When you’re a student, one of the most important and useful devices you can equip yourself with is an iPad. Get one of those in your arsenal, and you have a device that’s more portable than the slimmest laptop, as powerful as the most impressive ultrabooks, and more convenient than a notebook and pencil. An iPad, together with a keyboard cover, is one of the ultimate student productivity tools.
When it all boils down, however, it can be hard to choose the best iPad for you. You’ll have millions of questions, but most of them will come down to things like What model do I want? How big should my screen be? Do I need a wifi or cellular model? What on earth is a Smart Connector? Don’t worry – there is an iPad for every student, and we’ve outlined the best for everyone and then narrowed it down to more specific requirements.
Our new pick for the best iPad for students is the brand-spanking new iPad (2022). That new redesign has brought the classic iPad into the space-year 2022 with a slick new design that’s more like its bigger, more expensive cousin, the iPad Air, as well as some cool new features that make it a solid tablet option for a student on the go. The biggest thing for us here is the price-to-performance ratio – Its A14 Bionic chip, the same as you’ll find in the iPhone 12, is plenty beefy enough for anything a student could throw at it, whilst it costs around $150 less than the iPad air.
It’s also well worth a look at the older 9th gen iPad 10.2-inch. It’s not got all the same bells and whistles as the bigger and newer 10th gen, but its low price is a big boon. It’s got everything you really need in a tablet, like a large display, support for first-generation Apple Pencil, and it’ll work with loads of keyboards and other accessories. It does all this at a relatively low cost, which is great news for students on a budget. Again, there is an iPad for everyone – read on to find out the rest of our picks. These are the best iPads for students.
The best iPad for students
This is the latest new iPad model, and our review makes it clear how much we love this colorful tablet. We also reckon that it’s going to be the best iPad for students, with all the features you could ever need for a great price. For $150 less than the iPad Air, the only thing you’re really going to miss out on is the M1 chip and perhaps second-generation Apple pencil support. For $449, however, you’re going to get everything you want out of an iPad, wanting for nothing.
The screen is a 10.9-inch Liquid Retina piece with a healthy 2360×1640 resolution. It’ll make pretty much everything you do with it look great, and is fantastic for reading digital texts for school, taking notes during class, and, in the post-lockdown era, watching prerecorded lectures. It features a true tone, too, making everything look warm and rich, and there’s a nice oleophobic coating over the top to stop fingerprints from making the surface of the screen an oily mess.
On the inside, there’s now the A14 Bionic – which may not be the M1, but is plenty powerful enough for pretty much everything a student could be doing. There’s a new Magic keyboard accessory, and you can hook up an Apple Pencil first-generation to take those handwritten notes. It charges over USB-C now, which also means you can hook in dongles to get more ports and even plug in external drives. Helpfully, the front camera has been shifted to the side of the device to make those weekly facetime calls in landscape mode a lot easier.
There have been some cost-cutting measures here – there’s no lamination to the screen, so it can sound a little hollow when you’re tapping around, and there’s only Touch ID instead of Face ID. No matter what, you’re getting an experience close to the iPad Air for a lot less money.
It’s undeniable that the iPad Air 5 is one of the best iPads of all time. It brought a new design to the line, with its bezel-less, edge-to-edge display and the M1 chip to a lower price point. It was also, for a while, the best iPad for students. Now, it has been dethroned by the new iPad 2022, but that doesn’t mean that it’s still not a great option for students who might need a little extra from their tablet.
The 2360×1640 display is very similar to the display on the new iPad 10th-gen, with great color reproduction and stellar display angles. It is glossy, so it will suffer in direct sunlight, but it is still great for work, research, and relaxation. It also features P3 and True Tone, so everything will look vibrant and colorful, while the oleophobic coating negates finger smudges.
The biggest thing is going to be that M1 chip. It’s the same as you’ll find in the far more expensive (and now outdated) iPad Pro, and it’ll power everything more than you could ever need in a student tablet. That will mean that with the latest version of iPadOS, you’ll be able to make use of stage manager, making the iPad a little more laptop-like. You’ll also be able to use Apple Pencil 2, as well as the associated Magic Keyboard accessory that you can get separately. Opt for the 5G model, and you’ll be able to use the internet on the go – but you’ll also have to pay a fairly hefty premium.
The main differences between the Air and the new Pro are the lack of ProMotion on the display, no Face ID, and a less impressive rear camera setup. The new iPad Pros also feature M2, which is a fair bit more impressive compared to the M1 chip. These are by no means completely necessary for students, and you’ll still be getting more power than the standard iPad 2022, so it’s great for students who need something a little beefier.
If the rest of the iPad line is a little too big for you, then you should take a look at the iPad Mini 6. It looks an awful lot like a smaller iPad Air and shares a good few similarities and features with the new iPad 10th gen. If you need an iPad that will fit easily in any bag, then this is the one for you.
The iPad Mini features an 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display with a body that looks like a smaller version of the iPad Air or, more recently, the iPad 10th generation. There’s no home button, instead relying on the touch screen for home screen navigation. This also means no Touch ID on the front – but worry not, for Apple has simply shifted it to the top edge on the power/lock button. There’s also a USB-C charging port on the bottom, so if you’ve got a MacBook or your phone charges through USB-C, then you’ll never have to worry about not having a cable. The data speeds offered by that port aren’t quite as speedy as those on the iPad Air, but they’ll be plenty speedy enough for most people.
The A15 Bionic in the iPad Mini 6 is a very powerful little chip, capable of some impressive performance. It’s one thing to look at Apple’s claims of ‘40% faster than the last model’ with ‘80% more graphics performance’, but it’s also important to think about what this means for students and their workloads. Whatever happens, the iPad Mini is going to smash through pretty much all but the heaviest workloads, dealing with paper writing, video watching, and even some light photo editing.
Those photos you’ll be editing could well be from the little 12MP rear camera, which is more than capable of taking some fantastic shots. The front camera is also 12MP and has a larger field of view for Center Stage, making those class meetings a little more visually appealing for everyone you’re talking to. There’s also support for Apple Pencil 2, so art students rejoice, and there are some really solid landscape speakers for when you fancy listening to some tunes or watching a spot of Severance.
The biggest issue with the iPad Mini 6 is the price – it now sits just between the iPad 10th-gen and the iPad Air, costing around $499 full price. It is frequently reduced, though, so make sure you check out the best iPad deals to find the best price for you.
On a tighter budget? The 9th-generation iPad is still a solid tablet option for students. That 10.2-inch screen is still excellent for reading notes and textbooks, taking lecture notes, and sketching quick diagrams. There’s support for Apple Pencil 1, and you’ll find a smart connector on the back to connect it up to accessories like Apple’s smart keyboard, helping you be a little more productive.
It may not have the newest hardware inside, but the A13 Bionic chip keeps things buzzing away nicely under the hood, and the two 64GB or 256GB storage options should be plenty for most. For those who aren’t a big fan of the new home screen-less iPads, then this is a great option too – it retains the touch ID home button of old, sat below the screen. The most svelte iPad this is not, however, with its large bezels around the screen. The 12MP camera on the front is Ultra Wide, with support for Center Stage, while the rear camera remains, alas, an 8MP shooter.
If you have money to spare, then you can’t go wrong with the iPad Pro (2022). It’s available in two large sizes, in the form of an 11-inch version and the 12.9-inch option, so you can pick a size that’s good for you. If you want lots and lots of power, then the 11-inch version is the option you want. If it’s a full laptop replacement, then the much larger 12.9-inch is the one you wanna go with. Keep in mind that the iPad Pro 11-inch only has a Liquid Retina display, while the larger 12.9-inch variant has a Liquid Retina XDR display which will be better for HDR and is even more impressively colorful. Either way, you’re going to get a display with ProMotion, which ups the response to 120HZ, smoothening your experience even further.
The iPad Pro (2022) has also got a pretty cool feature up its sleeve – an M2 chip. That chip is super duper impressive in testing, and for students, it’s mostly going to be overkill – unless you’re going to be doing loads and loads of video editing. There are loads of storage options, too, going all the way up to 2TB. For doing normal, everyday college or school work, this is a lot, but it’s also going to last a long time, so you might not have to upgrade quite as much – spending more now may save you some money in the future.
The rear cameras remain the same as from the previous model, with wide and ultrawide options, so you can take photos of all your documents, presentations, and other school work. The camera on the front of the device features Center Stage, so you’ll always be in picture when you’re chatting with coursemates or watching online lectures and remotely joining study groups.
The M2 chip will also let you play with one of the coolest new features of iPadOS 16 – Stage Manager. Stage manager only works on M-chip-equipped iPads, and organizes your apps and windows as tiny screenshots along the left side of the screen, becoming more like a Mac or laptop than ever.
You’re also going to want some of the best iPad Pro accessories to with it, such as the Apple Pencil 2, smart keyboard, or Magic keyboard. The biggest drawback of the iPad Pro (2022) is the price – the iPad Pro (2022) 11-inch starts at $799, and the iPad Pro (2022) 12.9-inch will cost you upwards of $1099 – that’s a lot to ask from any student.
Study better with the best iPad for students
Every single iPad has something for a student, but our pick is the iPad (2022). It’s got almost all of the best features of the line for a great price, such as the new screen and form factor, along with some great colors. It may not be the powerhouse of the iPad Pro or the iPad Air, but you’ll get everything you need.
The new design and edge-to-edge display give you tonnes of room for reading and taking notes, and the storage options give you plenty of room for all your work. Support for Apple Pencil lets you take handwritten notes, and the smart connector will let you hook up a keyboard case. The chip may not be cutting-edge, but it is plenty for almost everyone.
The rest of the range has highlights for students too. Students looking to save some money will do well with the budget-friendly iPad 10.2 (9th gen), and space savers will find plenty to love with the iPad Mini 6. Those who want a little more power will find exactly what they want in the iPad Air, while students who need the most power will be very happy with the iPad Pro. There really is an iPad for everyone. Don’t forget – Black Friday is on the way now, and we are tracking the best Black Friday iPad deals so that we can spot the best deals as they appear on the day.