A Complete History of the iPad (How Many iPad Generations Are There)

Last Updated on January 2, 2023 by Saad and Ernests Embutnieks

ipad history info

The iPad has changed the way we look at tablets as a whole. Still retaining the accolade of being the most popular consumer tablet series to date, its no wonder that tons of successful iPad models have been released over the year.

Today, we take a look at the complete history of the iPad, going from its very humble origins to the changes and design differences that have shaped it to what it is today. We’ll be updating this list constantly to ensure this post remains accurate, forever.

iPad has 10 generations
iPad Mini has 6 generations
iPad Air has 5 generations
iPad Pro has 6 generations

There are a lot of generations of iPads and a lot of models. Let’s check them all.

iPad 1

ipad 1

Release Date: April 3rd, 2010

The tablet that started it all, unveiled by the mighty Steve Jobs in 2010, the iPad was revolutionary for its time. What felt like an oversized iPhone for most quickly dominated its way into the market. The iPad was a quick and easy way to watch videos, photos, and browse the Internet via Safari on a whim.

The first iPad sold over 3 million units in the first three months of its debut, indicating that it was meant for success. Featuring an aluminum build with a 9.7-inch Multitouch display, the addendum of WiFi meant that the iPad was constantly connected to the Internet.

Fun Fact: When the iPad was initially released, it was actually thought of as a gag by most other phone manufacturers until the sales figures rolled in. 

It featured a custom Apple A4 chip which thrashed all other mobile CPUs of its time. Some applications, such as the iPod app (the Music app), weren’t really all that optimized for the larger display. But, it was clear that the iPad 1 was a step in the right direction, and there was a lot of potential.

iPad 2

ipad 2

Release Date: March 2nd, 2011

The iPad 2 was an iterative upgrade that didn’t bring a lot of changes. We had an upgraded processor rocking the Apple A5, slightly better cellular connectivity, the same price, and reduced weight. Primarily, the iPad 2 was much thinner than the original iPad 1, with about 0.18 inches of width shrunken down.

This might not seem like much, but, in retrospect, subsequent thin-downs of the iPad have led us to the compact frame we see today. But let’s get to the main game changer, a VGA front-facing camera. You see, the world of online meetings was clearly taken over by laptops. And the iPad 2 aimed to make a dent in the market.

Moreover, we also got our hands on a gyroscope and accelerometer. So, games that supported relative position and motion benefited from the increase in utility. The screen remains unchanged, a backlit 1024×768 IPS panel, and the price, too, remained unaffected.

Key Differences

  • Dimensions: The iPad 2 is quite a significant bit thinner than the original iPad 1 coming in at 0.34 inches. 
  • Camera: The iPad 2 saw the first front-facing VGA camera on an iPad
  • Motion Sensors: The iPad had both a gyroscope and accelerometer. Not present on the iPad 1. 

iPad 3

ipad 3

Release Date: March 7th, 2012

I feel like the iPad 3 is really where Apple started taking the tablet seriously. It was performing well, and it was clear that Android tablets like the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 were starting to catch up. And Apple really wanted to maintain the lead. The chassis and design of the iPad 2 were fine for 2012 standards. This is why there is no real external difference between the iPad 2 and iPad 3. 

The game, as they say, is all played on the internals of the device. Featuring a much faster dual-core A5x chip that had quad-core graphics instead of the iPad 2’s dual-core graphics. This is indicative of Apple’s future direction of leaning the iPad towards a more gamer-esque audience.

We also see the screen jumping up twice the pixel count to 264 ppi with a resolution of 2048×1536. Now, this was immediately visible. Text felt much sharper, and the overall tablet looked more premium and flush due to the newer IPS panel. We also saw the inclusion of 4G LTE for the first time on the iPad, with Bluetooth 4.0 also coming in as well.

Apple also brought in a 5 MP iSight camera to the back of the iPad while the front-facing camera remained the same. While most didn’t use the rear-facing camera on the iPad 3( and still don’t), it was a welcome change. However, I wish they’d have focused more on the front-facing camera instead.

Key Differences

  • Screen Resolution: PPI was increased from 132 directly to 264
  • 4G LTE: The iPad 3 was the first iPad to include 4G LTE connectivity
  • Back Camera: The rear-facing camera also now was 5 MP iSight instead of the previous 1 MP camera. 

iPad 4

ipad 4

Release Date: November 2nd, 2012

Okay, so the iPad 4 was probably the least significant iPad upgrade before 2015. This is because the iPad 4 was released right alongside the first iPad Mini. So, it was clear that Apple had placed more of its bets on the tinier iPad rather than focusing on the iPad 4.

Firstly, we get a much better front-facing camera coming in at 1.2 MP instead of the previous 0.3 MP VGA camera. Moreover, the processor is racked up to the A6X, with the iPad 4 releasing with iOS 6 right from the get-go.

This was also when the Lightning Jack was released on the iPhone 5. So, we saw the same changes come around to the iPad 4 as well, with the 30-pin connector is finally replaced. 

Key Differences

  • Front Camera: Megapixels were bumped from 0.3 MP to 1.2, now supporting HD (720p)
  • Connectors: The 30-pin connector on the iPad was finally ditched for the more modern and improved Lightning Jack.

iPad Mini

ipad mini

Release Date: November 2nd, 2012

The iPad Mini was coined to have the most reasonable screen size of any tablet. Coming in at a measly 7.9 inches, the iPad Mini felt like it was taking a different direction than the iPad 4, released the same year. 

However, while it was priced at a premium, the iPad Mini did not share the same specifications in terms of display and CPU with the iPad 4 released the same year. In fact, it felt more like a mishmash of all the iPads that came before it.

For instance, it sports a 1024×768 display coming in at 163 ppi which places it neck and neck with the first gen iPad. This is a big turn-off, especially because nearly two generations of iPad now have Retina displays. And, you could’ve gotten those at a used rate instead of purchasing the iPad Mini.

Plus, the CPU was an Apple A5, not the A6X present on the iPad 4, which meant that it was slower too. Remember, this is a time when processor jumps actually meant something. In essence, there was a real-life tangible difference in performance between the two devices.

So, while the iPad Mini first generation did sell well, it did prove a point that the iPad Mini’s size factor was so enticing that many resorted to letting go of many of the cost cutbacks that Apple had implemented and still purchased the Mini anyways.

Therefore, the size factor definitely had its charm amongst consumers whether we liked it or not. However, most reviewers at the time critiqued the iPad Mini for its poor display and the fact that it had a shoppier CPU.

iPad Air 1

ipad air 1

Release Date: November 1st, 2013

The iPad 4 was great. But….it was really heavy. It would be criminal for me to say that it was a one-handed device. This is where the Air came in. Taking cues from the Macbook Air, the iPad Air 1 tried to bring in what made the Air tagline truly special, supreme portability. 

Coming in at 1.034 lbs, it cuts more than half a pound off the iPad 4, which weighed in at 1.44 lbs. Featuring an A7 chip taken from the iPhone 5S with a slightly faster clock speed, we’re met with the same camera arrays present in the iPad 4.

Overall, the tablet was quite significant in terms of its impact on the industry as it created the first true tablet that can be used with one hand while still retaining most of its size. When this iPad was released, it was clear that tablets were going to get much thinner with time. 

In retrospect, the iPad Air 1 feels quite heavy and bulky, especially if you compare it to today’s iPad Air. But, it is clear that this tablet was an important step in the eventual process.

iPad Mini 2

ipad mini 2

Release Date: October 22nd, 2014

The iPad Mini sought out to bring about some changes to the previously debuted iPad Mini, which stuck out like a sore thumb over the year. For instance, we get a much-needed A7 processor, straight off the iPhone 5S bringing it up-to-speed.

Now, here’s where history takes an interesting turn. The iPad Mini 1 came with an Apple A5. And, since the chip was generally slow, it sucked for an iPad to hone the chip. But now, since the A7 is much faster, we don’t mind it being an year older because it performs well regardless.

Another key point addressed; is the horrid display on the iPad Mini 1. We now have a 326 ppi display rocking a resolution of 2048×1536. Besides that, there is no physical difference between the iPad Mini 1 and iPad Mini 2 other than the extra microphone added at the top.

So, while an iterative upgrade, we finally got access to a much better-looking display that really let the beauty of iOS 7 shine through. Oh, and to add a cherry on top, we also get a brand new modem that nets us Bluetooth 4.0 and both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz WiFi.

Key Differences

  • Display: We see a massive ppi bump going from 163 ppi directly to 326 ppi along with a brighter and more vibrant display too.
  • Performance: The A7 runs laps on the A5 present on the iPad Mini 1. This leads to a buttery smooth iOS experience.
  • More RAM: Multitasking seems more viable than ever, with the iPad Mini 2 having 1 GB of RAM compared to the Mini 1’s 512 MB.

iPad Air 2

ipad air 2

Release Date: October 22nd, 2014

Fingerprint scanners started to become the norm in late 2014. With Apple introducing Touch ID a year prior in the iPhone 5S, it only made sense for the iPad Air 1 to follow suit. Weirdly enough, it did not have a Touch ID sensor.

So, then came the icon-less iPad Air 2 with a fingerprint sensor. Compared to the iPad Air 1, you’ll immediately notice two glaring differences. Firstly, the absence of a toggle switch that allows you to move between the Rotation Lock and Mute. At the same time, we aren’t sure as to why Apple implemented this change. But, they opted for a software solution instead.

The second change, as we mentioned prior, was the addition of a fingerprint sensor which added a ring-like groove to the home button. The button still was physical, though, but there was no icon on it, unlike previous models. 

The next change isn’t very noticeable when you look at the iPad, but, my God, does it make a difference in the display. We are now met with a fully-laminated display. What does this mean? Well, now the digitizer and the screen itself are now one piece. This reduces glare and leads to a more immersive touch experience.

The rear-facing camera on the iPad is now bumped up to 8 MP, and we also see the introduction of the Apple A8X chip compared to the previous A7. A barometer is also included in the iPad Air 2. However, it wasn’t really used much by software.

The iPad AIr 2 was also thinner and lighter than its counterpart. It now weighed at less than a pound, and the difference is quite noticeable if you place both tablets side by side. Granted that this wasn’t the only reason you’d go for an iPad Air 2 over the 1, it still makes a difference in the long run.

Key Differences

  • Fingerprint Sensor: The iPad Air 2 is the first iPad released that comes with a Touch ID / fingerprint sensor.
  • Laminated Display: A fully laminated display turns out to be a game changer for iPads, especially with the Apple Pencil coming around soon after. 
  • Camera Upgrade: A 8 MP rear-facing camera increased overall resolution over the previous 5 MP alongside low-light performance and face detection.

iPad Mini 3

ipad mini 3

Release Date: October 22nd, 2014

Perhaps the most boring upgrade on this entire list, the iPad Mini 3 and iPad Mini 2 have no difference between them whatsoever other than the inclusion of a fingerprint sensor on the iPad Mini 3, which leads to an icon-less home button.

Other than that, you won’t be able to find a difference. They look exactly the same form the sides, and, also weigh and measure up the same. Weirdly enough, Apple didn’t bother upgrading the iPad Mini 3 to an A8X. This is because they wanted to keep the iPad Air as their top-of-the-line tablet.

Key Differences

  • Touch ID: The Mini 3 includes a Touch ID sensor while the Mini 2 does not. 

iPad Mini 4

ipad mini 4

Release Date: September 9th, 2015

The Mini 4 also presents itself as a smaller upgrade over the Mini 3. Externally, we see no real difference other than the physical Rotation Lock and Mute switches being removed from the Mini 4 too. However, we find the fully-laminated display from the iPad Air 2 finally making its way to the Mini 4 which leads to a slightly better-looking screen.

While the front-facing sensor remains the same, the rear-facing iSight camera is bumped up to 8 MPs which leads to better picture quality. The camera still pumps out 1080p video though, which is a bottleneck from the CPUs end. Speaking of which, we don’t get the A8X from the iPad Air 2 but get the A8 instead. It still is much better than the A7 previously present on the Mini 3.

The iPad Mini 4 also looks slightly larger vertically than the iPad Mini 3. However, you won’t really be able to see the difference if you don’t put the two devices side by side.

Key Differences

  • Laminated Display: The digitizer, the glass, and the LCD are now a part of one piece leading to better color reproduction and a more immersive look.
  • Rear-Facing Camera: The rear-facing camera is bumped up to 8 MPs which allows for better shots and low-light performance.

iPad Pro 1 (12.9”)

ipad pro 1 12.9 inch

Release Date: November 11th, 2015

The iPad Pro 1 saw the introduction of the Pro lineup of iPads that, to this day, remains my favorite lineup out of all. Featuring a 12.9” and 9.7” variant (we’ll talk about the differences later), the screen is the first part of the iPad that pops out for us immediately.

It is akin to carrying an entire laptop’s screen in your hand. And it feels surprisingly natural. And the iPad Pro saw the introduction of the Apple Pencil 1. A stylus truly meant for professionals. Now, before this, only graphics tablets like the ones from Wacom were known to have the accuracy possible for any serious professional to consider them.

As history would tell, the Apple Pencil 1 had a very odd charging mechanism that had you plug it in directly to the Lightning Jack present on the iPad Pro 1. An odd choice, to be fair.

The Pro lineup really brought along the question, is the iPad finally a laptop replacement? In my opinion, definitely not at that stage. This is because we were still running a souped up version of iOS (not iPadOS), didn’t have USB-C, and the newly added A9X processor, while great, wasn’t really close to the performance of an actual laptop.

iPad Pro 1 (9.7”)

ipad pro 1 9 inch

Release Date: March 31st, 2016

With the massive success of the iPad Pro 12.9”, it was clear that Apple had to make a worthy successor. However, while the display on the iPad Pro 1 was its biggest advantage, it also quickly turned into a drawback where whipping out such a huge tablet display wasn’t even feasible.

And, this is where we got the iPad Pro 1 9.7”. The iPad Pro had much better cameras than its larger predecessor, with a rear flash, true 4K recording, and a 12 MP camera. This is where iPad cameras really began to show that they weren’t slouched by any stretch of the imagination.

Both tablets come with the same A9X processor. But, the older iPad is clocked slightly higher and has 2 GB more RAM than the 9.7”. We also saw the inclusion of True Tone on the smaller iPad and a wide-color DCI-P3 color gamut LED.

 Externally, the smaller iPad Pro has a visible protruding camera bulge and a smaller footprint (duh.) The iPad Pro 9.7” proved to be a monumental leap for the entire lineup as it showed that Apple could pack quite a punch in a smaller device that was relatively more portable than the 12.9” behemoth they released an year ago.

iPad 5

ipad 5

Release Date: March 24th, 2017

The iPad 5 is quite similar to the iPad Air 2 in a lot of regards. However, let’s get its major negatives out of the picture quickly. It does not feature a laminated display and neither does it have anti-reflective coating. Besides that, it comes equipped with an Apple A9 chip, the same one we see on the iPhone 6S.

There’s nothing really of note here besides that the cameras remain the same, and the battery life is identical to the previous model. But, as we’ve seen with Apple, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. What do I mean by that? Well, the iPad 5 is also the least expensive iPad on release yet. 

And, for the price that it came out with, it was quite hard to a4rgue for another tablet that came in this budget category. This is because the iPad 5 had great performance, an excellent display, and had a cellular connection that let you use it on the go. 

Plus, we also saw the inclusion of Touch ID on the cheaper variant of the iPad. And, by this time, it was clear that the iPad lineup was going through a paradigm shift. The Pro series was going to be their top-of-the-line product, the Air was meant to act as an intermediate, the Mini a smaller a tablet, and the basic iPad meant for an everyday casual user.

Key Differences

  • Touch ID: The iPad 4 did not have Touch ID, while the iPad 5 does.
  • Faster Processor: The leap from the A6X directly to the A9 is huuuge! The performance gains are quite tremendous.
  • Better Cameras: The iPad Air 4 comes equipped with an 8 MP camera on the rear and a better 12. MP front-facing camera allows for better performance.

iPad Pro 2 

ipad pro 2

Release Date: June 19th, 2017

The iPad Pro 2 brought in some significant improvements to the Pro lineup. Since two years have passed since the initial release of the tablet, we get a 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch released at the same time. And, we’ll continue to see the same trend repeating year after year.

By the looks of it, both tablets are pretty similar. But, Apple doubled down on one aspect of the iPad Pro, the display. The iPad Pro 2 was the first device to feature Apple’s buttery smooth 120 Hz Pro Motion display. The tablet’s frame rate was dynamically adjustable. This meant that the tablet could tone its refresh rate down to conserve battery.

So, we got the same 9-10 hours of battery life but with a much better and brighter display. Performance saw a huge bump too, with the introduction of the A10X Fusion which ended up being 25% faster than the Pro 1’s A9X.

We also saw Apple doubling down on the cameras this around, lining them up with the latest iPhone of that time, the iPhone 7. The front camera also sees a significant bump. In fact, the iPad Pro 1’s rear camera is as good as the iPad Pro 2’s front camera. Talk about improvement!

Key Differences

  • Pro Motion Display: The 120 Hz display is the first true smooth refresh rate display on an Apple device. And, it makes a huge difference!

iPad 6

ipad 6

Release Date: 27th March, 2018

The iPad 6 was a modest release. It wasn’t the most hyped and neither is it the most memorable. It is a slight refresh over the previous iPad 5, which had amazing performance in the market. We see the iPad 6 rocking the 30% faster Apple A10 Fusion. 

Besides that, there’s the more subtle gold color choice and added support for the Apple Pencil coming in at 99$. The iPad 6 was the first non iPad Pro tablet that supported the stylus. Other than that, not much to see here.

Key Differences

  • Apple Pencil Support: The iPad 6 supported the first-gen Apple Pencil and was the first non-iPad Pro model to do so.

iPad Pro 3

ipad pro 3

Release Date: 7th November, 2018

Holy crap! Talk about an upgrade. This is my favorite design refresh of the iPad Pro yet, ladies and gentlemen. And, there are so many differences that I’m not even sure where to start from. First, let’s talk about the display.

With greatly reduced displays, we’re met with a more futuristic slate-looking tablet that feels great to hold in the hand. The entire aluminum chassis feels much more durable, and the tablet’s reduced frame due to the smaller bezels leads to greater portability.

The fingerprint ID and the home button is now gone. Long live gestures and Face ID. The cameras remain the same as the previous iPad Pro. However, we now see the addition of TrueDepth, which leads to Portrait Mode and Memojis as well. 

Then, we’re met with the newer version of the Apple Pencil. Gen 2 fixes the nagging charging issue where you had to plug the Pencil into the Lightning Jack. Now, it magnetically snaps to the side of your iPad and starts charging. How easy.

Next, this is the first mobile Apple device that supports a USB-C port instead of the fabled old Lightning Jack. Moreover, we’re met with a new Magic Keyboard that magnetically snaps to your tablet and also doubles as a case.

The iPad Pro also boasts an A12X Bionic, an amazing chip that has significant gains over the rest of the tablet market. All in all, the iPad Pro 3 was a pivotal release in the entire lineup as it marked a new era for the Apple iPad.

Key Differences:

  • Total Refresh: The entire iPad, from the display to the chassis, has been completely re-imagined and re-designed.
  • Face ID: The iPad does not have a Home Button anymore. Therefore, we’re met with Face ID sensors instead.
  • USB-C: The Lightning Jack is gone, long live USB-C.

iPad Air 3

ipad air 3

Release Date: March 18th, 2019

To be honest, the iPad Air 3 has always felt like it was in a weird spot ever since its release. It is not as powerful as the iPad Pro 3, but it is also not as cheap as the iPad 6. For most, the iPad was primarily meant for individuals who were looking for a balance between both devices while also having reasonable performance.

The previous iPad Air was released in 2014. So, it’d be quite counter-productive to compare a device made 5 years ago. In its solitary nature, the iPad Air 3 brought nothing new to the market, the same array of cameras you’d see in the iPad Pro and iPad 6, a reasonable Apple A12 Bionic, support for the first generation of Apple Pencil, and overall solid performance.

iPad Mini 5

ipad mini 5

Release Date: March 18th, 2019

Released five years after the previous iPad Mini, Apple certainly spent its merry time on this one. And I’m glad they did. While the iPad Mini does use the older Apple Pencil (Gen 1) and looks old compared to the iPad Pro 3, the 7.9-inch display just feels so great for so many of the populous.

With a chip that powered the iPhone XS, it racks up close to the Air in terms of raw performance. Moreover, the battery has certainly come about a long way helping it achieve the 10-hour iPad standard. 

I’m a huge fan of the iPad Mini 5. It didn’t break the world by introducing something completely innovative. But, at this price point, you don’t need to. Why not leave the expensive R&D costs for the iPad Pro fans and purchase something that’s just more reasonable and practical?

iPad 7

Release Date: September 18th, 2020

There are two primary differences that also conveniently serve as the reasons why someone would upgrade from the previous iPad to this one. Firstly, you gain access to Apple’s smart connectors. This means that this is the cheapest tablet that can officially support Apple iPad accessories.

Other than that, there’s a faster chipset. But, if you were looking for something else – you won’t find much. It is clear that Apple has been using the iPad for its bottom-line. And, that isn’t a bad thing.

You see, all the research and development, including funding which drives up the costs, go for the iPad Pro. Once that technology is insanely cheap and can be produced on a mass scale, it’s ultimately ported over to the other iPads in the lineup.

Key Differences:

  • Smart Connector: You can now use accessories like the Keyboard Cover with the baseline iPad.

iPad Pro 4

Release Date: March 25th, 2020

The iPad Pro 4 is also more of an iterative release than anything else. On the exterior, there are not a whole lot of differences between the two tablets. We see some internal differences, of course. For instance, a slightly faster A12Z Bionic chip.

Besides that, the models are now bumped up to a whopping 6 GBs of RAM (great for Apple standards), and, a better microphone array that promises to deliver better audio. Its the rear of the iPad where we see the greatest amount of difference. Now equipped with a dual camera array supporting a 12 MP Wide and 10 MP Ultra Wide alongside a LiDAR scanner for AR, you’ll quickly be able to identify the difference between the two tablets using the rear.

Besides that, we also gain access to WiFi 6, and that’s pretty much it. So, the iPad Pro 4 was a great pickup for anyone new to the lineup. But, not for someone who has already invested in an iPad Pro 3. 

Key Differences:

  • Camera Array: The iPad Pro 4 comes equipped with a LiDAR scanner and a dual-camera array at the back alongside better studio quality microphones.
  • Baseline RAM: All iPad Pro models now come with 6 GBs of RAM with default compared to the previous iPad Pro 3 which only had 6 GBs of RAM if you opted for the 1 TB variant.

iPad 8

ipad 8

Release Date: September 18th, 2020

The iPad 8 is a simple chipset refresh. With support for 20W fast charging and the A12 Bionic, what else do you expect from the iPad 7? There’s no design refresh, the chassis basically looks identical, and there’s not a whole lot to see. 

There’s still no improvement to the horrible 1.2 MP front sensor, and the rear camera is also barely passable, coming in at 8 MP. There’s also support for the Apple Pencil 1 still. All in all, it is clear that with the iPad Air getting expensive and Apple hoping for a direction with those devices, the iPad seems to e remain the de-facto budget standard for anyone who doesn’t want an extremely small tablet like the Mini.

Key Differences:

  • Fast Charging: The iPad 7 supports up to 20W fast charging
  • Apple Pencil Support: The Apple Pencil 1 is also supported by the baseline iPad, rendering it the cheapest iPad you can use with an Apple pencil.

iPad Air 4

ipad air 4

Release Date: October 23rd, 2020

Now we’re talking. The iPad Air 4 took a U-turn on what an iPad Air was meant to be. Long gone are the ugly borders and outdated hinges. We’re met with a sleek, iPad Pro looking modern design that incorporates a lot of great changes.

For instance, the home button is gone now. We have touch gestures instead. But, instead of opting for Face ID, Apple opted for a side-mounted Touch ID sensor present above the volume button. 

We also have much better speakers, and support for the Apple Pencil 2 with a magnetic connector present at the side. We also gain support for the Apple Magic Keyboard with the Smart Connector previously only usable on the iPad Pro series. 

The iPad 4 also has a True Tone display. But, you don’t get 120 Hz ProMotion, that’s an iPad Pro feature only. We’re also getting a better camera array on all fronts, the front camera has a much better aperture with the rear camera being bumped up from 8 MP to 12 MP. 

The internals also see an obvious bump. We see a jump from the A12 Bionic directly to the A14 Bionic and a slight gain in battery life too. All in all, the iPad Air 4 remains one of the biggest upgrade and revamps Apple has made to the tablet as of yet.

Key Differences

  • Complete Revamp: The iPad Air 4 sees better cameras, a better display, a bigger battery, more RAM, better performance, more RAM, and support for the Apple Pencil 2.

iPad Pro 5 M1

ipad pro 5th gen m1

Release Date: May 21st, 2021

Ah, my favorite iPad Pro upgrade. The introduction of Apple Silicon proved to be a pivotal point for the entire company. We were now getting access to much faster chips that also promised better battery life with significantly smaller power draws.

So, it was only a matter of time before these mobile-based CPUs made their way to an actual tablet. And, the iPad Pro 5 was the firs tablet to get that treatment. Now having significantly greater power in your hands, the iPad Pro 5 was now officially overkill for almost every task that you could throw t it.

And Apple didn’t stop there. We also gained access to one of the world’s first mini LED displays on the 12.9” variant on the tablet. Providing even greater color accuracy and saturation, creative professionals could now actually use the display as a great way to edit photos and videos.

Moreover, we also got our hands on an ultra-wide front-facing camera equipped with Center Stage. A software and hardware-assisted function that zoomed the camera in and out and panned it according to where the subject is.

There’s also Thunderbolt support, providing for even faster transfer speeds. Moreover, we also get our hands on an iPad with 16 GBs of RAM on the 1 TB+ variants. Oh, and did we mention the iPad now goes up to 2 TB?

Key Differences

  • The Apple M1: Now equipped with an extremely powerful chip, the M1 sparked a new era for the iPad Pro in terms of raw compute power.
  • Mini LED Display: Having an extremely accurate display in such a small package turned out to be a game changer for creative professionals who could take advantage of the display.

iPad 9

ipad 9

Release Date: September 24th, 2021

Again, don’t expect a ton of difference over here for the iPad 9. We get the same tablet visually. There are only a few differences of note. Firstly, the display now supports True Tone. And, secondly, gone is the ghastly 1.2 MP front facing camera that somehow made it to 2020.

Instead, we’re greeted with a nice ultra-wide Center Stage equipped camera right from the iPad Pro that allows for much better video conferencing. This came in at a great time, especially because this was during the pandemic.

Under the hood, we’re met with an A13 Bionic that’s about 10-15% faster To be honest, you won’t really notice major performance improvements, especially because the use case of the iPad doesn’t really accommodate video editing or color correction in the first place.

So, once again, an iterative upgrade for a budget-friendly tablet where Apple is clearly doing the bare minimum to enjoy its dominance over the budget tablet market. With no competition, comes no need for improvement, it seems.

Key Differences:

  • Center Stage Camera: The front facing camera goes through a lovely change of pace with the introduction of an ultra-wide Center Stage equipped camera right off the iPad Pro.
  • True Tone: The iPad 9’s display now supports True Tone.

iPad Mini 6

ipad mini 6

Release Date: September 24th, 2021

The iPad Mini 6 certainly went through an overhaul. It doesn’t even look the same! Getting the same treatment as the Air series, we’re met with a USB-C port, support for the second generation of Apple Pencil, and a brighter display.

The bezels have shrunk down a great deal, and we now have an A15 Bionic running the show. The same chip found in the iPhone 13. Sadly, we don’t see support for the Magic Keyboard just yet. This is probably because Apple didn’t really think there was a market for a dedicated keyboard for someone who already has such a small tablet display.

The iPad Mini 6 also has a Touch ID sensor. However, this one is present on the side instead. We have a 12 MP front-facing camera that supports Center Stage with an equivalent array on the rear end.

This too, was arguably one of the biggest refreshes and redesigns done by Apple to date. And, I’m a huge fan of what they’ve done with the tablet so far. With this update, the iPad Mini 6 turned into one of the best consumer tablets you can buy.

iPad Air 5

ipad air 5

Release Date: March 18th, 2022

The iPad Air 5 is a sort of weird update for me. In most cases, it makes sense. The previous iPad Air did not have Center Stage. This one has a 12 MP front-facing Center Stage equipped camera. And, instead of opting for an A series chip, Apple treats us to the M1 instead.

Moreover, we’re met with USB-4 / Thunderbolt data transfer speeds that truly test the limits of this device. However, that’s all the differences you can expect from the iPad Air. Besides this, both tablets look visually identical, and you won’t be able to find out the difference at all.

Here’s the thing, right, the iPad Air isn’t really meant for professionals. That’s what the Pro is for (duh.) So, the M1, while a welcome upgrade, might not make sense for casual users who just want a nice iPad. 

So, for most, the iPad Air 5 was certainly not a tablet you’d upgrade to. And, even if you were purchasing one for the first time, for most, it made sense to either get a hefty discount on the iPad Air 4.

Key Differences:

  • Center Stage: The iPad Air 5 now has a Center Stage supported 12 MP front camera.
  • M1: The iPad Air 5 is now the second tablet in the series besides the iPad Pro that also has an M1 chip.
  • USB 4: USB 4 / Thunderbolt allows for greater data transfer speeds.

iPad Pro 6

ipad pro 6th gen

Release Date: 26th October, 2022

The iPad Pro 6 is the most boring upgrade to the iPad Pro lineup as of yet. We see only two major differences. Firstly, we see the introduction of the Apple M2 chip. While this may seem great, there honestly aren’t a lot of situations where the Apple M1 showed any signs of slowing down in the first place.

The second is Apple Pencil Hover. This feature lets you have some fine-tuning and control over your illustration before the Apple Pencil even touches the tablet. This feature is very niche-specific and won’t interest most users.

Key Differences:

  • M2: We get the slightly faster M2 chip on the iPad Pro 6 this time around
  • Apple Pencil Hover: This feature lets you use the Apple pencil without exactly touching the screen.

iPad 10

ipad 10th gen

Release Date: October 26th, 2022

The budget iPad sees a massive upgrade in 2022. We’re met with a newly designed metal enclosure that resembles the iPad Air more than anything else. The selfie camera has been moved like the rest of the iPad lineup.

The Touch ID sensor is located on the sides, and we’re met with a nicely sized 10.9 inch screen at a reduced footprint. The performance gain isn’t all that impressive, with an A14 Bionic present  on the iPad 10.

The iPad 10 also now comes with USB-C (not Thunderbolt), and a 12 MP Center Stage supported front camera with support for Apple’s Smart Keyboard, a new keyboard specially designed for the iPad that also has an Escape key (yay!). 

The weirdest thing about this iPad is the fact it still supports the first generation Apple Pencil. But wait, isn’t that charged by a Lightning Jack? Yup, you are right. Here, we’re met with a weird adapter that we need to use to charge the Apple Pencil 1 with the USB-C equipped iPad 10. In all honesty, an odd thing not to change.

Key Differences:

  • Design Revamp: The iPad 10 has smaller bezels, a landscape selfie camera and has design similarities to the iPad Air with an upgraded front camera, CPU, rear camera and footprint.

Related Articles:

Which iPads Should You Buy? Air? Classic? Pro? Mini?
Which iPads Have Headphone Jacks?
Which iPads Have Face ID?
Which iPads Have USB-C?

Content Creator | + posts

Saad is excellent at what he does. He's a tech fanatic. He strives to improve himself wherever he can. He tries to make each article he writes a little better than before. He explains difficult things in a very simple way.

+ posts

I love tech and all about it. I'm interested in finding ways how they can make my life more productive, and I share my knowledge with my blog readers. I'm an iPad Pro, iPhone, MacBook, and Apple Watch user, so I know a thing or two about these devices and try to write helpful content around these topics.