(Pocket-lint) - There may not be as much choice as smartphones when it comes to tablets, but there are still a number of decisions to be made. If you are reading this, it's likely you have already decided on Apple, and you are now trying to figure out what size iPad is the right one for you and which one fits into how much you want to spend.

Apple offers a number of iPad options ranging from 7.9-inch displays to 12.9-inches in size. There are also some older models, which although discontinued by Apple, are still available elsewhere, usually at good prices.

Here we are comparing all the five iPads offered by Apple, but you can head to our Apple hub to read our separate, more in depth features on how the latest iPads compare to their predecessors if you weighing up a decision between old and new.

Quick summary

iPad (8th generation) offers much the same design as its predecessor. It has support for Apple Pencil, Apple's Smart Keyboard and it is significantly cheaper than the iPad Pro models, as well as cheaper than the iPad Air.

iPad Air (2020) opts for Touch ID over Face ID like the iPad 8th generation but it moves the fingerprint sensor to the top, reducing the bezels and offering a design more in line with the more expensive Pro models. It is compatible with the second generation Apple Pencil, like the iPad Pro models too.

iPad mini 5 has the same design as the iPad mini 4 but it offers a number of upgrades when it comes to hardware, including processor and front camera. It is also compatible with the first generation of Apple Pencil, like the iPad (8th gen). 

iPad Pro 11 (2021) is one of the most powerful iPads available. It comes with super-slim bezels, Face ID and excellent specs including Apple's M1 processor and 5G. It offers support for the second-gen Apple Pencil and it offers all the latest features in a more compact format than the 12.9 model.

iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) is the most expensive iPad available, as well as the most powerful alongside the 11-inch model. Launched in April 2021, these are for those that want to treat their tablet more like a computer. It offers the same hardware as the 11-inch model but in a larger size and with a higher price tag.

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Apple iPad mini 5

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  • Dimensions: 203.2 x 134.8 x 6.1mm, 300g
  • Display: 7.9-inches, 2048 x 1536 (326ppi), True Tone
  • Storage: 64GB, 256GB (Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi & Cellular)
  • Battery: Up to 10 hours
  • Colours: Silver, Space Grey, Gold

The Apple iPad mini 5 features the same design as the older iPad mini 4 opting for Touch ID like the iPad Air, rather than Face ID like the iPad Pro models. 

There are numerous hardware upgrades over the iPad mini 4 though, with the iPad mini 5 said to be three times faster than its predecessor thanks to the A12 Bionic chip. This is the same processor as the larger iPad (8th gen), but a step down from the iPad Air.

Like the iPad Air, the iPad mini 5 brings a range of display improvements, including the addition of True Tone technology and it also adds Apple Pencil compatibility - though first gen and not second gen like the Air. It also has the sharpest display of all the iPads available with a 326ppi pixel density.

Compared to the older iPad mini 4, the iPad mini 5 has an upgraded front camera, moving from 1.2-megapixels to 7-megapixels and offering up to 1080p video compared to 720p. It has up to 256GB of storage and like the iPad 8th gen, it is charged via Lightning.

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Apple iPad (8th generation)

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  • Dimensions: 250.6 x 174.1 x 7.5mm, 490g
  • Display: 10.2 inches, 2160 x 1620 (264ppi)
  • Storage: 32GB, 128GB (Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi & Cellular)
  • Battery: Up to 10 hours
  • Colours: Silver, Space Grey, Gold

The 2020 standard iPad sticks to much the same design as its predecessor with a larger display 10.2-inch display compared to the iPad 9.7. Touch ID is on board, as it was on the 2019 model, and there is no fully laminated display or anti-reflective coating as there is on the iPad Air - further down this list.

The processor sees a bump to the A12 Bionic chip compared to the A10 in the 2019 model, and there is support for Apple's Smart Keyboard, like the iPad Air. It is compatible with the first generation of Apple Pencil too, as the older model was and like the iPad mini 5.

There is an 8-megapixel rear camera and 1.2-megapixel front snapper on this iPad, and it comes in silver, gold, and space grey colour options. A few features from the iPad Pro models are lacking, such as ProMotion and True Tone display technologies, as well as the speed increase you'll get from the Pro models and the iPad Air, but the iPad 2020 is a lot cheaper than the Pro models and the Air.

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Apple iPad Air

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  • Dimensions: 247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1mm, 458g
  • Display: 10.9-inches, 2360 x 1640 (264ppi), True Tone
  • Storage: 64GB, 256GB (Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi & Cellular)
  • Battery: Up to 10 hours
  • Colours: Silver, Space Grey, Rose Gold, Green, Sky Blue

The Apple iPad Air sits in between the iPad Pro 11 and the cheaper iPad (8th generation). The design is more in line with the iPad Pro range than its predecessor however, with Touch ID moving to the top, allowing for slimmer bezels around the display.

There's an A14 Bionic chip under the hood, which is a power boost over the iPad (8th generation) and the iPad Air comes with both Apple Pencil (second gen) and Apple Smart Keyboard support too. The iPad Air's display also sees improvements over the iPad (8th generation), with an anti-reflective coating, True Tone technology and a wider colour gamut, as well as a larger display in a slimmer and lighter build, though it misses out on the ProMotion technology found in the Pro models, as well some other features like 5G connectivity.

There is a 12-megapixel rear camera like the iPad Pro, which is a bump up from the iPad (8th gen), though it doesn't have the secondary Ultra-Wide lens that the Pro has. You'll find a 7-megapixel front camera, but it doesn't support some of the newer features offered by the Pro models, like Centre Stage.

There are two speakers like the iPad (8th gen) rather than four like the iPad Pro models, and the iPad Air (2020) has USB Type-C for charging, rather than Thunderbolt/USB 4 like the iPad Pro 11.

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Apple iPad Pro 11 (2021)

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  • Dimensions: 247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9mm, 466g
  • Display: 11-inches, 2388 x 1668 (264ppi), True Tone, ProMotion
  • Storage: 64GB (2018), 128GB (2020), 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB (Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi & Cellular)
  • Battery: Up to 10 hours
  • Colours: Silver, Space Grey

The iPad Pro 11 succeeded the iPad Pro 10.5 with a completely new design in 2018 and was refreshed in 2020 and most recently, 2021. It ditches Touch ID for Face ID and squares off the aluminium edges for a more refined design, like the iPad Air.

Apple has included the M1 processor in the iPad Pro 11, which is the same as what you'll find in the new Macs, so it's pretty powerful. It also comes in a choice of 8GB or 16GB of RAM and a 2TB storage option and the Wi-Fi and Cellular models have 5G connectivity. There's also a beefed-up front camera compared to its predecessor and the other iPads, with a feature called Centre Stage that will see the camera track and follow you around the room, among other things.

This tablet is also compatible with the second-generation of the Apple Pencil, which attaches magnetically and charges wirelessly. The USB-C connector has been replaced with Thunderbolt/USB 4 for the new iPad Pro, allowing for faster data transfer.

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Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2021)

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  • Dimensions: 280.6 x 214.9 x 6.4mm, 682g
  • Display: 12.9-inches, 2732 x 2048 (264ppi), True Tone
  • Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB (Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi & Cellular)
  • Battery: Up to 10 hours
  • Colours: Silver, Space Grey

In 2018, the iPad Pro 12.9 delivered a complete design overhaul with slimmer bezels, no Touch ID home button and flatter edges. This new design allowed the 12.9 model to reduce in size compared to the old 12.9 model, despite offering the same size display and the 2021 continues with this design, though it adds an XDR display.

The latest model offers a M1 processor - like the 11-inch model and the latest Macs - and an upgraded front camera with a number of extra features. There's also up to 2TB of storage, a choice of 8GB or 16GB of RAM, Thunderbolt/USB 4 for charging in and out, and 5G capabilities in the Wi-Fi and Cellular models. The rear camera remains the same as the 2020 model and Face ID is on board again too.

The iPad Pro 12.9 is compatible with the second-generation Apple Pencil which attaches magnetically to the iPad Pro 12.9 and charges wirelessly when attached. Like the Magic Keyboard, it's still sold separately though, making this one pricey tablet.

Writing by Britta O'Boyle.