Apple's iPad first arrived way back in 2010, revolutionising the market with what became a super-popular tablet, which then went on to spawn multiple product series. Now in 2022 the best iPads are far better than their forebears.
Seeing the demand from different corners of the market, Apple has evolved the entry-level iPad, expanding beyond basic browsing and streaming capabilities, to now deliver more powerful options for work and play – including the option for keyboard and stylus accessories – in the iPad Pro. There's also a smaller-scale iPad mini and the middle-positioned iPad Air.
So which iPad is best for you? There's a whole host of considerations, from size of the screen, to design, through to your available budget, that will all dictate which slate is your best match.
Best iPad 2022: The top 3
The best iPad for most people is the iPad Air (2022). The on-balance iPad, this model wraps together a sensible screen size, with modern design and heaps of power under the hood. Ideal if you want more oomph for productive apps, but are also happy with top-notch streaming and the like.
The best iPad for work is the iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2021). If you find laptops a bit too bulky and fancy grabbing hold of an optional keyboard and stylus, then this larger iPad is an ideal replacement – assuming money is no object anyway. It's the most powerful of the lot, with the brightest screen tech, and is an ideal workhorse.
The best affordable iPad is the iPad 10.2-inch (9th Gen) model. It certainly looks more dated than the other flashy models in the range, but just because it's got bigger bezels doesn't stop this from offering a great experience.
The best iPad to buy 2022
The best on-balance iPad is the Air, delivering a middle screen size that looks great – but isn't as large, bright or fast refresh as the iPad Pro 12.9.
The Air is just as powerful as the Pro, though, thanks to Apple's M1 processor delivering super power for handling all your app demands – whether that's gaming, work tasks, or just casual browsing and streaming.
Design-wise, the Air also sits well above and beyond the entry-level iPad, with trim bezel and an attractive form-factor that's even available in multiple bright colour options.
For the majority of people, this is not only the best iPad on the market, it's the best tablet overall. Can't say better than that.
Read our full Apple iPad Air (2022) review for a full blow-by-blow breakdown
The crème de la crème of the iPad range is, you guessed it, the Pro.
Specifically the 12.9-inch model, as this isn't only the largest iPad screen, it's also the brightest – using a Mini LED panel that's not seen elsewhere in Apple's range – that delivers a 120Hz fast refresh rate for stunning visuals.
But the iPad Pro 12.9 isn't just about caressing your eyeballs with brilliant streaming potential, it's also a serious workhorse: the M1 processor on board sees it at MacBook levels of power, so add an accessory keyboard and this could be your replacement for a laptop.
Of course with all this greatness comes cost, making it the priciest iPad going – especially if you opt for the 2TB storage and 16GB RAM option – but if money is no object it's no doubt the best iPad available.
Read our full iPad Pro 12.9-inch review for a summary of what's hot and what's not
There's no denying the 9th Gen iPad is looking a little long in the tooth compared to the rest of Apple's range, mainly due to the chunky bezels surrounding that screen.
Nonetheless, this 10.2-inch panel is a great size for consuming content of all kinds, while the processor – the same A13 Bionic as found in the older iPhone 11 – is more than good enough for mobile-style gaming, browsing and streaming.
This is the ideal iPad for all the family, a central hub to the home if you will, that also costs a lot less than any other model in the range. So while there's some compromise to the design looking somewhat dated, you'll still save cash without excessive performance compromise.
Read our full Apple iPad 10.2 (9th Gen) review to decide if it's the streaming dream machine for you
The clue's in the name with this one: the iPad mini is the smallest slate in the range, with an 8.3-inch screen making it a much more transportable option. If you want small, there's no better option.
The mini is less powerful than many other iPad models in the range (entry-level 10.2 excluded), but that's no drama for this particular model – there's still ample power to surf through all your gaming, browsing and streaming needs.
Just don't think of it as much of a workhorse, though, as this smaller screen isn't going to be a viable laptop replacement – there's also no Smart Connector to be found here, but you can use an (optional) 2nd Gen Pencil for stylus input, drawing and such like.
Read our full Apple iPad mini (6th Gen) review to see if this little tablet is a big dream
The smaller iPad Pro might be less suitable for most people, as an 11-inch screen doesn't necessarily bode best for productivity, but if you want an iPad mini-style product with heaps more power then this is your go-to option.
It's also worth noting that this 11-inch model doesn't employ the Mini LED panel of the larger 12.9-inch Pro, so it won't deliver quite as eye-searing HDR (high dynamic range) images – but it's still a super-looking screen in our mind.
It's very much the power angle that's the reason to plump for this tablet though: its M1 processor, stacks of storage options, and plenty of RAM, make it as powerful as a mini laptop.
How we test Apple tablets
T3 takes its gadgets seriously, putting every tablet on the test bench – and, indeed, iPad – through its paces, treating each product as if it were our own.
That means we have the real-world experience to test out battery life, the in-depth knowledge to contextually compare and contrast other products within the series, and the historical experience to evaluate how ranges have evolved – for better or worse.
The iPad range is synonymous with tablets, which is a huge product category when it comes to creativity, productivity, and entertainment. These are the pillars of how such products might be used, so we ensure how each point might affect a prospective buyer's decision is taken into consideration.
As with any T3 review – and here's our How We Test page for more info – each iPad is awarded a score out of five – with five stars the best and one star the worst achievable – which helps justify where a product sits within our rankings.