Best iPad for Reading iMore 2021
No matter the iPad version, you can read the same awesome content from Apple's Books app, Amazon's Kindle app, or anywhere else that offers digital written content. And yet, some tablets present that text better than others. The colorful iPad Air (2020)is our pick this year for the best iPad for reading. The reason comes down to its awesome display. There are other iPad models worth considering, as you can see below.
- Best Overall: iPad Air (2020)
- Best Budget Choice: iPad (2020)
- Smaller Alternative: iPad mini (2019)
- Best Premium: 11-inch iPad Pro (2020)
Best Overall: iPad Air (2020)
No doubt, the iPad Air (2020) was the most surprising Apple tablet to launch in 2020. Our best iPad overall, the fourth-generation iPad Air, brings many of the same features found on the iPad Pro series but for a little bit less.
Apple's first colorful tablet, the iPad Air (2020), is available silver, space gray, rose gold, green, and sky blue with 64GB or 256GB of storage. Inside is an A14 Bionic chip with 64‑bit architecture and a Neural Engine. Together, it's one of the fastest and efficient tablets ever produced. The same chip is found in the iPhone 12 series.
The No. 1 reason we consider the iPad Air (2020) the best iPad for reading is the impressive display. Measuring 10.9-inches diagonal, the LED‑backlit Multi‑Touch display comes with IPS technology with a 2360-by-1640-pixel resolution at 264 pixels per inch (PPI). The screen also features a Wide color display (P3) with True Tone, making it easy on the eyes, regardless of the time. The display is fully laminated with an anti-reflective coating, which is great for protection. And yet, the coating does not make it easier to use outside with bright sunshine. But, it's much better than our budget choice, the iPad (2020), which doesn't have this coating.
The iPad Air (2020) is also noted for offering support for the Apple Pencil (2nd generation) and being the first Apple tablet to feature a fingerprint identity sensor and Touch ID built into the top button. It also supports Apple's Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio. Finally, like all current-generation iPads, the iPad Air (2020) promises up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi‑Fi or watching a video and up to 9 hours of surﬁng the web using a cellular data network.
- Screen with anti-reflective coating
- Latest internals
- New Touch ID in button
- Pricey compared to the iPad (2020)
- Could be overkill for some
Best Budget Choice: iPad (2020)
There will always be the singularly named iPad. First introduced in 2010, what we will always consider the traditional iPad is now in its eighth-generation. It's now the budget choice in Apple's tablet lineup, which currently features the iPad Air (2020), iPad mini (2019), and iPad Pro series (2020).
For nearly half the iPad Air (2020) price, the iPad (2020) includes a 10.2-inch display and up to 128GB of storage. It, along with the iPad mini (2019), includes a traditional Touch ID, support for the first-generation Apple Pencil, and the Smart Keyboard. Inside, you'll find an aging A12 Bionic chip with Neural Engine.
As noted, the 2020 iPad Air's feature-rich display is the reason it's the best iPad for reading. The 2020 iPad's inferior display is the main reason we didn't give it the title. Instead of a Liquid Retina display, it includes a regular LED-backlit Retina display with Multi‑Touch and IPS technology with a 2160-by-1620 resolution at 264 PPI. It also includes a fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating. Missing is the Wide color display (P3), and True Tone found on every other iPad, making it more difficult to read and perform everyday tasks at night.
The iPad (2020) isn't a bad tablet, and price alone is what makes it very popular. Therefore, if money is the biggest factor in making your selection, buy it and get reading! Otherwise, spend some extra and get the iPad Air (2020).
- Excellent price
- Nice display
- Aging internals
- No True Tone
Smaller Alternative: iPad mini (2019)
Weighing just 0.68 pounds, the iPad mini (2019) features a 7.9-inch Retina display with True Tone technology. Released on the same day as the now-discontinued iPad Air 3, the fifth-generation iPad mini could be replaced by Apple this year. For now, however, it's the only small iPad on the market.
Other features include first-generation Apple Pencil support, 64GB or 256GB of storage, and compatibility with Bluetooth keyboards.
Perhaps surprisingly, less real estate doesn't come with a lower price. The iPad mini (2019) is $70 more extensive than the iPad (2020). 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.
- Only small display Apple tablet
- It's easier to carry than other models
- Storage up to 256GB
- Unfortunately, pricey for its size
- Could soon get a 2021 replacement.
Best Premium: 11-inch iPad Pro (2020)
The 2020 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro are Apple's most advanced tablets to date. We recommend the smaller of the two models for those focused on reading, although you should note the larger one includes the same specs internally. This consists of an A12Z Bionic chip with Neural Engine and support for the second-generation Apple Pencil. The 2020 iPad Pro also features a beautiful Liquid Retina display with ProMotion and True Tone technology and Face ID. The iPad Pro models include a USB-C connector rather than Lightning.
Like the third-generation iPad Air, the display on the 2020 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.
The 2020 iPad Pro lineup comes with two significant negatives: First, they are Apple's most expensive tablets to date. Second, rumors suggest 2021 models are coming.
- Great battery life
- Second-gen Apple Pencil support
- Best on the market right now
- Overkill if only for reading
- Could get replaced very soon
The best iPad for reading
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 latest iPad Air.
The iPad Air (2020) features a 10.9-inch display and enough storage space for the average reader. It also comes with a fantastic display that's great every hour of the day thanks to Wide color, True Tone, and great resolution. Like other iPads, please don't plan on using it under sunny skies.
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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