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Best Apple iPad 2022: We’ve reviewed all the iPads and these are the best

Introduction

For many people, the first device that comes to mind when tablets are mentioned is Apple’s iconic iPad. While the range started out simple with limited choice, that’s far from the case in 2022. That’s where our in-depth run-down of the best iPad comes in.

With four distinct lines, various price points and screen sizes ranging from the 8.3-inches to 12.9, the iPad line is far more complicated now than it’s ever been before.

Each of the models is aimed at a different person, from those looking for a cheaper device for bingeing Netflix on a commute to someone trying to replace a laptop or improve their creative skills. Our reviewer will take all this into account while testing the products.

The best iPad isn’t necessarily the priciest, most feature-packed version; in fact, our favourite Apple tablet is actually more of a mid-range range option. What it needs to do is offer enough speed, and a great screen and come at a price that isn’t prohibitive.

There could also be some new iPad models on the horizon. Rumours have suggested the iPad Pro could be in for an M2 makeover, possibly with an updated design and maybe even wireless charging. There are also rumblings Apple could be in the process of improving the base iPad, possibly with a new design and switch to USB-C. These are both worth taking into consideration if you’re planning on buying an iPad in the near future.

This roundup includes our pick of the best Apple tablets we’ve currently reviewed, covering the best iPads, If you prefer a wider selection then you can see more of our recommendations in our best tablets for kids, best Android tablets and Best tablet guides.

Best iPads at a glance

How we test

See how we test all the iPads we reviews

Every tablet in this list has been properly tested and used for an extended period of time by one of our product experts. We will never recommend a tablet to you that we haven’t personally used and put through a set series of tests.

These tests can include colourimeter checks to gauge screen accuracy and brightness levels, various benchmarks to evaluate performance, and battery drains to judge endurance.

Our reviewer will also always judge performance for everyday use. This will see them use it as their primary tablet conducting typical tasks like gaming, web browsing and video calling. 

If the device is targeted at a specific market such as digital artists, they’ll also consider areas such as digital stylus support and whether it can effectively run relevant applications.

iPad Air 5

The best iPad
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Pros

  • Great display
  • Support for excellent accessories
  • Seriously powerful internals
  • Attractive design and array of colours

Cons

  • Annoying front camera placement
  • No 128GB storage option
  • Creaky body

After using all the current and previous iPads, it’s clear to us that the iPad Air 5 (often called the iPad Air 2022) is the best pick for most people. It’s far more modern and stylish than the cheaper iPad 9 and just as powerful as the pricier iPad Pro.

It’s worth noting straight away that all these iPads, whether you choose the priciest or the cheapest, run just about the same version of iPadOS. There are some very minor differences between the software on the biggest and smallest slates and some graphically intensive games might not run on older iPads, but really you don’t need to worry about some apps or features being exclusive to a specific iPad.

What makes the iPad Air 5 the best iPad is that it ticks all the boxes we want and ditches features that are far more niche. Inside the tablet, you’ll find the M1 chip, an Apple-designed SoC (system on chip) that’s the same silicon that powers the iPad Pro. We can say with confidence this is the fastest chip you’ll find on any tablet, impressing us both in benchmark tests in a lab setting and in general use.

Apple’s tablet app ecosystem is strong too, meaning there is a smattering of apps that take advantage of the tablet’s great power. LumaFusion, for example, makes 4K video editing on a tablet a pleasure and Procreate remains an excellent choice for drawing on the go. We would like to see Apple port some of its more Pro-level software – Final Cut Pro, we’re looking at you – but for now, the app choices are great for a consumer tablet like this.

The iPad Air 5 has a 10.8-inch display. This is slightly smaller than the iPad Pro 11-inch due to marginally thicker bezels around the screen. We feel this is a good-sized screen – big enough to comfortably watch a film and small enough to slide into a smaller bag without too much rearranging. Of course, there are options if your needs differ and we’ll cover those below with the iPad Mini and the larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

Screen quality is good too. The IPS LCD is sharp enough to avoid any visible pixels unless you get really close and we found the colour reproduction and brightness levels were excellent. Whip this out on a bright day and you’ll be able to make the basics out. One notable feature missing here is ProMotion, Apple’s term for a display that alters its refresh rate depending on what you’re doing. In the most basic of terms, this allows a screen to look smoother and we think it does make a visible difference. We can understand Apple leaving the feature off this tablet, as it still deems it a Pro addition.

The battery life matches other iPads on this list at around 10 hours, it charges via USB-C and will be supported via plenty of software updates over the next few years. It’s also available in a range of tasteful colours and there’s a wide accessory ecosystem, including the Apple Pencil 2 and Magic Keyboard.

Reviewer: Max Parker

Full Review: iPad Air 2022 review

Apple iPad 9

The best budget iPad
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Pros

  • Wide selection of optimised apps
  • Very good front camera
  • Sharp screen

Cons

  • Design feels a little tired
  • Doesn’t work with newer Apple accesories

iPads can be expensive and for many, the bountiful features on both the iPad Air 5 and iPad Pro will be overkill. If you want an iPad for the kids or one that’ll mainly be used for watching Netflix, checking emails or playing basic games then you’re best off going with the iPad 9.

This is the basic iPad and it eschews high-end features you’ll find in the other models on this list. It uses Lightning for charging, rather than USB-C, retains the home button and larger display bezels while the internal chip is a little older and a little slower. We still found it very speedy and capable though, with one member of the Trusted Reviews team regularly using this very tablet to edit video and upload them to a YouTube channel.

There’s even support for a few Apple accessories. You can pair up the original Apple Pencil for notes or sketching and there’s a nice folio keyboard for turning into a more laptop-like device.

There really is nothing better for the price of this iPad and it still has a great 10.5-inch display for videos and enough power for just about anything on the App Store. It lacks the modern looks, but if you’re happy with that then you’ll love this.

Rumours have suggested Apple could be upgrading this iPad in the near future, so it’s worth keeping an eye out if you’re planning to upgrade soon.

Reviewer: Max Parker

Full Review: Apple iPad 9 review

iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2021)

The best iPad for creatives
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Pros

  • The updated display is mostly very good
  • Excellent for HDR content
  • So much power
  • Design remains the best of any tablet

Cons

  • Some display blooming in various situations
  • A lot of power but not much to really take advantage of it
  • 128GB storage is stingy at the price

The iPad Pro is the priciest iPad and the one to go for if you want no sacrifices, a choice of screen sizes and nifty extras like Face ID and higher storage options. It’s also the iPad that’ll likely get the most significant upgrade with the next model (rumoured to arrive alongside the iPhone 14 later this year) so it might be worth waiting a few months if you’re spending full price on the top model.

Where this iPad shines is with the screen. Not only is it accurate to our eyes, but equally so when put under our lab colourimeter. The larger 12.9-inch model is the choice if you want the very best screen, as this has a tech called Mini LED which gives you near-perfect blacks and vibrant colours especially when you’re playing back HDR content. The IPS panel on the 11-inch remains good, but isn’t quite on the same level based on our checks.

Both have ProMotion for a faster, adaptive refresh rate that makes drawing with the Apple Pencil feel smoother and more responsive. If you’re going to be using the iPad a lot for drawing then ProMotion is a big reason to spend more on this model.

The high-end iPad Pro has a few other tricks you won’t find elsewhere. There’s a Thunderbolt port for faster data transfer, FaceID for snappy biometric unlocking and the option of up to 2TB of onboard storage. As a comparison, the iPad Air 5 can only go up to 256GB. Again, if you want to store a lot of offline content (4K video, large games, photo backups) you might want to think about the iPad Pro. Performance matches the iPad Air 5 as they both use the M1 chip. Apple could be set to release an M2 version of the iPad Pro later this year.

Reviewer: Max Parker

Full Review: iPad Pro review

iPad Mini 6

The best small iPad
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Pros

  • Great new design
  • Works with the second-gen Apple Pencil
  • Super-speedy thanks to the A15 Bionic chipset
  • 5G option makes for great portability

Cons

  • Odd storage sizes
  • Expensive
  • Some iOS elements are too small

The iPad Mini 6 won’t be everyone. It’s expensive, lacks the Magic Keyboard support of the Air and Pro and suffers from slightly inferior battery life. However, if you’re after a small iPad for watching videos, reading or note-taking then this is still an option we’re happy to recommend,

Most of the features here are stripped from the iPad Air series. It mirrors that slate’s design, colour choices and screen tech. However the performance isn’t quite as high-end, so it scores lower in benchmark tests. In real-world use though, it’s still very snappy in all ways.

The smaller 8.3-inch display makes this a different proposition from the iPad Air. It’s less of a laptop replacement and more of a companion; a media-centric device that fits in smaller bags. 

Pair it with the Apple Pencil (2nd gen) and you’ve got a fantastic mini notebook and sketchpad. The smaller display also makes it great for gaming, especially if you pair up a Bluetooth controller.

We found that the battery life is a little shorter than the iPad Air, but at least there’s a USB-C port on the bottom for quicker charging than the iPad 9.

Reviewer: Max Parker

Full Review: iPad Mini 6 review

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FAQs

Can an M1 iPad run M1 Mac apps?

No, no iPad can natively run Mac apps – even if you have an M1 iPad and the app is built for an M1 Mac. Instead, all apps for an iPad must come from the App Store.

What’s the difference between the two Apple Pencil versions?

The original Apple Pencil has a glossy finish and charges by plugging directly into an iPad’s Lightning port. In this list, the only model to support this Pencil is the iPad 9. The Apple Pencil 2nd Gen charges wirelessly and has a matte finish. Any iPad with a USB-C port will support this Pencil.

Trusted Reviews test data

The two M1-toting iPads have the best performance stats, comfortably beating out the other models in both benchmark tests and day-to-day use.

Geekbench 5 single core
Geekbench 5 multi core
sRGB
Adobe RGB
DCI-P3
Max brightness
1 hour video playback (Netflix, HDR)
30 minute gaming (intensive)
30 minute gaming (light)
1 hour music streaming (online)
1 hour music streaming (offline)
Time from 0-100% charge
Time from 0-50% charge
3D Mark – Wild Life

Comparison specs

UK RRP
USA RRP
EU RRP
CA RRP
AUD RRP
Manufacturer
Screen Size
Storage Capacity
Rear Camera
Front Camera
Video Recording
IP rating
Battery
Fast Charging
Size (Dimensions)
Weight
ASIN
Operating System
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Resolution
HDR
Refresh Rate
Ports
Chipset
RAM
Colours

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2004, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

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