’s designed for the larger screens of iPads, fostering a user-friendly interface that enhances productivity and entertainment. iPadOS 17, the latest version as of 2024, continues to build on this reputation. One of the standout features in this iteration is Stage Manager, which allows users to easily manage multiple apps at once, boosting their ability to multitask effectively.

App Ecosystem

The app ecosystem for the iPad remains one of the most expansive and diverse among mobile platforms. Users have access to a multitude of apps across different categories, from creative suites to educational tools. Apps are optimized for iPadOS to utilize the powerful hardware and large screen real estate, ensuring a smooth user experience. Key to this experience is the seamless integration with Apple services and apps like Photos, iCloud, and more.

Software Updates

Apple has a strong track record when it comes to providing software updates for its iPad range. Typically, an iPad will receive updates for many years from its initial release, ensuring improved security, new features, and performance enhancements over time. With the release of iPadOS 17, compatible models include iPad mini (6th generation), iPad (10th generation), and both the 4th and 5th generation of iPad Air. These updates keep devices relevant and allow users to experience the latest in software innovations from Apple.

Connectivity and Ports

When picking an iPad, considering how it connects to other devices and networks is crucial. iPads are built to seamlessly link to a variety of accessories and the internet, with a mix of wireless features and physical ports.

Wireless Connectivity

iPads come equipped with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities, essential for connecting wireless accessories like keyboards and headphones. They also support 5G connectivity, allowing for fast internet speeds on the go. This means users can stream, download, and upload content at impressive speeds, provided they have a compatible data plan.

Wired Connections

The presence and type of wired connections vary across iPad models. While the older iPads feature the Lightning port, the newer models, starting with the iPad Pro, have adopted the USB-C port, which offers faster data transfer and a wider range of compatible devices. The USB-C port is handy for charging and hooking up to external displays or cameras. Some iPads also support the Smart Connector, which lets you attach and power compatible keyboards. Notably, the iPad lineup has moved away from the traditional headphone jack, nudging users towards wireless audio solutions or adapters.

Accessories and Compatibility

Choosing the right accessories can significantly enhance the iPad experience. This section will guide through Apple Pencil options, keyboard and trackpad choices, and other accessory essentials while considering their compatibility with various iPad models.

Apple Pencil

The Apple Pencil transforms the iPad into a digital canvas ideal for artists and note-takers. Compatibility is key; the second-generation Apple Pencil works with the iPad Air (4th generation and later), iPad mini (6th generation), and iPad Pro 11-inch and 12.9-inch (3rd generation and later). It magnetically attaches to the side of compatible models for pairing and charging.

Keyboards and Trackpads

For typing, the Apple Magic Keyboard doubles as a case and offers a built-in trackpad, creating a laptop-like experience. It fits the iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation and later) and the iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation and later). Third-party options also offer keyboard and trackpad functionalities but always check the specific model for compatibility.

Other Accessories

In addition to styli and keyboards, a wide range of accessories is available to boost productivity and convenience. This includes docks and hubs for connectivity, as well as chargers and cases for protection and extended usage. When selecting these accessories, one should ensure they match the iPad’s port types and dimensions.

Camera and Video Capabilities

When selecting an iPad, camera quality and video features are significant considerations for many users. Apple iPads are equipped with robust cameras and a suite of video editing capabilities suitable for various multimedia purposes.

Front and Rear Cameras

The latest iPad Mini boasts an impressive 12MP rear camera, mirroring the iPad Pro’s capability to capture crisp and vivid photos. It’s perfect for those who prioritize portability without compromising on image quality. For front-facing needs, such as FaceTime calls and selfies, iPads deliver with a 12MP front camera, ensuring clear and high-resolution video communication.

Video Recording and Editing

On the video front, the rear camera is capable of shooting 4K video at 60fps, offering users professional-level video quality right from their tablet. Coupled with the powerful iOS video editing tools, creating and editing videos becomes an effortless task. Whether it’s for a school project, content creation, or capturing memories, the video functionality stands out in the iPad lineup for its high performance and ease of use.

Performance in Use

When looking at iPads, how they perform during everyday tasks, like gaming or work, is crucial. Their capability to handle such activities depends on the device’s CPU, graphics performance, and power management.

Gaming and Entertainment

iPads equipped with the latest chipsets, such as the M2 in the newer Pro models, deliver impressive gaming experiences. The high-performance CPU and advanced graphics capabilities allow for smooth, immersive gameplay on demanding titles. Games load quickly, and the rich colors coupled with high frame rates make for stunning visuals.

Productivity and Work

For work-related tasks, iPads offer robust performance with the ability to multitask effectively. Features like the multitasking in iPadOS 16.1 help users seamlessly switch between apps and split their screen to get more done. Whether you’re crunching numbers or attending video conferences, the iPad keeps up without a hitch, thanks to its powerful processors and efficient power consumption.

Creative Tasks

Creatives will find the iPad to be a versatile tool, especially with the combination of iPadOS and potent hardware. Whether editing videos, designing graphics, or sketching, the iPad handles these tasks with ease. The performance oomph from its CPU and graphics unit means even the most resource-intensive applications run smoothly, letting your creativity flow uninterrupted.

Portability and Battery Life

When choosing an iPad, it’s key to consider how easy it is to carry around and how long it can run before needing a charge. Portability hinges on size and weight. The iPad Mini, with its compact form, shines here—it’s light enough to slip into most bags without a second thought.

Battery life varies across models. You can generally expect between 7 to 10 hours of use, which should get you through a day of work or play. The actual duration will depend on how you use your iPad. Streaming videos or using power-hungry apps may drain the battery faster, while reading or writing won’t consume as much.

Charging is another part of the equation. Every iPad can be charged with a cable, but some newer models also offer wireless charging options—adding a layer of convenience.

ModelWeightBattery LifeCharging Options
iPad MiniLightUp to 10 hoursCable, compatible with wireless
iPad AirModerateUp to 10 hoursCable
iPad ProHeavierUp to 10 hoursCable, compatible with wireless

It’s essential to match your iPad choice with your lifestyle. If you’re always on the move, the iPad Mini might be for you. For those who need a workhorse device for all-day use, the iPad Air and iPad Pro are sturdy contenders—both offering long battery life and efficient charging to keep you powered throughout the day.

Pricing and Value

When shopping for an iPad, the price is a key factor that can influence which model you choose. Apple’s iPad lineup ranges in price, which correlates closely with the device’s features, performance, and size.

Price Comparison by Model

  • iPad Mini (2021): Starting at a higher price point due to its portable size and advanced chip.
  • iPad (2021, 9th Gen): An affordable option, typically around $270, combining decent performance and value.
  • iPad Air (2022): Mid-range cost, higher than the base iPad, reflecting its improved performance capabilities.
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2022): Premium price for top-of-the-line features, targeting professionals and creators.

Each model caters to different needs, so the best value depends on individual usage and requirements.

Refurbished and Budget Options

For those on a budget, considering a refurbished iPad can be a great way to save money without sacrificing quality. Apple Certified Refurbished products are thoroughly inspected, tested, and come with a warranty. Additionally, older models like the iPad (2021, 9th Gen) provide significant savings and are capable for everyday use. Remember to purchase from reputable sources to ensure the quality and warranty of the refurbished product.

Choosing the Right iPad

When looking for the perfect iPad, one should consider their individual needs, from performance and portability to budget constraints.

Guide to Selecting an iPad

The journey to purchase the ideal iPad begins with understanding the available options. Apple’s lineup ranges from the advanced iPad Pro models to the compact iPad Mini. For those who prioritize performance and high-level features, iPad Pros with M2 chips are the best choice. They come equipped with powerful processors and provide an experience that caters to the creative professional or power user.

On the other hand, the iPad Air hits a sweet spot with a balance of capability and cost, making it a strong contender for everyday use. If portability is crucial, the iPad Mini’s smaller size could be the ultimate companion for those on the move. When cost is a concern but experience cannot be compromised, the latest entry-level iPad models offer a solid introduction to what Apple tablets have to offer.

Considerations for Different Users

Different users have different needs, and thus, one must align their expectations with the appropriate model. Students may need a reliable device for note-taking and research, but they often have tight budgets. They might find an entry-level iPad meets their needs without straining their wallets. Kids, on the other hand, benefit from the robust build and affordable pricing of Apple’s non-Pro tablets, like the base model iPads.

Professionals who require more computing power and advanced features, like artists or designers, typically lean towards Pro models. These offer larger screens and more responsive touch capabilities. In contrast, users in search of a more leisure-focused device for reading, web browsing, or watching videos might find that the latest iPad or iPad Mini suits their needs perfectly.

Selecting an iPad should not be a rushed decision. Knowing the nuances between each model ensures a satisfactory purchase that aligns with the user’s lifestyle and requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Choosing the right iPad can be a game-changer whether you’re creating art, studying, playing games, or just enjoying media. Here are the answers to some of the most common questions about finding the perfect iPad for your needs.

Which iPad model is the most suitable for professional artists and graphic designers?

For artists and designers, the iPad Pro stands out with its powerful hardware and Apple Pencil support. Its high-resolution display and responsive touch screen make it the go-to choice for creative work.

What are the top features to consider when purchasing an iPad for educational purposes?

When selecting an iPad for education, consider battery life, portability, and app accessibility. An iPad with a durable design and support for educational apps enhances the learning experience.

How does the iPad Air compare with other iPads in terms of performance and features?

The iPad Air offers a balance of performance and price, sporting a powerful chip and a crisp display. It’s less costly than the Pro and more robust than the base model, suitable for most users.

What should gamers look for in an iPad to ensure the best gaming experience?

Gamers should prioritize iPads with high refresh rates, powerful processors, and ample storage. These features ensure smooth gameplay and the ability to run demanding games effortlessly.

Can you explain the advantages of the latest iPad generation over previous models?

The latest iPad generations boast faster processors, improved battery life, and enhanced displays. They also often have better camera systems and compatibility with Apple’s latest accessories.

What makes an iPad the number one choice for consumers?

iPads are favored for their ease of use, extensive app library, and strong build quality. They offer seamless integration with other Apple products, making them an attractive option in the tablet market.

Best iPad Models of 2024: Top Picks for Every User - GadgetMates (3)

Kia Javadi

Advanced Technologies Academy & UCLA Electrical Engineering grad. I bring multiple decades of knowledge in computer hardware, mobile devices, electronics, repair, and design to my writing, including expertise in hardware-level analysis, circuits, and systems. I’ve always been passionate about tech – especially on the PC components side of things.

When I’m not busy being a geek I’m a dad and watch as much NBA as I can.

The best way to reach me is to send me an email at: or on LinkedIn

Best iPad Models of 2024: Top Picks for Every User - GadgetMates (2024)


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