Here’s a summary of the Best iPads to Buy in 2020
Apple iPad is undoubtedly one of the best tablets on the market. Even the best Android and Windows 10 tablets cannot really match up to the iPad either in terms of features or overall performance.
iPad perfectly complements the rest of the Apple ecosystem and makes working between your iPhone, Mac, and other Apple devices seamless. The iPad also has the best App Store among all tablets, with developers increasingly putting out apps that can take good advantage of the iPad’s SoC.
What Should You Look For When Buying an Apple iPad?
The iPad is now available in a variety of SKUs and options to chose from for almost every budget.
The following points must be accounted for if you decide to spend your hard-earned cash on an iPad:
- Workflow: The iPad is a highly versatile device, and new versions have been built to handle complex tasks such as video and audio editing, design, etc. If you need to carry your creative tools on the move, consider an iPad Pro model. On the other hand, if you just need a tablet for media consumption, even a previous generation iPad should fit the bill.
- SoC: Apple’s custom silicon is known to be a game-changer in the mobile world and can even take on some of the x86 CPUs when it comes to certain workloads. This is also a major factor in Apple deciding to move away from Intel processors across the Mac lineup. That being said, not all apps require the enormous processing power offered by the latest A12Z Bionic chip. You go for an older version of the SoC and still have plenty of headroom for that occasional creative work.
- Memory and Storage: Compared to the tablets from the Android and Windows worlds, Apple has been relatively conservative on the memory requirements for the iPad OS. For most tasks, you wouldn’t be feeling any lack of available RAM. However, multitaskers should look into getting an iPad with the largest RAM they can afford. The iPad does not come with expanded storage, but you can make use of external storage devices or use any of the popular cloud services.
- Size: A tablet should be one that is comfortable to hold for extended periods of time. For some users, the large 11-inch and 12.9-inch models may seem too big for their hands. Also, those who use the tablet primarily for reading eBooks would want to opt for a lower screen size for better portability.
The Best iPads in 2020
With that information, let’s have a look at 6 best iPads that fit the bill perfectly across all budgets.
1. Best iPad in 2020 – Apple iPad Pro 11-inch 2nd Gen
Specs: Apple A12Z Bionic SoC + M12 Co-processor; Touch ID; 28.65 Wh battery; 12 MP + 10 MP rear camera; LiDAR scanner; 7 MP TrueDepth camera; Four speakers; Wi-Fi only | Display: 11-inch 2388 x 1668 pixels True Tone Liquid Retina display | Memory / Storage: 6 GB / 256 GB | Platform: iPad OS 13 | Dimensions (W x H x D): 7.02 x 9.74 x 0.23 in
The 11-inch Apple iPad Pro is now in its second generation and comes slight internal upgrades to enhance the tablet experience further. The iPad Pro 11-inch is designed not just for media consumption but for artists and creative pros on the move as well. Like all other iPads, the iPad Pro 11-inch can be had in both Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi and cellular variants. Storage options range from 128 GB to 1 TB.
Powering the iPad Pro is the Apple A12Z Bionic SoC with a built-in M12 co-processor and a neural engine for AI tasks. Towards the back, we have a dual 12 MP wide and a 10 MP ultra-wide camera setup with 2x optical zoom. Also available is a LiDAR sensor for enhanced augmented reality (AR) applications. However, developers are yet to take any advantage of it, and the LiDAR isn’t very useful for added depth effects while taking portraits.
The new iPad Pro also comes with an improved Apple Pencil that can now attach to the body of the tablet magnetically and charge itself. There’s also the Smart Keyboard that can be added for an enhanced typing experience. It won’t replace your laptop anytime soon, but it is not bad either.
The iPad Pro 11-inch uses a much improved Liquid Retina display with a resolution of 2388 x 1668 pixels. The new display supports HDR as well as a 120 Hz refresh rate for smooth visuals. However, since it is still an LCD panel, those used to OLED displays on some of the best Android tablets will feel the lack of punchy colors. Display bezels have reduced considerably in this generation, but they are still present to prevent accidental screen touches in landscape mode.
There are now four speakers, including a woofer, to allow for a much more immersive sound. Unfortunately, Apple has chosen to remove the headphone jack and has also switched to USB Type-C as the default connector making wireless headphones the only option.
Overall, the added features and powerful processing of the A12Z Bionic SoC make the iPad Pro 11-inch one of the best iPads to buy in 2020. That being said, the high price means that the iPad Pro 11-inch is overkill for those who require an iPad primarily for media consumption.
- Pros: Fast processor; Quad-speakers
- Cons: Expensive
2. Best iPad Pro – Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch 4th Gen
Specs: Apple A12Z Bionic SoC + M12 Co-processor; Touch ID; 28.65 Wh battery; 12 MP + 10 MP rear camera; LiDAR scanner; 7 MP TrueDepth camera; Four speakers; Wi-Fi + Cellular | Display: 12.9-inch 2732 x 2048 pixels True Tone Liquid Retina display | Memory / Storage: 6 GB / 256 GB | Platform: iPad OS 13 | Dimensions (W x H x D): 8.46 x 11.04 x 0.23 in
For those who need even more screen estate and don’t mind coughing up the extra dough, the 2020 Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch is the tablet to go for. Now in its fourth generation, the iPad Pro 12.9 can work as the perfect Mac substitute for most common tasks. With its powerful A12Z Bionic chip, you can also do some light rendering and photo editing on the move.
The high-resolution ProMotion 120 Hz Liquid Retina display allows for sharp visuals and offers excellent visibility in bright light. Specs-wise not much has changed from the 2018 12.9-inch iPad Pro save for the additional LiDAR scanner, the 10 MP ultra-wide lens, and a slightly refreshed SoC. And like the 2018 model, there’s also the TrueDepth camera for Facetime and Face ID, a magnetic strip for attaching the Apple Pencil, and a USB Type-C port for charging and connecting to accessories.
The iPad Pro 12.9-inch has a great LCD with a high refresh rate. Apple does not officially call it HDR, but it can playback HDR videos pretty well. The new iPad Pro 12.9-inch comes with iOS 13, which allows for better multitasking and productivity. You can also use the Magic Keyboard accessory that includes a fairly large trackpad. Third-party Bluetooth mice are also compatible as well.
The A12Z posts excellent benchmark scores and is still the mobile SoC to beat when it comes to raw performance. However, the difference is not much when compared with the older A12X chip, so if you already have a 2018 iPad, there is probably not much incentive to upgrade this year. Besides, there aren’t too many apps that take good advantage of Apple’s LiDAR sensor for AR. Apple, though, has improved the Measure app to allow for more accurate measurements without prior calibration.
Overall, the 2020 Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch is the best Apple iPad, and probably the best tablet one can buy if productivity on the go is desired.
- Pros: Excellent features; 120 Hz display
- Cons: Not an OLED panel; LiDAR sensor has limited use
3. Best non-Pro iPad – Apple iPad Air 3
Specs: Apple A12 Bionic SoC + M12 Co-processor; Touch ID; 30.2 Wh battery; 8 MP rear camera; 7 MP FaceTime camera; Stereo speakers; Wi-Fi only | Display: 10.5-inch 2224 x 1668 pixels True Tone Retina display | Memory / Storage: 3 GB / 256 GB | Platform: iPad OS 13 | Dimensions (W x H x D): 6.8 x 9.8 x 0.24 in
The iPad Air 3 might not have the looks or features found in the iPad Pro models, but it occupies an essential spot in the Apple iPad lineup. The iPad Air is perfect for those who need the quintessential iPad experience but do not require fancy features such as the LiDAR scanner or high refresh rate displays.
The iPad Air comes with iPad OS 12 but can be upgraded to iPad OS 13 to take advantage of new multitasking features. The iPad Air offers the A12 Bionic SoC, which is the same SoC that powers the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. The display is a 10.5-inch Retina display in which the glass is laminated to the LCD panel beneath. This makes a big difference while using the Apple Pencil to draw on the screen.
The Apple iPad Air 3 offers the ability to use a Smart Keyboard. The Smart Keyboard does not offer some of the features of the Magic Keyboard, such as key backlighting and has a somewhat cramped layout, which is understandable considering the smaller size of the Air 3. The iPad Air 3 also offers the optional Apple Pencil. The Apple Pencil offers a pressure-sensitive input but does not offer some of the features found in Pencil Gen 2, such as magnetic charging, automatic pairing, and gestures. The Pencil Gen 2 only works with the iPad Pro models described above. That being said, the Apple Pencil offers a nice drawing and annotation experience.
The iPad Air 3’s A12 Bionic SoC is a considerable improvement over the iPad 9.7-inch’s A10 Fusion SoC and allows for efficient multitasking without breaking a sweat. Be sure to update the OS to iPad OS 13 to take advantage of the new multitasking features. The iPad Air 3 offers up to 10 hours of battery life, which should help you get through the day easily. It can also be topped-up easily via fast charging.
The Apple iPad Air 3 offers excellent value for those looking for the core iPad experience and are willing to forego some of the fancy features found in the Pro models. The pricing also makes it one of the best iPads for back-to-school buyers.
- Pros: Good multitasking; Great for students
- Cons: Apple Pencil 1 is not as feature-rich as Pencil 2; Smart Keyboard does not support back lighting
4. Best iPad for Kids – Apple iPad Mini
Specs: Apple A12 SoC + M12 Co-processor; Touch ID; 19.1 Wh battery; 8 MP rear camera; 7 MP FaceTime camera; Stereo speakers; Wi-Fi only | Display: 7.9-inch 2048 x 1536 pixels True Tone Retina display | Memory / Storage: 3 GB / 64 GB | Platform: iPad OS 13 | Dimensions (W x H x D): 5.3 x 8.0 x 0.24 in
Those who wouldn’t want to spend a fortune but still want the basic functionality of an iPad will be served best by the iPad Mini. The iPad Mini may not offer as much productivity as the more expensive models. However, you still get a reasonably decent tablet for media consumption and makes for a perfect companion for the kids.
The 7.9-inch display offers a 2048 x 1536 resolution, which makes it a Retina display as per Apple’s consideration. The small size means that the iPad Mini can be operated with one hand, which makes it a perfect companion for reading eBooks. The iPad Mini also supports the first-generation Apple Pencil, so it is easy to jot down notes and make minor edits to your images.
The tablet still has large bezels making it not as impressive as the more expensive iPad models. However, the display itself is fine and offers a good multimedia experience. You can also attach additional accessories such as a Smart Cover, USB Type-C to Lightning cable, etc. if needed. There is no fancy face unlock, but Touch ID is highly reliable and works just fine. The display even supports the P3 color gamut, and the True Tone moniker means that its white balance adapts to the ambient light conditions.
Don’t let the diminutive size of the iPad Mini fool you, though. Under the hood, this tablet packs a serious punch thanks to the same A12 Bionic SoC that is used in the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. Thanks to the A12 Bionic, it is very much possible to multitask effortlessly on the iPad Mini, with the only limitation being the small screen.
The default configuration comes with 64 GB of onboard storage, which can quickly fill up if you store a lot of content, so you will have to seek out a cloud storage service such as iCloud or Dropbox. As with most of its tablets, Apple claims 10-hour battery life for the iPad Mini. For practical purposes, this should be attainable as long as you don’t stress out the tablet too much.
Overall, the iPad Mini still makes for a competent tablet in 2020 and is one of the best tablets for eBooks and magazine reading.
- Pros: Powerful SoC; Apple Pencil support
- Cons: Large bezels; Limited internal storage
5. Best iPad for Students – Apple iPad 10.2
Specs: Apple A10 Fusion SoC + M10 Co-processor; Touch ID; 32.9 Wh battery; 8 MP rear camera; 1.2 MP FaceTime camera; Stereo speakers; Wi-Fi only | Display: 10.2-inch 2160 x 1620 pixels IPS Retina display | Memory / Storage: 3 GB / 128 GB | Platform: iPad OS 13 | Dimensions (W x H x D): 9.8 x 6.8 x 0.29 in
For those who need something more than the iPad Mini but still want an iPad within budget and mostly for school or college work, the Apple iPad 10.2 might fit the bill perfectly. The revised 2019 edition comes in both 32 GB and a 128 GB storage option. Those who primarily depend on online storage and streaming services may be able to get away with just 32 GB of storage. However, with the size of apps and games increasing by the day, we recommend users to go for the 128 GB option if budget permits.
The iPad 10.2 supports accessories such as the Smart Keyboard Cover, Apple Pencil, and also comes with an LTE option as with most other iPads. Do note that decking the iPad with the full suite of accessories can add significantly to the cost. The comparatively smaller size of the iPad 10.2’s display combined with its high native resolution means text and images look sharp and make for an excellent viewing experience. The added support for Apple Pencil further increases productivity as well.
Specifications-wise, the iPad 10.2 is a modest upgrade over its predecessor. You now get the A10 Fusion chip and increased RAM to 3 GB. It may not sound like much, and the A10 is an aged SoC by now, but Apple’s tailor-made software means that you will not run into too many sluggish moments as long as you don’t push it too far. The 8 MP rear camera is decent and can even do AR. The 1.2 MP FaceTime camera is strictly okay for the occasional video call or two.
The revised iPad 10.2 supports iPad OS, so users can do effective multitasking and get the most benefits of the new OS. Again, given the somewhat older SoC, there are limits to how much you can actually multitask without running into lags. However, one neat feature is the support for Sidecar. This means that you can use the iPad 10.2 as a second screen for your MacBook, which makes it a productivity booster.
The modest SoC means that getting a decent battery life out of this tablet shouldn’t be much of a hassle — it will serve you easily till bedtime, though you may want to use a higher watt charger to speed up charging. Apart from schoolwork, the Apple iPad 10.2 is also perfect for those who are just interested in getting a second cheap iPad or using it as a secondary display for the MacBook. For all other purposes, take a look at its more capable cousins above.
- Pros: Supports many Apple accessories; Supports iPad OS and Sidecar
- Cons: Ageing SoC; Low RAM
6. Best iPad for Gaming – Apple iPad Pro 10.5 (Renewed)
Specs: Apple A10X Fusion SoC + M10 Co-processor; Touch ID; 30.8 Wh battery; 12 MP rear camera; 7 MP FaceTime camera; Four speakers; Wi-Fi only | Display: 10.5-inch 2224 x 1668 pixels IPS Retina display | Memory / Storage: 4 GB / 256 GB | Platform: iPad OS 13 | Dimensions (W x H x D): 9.87 x 6.85 x 0.24 in
The Apple iPad Pro 10.5 may seem to be an older product in 2020 but make no mistake, this is still a great iPad for the money and an excellent choice if you are into mobile games such as PUBG: Mobile.
The iPad Pro 10.5 is mostly available only as a refurbished product, as Apple has discontinued the production of older iPad models. While it may be disheartening that the product is no longer available, the refurbished model ensures that buyers can still get a great iPad experience at an affordable price.
The iPad Pro 10.5 features the Apple A10X Fusion SoC, and even after three years, this chip can outclass many top-performing SoCs from the Android and Windows worlds. There is also the option of using the Apple Pencil for enhanced productivity and note-taking without any perceivable lag.
That the iPad Pro 10.5 could stand its own even against some of the high-end laptops of 2017 such as the 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro, Dell XPS 13, etc. is a testament that this tablet is perfectly viable even today. The 10.5-inch display is sharp, has good viewing angles, and even comes with Apple’s ProMotion tech, which dynamically increases the refresh rate to 120 Hz for smooth, lag-free visuals. The display can faithfully reproduce 122% of the sRGB color gamut, making it ideal for creators on the move.
The iPad Pro 10.5’s camera takes decent pictures for a tablet. It may not be up to your smartphone’s standards, but it surely is one of the better tablet cameras out there. In fact, the iPad Pro 10.5 uses the same camera setup as that of the iPhone 7.
The tablet also comes with 4 GB RAM and storage options up to 512 GB. Coupled with the A10X Fusion chip, this makes for a highly responsive and fast tablet computing experience that can run all apps in the App Store without breaking a sweat. For better results, we recommend upgrading the tablet to the latest iPad OS 13 for even better multitasking abilities.
Apple claims that the iPad Pro 10.5-inch can offer up to 14 hours of battery life. This is true for the most part, but prolonged usage of the screen in the 120 Hz mode can take a toll on the battery.
Overall, if you are looking for a decent iPad experience without having to burn your pockets on the newer models and don’t mind a refurbished version, the Apple iPad Pro 10.5-inch is definitely worth a consideration.
- Pros: Excellent performance; Good cameras
- Cons: Difficult to get non-refurbished models
That was a look at some of the best iPad tablets you can buy in 2020. Do note that while you get even older models for cheap, the experience may not really as good as the ones detailed here.