Best iPad for Reading iMore 2020
We look at new Apple tablets each year when they arrive on the market to determine which ones are right for our readers. The iPad Air (2019) is our favorite iPad, especially for those primarily looking for a tablet for reading. We've gathered other noteworthy models to help you choose the one that fits your needs best.
- Best Overall: iPad Air (2019)
- Runner-Up: iPad mini (2019)
- Best Premium: 11-inch iPad Pro
- Budget Pick: iPad (2018)
Best Overall: iPad Air (2019)
Apple surprised many by introducing the first new iPad Air in nearly five years. With this 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 (2019) is a great step up from the iPad (2018). With the newer model, you get a larger display (10.5-inches versus 9.7-inches), an advanced chip, and more available storage. It also includes a fully laminated display with anti-reflective coating and wide-color (P3), True Tone display, which makes it better for outside reading. There's also a Smart Keyboard thanks to its Smart Connector.
For the extras over the iPad (2018), you'll pay around $130 more, which is definitely worth it if you plan on doing a lot of reading.
- Screen with anti-reflective coating
- Latest internals
- Smart Keyboard support
- No Face ID
- Pricey compared to iPad (2018)
Do you feel the Air?
Apple's newest iPad is packed full of features and enhancements and comes highly recommended.
Runner-Up: 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 (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, and a fully laminated display with an anti-reflective coating, True Tone, and P3 Gamut. There's also first-generation Apple Pencil support and 64GB/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).
- Much like the iPad Air (2019), but with a smaller display
- Easier to carry than other models
- Storage up to 256GB
- Pricey for its size
- No Smart Connector support
The small one
When convenience and portability matter, consider the 7.9-inch iPad mini (2019).
Best Premium: 11-inch iPad Pro
The 2018 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro are Apple's most advanced tablets to date. For those focused on reading, we recommend the smaller of the two models, although you should note the larger one includes the same specs internally. This consists of an A12X Bionic chip with Neural Engine, and support for the second-generation Apple Pencil. The 2018 iPad Pro also features a beautiful Liquid Retina display with ProMotion and True Tone technology, and Face ID. The current iPad Pro models are also the first to include a USB-C connector rather than Lightning.
Like the third-generation iPad Air, the display on the 2018 iPad Pro includes a fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating that's fully laminated plus an anti-reflective coating. Finally, the built-in ProMotion allows for a smoother on-screen experience, which could come in handy for readers of e-comics other graphic novels.
Of course, the 2018 iPad Pro lineup comes with one significant negative: they are Apple's most expensive tablets to date. Additionally, they could soon be replaced by new iPad Pro models before the end of 2019.
- Great battery life
- Second-gen Apple Pencil support
- Best on the market right now
- Overkill if only for reading
- Could soon be replaced
The best iPad Pro on the market
The 2018 iPad Pro lineup supports the second-generation Apple Pencil and includes Cupertino's best tablet display to date.
Budget Pick: iPad (2018)
When the 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 iPad (2018) offers plenty of great features that make it our budget choice for readers.
When looking at the iPad (2018), it's important to note that many of the features on the newer iPad Air 3 are available here. The similarities include the same 8-megapixel back camera with f/2.4 aperture and 1080p HD video recording with slo-mo video support for 720p at 240 frames per second (FPS). 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 Air 3 (2019)? The older model offers a slower A10 Fusion chip compared to the A12 Bionic chip with Neural Engine found on the newer model. Additionally, the 2018 version only provides storage up to 128GB, versus up to 256GB.
- Excellent regular price with occasional discounts
- Apple Pencil support for less
- At the iPad's signature display size
- Limited storage options
- Aging internals
- No Smart Keyboard support
Apple Pencil support for much less
When bells and whistles aren't necessary, you can't go wrong with this still-impressive iPad model.
If you're in the market for an iPad primarily for reading, you'll quickly notice there's a wide selection from which to choose. Our advice is to go with the newest model, the iPad Air (2019). Yes, it costs more than the iPad (2018). However, for this, you'll be ahead of the game when it comes to the latest technology.
The iPad Air (2019) features a 10.5-inch display, an advanced chip, and more available storage. It also comes with a fantastic display that works well both inside and out.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
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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