If you’re considering buying a new tablet, then the first brand that most people tend to look at is Apple. Their iPads have become one of the most popular on the market, second only to the Samsung Galaxy range when it comes to sales wolrdwide.
Apple typically stick to a pretty rigid system with their laptops. They only have two options – the Pro, and the Air. We’ll forget about the Macbook line which was intended to be a compromise of the two, but is now discontinued.
But when it comes to tablets, you have a little more variety. We have the original iPad, the iPad Air, the iPad Mini, and the iPad Pro too. Between them all, things can definitely get a bit confusing. So, we’re going to break things down so you can clearly see the difference and which one may be right for you.
iPad Air vs iPad Pro vs iPad Mini
|iPad Pro||£589.39||11/12.9 inch||128GB-1TB||Check Price at Amazon|
|iPad Air||£539.97||10.9 inch||64-256GB||Check Price at Amazon|
|Apple iPad mini||£539.97||7.9 inch||64-256GB||Check Price at Amazon|
|Standard iPad||£319.97||10.2 inch||32-128GB||Check Price at Amazon|
In short, currently the iPad Pro is the best iPad out of the bunch. But, the iPad Air offers the best value for money, as it’s around 25% cheaper than the Pro, with a better processor too. Though, we’re not sure just how long things will stay this way.
This is likely to change in 2021 as we see the new generation of the iPad Pro released. Then, it’s likely that it’ll be able to compete with the Air in terms of value for money. Although saying this, Apple could increase the cost of the Pro so much that it may be their first tablet that exceeds the £1000 mark.
Pulling up behind both the Air and the Pro are the standard iPad and the iPad Mini – both perfectly good tablets in their own right, though the Mini has been abandoned since its fifth Generation was released a few years ago. Let’s look at the Pro and the Air first and see where the Pro improved on what the Air offers.
Price: £589.39 | Screen Size: 11 inch, 12.9 inch | Storage: 128GB-1TB | Colours: Black, White | ppi: 264 (2048×2732)
With the Microsoft Surface Pro, we’ve seen tablets that are basically laptops become increasingly popular. The iPad Pro was Apple’s response to that when it was first launched in 2015, and it’s fair to say that it’s closer to a laptop than a traditional tablet in terms of power.
There are a few differences between the iPad Pro and the iPad Air. The most noticeable is that you can get the Pro in a 12.9 inch size, which is ideal if you’re looking for something you can use for work as well as entertainment.
The Pro can also be bought with up to 1TB of storage, which may suit those who want to use it for picture or video editing and graphic design. As well as an increased capacity, there are other subtle differences too, like the improved 4 speakers to the Air’s 2.
But if we compare the 11 inch Pro to the 10.9 inch Air, they are very similar. This is in terms of resolution and pixel density, brightness, layout and definitely the cameras, which are pretty much the same. They also have a very similar battery life to each other too.
Something to bear in mind though is that even though the iPad Pro is great, it is definitely expensive. And if you want the matching Magic keyboard to work with your Pro, then it’s going to set you back quite a lot.
The keyboard for the Pro retails at £349, and when you add that to the cost of the device itself, it’s actually more expensive than the base model Macbook Air. So, the reality is that although the Pro is amazing, it’s only going to be suitable for those with a sizeable disposable income.
Price: £539.97 | Screen Size: 10.9 inch | Storage: 64-256GB | Colours: Silver, Grey, Gold, Green, Blue | ppi: 264 (2360×1640)
The iPad Air is the most popular line of Apple’s tablets, and there’s probably a good reason for this. Most users think that out of all the different options, it offers the best compromise of value for money and power as a tablet.
Initially released back in 2013, the iPad Air has come a long since it was first launched. It’s no secret that Apple have spent a ton of time and resources looking to start making their own processors for both their laptops and their tablets too.
The iPad Air is one of the first beneficiaries of that, and you can definitely notice that it’s improved. Their A series of bionic processors is something that sets them apart from the rest of the tablet market. And the new Air comes with the A14 chip, which is stated to offer a 40% CPU performance on the previous processor.
And it does make a large difference in comparison to previous versions. Not only is the processing power increased (which allows it to cope with more intensive programs), but it’s also much improved in terms of graphics too. It’s currently the best iPad in terms of visuals, with a slightly less than 11 inch liquid retina display.
With a few layout changes (like getting rid of the home button and using the power button as a touch option instead), it’s hard to look past the Air when it comes to finding a new tablet.
Oh, and not that it really matters for most people, but the iPad Air is available in five different colours. So if you’re looking for a gift for the kids, then getting them one in their favourite green or pink colour may make the Air the standout choice of the bunch.
Price: £369.97 | Screen Size: 7.9 inch | Storage: 64-256GB | Colours: Silver, grey, gold | ppi: 326 (2048×1536)
In some ways, I actually feel a bit bad for the iPad mini. Whilst Apple has focussed a lot on their other tablets and laptop lines, the iPad mini has been sorely neglected.
When it was first released in 2013, Apple continually launched a new updated generation for the next two years. Then, things got more inconsistent, and there was a four year gap between the 4th and 5th generation of iPad mini, which was released in 2019.
As it stands, the Mini is actually very similar in specifications to the standard iPad and iPad Air. The only big difference is obviously in the size, with the Mini only being 7.9 inches in length from corner to corner.
Though many people prefer to opt for a larger iPad, there are benefits to the Mini and it does have a pretty substantial amount of users that prefer the lightweight design. You can do pretty much everything you can on a larger iPad, but it’s more difficult to use with a stylus – it’s barely 1 inch bigger than some of the newest Samsung Galaxy phones to be released.
That means if you already have an Apple pencil at home, it’ll work with the Mini, but it’s not the most compatible of the bunch. Personally, if I was going to get a Mini, I’d make sure that it had cellular access too, as then you could use it with a SIM card, making it perfectly portable.
One thing I’d love to see from the next generation of Mini is a thinner bezel around its edges. If we could have the same dimensions just with an 8+ inch screen and thinner bezels around the edge of the tablet, I’m pretty sure it’d fly off the shelves.
We’re likely to see a new version of the Mini this year with an A14 bionic chip as opposed to an A12. Though as you can tell from the gap between the last two generations, this isn’t guaranteed. If you want to know more about it, then check out this: iPad mini vs Samsung Galaxy tab.
Price: £319.97 | Screen Size: 10.2 inch | Storage: 32-128GB | Colours: Silver, grey, gold | ppi: 264 (2160×1620)
In comparison to the rest of the tablets featured here, the standard iPad looks pretty boring. And well, in comparison.. it is.
That doesn’t mean that it’s a bad tablet by any means. It has most of the things that the others offer, including a high quality retina display that puts most other tablets to shame.
Apple released their 8th generation of the iPad in 2020, and it has really brought it up to the level of the other iPads released in previous years. Adding in the new Apple processor has helped to make it a viable option you probably shouldn’t ignore.
If you prefer a larger tablet but don’t have the funds to purchase the Pro or the Air, then the standard iPad is still a perfectly fine choice. It’s still one of the better mid-range tablets on the market.
Overall, as you move down the line from the Pro all the way to the standard iPad, it’s pretty clear to see where the differences lay. Although the iPad Pro and Air are excellent, they’re definitely not essential if you’re just looking for a tablet that can do the basics.
If you’re looking for a new tablet and you haven’t owned one before, then you should really get something based on what you can afford. The standard model is still better than most others on the market, and the Mini is ideal for people who want something only slightly bigger than their phone.
But if you do want the best, then the Pro is undoubtedly one of the top models on the market right now. And, the iPad Air isn’t too far behind.