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The best iPad: how to choose the right Apple tablet for you

iPad

The best iPad to buy in 2018 is a tricky answer for us because there are quite a few Apple tablets on sale today.

The iPad Pro is certainly the most powerful, and that comes in two sizes, the massive iPad Pro 12.9-inch version and the flagship 10.5-inch edition. But neither are the best for average consumers looking to save money.

The slightly confusingly named New iPad (2017) is a better value and the best iPad for most people because it covers all of the basics you need from an iOS 11 tablet. Finally, the aging iPad mini 4 (launched way back in 2015) is probably on its way out eventually.

Whatever the case there's an iPad for you, and to make it easier to sift through them and find the right one we've highlighted all the choices, in a clear, concise way, so boot up your old tablet one last time, read through our rundown and get ready to upgrade.

  • Looking for an Android tablet instead? Check out our best tablet ranking.
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1. New iPad (2017)

The new iPad is shockingly cheap

Specifications
Weight: 469g
Dimensions: 240 x 169.5 x 7.5mm
OS: iOS 11
Screen size: 9.7-inch
Resolution: 1536 x 2048 pixels
CPU: A9
RAM: 2GB
Storage: 32/128GB
microSD slot: No
Battery: Up to 10 hours
Rear camera: 8MP
Front camera: 1.2MP
Reasons to buy
+Affordable+Great screen
Reasons to avoid
-Thicker than the Air-Only an A9 chipset

The best Apple iPad for most people isn't actually the most powerful – it's just the greatest value. The new iPad (2017) replaced the iPad Air 2 in Apple's lineup, slotting in below the Pro range.

As such it lacks their Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil support and misses out on some of their power, but its A9 chipset is still very speedy and the 9.7-inch 1536 x 2048 screen is sharp, bright and high-quality. It also has the same luxurious metal unibody as the rest of Apple's iPad range.

With the Touch ID fingerprint sensor included, iOS 11 under the hood and up to 10 hours of battery life when web browsing or watching videos, the iPad (2017) is a great media player and a strong tablet choice if you're not planning to use it heavily for productivity.

It starts at just AED 1,364 which is fantastic value for what you get. It's not the cheapest tablet on the market, but Apple has the best tablet software experience, bar none.

Read the full iPad (2017) review

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2. iPad Pro 10.5 (2017)

The entry-level Pro gets a screen boost

Specifications
Weight: 469g
Dimensions: 250.6 x 174.1 x 6.1 mm
OS: iOS 10
Screen size: 10.5-inch
Resolution: 1668 x 2224 pixels
CPU: A10X Fusion
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 64GB/256GB/512GB
microSD slot: No
Battery: 8,134mAh
Rear camera: 12MP
Front camera: 7MP
Reasons to buy
+Great speakers+512GB version
Reasons to avoid
-Screen adds a lot of expense-iOS still isn't a good laptop replacement

It's a tough decision over whether the new iPad Pro is the best iPad, or the more recent (and more basic) iPad - but the new Pro is in second solely on its higher price that starts at AED 2,624.

If you can see past that, or you really need a tablet that can truly keep up with any app you want to throw at it while using a dedicated Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard, this should be the device you look at.

The new ProMotion screen adds an impressive layer of fluidity to daily use - if not strictly necessary - and the smaller bezels means you're getting far more display in a footprint not much bigger than 2016's 9.7.

It's an iPad for the professionals - but also one that media munchers will adore using.

Read the full review: iPad Pro 10.5

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3. iPad Pro 12.9 (2017)

The best really big iPad you can buy

Specifications
Weight: 677g
Dimensions: 305.7 x 220.6 x 6.9 mm
OS: iOS 11
Screen size: 12.9-inch
Resolution: 2048 x 2732 pixels
CPU: A10X Fusion
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 64GB/256GB/512GB
microSD slot: No
Battery: 10,875mAh
Rear camera: 12MP
Front camera: 7MP
Reasons to buy
+Great, large tablet screen+Tremendous power
Reasons to avoid
-Too expensive as a laptop replacement for some

We really like the iPad Pro for its size and it's the closest thing we have to a 2-in-1 touchscreen MacBook. It just happens to run iOS 11 instead of macOS. 

It's the best productivity and entertainment tablet around thanks to its large 12.9-inch screen, four speakers and iOS 11 dock and multitasking interface.

It's biggest weaknesses? The iPad Pro 12.9-inch price that starts at AED 3,149, and the size isn't a good fit for everyone. But If you can afford it and want the largest-sized iPad available, you're going to love this – it's a laptop-replacement for a lot people out there.

Read the hands on review: iPad Pro 12.9 (2017)

iPad mini 4

5. iPad Mini 4

The latest 7-inch iPad is a big step up from the previous version

Specifications
Weight: 299g
Dimensions: 203.2 x 134.8 x 6.1mm
OS: iOS 10
Screen size: 7.9-inch
Resolution: 1536 x 2048 pixels
CPU: A8
RAM: 2GB
Storage: 16/32/64/128GB
microSD slot: No
Battery: 5124mAh
Rear camera: 8MP
Front camera: 1.2MP
Reasons to buy
+Great screen+Sleek design
Reasons to avoid
-Dated chipset-No 3D Touch

Big screens aren't for everyone, and that's where the 7.9-inch iPad Mini 4 comes in. The screen size means it's far more portable than Apple's larger tablets, especially as it's light at 299g. It's not quite small enough that you can use it one handed, but you can comfortably hold it for a lot longer than most of Apple's slates, or throw it in a bag and forget about it.

It's also big enough to enjoyably browse the net or watch videos on when you're away from home and bigger screens, but it's obviously not quite as strong an experience for most visual media as Apple's larger 9.7, 10.5 and 12.9-inch slates.

The small size and lack of Smart Connector also makes it worse for productivity than the iPad Pro range, but this isn't designed as a laptop replacement.

It's still fairly powerful thanks to 2GB of RAM and the aging but still impressive Apple A8 chip, while the screen is sharp, rich and easy to see even in bright sunlight.

The iPad Mini 4 is starts at AED 1,679 which is more than the full-sized iPad so it's really only targeted towards someone who really wants a smaller iPad. 

Read the full iPad Mini 4 review

Abbas Jaffar Ali

Abbas has been living and breathing technology before phones became smart or clouds started storing data. He also has commitment issues towards mobile phones.

Driven by tech and passion, he has successfully negotiated into bringing the largest gaming and tech publications to the Middle East that include IGN, CNET and TechRadar.