iPad, iPad Pro or iPad Air: which iPad to choose in 2021?

Want an Apple tablet, but don't know which iPad to choose? We explain everything to you so that you can find the best iPad for your needs.

TOP 3 of the best iPads

The best compromise

Apple iPad 8 (2020)

  • An aggressive price
  • Upgrade to Apple A12
  • A good screen
479 € The reference 8/10

Apple iPad Air 2020

  • A new successful design
  • The power of the A14
  • Compatibility with accessories
The test € 669 The most pro 9/10

Apple iPad Pro 12.9 M1

  • The mini LED screen
  • Integration of accessories
  • The power of the Apple M1
The test € 1

Is there really a better iPad? Yes: as always with Apple, it is the most expensive. However, the iPad offering the most muscular data sheet is not necessarily the one that suits you best. No need to spend a minimum wage on an iPad Pro if you just want to read comics or watch Idroid's Twitch channel.

The range of Apple tablets has grown significantly in recent years, to the point of losing a little clarity, we have decided to put it all flat so that you can easily find the slate that will suit your uses.

The iPad mini passes the sixth

As the rumors announced, the keynote of September 15, 2021 was not only devoted to the iPhone 13. The iPad mini in particular had its moment of glory with a sixth generation which adopts a design inspired by the iPad Pro, a slightly larger screen and more efficient components. The “basic” iPad is entitled to a less ambitious update, with an A13 Bionic processor and a more polished photo section.

Note that the shortage of components is starting to affect Apple, starting with the iPad, whose production has been halved in recent months. So don't delay if you are tempted!

You will find an overview of Apple and Android tablets in our dedicated guide.

Apple iPad Air 2020 The benchmark

8 / 10 Product sheet See the Amazon test 669 €
  • A new successful design
  • The power of the A14
  • Compatibility with accessories
Available at 669 € on Amazon

In 2020, the iPad Air enters modernity! After years of refreshing, Apple finally decided to modernize it and make it adopt a design similar to that used on the iPad Pro. The similarities do not end there since we gain in passing the support of Apple Pencil 2 and keyboards.

From an aesthetic point of view, we also appreciate the arrival of colors a little more cheerful.

Source: Idroid - Arnaud GELINEAU

Among the ergonomic developments, we are entitled to a new type of Touch ID, now integrated into the Power key. It is simple and efficient. The screen on its side is still very well made, but we have to be content with a panel of "only" 60 Hz where the iPad Pro goes up to 120 Hz.

If the A14 chip is not as powerful as the M1 of the iPad Pro, its performance remains excellent. Autonomy remains average, with ten hours of use. However, we greatly appreciate the switch to USB-C.

True iPad Pro “light”, the iPad represents for us the best choice to date in the range iPad, or even on the market of the tablets in general. You will find more details in our full review of the iPad Air 2020.

Where to buy the
Apple iPad Air 2020 at the best price?
  • Amazon € 669 Discover the offer
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Apple iPad 8 (2020) The best compromise

Rakuten Marketplace product sheet 479 €
  • An aggressive price
  • Upgrade to Apple A12
  • A good screen
Available at € 479 on Rakuten Marketplace

Under the iPad Air is positioned the iPad "short". It's a tablet stripped of some nice, but secondary, features. For example, the processor is starting to date, the design is slightly less refined, and the screen is a bit smaller.

The iPad is therefore the “essential” tablet which will be ideal for a person wishing a simple slate to use thanks to iOS and using it mainly to consume content, surf the web and stay in touch with loved ones. Clearly, we recommend it to all grandmothers, all grandfathers ... or young and a little less young teenagers.

The switch to the Apple A12 has given it back a welcome punch and allows it to run the vast majority of applications. On the other hand, the basic model is still limited to 32 GB. A capacity that will suffice provided you only do streaming and download only a few applications.

If you have a few euros to add, the 128 GB version remains a more sustainable choice. You can find more details in our test of the iPad (2019), the processor changes, but the rest of the comments are still valid. Its ninth generation has just been announced with, among other things, a more efficient processor. Unless you find it heavily discounted, better to wait for our test.

Where to buy the
Apple iPad 8 (2020) at the best price?
  • Rakuten Marketplace 479 € Discover the offer

Apple iPad Pro 12.9 M1 Most pro

9 / 10 Product sheet See the Amazon test € 1
  • The mini LED screen
  • Integration of accessories
  • The power of the Apple M1
Available at € 1 on Amazon

Despite certain qualities, the iPad Pro 2020 had aged a bit, especially with its two generations of delay on the processor side. Its replacement clearly does not have the same concern, because it adopts the same M1 chip that equips the MacBook Pro M1!

The 11 2021-inch iPad Pro camera module // Source: IDROID

It thus takes back to the iPad Air the crown of performance lost a few months ago. However, not all applications fully exploit the performance of the chip. Adoption should be quick, however. The M1 allows the passage to gain Thunderbolt 3 and USB 4.0 compatibility, which further consolidates its position as a tablet dedicated to productivity, especially with the new (and expensive) Magic Keyboard. Among the big novelties we also note the arrival of 5G, with the added bonus of a “Smart Data Mode” which automatically switches to 4G when the bandwidth needs are low, which saves battery. Autonomy exceeds the promised ten hours a little.

The other big evolution is on the side of the screen. The 12,9-inch model is indeed entitled to a mini LED panel which greatly improves contrast and brightness. We noted a contrast ratio of 1000000: 1 in our testing, which puts it on par with an OLED display. However, there is a fairly marked halo effect. The 11-inch iPad Pro remains confined to a “simple” Liquid Retina screen. The latter is far from ridiculous, with perfect calibration (when TrueTone is disabled) as well as a refresh rate of 120 Hz.

The halo effect is quite present on the mini LED screen of the iPad Pro // Source: IDROID - Anthony WONNER

Other interesting new features include the 12MP ultra-wide-angle front camera. In addition to a better image, it offers a tracking function to always keep you in the frame during video calls.

The iPad Pro therefore reaffirms its position as the most advanced tablet on the market and continues its convergence with Macs. However, we note that the difference between the 11 and 12,9 inch version is now marked. You can read our review of the iPad Pro 11 2021 here. And if you're interested in its big brother: we also have a review of the iPad Pro 12,9 2021.

Where to buy the
Apple iPad Pro 12.9 M1 at the best price?
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  • Cdiscount € 1 Discover the offer
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Apple iPad Pro 11 M1 at the best price?
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Apple iPad mini 6 (2021) The Tom Thumb

8 / 10 Product sheet See the Cdiscount test 729 €
  • A new successful design
  • A larger, quality screen
  • Still so powerful
Available at 729 € on Cdiscount

Along with the “very simple” iPad, the iPad mini was one of the last models in the line to have yet to adopt the brand's new design at the apple. It's now done, with not only a squarer look, but also a larger screen with thinner edges. The jack is a victim of this slimming cure. Goodbye also the button on the front, the Touch ID fingerprint sensor is relegated to the upper edge on the power button.

The iPad mini has been completely redesigned by Apple // Source: IDROID - Anthony WONNER

Once in hand, these changes are comfortable, with a more compact tablet despite its 8,3-inch screen. Another change, the stylus hooks magnetically on the right edge. This addition, coupled with the small size of the tablet, makes the “notepad” use really interesting. Last big change: a move to USB-C that we welcome.

As for the display, we are entitled to an 8,3-inch Liquid Retina panel. Without surprise ; this one is very good, with high brightness, few reflections and perfectly calibrated colors. Under the hood, we are entitled to an A15 Bionic SoC which makes it one of the most powerful models on the market. No surprises in terms of autonomy, Apple is targeting ten hours and that's exactly what we achieved. The supplied 20 W charger will need 1 hour 45 minutes to fill the battery.

With this sixth generation iPad Mini, Apple is giving an aging device a facelift and making it really fun to use. There remains a sharply rising price and a format that will not interest everyone. But as it is, we have here the best compact tablet on the market. Melinda gives you all the details in her review of the Apple iPad mini 2021.

Where to buy the
Apple iPad mini 6 (2021) at the best price?
  • Cdiscount 729 € Discover the offer
  • eBay Marketplace 559 € Discover the offer
  • Rue du Commerce 655 € Discover the offer

Understand everything to choose the right iPad

Can the iPad replace a laptop?

Thanks to the support for keyboards and mice, the iPad - especially for the 12,9-inch Pro version - is getting closer and closer to a computer. It's a reality. However, remember that an iPad runs on iOS, so you will be limited to the applications available on the Apple App Store. With the introduction of the M1 processor, the question of raw power does not arise too much.

For some uses, the iPad (Pro) can therefore effectively replace a computer, but it will cost more and will not be as practical for a good part of the uses.

What accessories are compatible with the iPad

Since the arrival of iOS 13 then 13.4, the iPad is now compatible with all Bluetooth keyboards and mice as well as Trackpads. If you want to get a mouse for the latter, you can check out our guide to the best wireless mice. For the keyboard, the most suitable is undoubtedly the Apple Smart Keyboard and the Magic Keyboard. However, if you already have Bluetooth hardware it should work with your new iPad. You can also invest in an Apple Pencil.

Should I buy an Apple Pencil with my iPad?

The Apple Pencil is a very nice accessory to use with the iPad, whether for annotating documents or drawing. That being said, while the pros will no doubt find a use for it, it will be largely dispensable for the common man.

What is iPadOS?

As of 2019, iPads no longer officially use iOS, but iPadOS. In practice behind this name hides a version of iOS modified to better take into account the peculiarities of tablets. The bulk of the changes are to be found on the interface side.

We are thus entitled to a reworked home screen, more advanced management (but still a little basic) of multitasking. Mice and keyboards (wired or Bluetooth) are also supported, as are USB storage devices (hard disks, USB keys or memory cards, etc.).

Without being revolutionary, iPadOS illustrates the fact that Apple takes seriously the peculiarities of tablets and pays them special attention to make them productivity instruments capable of competing with laptops.

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