Dude, which is my iPad? The Great iPad Buying Guide

Choosing an iPad model which is ideal for you isn't easy. Read our comprehensive buying guide

Purchasing an iPad a decade ago was a simple task. You just had to stroll to your nearest retailer and pick a storage (how many GBs) and connectivity option (only Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi and 3G). All new Apple iPads were literally the same in all other regards – display, size, processor, battery life, the works. Fast forward to late 2022, and things are more complex. If variety is the spice of life, then the iPad lineup may as well be a spice market. Gigs of storage and 3G connectivity are no longer the only distinguishing points in the current iPad range. You have a number of display sizes, display types, processors, cameras on the front and back, security mechanisms (face or touch), accessory support, price points and a whole lot more. There are enough spec and features permutations and combinations in the iPadland to confuse anyone who wants to try the tablet life, Apple style. Add the generation numbers (there are two sixth generations, one fifth generation, one fourth generation, one ninth and one tenth generation), and an iPad purchase decision is as much a maze as the tablet is amazing.

Which is why we have come out with an iPad buying guide to help you navigate your way through iPad waters. So if you are thinking of purchasing an iPad but are wondering which one to go for, here is a basic primer on all the iPads out there.

iPad (9th-generation) – the basic beauty

Rs 33,900 onwards

If you are looking to buy a tablet and one that does not burn a hole in your pocket, then the 9th-gen iPad might just be the tablet that you are looking for. Yes, it is a year old but it still would match the performance level of most Android tablets in the market, if not beat them easily. It runs on Apple’s A13 Bionic chipset, which powered the iPhone 11 series smartphone. The processor is a very capable one in the smartphone/ tablet world, considering it can defeat the Qualcomm Snapdragon 870. This means the 9th-gen iPad might be basic but it can handle your everyday tasks and some heavy-duty workload without too much trouble. Yes, it might get hiccups while editing heavy videos or playing high-end games but if you are looking to do everyday chores on an iPad, the basic 9th gen iPad will sail through your chore sea smoothly.

It comes with a big 10.2-inch Retina True Tone display which is pretty good for both viewing and creating. The big bezels around it might be old school and deemed “ugly” by thin bezels standards but they do give you a good grip. The traditional design also offers the OG circular home button as a fingerprint scanner which in our opinion feels more natural than the one that now comes on top of the newer iPads. You get a 3.5mm audio jack on this iPad as well which means you can plug your wired earphones into this iPad. It might be old but still matches the newer iPads when it comes to battery life. The 9th-gen iPad offers 10 hours of battery life which is very good for a tablet and to top this you can use the first-gen Apple Pencil with this iPad without having to invest in that ridiculous Type C to Lightning dongle. You can simply just plug it into your iPad and charge it.

Yes, the bezels might be big, the display might be small, the colour options may be dull and the updates might not come for as long as compared to the other iPads but this one has a huge edge when it comes to iPads – it is the most affordable of them all. And if budget is an issue, then this is the iPad for you.

Perfect for: Those who want a good tablet experience at the lowest possible price.

iPad (10th-generation) – the Air-y new kid

Rs 44,900 onwards

If the 9th-gen base iPad is too basic for you then Apple has got you covered. In its recent launch, Apple updated its series of iPads and while there were the Pros in this update as well, it was the base iPad that made the biggest headlines. This was because the 10th-gen iPad got perhaps the biggest design makeover in recent iPad history. New bright colours, thin bezels, straight sides, big display, better processor, fingerprint scanner on top… you name it and the new base iPad brought it. The design overhaul made the 10th-gen iPad well and truly stand out of the base iPad league and gave it new Air beneath its design wings (pun intended). But apart from the new, jazz looks, the 10th gen base iPad also got a substantial innard makeover.

It brings the biggest display seen on a base iPad, all of 10.9 inches to the table, a Liquid Retina True Tone display that reproduces colours beautifully. It is also a step ahead of its predecessor in terms of processors and is powered by Apple’s A14 Bionic chip which powered the iPhone 12 series, making it more efficient in handling both everyday and heavy-duty tasks. The cameras on the new iPad are better as well. It brings a 12-megapixel camera on both front and back and Apple has also changed its front camera’s position to landscape – a first in any iPad (even the Pros). The TouchID has moved to the top and there is a Type C port instead of Lightning, making the new iPad more versatile in terms of connectivity. It has a 5G-friendly variant and comes with support for Magic Keyboard Folio which may be more expensive but has a proper trackpad. Apple has removed the 3.5mm audio jack which means you would have to buy dongles to plug in your wired earphones and because it comes with support for 1st gen Apple Pencil, you would have to buy the rather odd Type C to Lightning port dongle to charge it. Battery life remains good 10 hours which is impressive considering the bigger display that the new iPad comes with.
However, all that makeover will cost you some serious buckage. This is the biggest price bump that a new base iPad has ever seen but those who want a more modern-looking, slightly more powerful device would probably not mind spending the extra cash for it.

Perfect for: Those who want a larger display and a colourful iPad, and are willing to pay for it.

iPad Mini (6th-generation) – the tiny tot

Rs 44,900 onwards

Need an iPad that can slip into an overcoat’s pocket easily? One that is portable and powerful? Well, then the iPad mini is the iPad you should get your hands on. Powered by Apple’s A15 Bionic chipset, the iPad mini is the most powerful iPad you can buy under Rs. 50,000. The A15 Bionic is the same processor that powered the iPhone 13 lineup and a variant of the same now powers the new iPhone 14 and the iPhone Plus. This means the iPad mini will not only boss the casual chores with ease but will also get you through most of your high-end tasks without any major troubles. An absolute delight for gamers.

iPad mini

As the name suggests, it is a mini iPad which means it comes with a smaller display of 8.3 inches but it has the highest pixel density seen on an iPad – 326 ppi, making the content on that relatively smaller display an absolute treat to view and create. It also has 12-megapixel sensors on the back and front, comes with Type C connectivity and 5G support. While there is no Apple keyboard cover support with the iPad mini, it comes with support for the 2nd-gen Apple Pencil which has a dedicated charging space on the side of the iPad mini – yes, the magnetic strip as seen on the Air and Pro versions. This is the perfect tablet for those that are always on the move and love creating and consuming content while on the move. It may be mini but it is portable and powerful.

Perfect for: The single-handed tablet users out there and great for anyone who wants a tablet that they can use on the move.

iPad Air (5th-generation) – The Middle Ground between the Pros and Non-Pros

Rs 59,900 onwards

Looking for a powerful iPad that does not cost nearly a lakh or over? The iPad Air is the bridge that fills the gap between power and affordability. Power on the iPad Air takes a massive leap thanks to its very powerful M1 chipset, which can glide and fly through your daily as well as your heavy-duty chores without skipping a beat. It also enables the iPad Air to do heavy-duty editing, handle high-end games and get through hefty assignments seemingly effortlessly. It has a 10.9-inch Liquid Retina True Tone display which can be the perfect canvas not just for your creativity sessions but also for binge-watching one’s favourite show.

budget iPad

The more modern design of slim bezels, big display, and straight sides paired with poppy colours give it a distinct look-edge as well as an edge-y look! You get 5G support, Type C connectivity and two 12-megapixel sensors (one on the back and the other on the front) on this one as well as with the iPad Air. It comes with support for both Smart Keyboard and Magic Keyboard Folio along with Apple Pencil 2, with the option to charge the stylus on its magnetic side. The powerful processor paired with 10-hour battery life and big display make it capable of replacing a proper notebook and the fact that it will not leave us with a Pro-sized depression in our bank balance (it is often available for prices in the vicinity of Rs 52,000 during shopping festivals) makes the iPad Air perhaps our favourite iPad of the current line-up.

Perfect for: Those who want a power-packed tablet but do not have the budget to go Pro.

iPad Pro 11 inch (4th-generation) – The power-packed Pro

Rs 81,900 onwards

Up until this point, the iPads are just tablets. Capable? Yes. Powerful? Yes. But still tablets. The Pro zone is where the iPads go from being just tablets to being tablets that can even give notebooks a run for their money and this zone starts with the 4th-gen iPad Pro 11-inch model.

Running the 4th-gen iPad Pro show is the extremely powerful Apple’s M2 chipset. To give you some context, this is the same processor which powers the MacBook Air 2022 and the 13-inch MacBook Pro 2022. This means that no matter what you throw the 4th-gen iPad Pro’s way, it will not only overcome that hurdle with ease but will probably crush it to bits in the process too. It brings an 11-inch Liquid Retina True Tone display with Apple’s ProMotion technology. This means you get a high refresh rate of 120Hz on the 4th-gen iPad Pro as compared to the normal 60 hz refresh rate. And a high refresh rate on that big a screen does make a difference. You get dual cameras at the back– a 12-megapixel wide and 10-megapixel ultrawide, taking its photography and videography capabilities up a notch and there is a 12-megapixel front-facing sensor as well. We do not expect many to use it as their primary camera device, considering the form factor, but it can take stunning shots and videos when you put it to that use. There is 5G support and Type C connectivity with Thunderbolt, and support for Apple Pencil 2nd-generation as well. The modern design with thin bezels and straight side also comes in this iPad and you get FaceID with it. There is support for Smart and Magic Keyboard Folio which means you can just attach these keyboards and turn this into a full-fledged notebook, and such is the power in this tablet that you are unlikely to miss your notebook either. And because it comes with the M2 processor, you also get the much-hyped Apple Pencil 2 Hover feature on it. If crazy power is what your heart desires with a relatively manageable form factor then the 4th-gen iPad Pro is the one for you.

Perfect for: Those who want a super powerful, notebook-level tablet but in a relatively manageable form factor.

iPad Pro 12.9 inch (6th-generation) – The Big Boss

Rs 1,12,900 onwards

Now we get to the biggest, the baddest iPad of all, the big boss of iPads – the 6th-generation iPad Pro 12.9 inch. If you wish to go all out and are looking for a studio-level tablet that can not only replace your notebook but also help you do all that a notebook cannot then the 6th-generation iPad Pro 12.9 inch is the only iPad you can get. Yes, it costs over a lakh Rupees but the device actually comes with a level of power and features that make it worth all that money. It has a beautiful 12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR True Tone display with ProMotion technology which lets you zoom into the tiniest details of your content and creation without making it look noisy. It is the only iPad with mini LEDs and the iPad that has peak brightness of a whopping 1600 nits – to give you a slight context, the base iPad is 500 nits. The fast 120Hz refresh rate makes scrolling and moving on the 6th-gen iPad Pro a delight. It comes with terrific colour handling abilities which means the 6th-generation iPad Pro will be as much home in a studio as it will be in a cafe.

Much like the 11-inch iPad Pro, this is also powered by Apple’s M2 chip and will basically get through chores of all intensity like a hot knife through butter. It also has dual cameras on the back of 12 and 10 megapixels and a 12-megapixel sensor on the front. There is 5G, Type C connectivity with Thunderbolt support, Apple Pencil 2 compatibility (we think it was made for it), and support for Smart and Keyboard Folio.
Yes, the size of the 6th gen iPad Pro makes it slightly less portable and let’s face it, it is very expensive as well but if you are someone who needs a huge colour-accurate display backed by a powerful chip that enables it to double up as a notebook, the 6th-generation iPad Pro is the iPad for you.

Perfect for: The content-creating, productivity-driven crowd that wants a massive, colour-accurate display!