Best iPad for playing Apple Arcade 2022

Apple Arcade game on iPad Air
Apple Arcade game on iPad Air (Image credit: iMore)

Apple Arcade offers unlimited access to unique games across all your Apple products, including Mac, iPhone, Apple TV, and of course, iPad. When it comes to finding the perfect Apple tablet to play those games, we recommend the iPad Air 4. The 10.9-inch tablet offers hefty internals at a price that's right. There are other options, however, which we've included below.

Best overall: iPad Air 5 (2022)

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iPad Air 4

iPad Air 4 (Image credit: iMore)

iPad Air 5(2022)

Do you feel it?

Reasons to buy

+
Better storage
+
Latest internals
+
Screen with anti-reflective coating
+
Compatible with Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil 2
+
USB-C port replaces the lightning port

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricier compared to iPad

The iPad Air 5 is a significant upgrade to the iPad Air line. It features a powerful M1 chip, five stunning colors, 5G connectivity, and much more.

The iPad Air 5 is a step up from the ninth-generation iPad, and features perks like USB-C charging. With this model, you get a larger display (10.9-inches versus 10.2-inches), an advanced chip, and Apple Pencil 2 compatibility. Unlike the latest iPad, the iPad Air 5 has a fully laminated display with an anti-reflective coating, making it perfect for Apple Arcade gaming.

The good thing is that you won't pay more for this model than the iPad Air 4. Just makes sure you protect your investment with one of the best iPad Air cases.

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

Runner-up: iPad ninth-generation (2021)

overland on iPad

iPad ninth-generation (2021)

Great price, newest iPad

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent price
+
At the iPad's new signature display size
+
Supports Apple Pencil (1st generation)

Reasons to avoid

-
Older internals could slow games
-
No 5G compatibility

With the introduction of the seventh-generation iPad in 2019, Apple changed its standard tablet size for the first time. The ninth-generation iPad, released in September 2021, features updated internals. The iPad measures 10.2 inches across versus the 9.7 inches found on older models. The extra real estate is ideally suited for the best Apple Arcade games.

In the latest iPad, you receive many of the same features found on our top pick for less. Highlighted features include Apple Pencil (1st generation) support, Smart Keyboard and Bluetooth keyboard support, and much more.

The biggest drawback to selecting the iPad over the iPad Air is the older chip, the A13 Bionic chip, instead of the M1 chip. The difference could influence the speed of some Apple Arcade games. Luckily the storage has improved from the 2020 iPad, allowing you to hold many of your favorite Apple Arcade games.

You'll save some cash buying this iPad model, which features a new, large display size.

Best premium: 11-inch iPad Pro (2021)

iPad Pro 2020

iPad Pro 2020 (Image credit: Apple)

11-inch iPad Pro (2021)

Brillant choice

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to travel
+
Includes Face ID, Apple Pencil support
+
Largest display

Reasons to avoid

-
Perhaps overkill for gaming only

If you're a professional who also likes to play games, you can't go wrong with the third-generation 11-inch iPad Pro. Inside, you'll find a blazing-fast M1 chip. There's also a speedy USB-C port with Thunderbolt support for quick charging. The larger display is certain to make games pop.

The 11-inch iPad Pro is expensive; however, ranging in price from $799 to $2,099, depending on the storage option you choose and whether you want access to 5G cellular connections.

When you want the best specs you can buy, this is the iPad you should consider.

Best for portability: iPad mini (2021)

Ipad Mini 6 Review Hero (Image credit: Adam Oram / iMore)

iPad mini 6 (2021)

The smaller one

Reasons to buy

+
Fully laminated display with anti-reflective coating
+
Easier to carry than other models
+
Storage up to 256GB

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricey for its size
-
Too small?

The current sixth-generation iPad mini was introduced in 2021. Weighing just 0.64 pounds, the iPad mini includes nearly everything you can find on the fourth-generation iPad Air (2020), but in a smaller body.

The 8.3-inch tablet has the A15 chip, a Liquid Retina display, and second-generation Apple Pencil support. It also comes in 64GB and 256GB storage capacities.

Don't confuse a smaller screen size with spending less, however. If you're looking for an 8.3-inch iPad, it's the only game in town. Expect to pay around $70 more than the iPad.

When convenience and portability matter, consider the 8.3-inch iPad mini.

Bottom line

Apple Arcade gives you instant access to exclusive games across multiple devices. When it comes to mobile gaming, consider getting the iPad Air 4. Yes, it's a little bit more expensive than the standard iPad. However, the price difference gives you a slightly larger and better display, incredible internals, and more.

With the iPad Air 4, you have a choice of five colors (silver, space gray, rose gold, green, and sky blue) and two storage sizes (64GB and 256GB). Whichever you choose, happy gaming!