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You can’t go wrong with any of Apple’s iPads, but the 2018 9.7-inch iPad is the best deal for most people with its sharp screen, fast processor, support for Pencil, and low $330 price tag.
Apple is the uncontested king of tablets. The word iPad is synonymous with the word tablet. Chances are if you own a tablet at all, you have an iPad.
Apple’s tablet lineup is more varied than ever before, and a brand-new iPad just joined the crew. At $330, the new 9.7-inch iPad is one of the cheapest iPads Apple has ever sold, but it’s very high end and it even supports the Apple Pencil.
The rest of the iPads are equally stylish and powerful (if not more so). We’ve tested nearly every iPad that has been released over the past three years, and these are the absolute best iPads you can buy. You can also check out the best iPad cases for every type of person and read why we love the Apple Pencil.
Here are the best iPads you can buy:
- Best iPad overall: 2018 9.7-inch iPad
- Best iPad Pro: 11 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro
- Best mid-size iPad Pro: 10.5-inch iPad Pro
- Best iPad stylus: Apple Pencil
- Best iPad keyboard: Logitech K780
Updated on 11/14/2018 by Malarie Gokey: Added the 2018 iPad Pro and a few accessories, updated prices, revamped formatting.
Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.
The best iPad overall
- Hollis Johnson/Business Insider
Why you’ll love it: The 2018 9.7-inch iPad is an absolute steal at $330 with a gorgeous sharp screen, high-end metal design, and support for the Apple Pencil.
Apple’s iPads have always been the best tablets you can buy, but the high price tags made it tough to find an iPad on a budget. All that has changed with the 2018 9.7-inch iPad. It costs a mere $330, and it offers nearly all of the same high-end specs and features as the top-of-the-line iPad Pros.
If you own an aging iPad or iPad Mini, the new 9.7-inch iPad is an excellent upgrade. Obviously, if you have an iPad Air 2 or an iPad Pro, you don’t need to get the new one. The 2018 iPad is for anyone who has always wanted an iPad, but couldn’t afford the $500+ price tag. It’s an absolute steal at $329.99.
The 9.7-inch screen is sharp and clear with its 2,048 x 1,536-pixel resolution, the A10 processor is very capable (even though it’s not the iPhone X’s A11 chip), the battery life should be great, and you can even buy things on it with Apple Pay, thanks to the Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
Best of all, it supports the Apple Pencil, an incredible stylus with virtually no lag. You will have to pay $100 extra for the Pencil, but if you like to take notes or draw on your iPad, it is well worth it. Naturally, any Bluetooth keyboard also works with the iPad, so if you want to use it as a quasi-laptop, you can pick up a great keyboard.
You simply can’t beat those specs at that price point. Comparable Android tablets cost hundreds of dollars more, and the iPad still has a better app library and accessory support.
The aluminum build looks and feels premium, and the 9.7-inch screen size makes it a very portable device that’s easy to stow away in your bag. It’s quite light, too, so you can happily binge-watch Netflix in bed on your new iPad. Tech nerds will say it’s a boring old design, but it’s tried and true. Plus, the aluminum build is durable.
Pros: Incredible price for an iPad, powerful A10 processor, slick aluminum design, Touch ID for security and Apple Pay, gorgeous screen, supports the Apple Pencil, iOS 11
Cons: Not the latest A11 processor found on the iPhone X
The best iPad Pro models
Why you’ll love it: Apple’s new iPad Pro comes in 11-inch and 12.9-inch sizes with specs that are so high-end they surpass some laptops.
The new iPad Pro is a work of art – It has slimmed down bezels, a stunning sharp screen in two sizes, an absurdly powerful processor, and tons of great accessories to go with it, including the Apple Pencil.
You can get it in 11- and 12.9-inch screen sizes to suit your preferences. The 12.9-inch screen is great for digital artists who need room to roam, while the 11-inch model is great for most people’s needs. Both iPad Pros have really high screen resolutions: 2,388-by-1,668 pixels (11-inch model) and 2,732-by-2,048 pixels (12.9-inch model).
Regardless of which model you buy, the iPad Pro is a powerhouse. The A12X Bionic processor is so high-powered it can surpass some laptops. Apple’s entry-level model comes with 64GB of storage, but you can get up to 1TB if you want to spend a whole lot of money.
We recommend picking up the new Apple Pencil if you like to take notes or draw. It may cost $129, but it is worth it – The Pencil is the best stylus I’ve ever used, and the new version even charges wirelessly and magnetically attaches to your iPad for easy storage.
Apple’s Keyboard will also cost you a pretty penny, so we recommend going for a third-party case and keyboard.
There are three downsides to the iPad Pro, as we see it: It’s expensive, it won’t replace your laptop, and you have to pay extra for the keyboard and the stylus. Otherwise, it’s a great tablet that’s well worth the cost – if you have the money.
Pros: Gorgeous screens, new design with smaller bezels, excellent specs, high-end performance, Pencil is superb for drawing, two screen sizes
Cons: Very expensive, not a laptop replacement, accessories are extra
The best mid-size iPad Pro
Why you’ll love it: Apple’s 10.5-inch iPad Pro has a slightly bigger screen than the original and a lot of power for less than $600.
Apple introduced a new size to its iPad Pro lineup that’s smaller than the big 12.9-inch model at 10.5-inches. It hits the perfect sweet spot for people who want a large screen to watch Netflix or do work with a keyboard attached, but it’s not so big that you can’t take it with you every day (ahem, 12.9-inch iPad Pro)
The 2,224 × 1,668 pixel resolution looks gorgeous, and the screen has a faster refresh rate and brighter colors to make viewing video or creating digital art a breeze. The Apple Pencil works perfectly on the 10.5-inch screen with almost no lag.
Apple’s A10X Fusion processor also speeds things along, even though it’s an older chip now.
You can get the tablet with your choice of 64GB, 256GB, or 512GB of storage. The 64GB iPad should be enough for most people, so unless you really are treating the iPad Pro as your laptop, you don’t need to spend more on extra storage.
Like all iPad Pros, this one has four speakers for great sound and an average 10-hour battery life.
Pros: Nice screen size, sharp resolution, super speedy performance, Apple Pencil support, works as a tablet or laptop
The best stylus for your iPad
Why you’ll love it: The first-generation Apple Pencil is the best for the 9.7-inch and 10.5-inch iPads, while the second-generation stylus is ideal for the new 11- and 12.9-inch iPad Pros.
Over the years, I’ve tested a lot of styluses from companies like Adonit, 53, Wacom, and more. None of those styluses can hold a candle to the Apple Pencil. Whether you buy the first-generation Pencil or the second, you’re getting a stylus that was made by Apple in tandem with the iPad.
As such, the Pencil works with the iPads’ screens in special ways that no other stylus can. The result is improved pressure sensitivity and an impressively low level of latency. You won’t even notice a lag because it’s imperceptible. When you use an Apple Pencil, you actually feel like you’re using a normal graphite pencil.
There are a few differences between the first- and second-generation Pencils: The second-gen model has wireless charging and magnetically attaches to the side of the iPad and it was made for the new 11- and 12.9-inch iPad Pros, while the first-gen Pencil is for the older 9.7-inch iPad and the 10.5-inch iPad Pro. The first-gen Pencil charges with a lightning port on the end and doesn’t attach to your iPad. It’s also a bit cheaper.
Choose whichever makes the most sense to you, but the second-gen Pencil’s easier charging method and magnetic attraction to the iPad make it a winner in our book.
Pros: It works with even the cheapest 9.7-inch iPad, lack of latency, pressure sensitivity, made for the iPad’s screen, easy to charge, comfortable to hold
Cons: A tad pricey
The best keyboard for your iPad
Why you’ll love it: The Logitech K780 works with any device, connects wirelessly, and offers a full-sized keyboard with satisfying keys for typing.
The Logitech K780 is the best Bluetooth keyboard for just about any device, including the iPad. Sure, it’s not a keyboard case, so it won’t protect your iPad and provide a keyboard, but that means you get a full-sized keyboard with a number pad and satisfying keys that have good travel.
The K780 supports connections to multiple devices, so you can use it with your iPad, phone, and computer if you want. The circular keys are comfortable to type on because they are full size. Logitech also incorporated a tablet and phone stand into the keyboard’s design, so it’s easy to prop your iPad up without needing to buy a separate stand or case.
The only downsides here are that it needs AAA batteries to run and it’s not the most portable keyboard you can buy. If you want a more portable option, the foldable iClever Ultra Slim 3 Keyboard folds up to one-third of its size and can be used in both wireless and wired modes.
Pros: Nice design, comfortable, two-year battery life
Cons: Needs AAA batteries