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Article updated on April 7, 2024 at 12:28 PM PDT

Best iPad for 2024

These are our picks of the best iPads to buy right now, but new models are coming later this year.

Our Experts

Written by 
Scott Stein
Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement
Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
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  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
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CNET’s expert staff reviews and rates dozens of new products and services each month, building on more than a quarter century of expertise.

What to consider

Price

Apple’s iPad lineup ranges from about $300 to over $1,000. Expect to spend between $400 and $600 for a great experience.

Display

Processor

Pencil support

Camera

Our Picks

$334 at Amazon
Apple's new iPad 10th generation
Best iPad for serious video-chatters
iPad 10th-Gen (2022)
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$250 at Best Buy
Image of iPad 9th-Gen (2021)
Best iPad on a budget
iPad 9th-Gen (2021)
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$400 at Best Buy
008-ipad-air-2020-4th-gen
Best iPad Pro on a budget
Apple iPad Air (2022)
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$749 at Best Buy
iPad Pro and Pencil 2 on a table
Best iPad for power Pencil users
iPad Pro 2022
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$400 at Amazon
The new iPad Mini sits between a Rubik's cube and a mug for size comparison.
Best iPad for mobility
iPad Mini
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What’s the best iPad overall?

Apple sells a ton of iPads, but the current crop isn't the most exciting one we've seen. Apple’s iPad release schedule took 2023 off, which means that currently, there isn't a perfect iPad to buy. There are lots of iPads you can buy in 2024, but we also have new models arriving later in the year. We advise you to spend as little as possible in the meantime. If you must buy one right now, the 10th-gen iPad has a good balance of features, a front camera that's in a better location for video chat, USB-C, and an overhauled design.

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It lacks support for the Apple Pencil 2, however, and comes in at a higher price. That's why we still recommend the ninth-gen iPad as the most affordable model for kids and families. We expect quite a few new iPads in 2024, including Pro models with OLED displays and potentially Apple's latest M3 chips. The current iPads are all capable, run tons of apps and even multitask pretty well, but we still recommend waiting it out if you can (or consider a refurb).

CNET has been testing and reviewing iPads since the original version, and we’ve tried every model since then. We’ve also compared their performance against both Macs and competing Android tablets to judge their relative value.

Best iPads of 2024

$334 at Amazon

Best iPad for serious video-chatters

iPad 10th-Gen (2022)

The year-old 10th-gen entry-level iPad has a whole new design, with USB-C, a faster A14 chip and a larger display. Its best feature, though, is a repositioned front-facing camera that finally centers video chats properly in landscape mode, which is how most people use their iPads when they're connected to keyboard cases. If you're someone who needs to Zoom a lot on an iPad, this is worth the extra price over the ninth-gen model if you can afford it. The downside is the bizarre lack of support for the Pencil 2, requiring you to use a first-gen Pencil and a USB-C charge dongle (not included) for sketches and note-taking. Apple does have a new USB-C Pencil that's meant to help, but it's still weird.

$250 at Best Buy

Best iPad on a budget

iPad 9th-Gen (2021)

We've always appreciated the entry-level iPad for its affordable price. This older entry-level model is less expensive than the newer 10th-gen iPad, and is still very functional. Its older A13 chip and Lightning-charger-equipped, Touch ID home button design all feel somewhat outdated but work fine. This iPad's screen size is perfect for everyday work and fun. There's an auto-zooming front-facing Center Stage camera, and unlike the 10th-gen iPad, the first-gen Apple Pencil doesn't need a dongle to work. It's still compatible with a range of keyboard cases, too.

$400 at Best Buy

Best iPad Pro on a budget

Apple iPad Air (2022)

The iPad Air costs less ($599) than the iPad Pro, but has less starting storage (64GB). It adds an M1 processor similar to that of the iPad Pro from 2021, a 5G option, and a Center Stage front-facing camera. It doesn't have the better-placed front camera of the 10th-gen iPad, but supports Pencil 2 and has a better processor and display. The only points where it lags compared to the 11-inch Pro are a slightly slower processor, that new Pencil 2 hover support, and faster connectivity. You still might consider the Pro worth it. But keep in mind that the 2021 iPad Pro, if it's on sale for less, is the better buy: It has a faster-refresh display, better rear cameras, Face ID/lidar and a faster Thunderbolt USB-C port.

$749 at Best Buy

Best iPad for power Pencil users

iPad Pro 2022

Apple's 2022 iPad Pro refresh added a more powerful M2 chip, faster Wi-Fi 6E and optional 5G connectivity, and a new Pencil 2 "hover" feature that activates the display when the stylus is in close range. Not many apps take advantage of hover, though, and the rest of this iPad design's the same as the previous model. The iPad Pro lineup contains the only models with faster 120Hz variable refresh rate displays, a step-up Mini LED HDR display on the 12.9-inch model, Face ID and depth-sensing lidar cameras, and a faster Thunderbolt 4 port. If you don't mind that the front-facing camera isn't landscape-oriented yet -- and you have the money to burn -- this is the most advanced model, but it doesn't get you any closer to being a Mac. Also, you should definitely wait on this if you can. Newer models, most likely with OLED displays and M3 processors, are expected next year.

$400 at Amazon

Best iPad for mobility

iPad Mini

If you don't care about a keyboard case (even though there are some small ones that will work with it), this tinier iPad mini, while expensive, is still a great portable pick. Its newer design supports the Pencil 2, it has USB-C, and its processor is plenty fast enough. For note-taking, reading, games and movies, this is an enticing choice.

How we test iPads

We run benchmarks on iPads similar to how we test both iPhones and laptops, looking for single and multicore performance and graphics performance indicators that can help show relative speed gains across models. But that’s only part of the story. We also use iPads as everyday devices, playing games, running lots of apps, and looking at multitasking performance in split-screen mode. We look at how camera quality feels, too, especially for the front-facing camera in FaceTime and Zooms. 

We also look at accessories and which ones are available for a particular model: Apple’s own keyboards and Pencils, and notable third-party options, too.

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Factors to consider when buying an iPad

Like we said above, the best iPad features right now are distributed across models, making it hard to single out a go-to “perfect” iPad right now. Price, performance, front camera quality, accessory support and display quality vary across models. Most people tend to buy iPads for family or personal use, and you’ll need to decide how much you want to spend. There are also frequent sales of iPads that can change the equation, too. But the iPad as a product line is great overall. Models tend to have long lives, and all models on sale now are solid at running apps and games, and even multitasking.

The last wave of iPads in 2022 added more choice, but no clear stand-out best product. The 10th-gen iPad, released last fall, is more expensive than the ninth-gen iPad, which remains on sale. The 10th-gen model has a better-placed front-facing camera for video chats, a larger screen, a faster processor and USB-C charging, but needs its own cases and a weird dongle for charging the first-gen Pencil (although it also supports Apple’s lower-cost USB-C pencil, too). It's a great pick if it's ever on sale, but expensive otherwise.

The iPad Pros got better M2 processors, faster Wi-Fi 6E and 5G connectivity in late 2022, and a new "Pencil hover" tool for proximity-based previews of art tools. But its design remains the same and the front camera placement hasn't been fixed, which remains frustrating for anyone who was hoping to use the iPad Pro for work-based video chats when in landscape mode. Also, iPadOS is no closer to replacing your Mac, although Stage Manager's external monitor support offers a little more multiscreen multitasking. Wait for the next iPad Pro, which will likely have M3 series processors, before spending your money.

Meanwhile, the iPad Air, released in early 2022, still remains the best "Pro on a budget" iPad with its fast M1 chip and Pencil 2 support, but it’s the most likely candidate for an upgrade early next year. The current model doesn't fix that front camera either, though, so if looking good on Zoom and FaceTime matters most to you, consider that 10th-gen iPad instead. And if there's an iPad model that seems like it could get an update sooner than any other, it's this one.

Read more: Best iPad Deals Right Now

There's a $120 starting price gap between the $329 entry-model ninth-gen, which remains in the line, and the new $449 10th-gen version. That gives the older model a bit of an edge over the new one, despite the latter's slightly larger display, side camera, better processor and USB-C connection -- especially if you only really need one of those upgrades, like the camera relocation. If you need all those upgrades and can afford it but don't need an M1 CPU, the step-up model makes sense. 

Whichever model or screen size you choose, all the current iPads support the latest version of iPadOS (a version of iOS specifically for iPads) and a mix of either the first, second-gen or lower-cost USB-C Apple Pencil. Apple supports external monitors for iPads with an M1 chip or better via a feature called Stage Manager, which has been gradually improving.

No matter what iPad you buy, there are ways of connecting keyboard cases, Bluetooth and otherwise, although your options will vary. That's good news for anyone who wants to do more than stream videos and music, browse websites and play Apple Arcade games. Plus, all the current iPad models support mouse and trackpad use for a more MacBook-like experience. The Apple Magic Keyboard is compatible with the iPad Pro and iPad Air, but not the 10th-gen iPad (which has a Magic Keyboard Folio case instead).

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iPad FAQs

Can I use an iPad instead of a MacBook?

Sort of. Its processor is as powerful as a MacBook Air's, and it works with Bluetooth keyboards and Apple trackpads. But it's held back from acting as a true replacement by iPadOS; that means, among other things, no useful dual-monitor support (it can only mirror, not extend, to a second display) and no support for full desktop applications. Though you might pooh-pooh the latter -- after all, Apple says you can do it all with an iPad -- for most school and work requirements, you'll find at least one thing you need to do on a laptop. For instance, even if I could do my job on an iPad Pro (and it's not even close), in order to access some corporate locations I have to run the VPN, which is only available on company-issued systems. 

Many limitations of current mobile apps have carried through into iPadOS. In some cases it may just be because developers are still building out apps and haven't yet gotten them to full feature-dom yet, though there's no guarantee they ever will get there. Adobe Lightroom is a fine "light" Lightroom, but Adobe intended it from the start to be mobile-first, and thus lack some features important to professionals, including wired tethered shooting, optimization for local file storage (rather than cloud) and the ability to intelligently handle raw plus JPEG.

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When will new iPads arrive, and should I wait?

Right now, the last new iPads came out last fall. We usually expect new iPad models in the spring and the fall each year, but Apple has skipped all of 2023. That means we may see new iPads in 2024 sooner than later. The last few years have seen the iPad Air come in the spring, which is also when the next iPad Pros (with expected OLED displays) might arrive. The entry-level iPad and Mini models could be coming later in 2024. Meanwhile, Apple lays out where iPadOS is going at its annual developer conference (WWDC), which usually happens in June. iPads can go on sale at many retailers throughout the year, but the fall shopping season and over the summer tend to be key sale times.

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