Apple is selling five different models of iPad in 2022, creating a lineup with a lot of overlap. It starts with one of the best budget tablets, the iPad 9th generation, at $329, going over $1099 for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, giving users many options, hence increasing confusion.
All models can handle more than media consumption and are great tools to have for schoolwork, exploring hobbies, and managing a household or business. So, if you’ve been on the hunt for an iPad and wish to learn more about what each variant offers and which one might be the right pick, here is our guide on the best iPad to buy in 2022.
This article is arranged in the order of increasing prices.
The Budget Choice: iPad (9th generation, 2021)
While stated as a choice for budget-conscious buyers, the 9th generation iPad offers more features than you’d expect, with the cutbacks coming in sensible elements. With the A13 Bionic chipset, this model comes with enough horsepower to easily handle any task you throw at it. It can serve as a window into learning or act as the perfect gaming device for toddlers and young students. But we don’t want to undersell its performance, as even small businesses can use it to tackle spreadsheets and documents on the go.
The build quality of this tablet is great, as it uses the all-too-familiar glass and aluminum construction. In 2022, it continues to bear the dying embers of Apple’s aged design language. The tablet will likely be cycled out in a couple of years as the 10th generation iPad becomes—announced on October 18, 2022—becomes older.
Now, coming back to its specifications, it has a 10.2-inch LCD—with Apple Pencil support—sandwiched between the thick top and bottom bezels. The top bezel houses a 12-megapixel Center Stage-enabled camera, while the bottom offers a Home Button with Touch ID. You will find the power button and headphone jack along the top, while the right-hand side features the volume buttons and a nano-SIM tray if you get the cellular model. The left and bottom feature the Smart Connector and Lightning Port, respectively. And lastly, on the back is the standard 8-megapixel Wide camera.
The 9th generation iPad is the perfect device to get if it’s a tablet you’ll hand to a child or perhaps older family members who are used to navigating Apple devices with a home button. The non-laminated display on this device also makes repairing a cracked front glass easier and less expensive, a factor worth keeping in mind.
iPad 9th Generation
The iPad 9th Gen. features refreshed internals and an improved front-facing camera, making it the perfect tablet for kids or seniors in your family who just need a device to keep in touch or get school work done with just enough power for gaming.
The Pocket Reader: iPad mini (6th generation, 2021)
The 6th generation iPad mini—launched in 2021—is popular for the portability it brings to the tablet market. With a footprint smaller than its predecessor, a 0.4-inches larger display, and a powerhouse SoC, the iPad mini 6 is a recipe for success, especially if you need a device that’s handy and will stay relevant for a long time.
The tablet has a starting price of $499 but becomes an even better deal if you can get one while it’s on sale. It introduces an edge-to-edge display, a USB C port, and support for the second-generation Apple Pencil with a smaller form factor, thus sharing most of its features with the redesigned 4th generation iPad Air and its successor, the 5th generation iPad Air.
Diving into the technical specifications, the iPad mini 6 has an 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display with a peak brightness of 500 nits. Handling the graphical and processing activities is the A15 Bionic—also found in iPhone 13. It’s available in two storage variants, 64GB and 256GB, with a 5G-enabled cellular version also available if you’d like the tablet to be a device that’s always connected for use on the go.
We don’t have much to say for this tablet, except that if you’re looking for a device with portability in mind, this is the only class-leading option available! There aren’t many small form factor devices with long-lasting software support and the ability to do things that one may expect from expensive tablets.
iPad Mini (6th generation)
The all-new iPad mini features a massive redesign, bringing it in line with the looks of the new iPad Air and iPad Pro. It packs the A15 Bionic, features support for the 2nd generation Apple Pencil, has Touch ID built into its power button, and to top it off, implements a USB-C port for wired connectivity.
The Reasonable Choice: iPad Air (5th generation, 2022)
Next on this list is the 5th generation iPad Air; this model sits in the middle of Apple’s tablet lineup and is the device to consider buying if you want to leverage everything a modern iPad has on offer without paying the cost of a Pro tablet.
Released in March 2022, this model refreshes aspects of the 4th generation iPad Air, giving us new colors and the M1 Processor within a more affordable package. It still starts at $599 for its 64GB variant. The only other storage option is a 256GB SKU for $749. If you’re looking for cellular connectivity, this time around, the tablet is 5G-enabled.
Speaking of other hardware, the 2022 iPad Air features a 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display and uses the M1 Processor with 8GB of RAM. This iteration also introduces Center Stage on the 12-megapixel front camera. Apart from this, Apple has made no other notable changes to this tablet.
When comparing the 10th-generation iPad with the 5th-generation iPad Air, you’ll notice the Air offers much more value. The new base model will run you $449, while the Air sells for prices between $520 and $600. For about $70 more, you gain access to a better display, a faster USB-C port, and more software features, each of which will make a difference if you intend to use your iPad for more than play.
With the abilities provided by the USB-C port and the canvas the 10.9-inch display offers, this tablet is the perfect option for professionals and students who need a device that doesn’t show compromise. Yes, the lower storage can be an issue, but external hardware is now easy to connect and work with, fighting off the biggest obstacle in the path of this tablet.
Before we move on to the Pro, come on Apple! You can do better than 64GB!
iPad Air (5th Generation)
iPad Air 5th Gen brings the highly rated M1 processor, 5G connectivity (for cellular models), Center Stage capability, and all-new colors. It starts at $599 for the 64GB WiFi-only model, with an upgrade to 256GB of internal storage available.
The Bump-Up: 11-inch iPad Pro (4th generation, 2022)
If you’re wondering what the title for this tablet means, the term bump up refers to how this is the device to get if you’re considering buying the 256GB iPad Air and can afford the extra $50. The 2022 model features the newest M2 Processor found in the 2022 MacBook Air and has a display larger by just 0.1 inches.
The extra price for this tablet gets you access to a few quality-of-life improvements, namely the brighter 120Hz ProMotion display, the quad-speaker setup, better rear camera array, Face ID, and a Thunderbolt-enabled USB-C port. The base storage here is 128GB, so while you lose out on a possible higher storage device, you gain other features that can make using the tablet more enjoyable.
Coming to who should buy this device, this particular model is perfect for creators, especially those who create artwork, photos, and videos. The iPad Pro lineup comes with more RAM than the iPad Air, meaning working with layers in Photoshop or other similar tools becomes much easier.
iPad Pro 11-inch (2022)
Apple’s latest and greatest iPad Pro comes with the all-new powerful M2 chipset. It also supports Apple Pencil’s new hover feature. Check out all the deals on the device using the links given below.
The Best Hardware: 12.9-inch iPad Pro (6th Generation, 2022)
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro features the same hardware available on the 11-inch iPad Pro, except for its display which drops the Liquid Retina panel in exchange for the Liquid Retina XDR, a mini LED-based unit. The main advantage of this change in hardware is the ability to work with HDR workflows that demand high brightness and contrast. Apart from that, this tablet is as similar to the 11-inch iPad Pro as it can get. Most of those thoughts apply here in a 1:1 fashion.
iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2022)
Apple’s newest 12.9-inch iPad Pro is powered by the M2 chipset, which brings improved CPU and GPU performance along with faster connectivity. It also supports the new Apple Pencil hover experience. Check out all the deals using the links given below.
Which iPad should you buy in 2022?
To sum it all up, if you’re looking to buy an iPad in 2022, the 9th-generation iPad, with its low cost and easy-to-repair nature, is still the best option. You can hand it to kids without much worry; also, many protective cases and accessories will be available. And for familiarity’s sake, it will be a great option for seniors within your family.
Then we come to the iPad Air. While the 10th-generation iPad might look attractive because of its lower cost, the 4th-generation or 5th-generation iPad Air offers better hardware in more than one way. These models are akin to a toned-down 11-inch iPad Pro. The 10th-generation iPad is like a redesigned and marginally improved 9th-generation iPad that comes in tow with a significant price bump. Hence, we recommend students pick up the Air lineup instead.
Finally, coming to the Pro models, the argument for these devices has remained fairly unchanged since the redesign launched in 2018. They come with a high ceiling on performance and will be a great device to buy for artists, designers, and other professionals working in creative fields. They can also be great alternatives to laptops if the applications can match your needs.