Apple's 2021 iPad lineup: Which should you choose?

1 month ago 14
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With a robust lineup and immoderate fantastic next-gen features successful the latest models, there's ne'er been a amended clip to bargain an iPad. Learn astir your Apple tablet options here.


Image: Apple

The leaves are changing colors, pumpkins are appearing connected porches and vacation plans are starting to brew, which means it's besides clip to commencement reasoning astir acquisition giving — and besides possibly getting a caller iPad for yourself. 

Shopping for a caller iPad successful 2021 tin beryllium tough, though: There are 4 antithetic models to take from (not to notation the 2 sizes of the iPad Pro), each with its ain acceptable of features and reasons to prime it. Five isn't a batch of options, but it tin beryllium excessively galore choices, which could pb to a spot of paralysis if you're unsure which is close for you oregon a loved one. 

SEE: Electronic connection policy (TechRepublic Premium)

This usher to the 2021 iPad lineup should hopefully shed immoderate airy connected the who's who of Apple's tablet lineup, but we're taking a antithetic attack with this one. Because there's lone 4 antithetic iPad models I'm going to tally done the afloat bid alternatively of picking a fewer apical items to feature. Take a look, and hopefully you'll find the close iPad with the close features to lucifer your needs.

The M1 iPad Pro

Best for: Professional users, graphics designers, 3D artists, developers, those who request a laptop alternate with a akin level of performance.


The iPad Pro, paired with a Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil


Apple has been subtly blurring the enactment betwixt mobile and desktop/laptop computing for years, arsenic anyone who owns a Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and different Apple ecosystem devices tin attest. The iPad Pro with an Apple Silicon M1 is conscionable the latest iteration of that blurring.

The 2021 iPad Pro runs an Apple Silicon M1 system-on-a-chip, supports 5G, comes successful 11" and 12.9" models and with an optional Magic Keyboard lawsuit and Apple Pencil it becomes a superior contender for replacing a laptop. 

Pro users reasoning astir ditching the MacBook for an M1 iPad Pro shouldn't leap earlier they look, though: You're restricted to iOS/iPadOS App Store apps, truthful beryllium definite that your indispensable tools are disposable for the iPad Pro earlier buying one. For everybody else, the iPad Pro is the top-of-the-line option, truthful if you privation to spell large connected your iPad acquisition this is the 1 to pick.

The iPad Pro is disposable now, with the 11" exemplary starting astatine $799, and the 12.9" starting astatine $1,099. 

The iPad Air

Best for: Those that privation the iPad Pro acquisition without the price, students, location tablet users, professionals who enactment successful roles without intensive hardware needs who privation a laptop alternative.


The 2020 iPad Air, a Pro successful everything but internals.

Image: Apple

At 10.9", the iPad Air is smaller than the smallest iPad Pro, but successful galore ways mimics its plan and diagnostic set. Like the Pro, the fourth-gen iPad Air has an optional Magic Keyboard lawsuit and Apple Pencil support, and similar the Pro it besides sports Apple's caller squared-off plan style. 

Don't deliberation that the iPad Air is simply a full-blown iPad Pro alternative, though: It can't lucifer up successful presumption of hardware performance, and is outfitted with a previous-gen A14 chip. It besides reduces its outgo by skimping connected immoderate of the much cutting-edge features of the Pro arsenic well: There's nary Face ID, lone Touch ID connected the powerfulness button, and it lone supports LTE, not 5G.

That said, the iPad Air is inactive a bully machine, and makes a perfectly bully laptop replacement for those that don't request the processing powerfulness of the iPad Pro.

The iPad Air is disposable now, starting astatine $599. 

The iPad

Best for: Children and younger users, those connected a budget, older radical who conscionable privation a basal tablet, businesses looking for a fleet of affordable (but not mediocre quality) tablets, radical looking for an entry-level Apple tablet experience.


The 2021 iPad, Apple's entry-level tablet offering.

Image: Apple

There's not a batch to accidental astir the modular iPad, which Apple has rebranded arsenic the entry-level, affordable exemplary of the four. It inactive has a location button, is designed much similar a previous-generation iPad, lone has an A13 chip, and honestly isn't terribly breathtaking to those who get giddy astatine cutting-edge exertion and caller merchandise models.

But let's not merchantability the modular iPad short: It's inactive a caller instrumentality that's been designed to enactment with the operating systems and apps of today, and it's a cleanable instrumentality for those that privation a tablet made by Apple that doesn't interruption the bank. The iPad supports Apple Pencil, has its ain Smart Keyboard folio, and did I notation it's lone $329?

You tin buy the 2021 iPad for the aforementioned terms now.

The iPad Mini

Best for: Those that similar tiny computers, radical who privation the iPad Pro acquisition successful a smaller signifier factor, plan professionals who are ever connected the go, predominant travelers.


The redesigned iPad Mini is simply a pocket-sized tablet that doesn't skimp connected power.


I'll admit it, erstwhile Apple unveiled the new iPad Mini successful September I got unreasonably excited. It's an 8.3" instrumentality that has the aforesaid worldly plan arsenic the caller iPhones and iPad Pro, it supports Apple Pencil, it has the newest A15 Bionic processor, and it supports 5G. 

SEE: 5G: What it means for borderline computing (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The caller iPad Mini is the instrumentality for radical who privation an in-betweener that is larger than a telephone but not arsenic monstrous arsenic a laptop, each without wholly sacrificing their quality to work. You'll person to sacrifice immoderate ability, though: There's nary keyboard folio for the Mini, astatine slightest not from Apple. 

If you're idiosyncratic who does a batch of typing successful their day-to-day beingness and wants an iPad to usage arsenic a enactment device, this astir apt isn't the 1 for you. Design pros oregon those who tin different usage an Apple Pencil to jot notes, marque sketches, oregon constitute emails volition find it to beryllium an perfect size to usage similar a integer notepad. 

The new iPad Mini is disposable now, starting astatine $499.

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