Which Is The Best iPad To Buy, Amidst The Confusing iPad Line-up?

When you’re looking for the best iPad to buy, the answer seems pretty easy. In the past decade of iPad’s consumer service, Apple has several products to splurge money on, and among them are iPad models, which allows hundreds of functions, including internet connectivity, games, music, GPS, and social networking. The latest generation of iPads have been revamped to run on a new iPad OS and have been given capabilities to help creators such as designers, writers, and videographers better operational experience. Despite such extravagant diversity and functional abilities, the new iPad tablet computers have created severe confusion among buyers as to which is the best iPad to buy.

Which Is The Latest iPad to Buy?


Earlier, Apple used to unveil one iPad per year, which mostly served as a little upgrade to the predecessor. Later, iPads were bifurcated into segments, namely, iPad, iPad Air, and iPad Mini. Later on, iPad Pro was launched as well. But in a little more than a year, Apple has launched four mainstream iPad models. All of them are currently available for purchase and share slightly similar design attributes and features.

So, when you ask yourself which latest iPad I should buy, you don’t have an answer. These four models are again coming in different screen size variants, and that adds up to the confusion. Since Apple launches a new phone and a laptop every event, one may think, why focus this concern on the iPad? Well because you know the difference between an iPhone 8 and iPhone X, but you can hardly differentiate an iPad.

Why is the iPad Line-Up Confusing?

The simple reason why iPad line-up confuses buyers is that no one realizes which iPad is to buy. The iPhones are always labeled properly by number sequences. For example, iPhone 5 was followed by iPhone 5s, which was then followed by iPhone 6 and so on. On the other hand, iPads are not. Go online to buy an iPad Pro, you won’t be able to differentiate whether this is the latest one or the previous one. 

Let’s make it easier for you to understand. Here’s the iPad line-up that’s currently available in the market and is in-production at Apple:


Released With

Release Date

Current Supported OS

iPad Pro 3 (11″/12.9″) iOS 12 October 30, 2018 iPadOS 13
iPad Air  (3rd Generation) iOS 12 March 18, 2019 iPadOS 13
iPad Mini (5th Generation) iOS 12 March 18, 2019 iPadOS 13
iPad  iPadOS 13 September 25, 2019 iPadOS 13

The other iPad models currently available for sale, but are no longer in production are: 


Released With

Release Date

Current Supported OS
iPad Air 2 iOS 8.1 October 22, 2014 iPadOS 13
iPad Mini 4 iOS 9.0 September 9, 2015 iPadOS 13
iPad Pro (12.9”) iOS 9.1 November 11, 2015 iPadOS 13
iPad Pro (9.7”) iOS 9.3 March 31, 2016 iPadOS 13
iPad  iOS 10.2.1 March 24, 2017 iPadOS 13
iPad Pro (10.5”/12.9”) iOS 10.3.2 June 13, 2017 latest iPadOS
iPad  iOS 11.2.6 March 27, 2018 latest iPadOS

Now as you may see, all of them are iPad Pros, iPad Air, and iPad Mini. The new 2019 iPad Air is actually called iPad Air (3rd Generation) instead of being simply called iPad Air 3. Similarly, the new iPad Mini is labeled as iPad Mini (5th Generation) instead of being called iPad Mini 5. The labeling for iPad Pros and iPads are far worse. They are branded with the same title every year with just a new generation number in brackets. 

So, when you go online on e-commerce sites to search for the best iPad to buy, you will be confused as to which iPad you must choose. Check out this screenshot below from Amazon’s search on “iPad”:

There is no proper mention as to which generation these belong to. There is no remark whether the iPad Pro is of 3rd Generation or the 1st. How can someone not familiar with these models buy the best iPad? There are several people who are willing to get one but are not aware of this confusing 1st Generation-5th Generation Dilemma. Why can’t a simple number be added to the suffix as Apple does with the phones? 

To help everyone out there, we’ve found one little hack that can help you verify whether the product you’re looking to buy is a fresh piece or not. When you are planning to buy the best iPad from Amazon, scroll down to the Technical Details section to find Release Date of that iPad. Take a look at the screenshot below:

Now the above charts on this blog have a Release Date column for all the currently available iPads from the lineup. Match the date on Amazon with that on the chart. A small variation of around ten days would make no difference as products show up on e-commerce sites a little late after the market launch.

In this scenario, the date of release is October 30, 2018, while the one mentioned in Amazon is November 7, 2018, thus making this one the latest iPad Pro you can buy.

You can similarly cross-verify the year of release if you wish to purchase an iPad from Best Buy. The year of release on Best Buy is under the Specifications section:

This is the best way to help yourself with this confusion as it is highly unlikely that Apple would ever do something about it. The reason for that is that Apple wants people to use the official site to make the purchase; however, it’s sites like Best Buy which would offer you best deals. So, do not let the best deals go if you want to buy an iPad and cross-verify the dates of release before you pay for it.

Apple’s “Diversifying” iPad Lineup Adds Up to the Confusion

Image Source: Apple

There is one more reason that Apple’s iPad lineup has caused such confusion and usually leaves users at a cliffhanger if they wish to buy one. And that is the multiple iPad models serving the same purpose. They aren’t very different in features but are just different in sizes. Let’s break that one down a bit!

When Apple launches a new iPhone or a MacBook, there is a dedicated market segment for each of its models. iPhone models vary heavily in terms of design, features, camera settings, and they also show improvements in their operating system. The same goes for the MacBook line as well. But it is arguable to say the same for iPads.

iPad is a tablet. It’s not a computer, and it’s not a phone. Since iPhones have got almost all the features as an iPad, people tend to deviate themselves towards the phone. Probably the self-competition was the reason Apple later added cellular connectivity to iPads so that people don’t discard them over their lack of calling features.

Moreover, iPads are further divided into types – Air, Pro, Mini; all of whom are different in sizes and bear only a few dissimilarities. This diversification has further added to the confusion and has caused a nuisance among consumers.

Despite so many iPad models, Apple has gotten nowhere in establishing a unique approach towards the iPad line.

How Apple iPads are All the Same?

Consider the iPad Pro- Generation 3rd. There are two models, the one with an 11-inch display and the other one with a 12.9-inch display. There is NO other difference between these two models. From Camera and Hardware to Display and Video Recording features, everything is the same. Take a look at the chart below. You can see that for yourself.

ipad pro Comparison
Image Source: Apple

Similarly, if you compare the new iPad Mini- Generation 5th and iPad Air- Generation 3rd, you would be noticing major similarities. They have the same storage capacity, same display technology, same hardware, and the same Apple Pencil compatibility.

iPad air vs iPad mini

So, what to gather from this? Is Apple launching old models under the false pretense of newness and innovation?  And then there is iPad- Generation 7th, which has got similar features and lower storage capacity and the same dimensions as that of iPad Air- Generation 3rd.

So Why Make Products If They Are Not Selling? 

Well, that’s the point. Even though tablets, in general, are becoming less popular and sales are declining, Apple can still have it all its way. The declining sales in tablet lines are being faced by almost every brand except Apple. In fact, Apple has the biggest market share when it comes to tablets. It’s still way ahead in terms of sales and capitalization against competitors such as Lenovo, Samsung, and Huawei.

Tablets Market Share
Image Source: Satista

As per reports found on Statista, Apple had a 31.4% share in the global tablet market as of Q3 2019, which is double the next vendor in line, i.e., Samsung. Until Microsoft comes up with the Surface Neo, there is hardly any major competitor in the market against Apple as of yet.

So, in a nutshell, we can say that Apple is making bad tablets, but it is doing a comparatively better job. Apple’s innovation days are long gone. Everybody has noted that and in more than one range of its products. And just because iPad sells, it doesn’t mean Apple has to throw facades at consumers. Yes, indeed, what Apple sells is indeed of premium quality; but, that tends to fade away when it becomes repetitive.

Which Is The Best iPad to Buy in 2020?

This brings us to the topic in question. If one thinks Apple iPad can help him/her curate art or assist in a personal or professional environment, which is the best buy iPad among all? As we discussed, Apple has four different iPad variants currently in production. Among them, the iPad Pro- Generation 3rd is available in two sizes, so that sums it up to a total of five models. Now, every one of them has almost similar features, but still, we have figured out a way to divide them as per their best usage. The variance in display size is enough to help figure out the best buy among the iPads.

Here’s the answer to which iPad one should buy, arranged in the line from best to the least good:

1. iPad Pro – The Ultimate iPad

ipad pro 12.9

It seems iPad Pro may be the best iPad to buy from the confusing line-up. I mean it has got all the best features and it’s compatible with the top Apple peripherals. It bears a full-touch, 12” display with support from the latest iPad OS 13 operating system. It’s just slightly smaller in size than a small laptop .

Besides that, iPad Pro supports the Smart Keyboard, which can be magnetically attached to the Pad, thus helping you convert it into a miniature laptop. Compatibility with the Apple Pencil 2 makes it a perfect choice for digital artists. But these features come expensive as the 12.9” iPad Pro is priced at $1699, which is more than that of Microsoft Surface Pro X and many other good laptops.  Hence, it may offer a profound user experience, it’s not worth the laptop money.

Features: –

– Storage: upto 1TB. Carries A12 Bionic Chip with an M12 Coprocessor.

– Supports Face ID on a Fully Laminated Display.

– Charging via USB-C Connector and offers upto 10 hours of backup.

12 MP Camera, which supports 4K Recording.

– Price Range: $799-$1699.

2. iPad Air 3 – The One For Everyday User

iPad air 3
Image Source: iMore

iPad Air 3 is the best iPad to buy if you’re looking for a daily use iPad that you’ll carry around to curb your music needs, your entertainment, and your Facebook addiction as well. And that is what tablets are meant for. You can’t have a tablet being used as a laptop.

And that’s why you must go for a tablet if you want one, which can offer you better user experience than a mobile phone and can be a companion to your cellphone and the laptop. With a fair 10.2-inch screen, high portability (thanks to the extremely lightweight design), and descent storage capacity of upto 256 GB, iPad Air 3 is the best iPad to buy right now.


Upto 256 GB Storage Capacity; Carries A12 Bionic Chip with an M12  Coprocessor.

Touch ID with Fingerprint-resistant Oleophobic Coating.

8MP Camera, which supports 1080p HD recording; 7MP Front Camera with Auto HDR.

– Offers upto 10 hours of battery backup, charged via a USB power adapter.

– Price Range: $499-$779.

3. iPad Mini 5 – Your To-Go Companion

Image Source: Digital Trends

Best iPad to buy for travelers and to-go users, iPad Mini is the best tablet device available in that size. The best part is that despite the iPad Mini is the lower variant, Apple hasn’t compromised with the hardware, but the camera capabilities are lowered.

Plus, it has got a similar camera and display features as that of iPad Air 3, except the size, which is 7.9” in this case. This difference makes it a bit difficult to use with a compatible Bluetooth keyboard, but the Apple Pencil works perfectly fine with it.


Upto 256 GB Storage Capacity; Carries A12 Bionic Chip with an M12  Coprocessor.

8MP Camera but no HD Recording; 7MP Front Camera with Auto HDR.

– Offers upto 10 hours of battery backup; charged via a USB power adapter.

Touch ID with Fingerprint-resistant Oleophobic Coating.

– Price Range: $399-$699.

4. iPad 7 – The One That’s Overshadowed

Image Source: iMore

The iPad 7 powered by the new iPadOS 13, has a lot of new things to offer. It gets you new camera settings and the famous dark mode. It has the A10 Fusion-forth Chip, and the storage capacity is at max, 128GB. Besides these compromises, the other features such as the camera features and compatibility with Apple Pencil and Smart keyboard is as same as the other iPad models. The best part about the iPad 7 that it comes comparatively cheaper. So, if you’re looking for a device for some internet surfing and music/video streaming, and that too in a budget, only then, iPad is a choice. But I’d suggest paying a bit more and go for the Air 3.


Upto 128 GB Storage Capacity; Carries A10 Fusion-forth Chip with an M12  Coprocessor.

8MP Camera but no HD Recording; 7MP Front Camera with Auto HDR.

– Offers upto 10 hours of battery backup; charged via a USB power adapter.

Touch ID with Fingerprint-resistant Oleophobic Coating.

– Price Range: $329-$559

The Winner

If you really want to buy an iPad, then I’ll say go for the iPad Air 3. The reason is simple. An iPad is meant to be a companion device to your phones and computers. An iPad tablet will help you perfectly sync your web-related activities. You can not only work on it, but can entertain yourself through streaming services, manage social media handles, and check your emails or surf through the web. 

iPad Air 3 is portable, it’s light, and it offers the right amount of storage capacity. You don’t need a 12.9” iPad Pro when you can buy a laptop at that price. And mark my words, iPads, no matter what they offer, can’t replace a laptop. So, it’s better to go with the lighter, smaller, and cheaper iPad Air 3 and get all your work and entertainment done, even when you’re on the go.

It is also recommended to not purchase any of the older iPads as Apple may end support for them since they are no longer manufactured. Always choose an item from the ones which Apple is still investing in. Hopefully, that’ll lessen up the confusion on selecting iPads. Though the features are good, do not mistake any of these iPad best buys as a replacement to your laptop. A laptop running on Windows, macOS, or Linux is still no match for a primarily mobile operating system. And since Apple has stopped making major changes in the iPad line, one may also consider spending that money on some other device.

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