Best iPad 2022

Ipad Air 5 Split Screen
(Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

The conversation of which iPad is the best iPad has gotten much more difficult as of late. The introduction of the iPad (2022), which is cheaper than the iPad Air 5 but still has about 95% percent of the same features, has the two devices neck-in-neck for the top spot.

Ultimately, the iPad Air 5 is still our top choice for the best iPad because it offers a few key advantages that the new iPad just doesn't have. Plus, sales have a lot to do with it, too. 

Whatever you pick, don't forget to transfer data from your old iPad to your new one in an effortless way.

Best overall: iPad Air 5

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iPad Air 5 Lock Screen (Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)
Finding a balance

Reasons to buy

+
M1 chip for impressive performance
+
iPad Pro-like design
+
Apple Pencil 2 support
+
Magic Keyboard support

Reasons to avoid

-
Higher entry price
-
Still starts at 64GB

While the iPad Air 5 isn't as massive of a change as last year's iPad Air 4 was over the third generation, it still has everything most people could want in an iPad.

It still looks like the fresh and stylish iPad Pro, meaning it has the flat sides and nearly edge-to-edge screen of the more expensive tablet. Its 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display with 2360x1640 resolution doesn't have ProMotion but is as sharp as ever. It supports the Apple Pencil 2, the best stylus for the iPad you can buy and is equipped with USB-C, meaning it connects to hubs, hard drives, and even displays. Plus, it comes in space gray, starlight, pink, purple, and blue.

So, what are the big changes to the new iPad Air? Well, it's now powered by Apple's M1 chip, the very same M1 that not only powers the current iPad Pros but also Macs. The M1 chip makes moving through iPadOS seamless and gives the iPad Air 5 enough juice to handle anything you throw at it; whether it's a marathon gaming session, a bunch of intense image editing, or anything else. Plus, Apple also gave the Wi-Fi Cellular version of the device the 5G upgrade, so if you have access to a 5G network, your iPad Air can use all that speed!

It also works with most accessories that work with the 11-inch iPad Pro. It's slightly thicker, so you might have to wait on accessories like hardshell cases, but the Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard accessories that work with the current 11-inch iPad Pro will also work with the new iPad Air 5.

It's not all sunshine and roses, though. With the increase in starting price, I'd have hoped that Apple would also boost the base level storage. But the iPad Air 5 will start with 64GB, and you'll again have the option to bump that up to 256GB if you need more space.

The iPad Air 5 strikes a great balance of price, power, and portability, complete with Pencil and Smart Keyboard support.

So why the iPad Air 5 over the iPad (2022)? Well, it mostly comes down to price. You can find some of the best iPad deals on the iPad Air 5 right now. Plus, with Black Friday just around the corner, you're bound to find even cheaper prices with the best Black Friday iPad deals. If you can find a great deal on the Air, you'll enjoy a fully laminated screen, Apple Pencil 2 support, and the M1 chip, all of which are not features of the $449 iPad (2022). 

Best value: iPad (2022)

(Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)
A great value

Reasons to buy

+
New 10.9-inch display
+
Updated to meet Apple's current iPad design
+
The rear camera is actually useable
+
The front-facing camera is in a better location
+
Cheaper than the iPad Air with many similarities

Reasons to avoid

-
Non-laminated display
-
Ridiculous dongle to charge Apple Pencil
-
Significant price increase over the iPad (2021)

Although the $449 starting price has put the entire iPad lineup in a bit of a precarious position, the iPad (2022) is a great value for anyone looking to upgrade an older device or someone looking to jump into their first iPad experience.

Apple has finally given its massive iPad redesign to the base iPad we've seen on the iPad Pro and iPad Air before. They ditched the bezels, rounded the corners,  said goodbye to the Home button, and even ditched the Lightning port in favor of USB-C, all changes welcome to a design that hadn't received much love from the company since its inception.

Powering the entire iPad (2022) is the A14 Bionic, an upgrade of the A13 Bionic found in the 9th-gen iPad. Apple states this brings a 20% increase in CPU and a 10% improvement in graphics when compared to the iPad (2021). There's no doubt the M1 chip that you find in the higher-end iPads is more powerful, but for 90% of users, the A14 will pack enough of a punch to get through everything you can throw at it.

The rear camera finally saw an update that makes it a decent shooter, as it now has a 12MP instead of the measly 7MP camera on the back of the iPad (2021). Plus, you still have Apple Pencil (1st-generation) support, so you can still draw, sketch, paint, and create if you want.

Here are the problems with the iPad (2022) because there are a few you should note if you're looking at getting one.

You need a dongle to charge the Appel Pencil because the fisrt-generation stylus only has a Lightning connector. If you already have an Apple Pencil, that dongle will cost you $9. Plus, the non-laminated display is a bit of a bummer — that familiar hollow sound when you tap on the display is just a minor inconvenience — and Apple also removed the headphone jack.

Overall, the iPad (2022) is a welcome change from the stagnant design of the iPad for the past decade, but that change comes with growing pains for both old and new users alike. A new price point that makes it sit awkwardly in the middle of two other iPads and some confusing design choices by Apple does sour the otherwise triumphant reimagining of the iPad. 

Best budget: iPad (2021)

Drawing on iPad (2021) (Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)
A great budget tablet.

Reasons to buy

+
Inexpensive
+
1st-gen Apple Pencil support
+
Smart Connector
+
Great performance for the price

Reasons to avoid

-
Dated design
-
Only supports first-generation Apple Pencil

Much to our surprise, Apple has kept around last year's base iPad if you're looking to spend the least amount of money. It's not the most powerful of Apple's tablets, but the iPad (2021) is the perfect tablet for a lot of people. While it's only powered by the A13 Bionic, the entry-level iPad is a highly capable machine for most tasks. If you're a casual tablet user or your computing needs are just fairly light, consisting mostly of web browsing, email, working with documents, and some gaming, the 10.2-inch iPad is a great choice for something portable.

The front-facing camera also got a huge upgrade from the 2020 model. The iPad (2021) can take full 1080p video, making it an awesome machine for FaceTime and video calling. Plus, the microphone (even though it didn't receive an upgrade) is pretty good for your standard video call or FaceTime with some family or friends, and the whole experience is made even better by the inclusion of Center Stage. When on a FaceTime call, your camera will intuitively stay focused on you, even if you happen to move around. So if you move to one side of the frame, it will "pan" over to you and do its best to keep you in the center of the frame. It will even zoom out to capture multiple people in the frame; it just makes video calling so much better. That's the power of Center Stage, and it's a great feature.

It won't have the power of something like the iPad Air, or even the iPad mini 6, but it's hard to beat its price when you're looking for a quality tablet.

The 10.2-inch iPad is the best budget tablet that Apple has to offer right now and a great accessible computer for anyone.

Best small tablet: iPad mini 6

Ipad Mini 6 Review Hero (Image credit: iMore)
The best small tablet you can get.

Reasons to buy

+
A perfect small size
+
Powerful A15 Bionic chip
+
Great for note-taking
+
Upgraded cameras

Reasons to avoid

-
No Smart Connector
-
More expensive than before

The iPad mini 6 is the most significant update to the iPad mini line since the introduction of the first-generation model with a complete redesign, larger display, huge processor boost, and much more. It impressed the entire team at iMore for its blend of portability and power, and it proves that the iPad mini and its fans are here to stay.

Now with Apple Pencil 2 support, the iPad mini 6 excels as a beautiful, tiny drawing tablet. Taking notes, doing sketches, or just controlling your iPad mini 6, the Apple Pencil 2 brings all the upgrades to the smallest iPad Apple makes. Plus, its 8.3-inch screen is a beautiful and larger display than an iPhone, making it awesome for watching videos or playing Apple Arcade titles on the goal.

With upgrades to the camera, storage options, and the updated design, it's impossible to pass up on the iPad mini 6 if you're a fan of small tablets.

The iPad mini 6 is small but mighty. If you love small tablets, this is the tablet for you.

Best pro tablet: 12.9-inch iPad Pro

12.9-inch iPad Pro (Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)
Powered by the M2 chip.

Reasons to buy

+
Liquid Retina XDR display
+
Thunderbolt port
+
Second-gen Pencil Support
+
M2 chip
+
Face ID

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Face ID easy to accidentally block
-
Not much change over 2021 model

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro (2022) is the best tablet for anyone serious about tablets _ even though very little has changed from last year.

When announcing this year's iPad Pro, Apple quickly threw out just how much better the M2 is over the previous M1 chip. Apple claims its 8-core CPU is up to 15% faster, and the graphics performance should be about 35% quicker. To top that all off, Apple states that the 16-core Neural Engine can process 15.8 trillion operations per second, which is about 40% more than the M1. That's all great, but what does it mean for you? Not much.

The M1iPad Pro wasn't suffering from a power problem, so it shouldn't be a surprise when I say that the M2 iPad Pro makes doing anything feel super smooth. Want to edit some 4K videos? No problem. Transferring large files to an external device? Done in an instant. Producing music with as many tracks as possible to throw into a project? Easy as pie. This isn't new. Very few people will likely notice the difference between the M1 and M2 chips, but if you need the absolute most power a tablet can give you, this is the iPad to get.

Its large screen is still just as awesome as it was before if you want to use a tablet instead of a laptop, and it offers an excellent canvas for visual artists, with plenty of room for drawing, digital painting, and more. Plus, the 12.9inch iPad Pro (2021) comes with a fancy new mini LED display, which Apple calls, Liquid Retina XDR. It's perfect for HDR content, with the ability to reach a peak brightness of 16,000 nits, delivering that high contrast experience HDR needs. There's plenty of space to use apps side-by-side, which is great for all kinds of work. The new built-in magnetic induction area that charges and stores the second-gen Apple Pencil is also a nice addition.

The USB-C port is still on the iPad Pro (2022) and it's still Thunderbolt 3 / USB 4 port. This makes plugging in Thunderbolt accessories like displays, docks, hubs, and hard drives possible, so you can get some serious work done. An increasing number of accessories and devices, be they SSDs or cameras, come with USB-C cables, so being able to plug something in without a special Lightning-to-whatever cable or an adapter is great.

The iPad Pro is also very powerful and supports powerful apps. While they might not be as full-featured as their desktop counterparts, apps like Lightroom and Affinity Photo make photo editing a breeze, all while providing much of the flexibility and power of the desktop apps.

This powerful tablet is great for professionals, artists, and anyone looking for a powerful tablet or laptop alternative.

Best pro alternative: 11-inch iPad Pro (2022)

11-inch iPad Pro (Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)
All pro, but in a smaller size.

Reasons to buy

+
Just as powerful as the 12.9-inch model
+
Lighter than the bigger iPad Pro
+
Better for thumb typing
+
Not as expensive as the bigger iPad Pro
+
LiDAR sensor is cool

Reasons to avoid

-
Inferior side-by-side app experience
-
Still fairly expensive
-
No Liquid Retina XDR display

The 11-inch iPad Pro is a great tablet choice for anyone who wants pro power in a smaller form. Running the same powerful M2 chip that the larger iPad Pro offers, the 11-inch iPad Pro offers all of the same capabilities as its bigger sibling, minus the Liquid Retina XDR display.

While you might not think it on paper, there are significant differences between working on a 12.9-inch iPad Pro and the 11-inch model. With the 11-inch iPad, you're working with almost two inches less in screen real estate, which is a lot on mobile devices. It's not as great for working with apps side-by-side, but it's noticeably smaller and lighter than the bigger iPad Pro.

Great for a wide variety of tasks, the 11-inch iPad Pro is the tablet to get if you want something smaller than the largest tablet that Apple makes while still wanting or needing its power.

All of the power of the larger iPad Pro in a smaller form factor and a great tablet for mobile artistic work and note-taking.

Bottom line

The iPad Air 5 is the ideal iPad for most people. It's more powerful than the base model but not nearly as expensive as the pro tablets. It comes packed with Apple's M1 chip for speedy performance and even offers 5G if you decide to go with the Wi-Fi Cellular model. Though there are sacrifices, the middle child of Apple's tablet family provides both performance and price benefits that will appeal to most people. And while you'll probably be just fine with the 64GB model, if you're unsure, go ahead and spring for the 256GB version for that extra peace of mind.

No, the iPad Air 5 doesn't get bigger than 10.9 inches. It's not as good as the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, for instance, at using two apps side-by-side. But it's a great machine for most tasks, from drawing with an Apple Pencil to typing out a major report with the Smart Keyboard. The iPad Air 5 even supports the second-generation Apple Pencil, a step up from the iPad Air 4. Aside from screen size, the only real tradeoff to note is the charging and storage.

But there are always workarounds to be found for many shortcomings, and the iPad Air is an excellent tablet for most people. Casual tablet users, people looking to add something more mobile but bigger than a phone to their workflow, students, and even a lot of professionals should all consider the iPad Air 5 when they go to make their tablet purchase.