The best iPad of 2021

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The best iPad of 2021

Whichever model or screen size you go with, though, all the current iPads support the latest version of iPadOS (a version of iOS specifically for iPads) and either the first- or second-gen Apple Pencil. All but the Mini work with Apple’s Smart Keyboard, though you can use any Bluetooth keyboard instead. That’s good news for anyone who wants to do more than stream videos and music, browse websites and play Apple Arcade games. Plus, all of the current iPad models support mouse and trackpad use for a more MacBook-like experience. The Apple Magic Keyboard is compatible with the iPad Pro and iPad Air.

The new ninth-gen entry level iPad gains a couple of useful extras over last year’s solid but unexciting model: more storage for $329 (64GB, rather than the ridiculously low 32GB of the last model), a faster A13 chip and better cameras (most importantly, a wider-angle higher-res front-facing Center Stage camera that tracks your face via digital pan and zoom). It still uses the first-gen Apple Pencil, which is fine for the money, and it’s still compatible with a range of keyboard cases. Its predecessors were often on sale for $299 or less and that should be true this holiday season as well.

The 2020 model has the slower A12 Bionic chip, but it’s also the last remaining full-size iPad with a headphone jack. Going back yet another generation to its seventh incarnation, it’s still a decent pick if you can find the 128GB model for a pittance; you’re best off avoiding the insufficient 32GB model. It can handle the latest iPadOS just fine and should perform all the standard iPad tasks for some years to come. Read our iPad 2021 review.

If you’re planning to do any sort of art on it or download a lot of videos to go, it’s definitely worth opting for the 256GB model. It really needs a 128GB option — its annoying that you’re forced to buy more than you need, since 128GB would probably be the sweet spot for price and storage.

Story Highlights

  • So you’re in the market for a new iPad. Perhaps you already own an iPhone or a MacBook and want to stick with Apple. Perhaps you’re considering upgrading from an Android tablet to one that allows you to use iPad apps. If you’re thinking about getting an Apple tablet for any reason, there’s a good range to pick from.

  • The new iPad’s price starts at $100 more than the older iPad model it replaces at $499; that’s certainly not cheap, but you also get a lot more with it than you do with the now dated iPad Air. It’s just a little smaller than that, but it offers optional 5G, USB-C for faster charging and broader connectivity, new digital-zoom Center Stage camera and works with second-gen Pencils, so you can magnetically snap a Pencil right onto the side, which is nice. Plus it incorporates the new A15 Bionic chip for better performance. You might feel a bit cramped for using it for work or professional graphics, but 8.3 inches doesn’t feel quite so tiny anymore. This smallest iPad has a Liquid Retina display with True Tone and wide color, and promises up to 10 hours of battery life. Given that the 2021 model remains the smallest in the line, we continue to recommend it as the best option for commuters. Read our Apple iPad Mini 2021 review.