iPad 7 Smart KeyboardSource: iMore

Best Cheap iPad iMore 2021

Selecting an iPad that's right for you can fast become a frustrating process. Throw in a small budget, and making a decision can become even harder. The 2020 iPad is currently our favorite budget tablet from Apple, but we've gathered two other noteworthy models to help you choose the one that fits your needs best.

Best Overall: iPad (2020)

iPad 8th-generation with Apple Pencil in an outodoor settingSource: Apple

There will always be the singularly named iPad. First introduced in 2010, what we will always consider the traditional iPad is now in its eighth-generation. It's now the budget choice in Apple's tablet lineup, which currently features the iPad Air (2020), iPad mini (2019), and iPad Pro series (2020).

For nearly half the iPad Air (2020) price, the iPad (2020) includes a 10.2-inch display and up to 128GB of storage. It, along with the iPad mini (2019), includes a traditional Touch ID, support for the first-generation Apple Pencil, and the Smart Keyboard. Inside, you'll find an aging A12 Bionic chip with Neural Engine.

The iPad (2020) is a very nice tablet and our pick for the best cheap iPad of the year. If you're looking for extras such as a better display, including True Tone, more storage, and better internals, consider our runner-up below. If you select the iPad, consider buying some of its best accessories.

Pros:

  • Excellent price
  • Nice display

Cons:

  • Only supports first-generation Apple pencil
  • No True Tone

Best Overall

Ipad 10 2 2020 Silver

iPad (2020)

Save cash with this selection

When bells and whistles aren't necessary and money is tight, you can't go wrong with this model.

Best Runner-Up: iPad Air (2020)

iPad Air 4 backsideSource: iMore

The iPad Air (2020) is our best iPad overall overall. It brings many of the same features found on the 2020 iPad Pro series but for a little bit less, including support for the second-generation Apple Pencil.

Apple's first colorful tablet, the iPad Air (2020), is available silver, space gray, rose gold, green, and sky blue with 64GB or 256GB of storage. Inside is an A14 Bionic chip with 64‑bit architecture and a Neural Engine. Together, it's one of the fastest and efficient tablets ever produced. The same chip is found in the iPhone 12 series.

Measuring 10.9-inches diagonal, the LED‑backlit Multi‑Touch display on the iPad Air (2020) comes with IPS technology with a 2360-by-1640-pixel resolution with 264 pixels per inch (PPI). The screen also features a Wide color display (P3) with True Tone, making it easy on the eyes, regardless of the time. The display is fully laminated with an anti-reflective coating, which is great for protection.

The iPad Air (2020) is also the first Apple tablet to feature a fingerprint identity sensor and Touch ID built into the top button. It also supports Apple's Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio. Finally, like all current-generation iPads, the iPad Air (2020) promises up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi‑Fi or watching a video and up to 9 hours of surfing the web using a cellular data network.

Keep in mind, the iPad Air (2020) isn't inexpensive. And yet, it's one of the best cheap iPads when you consider its price versus the iPad Pro series.

Pros:

  • Screen with anti-reflective coating
  • Latest internals
  • Works with the second Apple Pencil

Cons:

  • Pricey compared to the iPad (2020)
  • Could be overkill for some

Best Runner-Up

iPad Air 4

iPad Air (2020)

Do you feel the Air?

Apple's newest iPad is packed full of features and enhancements and comes highly recommended.

Best for Portability: iPad mini (2019)

iPad mini 5 heroSource: iMore

On the day Apple revealed the third-generation iPad Air, it also introduced the first new iPad mini since 2015. Weighing just 0.68 pounds, the iPad mini (2019) includes nearly everything you can find on the latest iPad Air, but in a smaller body. The 7.9-inch tablet has the same A12 chip for better performance, a True Tone display, first-generation Apple Pencil support, and it also comes in 64GB and 256GB storage capacities. The only thing it's missing is a Smart Connector.

Don't confuse a smaller screen size with spending less, however. We've included the iPad mini on this list for one simple reason; if you're looking for a 7.9-inch iPad, it's the only game in town. Expect to pay around $100 less than the equivalent iPad Air (2019) and $70 more than the iPad (2018).

Pros:

  • Easier to carry than other models
  • Storage up to 256GB

Cons:

  • Pricey for its size
  • No Smart Connector support

Best for Portability

iPad mini

iPad mini (2019)

The small one

When convenience and portability matter, consider the 7.9-inch iPad mini (2019).

Best cheap iPad

If you're in the market for an iPad on a budget, you'll quickly notice there's a small selection from which to choose. Our favorite inexpensive model, the iPad (2020), is a terrific choice for anyone looking for an entry-level tablet for less. The iPad offers a 10.2-inch display, Apple Pencil support, and Touch ID, with up to 128GB of storage.

The 2020 iPad also includes an A12 Bionic chip with Neural Engine, 8-megapixel back camera, 1080p HD video recording, and more. Happy iPad shopping!

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Author:

Bryan M. Wolfe is a dad who loves technology, especially anything new from Apple. Penn State (go Nittany Lions) graduate here, also a huge fan of the New England Patriots. Thanks for reading. @bryanmwolfe

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