What generation are the latest iPads? We break it down

Decided to treat yourself to a new iPad? It’s easy to feel a bit overwhelmed by all of the available models. You might even be confused about which model is the newest. To the untrained eye, they often look nearly identical. Recently, however, there have been some major changes in Apple’s iPad lineup. We break down all the newest devices, explain what generation is the latest iPad, and expand on what makes each one stand apart from the others. To see which one’s for you, see our picks for the best iPad to buy in 2022.

Latest generation for each iPad category

Before we dive in, here’s a quick summary of what generation the latest iPads are in each category.

  • iPad Mini: Sixth generation
  • iPad: Ninth generation
  • iPad Air: Fifth generation
  • iPad Pro: Fifth generation

iPad 10.2-inch (2021)

The iPad 2021 is a pretty great tablet for the budget concious.
Adam Doud/

The new iPad looks pretty similar to the previous two generations, with its 10.2-inch screen and chunky bezels. Storage gets an upgrade to either 64GB or 256GB, and there’s still support for the first-generation Apple Pencilalthough buying one will set you back an extra $99 — as well as Apple’s Magic Keyboard. This iPad ships with iPadOS 15, which adds Quick Notes, floating windows in Mail, Notes, and Messenger, an app shelf, and a new Safari design.

The latest iPad packs an A13 Bionic processor — the same as the iPhone 11 series — though it’s not noticeably faster than its predecessor. The front-facing ultrawide camera has seen a significant upgrade to 12MP, with a 122-degree field of view and auto framing. Battery life is fantastic too, and though Apple promises up to 10 hours of battery life, you can probably use it a couple of hours every day for a week without even needing to contemplate charging. The new iPad is heavier and a bit more unwieldy than the iPad Pro and iPad Air, and it still uses Lightning connectivity, but at just $329 for the 64GB modelit’s still one of the best buys around.

iPad Mini (2021)

iPadOS has a neat quick note feature that opens notes when swiping in from the corner.
Adam Doud/

If you’re a believer that good things come in small packages, the sixth-generation iPad Mini is the tablet for you. Aesthetically, the iPad Mini 6 boasts slimmer bezels than its predecessor and also packs a long-overdue USB-C port. There’s a larger 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display, though the fact it’s an LCD display means you don’t get the same deep blacks as OLED panels.

The new iPad Mini packs Apple’s A15 Bionic processor, the same as the iPhone 13 series, and there’s 64GB or 256GB of onboard storage. Paired with iPadOS 15, everything runs like clockwork and there’s no lack of processing power here for handling the latest apps, games, and everyday tasks.

Battery life is pretty good too, coming in at around a day and a half with average use. It’s also the smallest iPad to offer second-generation Apple Pencil support, and with iPadOS 15, you can use the Scribble handwriting to text feature.

If you’re in the market for a super compact, portable, powerful tablet, the new iPad Mini ticks all the boxes, though there’s been a price bump this generation too, with the 64GB model coming in at $499.

iPad Air 5 (2022)

Someone holding an iPad Air against a wooden floor.

The iPad Air 5 is practically identical to the 4th-generation iPad with its slim bezels and light aluminum body. It packs a 10.9-inch Liquid Retina screen that’s a good middle ground between the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and 8.3-inch iPad Mini. It’s worth noting that there’s no 120Hz refresh rate here, and the brightness is slightly lower than the iPad Pro.

Under the hood, you’ll find Apple’s high-performance M1 processor with 8GB RAM and octa-core graphics. There’s more than enough power here for anything you wish to throw at the new iPad Air, and even using it as a laptop alternative isn’t out of the question, though you’ll probably need to cough up extra for the 256GB model (you won’t get far with 64GB), a Magic Keyboard or similar compatible Bluetooth keyboard, and a second-generation Apple Pencil.

There’s USB-C charging rather than lightning, though battery life is a bit of a letdown and with heavy use, you’ll likely need to reach for your charger by the end of the day. Charging speeds are quite slow too, with the included 20-watt charger taking around two hours and 20 minutes to reach 100%.

If the iPad Pro seems out of the question but you’re not prepared to cut corners with the standard iPad, the iPad Air 5 is a wise choice, and you can pick up the 64GB model for $599 from Apple.

iPad Pro 11-inch and 12.9-inch (2021)

The Apple iPad Pro side view with keyboard case.

We’ve finally made it to Apple’s most powerful iPads to date, and these are strikingly different from the others. With one glance you’ll notice the fifth-generation iPad Pro follows the same design as Apple’s flagship phones, so it’s certainly attractive. Aside from simply being the largest in the iPad lineup, the latest iPad Pro continues the tradition of being a powerhouse all-in-one tablet, bordering on the usability of a laptop. Apple has made sure this comparison is on your mind by offering a Magic Keyboard with a full trackpad.

The newest iPad Pro received a significant upgrade with Apple’s new in-house M1 processor chip, which our tests found to be an improvement when it comes to performance. The model also got a better, smarter camera with Center Stage technology, which can pan and zoom to keep a subject in the center, ideal for voice chats and video conferences. If you’re interested in the larger version, it comes with a significantly upgraded Liquid Retina XDR display for better visuals, too

We want to note; this choice is still the most expensive iPad by far, starting at $749 for the 128GB Wi-Fi 11-inch and skyrocketing to $2,299 for the 2TB (yes, it can really have that much storage) cellular 12.9-inch model. It’s the price customers have to pay for a premium product.

Price aside, this latest iPad Pro is by far the best choice for consumers if what you’re after is the biggest and most powerful tablet on the market. It’s so powerful and so capable, you may even be able to finally leave the laptop at home. Though you may want to hold off until fall when we’re expecting the new iPad Pro with M2 chip …

iPad Pro 11-inch

iPad Pro 12.9-inch

Conclusion

The newest iPads are on display right now on the Apple website’s seasonal roster. That said, you don’t have to buy the latest and greatest product if you don’t want it. Most in-person stores and third-party sellers online still have former iPad models available. iPads have been relevant since they were first introduced a decade ago. It’s up to you to decide which features are most important to you, to determine which table may be best. Our list will hopefully assist you with a helpful, detailed, and practical approach to finding the best tablet you can buy.

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