Best iPad for Kids iMore 2021
If you have kids, then you may have figured out that an iPad is a good way to keep them busy for a while when you have to handle other things. While the best iPad is great for most people, you may want something a little more affordable for the kids. We think the entry-level, eight-generation iPad (2020) is the best iPad for kids because it gives you a large screen, great internals for the price, still has Touch ID, and has long battery life that will keep kids busy for hours. Plus, it runs iPadOS 14 without a hitch, and will last for years to come.
- Best Overall: iPad (2020)
- Runner Up: iPad Air 4 (2020)
- Best for Portability: iPad mini 5 (2019)
- Best Value: iPad (2018)
Best Overall: iPad (2020)
With the standard iPad, you're getting the latest and greatest that Apple has to offer at a very affordable price point, easily making it the best iPad for kids. The iPad has the new A12 Bionic chip inside, so it's a great upgrade over the previous generation for the entry-level iPad. The large 10.2-inch screen is also great for kids who want to play some games, watch videos, and even do school work. Plus, the regular iPad even has the Smart Connector, allowing support for the Apple Smart Keyboard and other Apple accessories.
The regular iPad comes with either 32GB or 128GB of storage space, which should be plenty for your kids. There is only a $100 difference between the two, so if you need more storage, it's not going to cost an arm and a leg. Still, even with the 32GB of space, it should be enough, even if you use the 8MP camera and 1080p HD video recording with slo-mo video support at 720p at 120 frames per second (FPS).
The iPad, along with the iPad mini, are the only models of iPad that still retain the traditional Home button that many still prefer using. With the Home button, you get the Touch ID fingerprint sensor for biometrics. The iPad also has about 10 hours of battery life, which should be plenty to keep kids entertained.
- Excellent price
- Apple Pencil support
- Large screen
- Works with Smart Connector / Smart Keyboard
- Has the Home button (if you prefer it)
- Limited storage options
- Internals are aging
Runner Up: iPad Air 4 (2020)
The iPad Air 4 launched around the end of 2020, but it's one of the best versions of the model to date. It's definitely pricier than the entry-level iPad with a starting price of $599, but it is a great overall tablet, even for kids.
With the iPad Air 4, you're getting a mid-range tablet that has a few iPad Pro-level features, but at a lower price point. It has a new 10.9-inch display, so your kids will have a nice, large screen to play games, watch videos, and do homework on. However, like the more expensive iPad Pro, the new Air has flat edges, so it may be easier for little ones to keep a grip on. There are also no more bezels on the display, but the iPad Air 4 retains the Touch ID biometric sensor — it's now in the Side button.
You get Apple's A14 Bionic chip in the iPad Air 4, so it has increased power efficiency and overall better performance than its predecessor. Other technical details include a six-core CPU (four high-efficiency cores and two high-performance cores), which means kids will stay entertained better. The iPad Air 4 also works with the second-generation Apple Pencil, so if your kid likes to express themselves through art, this is a better tablet for doing so.
There is also a 7MP front-facing camera on the iPad Air 4, making it the perfect device to do FaceTime calls with friends and family. It also has a nice 12MP camera on the back, which is a big upgrade over the entry-level iPad, though it's up to you if it's worth the cost.
The iPad Air 4 comes in new colors, and you have options of 64GB or 256GB for storage. Unfortunately, it's missing Face ID. It may cost a little more than the regular iPad, but it's another best iPad for kids contender, as long as you can afford it.
- Pro-level features for less
- More screen estate
- Apple Pencil 2 compatibility
- More storage
- Touch ID sensor
- Has the best internals available
- No Face ID
- Pricey compared to standard iPad
Best for Portability: iPad mini (2019)
Back in 2019, Apple announced the iPad mini 5, which is the latest iteration of the smallest iPad — the last update previous to this one was back in 2015. Weighing just 0.68 pounds, the latest iPad mini, includes nearly everything you can find on the previous-generation iPad Air, but in a smaller form factor, making it one of the best iPads for kids.
The 7.9-inch tablet has the A12 chip for better performance, a True Tone display, first-generation Apple Pencil support, and 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 $70 more than the entry-level iPad.
- Like 7th-generation iPad Air but with smaller display
- Easier to carry than other models
- Storage up to 256GB
- Pricey for its size
Best Value: iPad (2018)
When this sixth-generation iPad arrived in March 2018, it became the first non-iPad Pro model to support Apple Pencil. Given the price difference between it and the more premium iPad offerings, this was and continues to be a big deal. Perhaps the last Apple iPad to feature a 9.7-inch display, the 2018 iPad offers plenty of great features that make it our budget choice for kids even though Apple no longer sells the model itself.
When looking at the older iPad, it's important to note that many of the features on the newer iPad are available here. The similarities include the same 8MP back camera with f/2.4 aperture and 1080p HD video recording with slo-mo video support for 720p at 120FPS. Both models also include Apple's second-generation Touch ID fingerprint sensor built into the Home button. Battery life is also similar — up to 10 hours of surfing the web and watching a video.
Why shouldn't you consider the iPad 2018 versus the iPad 2020? The older model offers a slower A10 Fusion chip compared to the A12 Bionic chip with Neural Engine found on the newer one. Additionally, both the 2018 and 2020 iPads go up to 128GB in storage, so you could just pay a little bit more and just get the newer model. The 2018 iPad can also prove difficult to find new on the market.
Amazon Renewed products are not Apple certified, but have been inspected and tested by Amazon-qualified suppliers. These products come with the 90-day Amazon Renewed Guarantee.
- Great battery life
- Supports iPadOS 14
- Last 9.7-inch model (for now)
- Can only find renewed, not new
Entertain them with the best iPad for kids
If you are looking for the best iPad for kids, then you should definitely consider the standard 10.2-inch iPad. It's a great entry-level device that makes it perfect for kids. You get a large 10.2-inch screen that works great for playing games, watching videos, and doing homework on (complete the setup with the best iPad keyboards for maximum productivity).
Plus, if your kid is into art in any form, the iPad works with the first-generation Apple Pencil. This means they'll be able to use the best drawing apps for iPad and Apple Pencil, and they can even do other things like practice handwriting with the best note-taking apps for iPad and Apple Pencil. You won't get the wireless charging and tap-to-change-tools feature of the second-generation Apple Pencil, but hey, it's a start.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Christine Romero-Chan has been using iPads since the beginning. She knows everything about how they work and which models are best for certain demographics.
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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