The iPad is ubiquitous and dominant in the realm of tablets. Apple has one at every price point, starting with the reasonably specced $329 iPad 9th generation, going up to $1099 (and further) for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. So, if you've been on the hunt for an iPad and were looking to learn more about what each device offers and which one might be the right pick for you, here is Pocketnow's Guide on which iPad to buy in 2022.
The structure of this article will be such that we will discuss what each product has to offer with its dedicated section, and at the end of that information, you will find a summary detailing for whom the device might be a perfect choice!
This article has been arranged in the order of increasing prices.
The Budget Choice: iPad (9th generation)
While we term the 9th generation iPad as the choice for budget-conscious buyers, the tablet is more than that. With the A13 Bionic chipset, the 9th gen iPad comes with enough horsepower making it capable of handling any tasks you throw at it with ease. It can serve as a window into learning or games, or even a device that helps small businesses tackle spreadsheets and documents on the go.
To give you a rundown of its hardware, the 9th generation iPad comes with a glass and aluminum construction and is currently the only device in the entire line to feature the old look and feel. It has a 10.2-inch LCD — with Apple Pencil support — sandwiched between the thick top and bottom bezels. Here the top bezel houses a new 12 MP Center Stage enabled FHD camera, while the bottom bezel continues to offer the Touch ID enabled Home Button.
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 in case 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 8MP Wide camera.
In our opinion, the 9th generation iPad is the perfect device to get if it's a tablet you're planning on handing to a kid or perhaps your older family members who are used to navigating Apple devices with a home button. Including a non-laminated display on this device makes repairing a cracked front glass less expensive. The support for Apple Pencil also makes it a viable option for students just starting university.
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)
The 6th generation iPad mini — launched in 2021 — is known for the breath of fresh air it brought to the mobile 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 tablet with 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. The 6th generation model shares most of its features with the redesigned iPad Air 4. It introduces an edge-to-edge display, a USB C port, and support for the second-generation Apple Pencil to a smaller form factor.
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 devices with longer-lasting software support and the ability to do things that the Pro siblings are expected to tackle.
Speaking of technical specifications, the iPad mini 6 comes with 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.
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)
Next on this list is the iPad Air 5. The 5th-generation sits in the middle of Apple's tablet lineup and is the device to consider buying if you're looking to leverage all the modernity that Apple offers.
Earlier in the year, Apple refreshed the 2020 iPad Air with new colors and the M1 Processor, giving us the 5th generation iPad Air. It still starts at $599 for its 64GB variant, with the only other option being a 256GB SKU for $749. But yes, if you're looking for cellular connectivity, you can buy a 5G-enabled device this time around!
The 2022 iPad Air features a 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display and houses the M1 Processor. This iteration also introduces Center Stage on the 12 MP front camera. Apart from this, Apple has made no other notable changes to this tablet.
With the abilities provided by the USB C port and the canvas the 10.9-inch display offers, we feel 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.
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.
Before we move on to the Pro, come on Apple! You can do better than 64GB!
The Bump-Up: 11-inch iPad Pro (3rd generation)
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 2021 model features the same M1 Processor found in iPad Air and has a display larger by just an inch.
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 work with creating artworks, 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 a lot easier.
iPad Pro 11-inch (2021)
iPad Pro 11-inch is the best of what Apple has to offer in a smaller form factor. It comes with the M1 Processor and ProMotion display, which work in conjunction to provide a power-packed user experience that delivers on all fronts, be it media consumption or productivity-based tasks.
The Best Hardware: 12.9-inch iPad Pro (5th Generation)
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 high 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 (2021)
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is a combination of the best hardware available in Apple's tablet stable. It comes with the Liquid Retina XDR display with support for ProMotion and is a choice worth looking at for those who need a high brightness panel when on the go.