You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Which Apple iPad is best for you? iPad mini vs iPad vs iPad Air vs iPad Pro

Pocket-lint logo Pocket-lint 21/12/2020
a close up of a screen: which apple ipad is best for you ipad mini vs ipad vs ipad air vs ipad pro photo 17 © Provided by Pocket-lint which apple ipad is best for you ipad mini vs ipad vs ipad air vs ipad pro photo 17

(Pocket-lint) - There may not be as much choice as smartphones when it comes to tablets, but there are still a number of decisions to be made. If you are reading this, it's likely you have already decided on iOS, and you are now trying to figure out what size iPad is the right one for you and which one fits into how much you want to spend.

Apple offers a number of iPad options ranging from 7.9-inch displays to 12.9-inches in size. There are also some older models, which although discontinued by Apple, are still available elsewhere, usually at good prices.

We've therefore included a couple of them in this round-up so you can see the differences between all models available, old and new, to find the most suitable iPad for you.

Quick summary

iPad (8th generation) offers much the same design as its predecessor. It has support for Apple Pencil, Apple's Smart Keyboard and it is significantly cheaper than the iPad Pro models, as well as cheaper than the iPad Air.

iPad Air (2020) opts for Touch ID over Face ID like the iPad 8th generation but it moves the fingerprint sensor to the top, reducing the bezels and offering a design more in line with the more expensive Pro models. It is compatible with the first generation Apple Pencil, like the iPad (8th gen).

iPad mini 5 has the same design as the iPad mini 4 but it offers a number of upgrades when it comes to hardware, including processor and front camera. 

iPad Pro 11 (2020) is one of the most powerful iPads available. It comes with a new design offering super-slim bezels, Face ID and excellent specs. It offers support for the second-gen Apple Pencil and it offers all the latest features in a more compact format than the 12.9 model.

iPad Pro 12.9 (2020) is the most expensive iPad available, as well as the most powerful alongside the 11-inch model. Launched in March 2020, these are for those that want to treat their tablet more like a computer. It offers the same hardware as the 11-inch model but in a larger size and with a higher price tag.

iPad Pro 11 (2018) and iPad Pro 12.9 (2018) are the older versions of the iPad Pro. While they've both been replaced, they're still available, and are cheaper than the latest models.

Apple iPad (8th generation)

  • Dimensions: 250.6 x 174.1 x 7.5mm, 490g
  • Display: 10.2 inches, 2160 x 1620 (264ppi)
  • Storage: 32GB, 128GB (Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi & Cellular)
  • Battery: Up to 10 hours
  • Colours: Silver, Space Grey, Gold

The 2020 iPad sticks to much the same design as its predecessor with a larger display 10.2-inch display compared to the iPad 9.7. Touch ID is on board, as it was on the 2019 model, and there is no fully laminated display or anti-reflective coating as there is on the iPad Air - further down this list.

The processor sees a bump to the A12 Bionic chip compared to the A10 in the 2019 model, and there is support for Apple's Smart Keyboard, like the iPad Air. It is compatible with the first generation of Apple Pencil too, as the older model was.

There is an 8-megapixel rear camera and 1.2-megapixel front snapper on this iPad, and it comes in silver, gold, and space grey colour options. A few features from the iPad Pro models are lacking, such as ProMotion and True Tone display technologies, as well as the speed increase you'll get from the Pro models and the iPad Air, but the iPad 2020 is a lot cheaper than the Pro models and the Air.

  • Apple iPad (8th generation) review

Apple iPad Air

  • Dimensions: 247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1mm, 458g
  • Display: 10.9-inches, 2360 x 1640 (264ppi), True Tone
  • Storage: 64GB, 256GB (Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi & Cellular)
  • Battery: Up to 10 hours
  • Colours: Silver, Space Grey, Rose Gold, Green, Sky Blue

The Apple iPad Air sits in between the iPad Pro 11 and the cheaper iPad (8th generation). The design is more in line with the iPad Pro range than its predecessor however, with Touch ID moving to the top, allowing for slimmer bezels around the display.

There's an A14 Bionic chip under the hood, which is a power boost over the iPad (8th generation) and the iPad Air comes with both Apple Pencil (second gen) and Apple Smart Keyboard support too. The iPad Air's display also sees improvements over the iPad (8th generation), with an anti-reflective coating, True Tone technology and a wider colour gamut, as well as a larger display in a slimmer and lighter build, though it misses out on the ProMotion technology found in the Pro models.

Gallery: Best tablet 2020: Top tablets to buy today (Pocket-lint)

There is a 12-megapixel rear camera like the iPad Pro, which is a bump up from the iPad (8th gen), though it doesn't have the secondary Ultra-Wide lens that the Pro has. There is a 7-megapixel front camera too though - the same as the Pro.

There are two speakers like the iPad (8th gen) rather than four like the iPad Pro models, but the iPad Air (2020) has USB Type-C for charging, rather than Lightning like the iPad Pro 11.

  • Apple iPad Air (2020) review

Apple iPad mini 5

  • Dimensions: 203.2 x 134.8 x 6.1mm, 300g
  • Display: 7.9-inches, 2048 x 1536 (326ppi), True Tone
  • Storage: 64GB, 256GB (Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi & Cellular)
  • Battery: Up to 10 hours
  • Colours: Silver, Space Grey, Gold

The Apple iPad mini 5 features the same design as the older iPad mini 4 opting for Touch ID like the iPad Air, rather than Face ID like the newer iPad Pro models. 

There are numerous hardware upgrades over the iPad mini 4 though, with the iPad mini 5 said to be three times faster than its predecessor thanks to the A12 Bionic chip. This is the same processor as the larger iPad (8th gen), but a step down from the iPad Air and iPad Pro 11.

Like the iPad Air, the iPad mini 5 brings a range of display improvements, including the addition of True Tone technology and it also adds Apple Pencil compatibility - though first gen and not second gen like the Air. It also has the sharpest display of all the iPads available with a 326ppi pixel density.

Compared to the older iPad mini 4, the iPad mini 5 has an upgraded front camera, moving from 1.2-megapixels to 7-megapixels and offering up to 1080p video compared to 720p. It has up to 256GB of storage and like the iPad 8th gen, it is charged via Lightning.

  • Apple iPad mini 5 review 

Apple iPad Pro 11 (2018) and (2020)

  • Dimensions: 247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9mm, 468g
  • Display: 11-inches, 2388 x 1668 (264ppi), True Tone
  • Storage: 64GB (2018), 128GB (2020), 256GB, 512GB, 1TB (Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi & Cellular)
  • Battery: Up to 10 hours
  • Colours: Silver, Space Grey

The iPad Pro 11 succeeded the iPad Pro 10.5 with a completely new design in 2018 and was refreshed in 2020 - the older model is still available though. It ditches Touch ID for Face ID and squares off the aluminium edges for a more refined design.

Apple has included the A12X Bionic processor in the iPad Pro 11, now upgraded to the A12Z, and it also comes in a 1TB storage option while the basic model's storage was also upgraded from 64 to 128GB. There's also a beefed-up camera. 

This tablet is also compatible with the second-generation of the Apple Pencil, which attaches magnetically and charges wirelessly. The Lightning connector has been replaced with USB Type-C too for the new iPad Pro, allowing for charging and out, like the latest iPad Air.

  • Apple iPad Pro 11 (2018) review

Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2018) and (2020)

  • Dimensions: 280.6 x 214.9 x 5.9mm, 631g
  • Display: 12.9-inches, 2732 x 2048 (264ppi), True Tone
  • Storage: 64GB (2018), 128GB (2020), 256GB, 512GB, 1TB (Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi & Cellular)
  • Battery: Up to 10 hours
  • Colours: Silver, Space Grey

Two years ago, the iPad Pro 12.9 delivered a complete design overhaul with slimmer bezels, no Touch ID home button and flatter edges. This new design allows the 12.9 model to reduce in size compared to the old 12.9 model, despite offering the same size display.

It's now been updated with the A12Z processor and beefy rear cameras. There's also up to 1TB of storage and USB Type-C over Lightning for charging in and out, as well as the same camera capabilities with Face ID.

The iPad Pro 12.9 is compatible with the second-generation Apple Pencil which attaches magnetically to the iPad Pro 12.9 and charges wirelessly when attached. Like the Magic Keyboard, it's still sold separately though, making this one pricey tablet.

  • Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2020) review

Apple iPad Pro 10.5

  • Dimensions: 250.6 x 174.1 x 6.1mm, 469g
  • Display: 10.5-inches, 2224 x 1668 (264ppi), True Tone
  • Storage: 64GB, 256GB, 512GB (Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi & Cellular)
  • Battery: Up to 10 hours
  • Colours: Silver, Space Grey, Gold, Rose Gold

The iPad Pro 10.5 features a 40 per cent reduction in bezels and a 20 per cent increase in display size over the older iPad Pro 9.7, but it has an older design compared to the newer iPad Pro 11 and iPad Pro 12.9. This older design does mean Touch ID though so if you want a physical fingerprint sensor, this is the iPad Pro for you.

The 10.5-inch iPad Pro comes with True Tone technology, a display that offers 600nits of brightness and a technology called ProMotion that allows it to support 120Hz refresh rates is also on board. Under its hood, it has the A10X Fusion processor with embedded M10 motion coprocessor is coupled with a 10 hour battery life, as well as the Smart Connector and four-speaker audio setup.

It also offers a 12-megapixel rear snapper and a 7-megapixel front camera. Apple Pencil compatibility is on board, but for the first generation not the second like the iPad Air, and it also offers compatibility with the Smart Keyboard, while storage options range from 64GB to 512GB.

  • Apple iPad Pro 10.5 review

More From Pocket-lint

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon