Which iPad should you buy this holiday?

iPad Air 5
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Apple’s iPads are among the best tablets out there. With the holiday season well underway, now is the best time to buy an iPad for yourself or a loved one. That’s easier said than done, considering many iPads you have to choose from.

The iPad 10th gen serves as the most affordable entry-level option, which makes it great for first-time iPad users. Then there’s the iPad Air 5, which is both lighter and more powerful than the standard iPad. The iPad Pro 2022 comes in 11 and 12.9-inch models and is powerful enough to serve as a pseudo-laptop replacement. Lastly, there’s the 8.3-inch iPad mini 6 for those who want a smaller tablet.

Choosing the right iPad could be intimidating. However, the choice becomes easier if you know what you intend to use the tablet for. Do you want to primarily stream movies? Perhaps you want a tablet for reading your favorite books. Are you a creative who wants a device to work on while you travel? 

Whatever your needs are, there’s an iPad for you. Below, I’ll go over which iPad you should buy this holiday.

iPad: The most affordable iPad 

iPad 2022 playing Asphalt 9 game

(Image credit: Future)

The $449 iPad (10th gen) is a great entry-level tablet. It features an updated design from its predecessor, over 10 hours of battery life, and a sharp 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display. The 12MP front and rear cameras are also improved from last gen. If you want to draw or take notes on the iPad, the new USB-C Apple Pencil works great with the tablet.

For an even more affordable option, there’s the $329 iPad 9th gen, which Apple continues to sell. This 10.2-inch device is excellent for browsing the web, streaming videos and playing mobile games. It can handle all of these tasks with ease, even if you're multitasking between multiple tabs and apps at the same time. Its 12-hour battery life is also great — beating out its 10th gen counterpart.

iPad Air: The best iPad for most people 

iPad Air 5

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

My favorite iPad — and the one I recommend to most people —  is the latest iPad Air. This tablet ticks all the right boxes thanks to its gorgeous 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display, 10-hour-plus battery life and blistering performance thanks to its M1 chip. And since the iPad Air is relatively light, it’s easy to hold this tablet for long periods.

While it’s not as powerful as an iPad Pro, the iPad Air can handle almost everything you throw at it. It blazed through everyday tasks like browsing and streaming in our tests, even when multitasking between multiple apps and tabs. Even graphically demanding games like Genshin Impact were no match for this tablet's performance.

iPad Pro: The most powerful iPad 

iPad Pro 2022

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The iPad Pro 2022 is arguably the ultimate Apple tablet. The latest model features an Apple M2 chip, a 12.9-inch XDR display, and fantastic battery life. This is the tablet to buy if you want to go all out.

The M2 chip is the fastest processor you'll find in any tablet on the market. That makes the iPad Pro perfect for demanding tasks like photo and video editing. When paired with the Apple Magic Keyboard ($349), you’ll have a capable laptop replacement. For entertainment, the XDR display makes movies in HDR look phenomenal, while the speakers deliver room-filling sound. On top of all that, the iPad Pro can last close to 11 hours, based on our testing. This is the tablet for power users.

iPad mini: The smallest iPad 

The iPad mini 2021

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

If you want a smaller device, the iPad mini 6 will suit your needs. Though it doesn’t support the Magic Keyboard and there’s no headphone jack, there’s a lot to like about this small tablet.

Thanks to its A15 Bionic chip, the iPad is well-suited for casual use and multitasking. It’s the perfect portable device for watching videos and movies. Colors pop off the bright and colorful screen. The speakers are powerful enough to fill a small room with sound. Lastly, the iPad mini can last nearly 11 hours, which means you should get through an entire day on a charge.

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Tony Polanco
Computing Writer

Tony is a computing writer at Tom’s Guide covering laptops, tablets, Windows, and iOS. During his off-hours, Tony enjoys reading comic books, playing video games, reading speculative fiction novels, and spending too much time on X/Twitter. His non-nerdy pursuits involve attending Hard Rock/Heavy Metal concerts and going to NYC bars with friends and colleagues. His work has appeared in publications such as Laptop Mag, PC Mag, and various independent gaming sites.