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(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 (9th 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 mini (2021) has an all new design - basically a mini version of the iPad Air (2020) - whilst also adding a number of upgrades when it comes to hardware, including processor and front camera. It is compatible with the second generation of Apple Pencil, like the iPad Air (2020). 

iPad Air (2020) opts for Touch ID over Face ID like the iPad 9th generation and iPad mini 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 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 (2021)

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  • Dimensions: 195.4 x 134.8 x 6.3mm, 293g
  • Display: 8.3-inches, 2266 x 1488 (326ppi), True Tone
  • Storage: 64GB, 256GB (Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi & Cellular)
  • Battery: Up to 10 hours
  • Colours: Space Grey, Pink, Purple, Starlight

The Apple iPad mini 6 features a complete redesign compared to its predecessor, matching that of the iPad Air (2020) - a little further down this list - with uniform bezels around the display, flat edges and Touch ID placed in the power button at the top.

There are numerous hardware upgrades over the iPad mini 5 too, with the iPad mini 6 running on the A15 Bionic chip, which is a step up from the iPad Air and the iPad (9th gen) with the Air running on the A14 and the iPad on the A13.

Like the iPad Air, the iPad mini 6 offers True Tone technology and it also offers Apple Pencil compatibility -  and unlike the iPad mini 5 it's second gen like the Air rather first gen. It also has the sharpest display of all the iPads available with a 326ppi pixel density.

Compared to the older iPad mini 5, the iPad mini 6 has an upgraded front camera, moving from 7-megapixels to 12-megapixels, which is the same as the iPad Pro (2021) and delivers the Center Stage feature. It has up to 256GB of storage like the iPad 9th gen, but it is charged via USB Type-C instead of Lightning. There are also 5G capabilities. 

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Apple iPad (9th generation)

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  • Dimensions: 250.6 x 174.1 x 7.5mm, 487g
  • Display: 10.2 inches, 2160 x 1620 (264ppi), True Tone
  • Storage: 64GB, 256GB (Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi & Cellular)
  • Battery: Up to 10 hours
  • Colours: Silver, Space Grey

The 2021 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 2020 model, and there is no fully laminated display or anti-reflective coating as there is on the iPad Air - further down this list - though it does add True Tone technology.

The processor sees a bump to the A13 Bionic chip compared to the A12 in the 2020 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, though colour options have reduced to only Silver and Space Grey, ditching the gold.

There is an 8-megapixel rear camera and 12-megapixel ultra wide-angle front snapper on this iPad, with the latter allowing for the Center Stage feature first introduced on the iPad Pro (2021). Despite offering Center Stage and a True Tone display though, a few features from the iPad Pro models are still lacking (as you would expect), such as ProMotion and the speed increase you'll get from the Pro models and the iPad Air, but the iPad 2021 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 (9th 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 - like the iPad mini (2021).

There's an A14 Bionic chip under the hood, which is a power boost over the iPad (9th 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 (9th generation), with an anti-reflective coating 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 older 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, which doesn't support some of the newer features offered by the Pro models, iPad (9th gen) and iPad mini (2021), like Centre Stage.

There are two speakers like the iPad (9th gen) rather than four like the iPad Pro models, and the iPad Air (2020) has USB Type-C for charging like the iPad mini 6, 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 and iPad mini.

Apple 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, with the Center Stage that sees 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. Originally published on 13 October 2015.