Best iPad for Playing Apple Arcade iMore 2021
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. The 10.5-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 (2019)
- Runner-up: iPad (2019)
- Best Premium: 11-inch iPad Pro (2020)
- Best for Portability: iPad mini (2019)
Best Overall: iPad Air (2019)
Apple surprised many in 2019 by introducing the first new iPad Air in nearly five years. With the third-generation iPad Air, Apple also resurrected the 10.5-inch display size previously found on the smaller of the two discontinued 2017 iPad Pro models.
The iPad Air is a slight step up from the iPad, which was released a few months later. With this model, you get a larger display (10.5-inches versus 10.2-inches), an advanced chip, and more available storage. Unlike the latest iPad, the iPad Air has a fully laminated display with anti-reflective coating, which makes it perfect for gaming.
The only downside? Being better means you'll pay more.
- Better storage
- Latest internals
- Screen with anti-reflective coating
- Small size means it's more portable
- Pricier compared to iPad
Do you feel it?
Apple's newest iPad Air is packed full of features and enhancements and comes highly recommended for gamers.
Runner-up: iPad (2019)
With the introduction of the seventh-generation iPad, Apple changed the size of its standard tablet for the first time. The iPad measures 10.2 inches across versus the 9.7 inches found on older models. The extra real estate is ideally suited for 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 A10 Fusion fourth-generation chip instead of the A12 Bionic chip. The difference could influence the speed of some Apple Arcade games. Another consideration is the storage available. The iPad maxes out at 128GB versus 256GB on our top model.
- Excellent price
- At the iPad's new signature display size
- Supports Apple Pencil
- Limited storage options
- Older internals could slow games
Great price, newest iPad
You'll save some cash buying this iPad model, which features a new, large display size.
Best Premium: 11-inch iPad Pro (2020)
If you're a professional who also likes to play games, you can't go wrong with the second-generation 11-inch iPad Pro. Inside, you'll find a blazing-fast A12Z Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture and Neural Engine and embedded M12 coprocessor. There's also a speedy USB-C port 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 $1,699.
- Easy to travel
- Includes Face ID, Apple Pencil support
- Largest display
- Perhaps overkill for gaming only
When you want the best specs you can buy, this is the iPad you should consider.
Best for Portability: iPad mini (2019)
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 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 also comes in 64GB and 256GB storage capacities.
Don't confuse a smaller screen size with spending less, however. 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 and $70 more than the iPad.
- Much like the iPad Air, but with a smaller display
- Easier to carry than other models
- Storage up to 256GB
- Pricey for its size
- Too small?
Best for Portability
The smaller one
When convenience and portability matter, consider the 7.9-inch iPad mini.
Apple Arcade gives you instant access to exclusive games across multiple devices. When it comes to mobile gaming, consider getting the iPad Air (2019). Yes, it's a little bit more expensive than the newer iPad. However, the price difference gives you a slightly larger and better display, incredible internals, and more.
With the iPad Air, you have a choice of three colors (silver, space gray, and gold) and two storage sizes (64GB and 256GB). Whichever you choose, happy gaming!
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Bryan M. Wolfe is a dad who loves technology, especially anything new from Apple. On Apple Arcade, he enjoys playing all the latest games. Thanks for reading. @bryanmwolfe
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