What is the Newest Version of the iPad?

A young girl using an iPad with they Apple stylus, to draw a picture.

You can now choose from three models with four different sizes, but size isn't all that matters. While the 12.9-inch and 10.5-inch iPad Pro models are very similar to each other, there are some major differences when you move to the 9.7-inch iPad and the 7.9-inch iPad Mini. This adds more confusion when deciding on an iPad, especially those who want to make sure they get the latest and greatest iPad, so we'll break it down for you.

The iPad Pro (10.5-inch and 12.9-inch)

The iPad Pro family, showing both the 10.5 and 12 inch versions of the iPad.

The iPad Pro is now in its second generation, and while the first generation had some major differences between models, the only difference between the latest 12.9-inch and 10.5-inch models is the size and the price tag. The 10.5-inch model will save you $150 for the same performance and features, but the added size on the screen makes the 12.9-inch iPad Pro a real pleasure to use.

So what's "pro" about the iPad Pro? Apple markets the Apple Pencil, an advanced stylus that works on the iPad Pro models, and their Smart Keyboard alongside the iPad Pro. But what really makes this iPad different is the processing speed that matches or even exceeds most laptops and the increased memory that allows smoother multitasking.

But perhaps the best reason to go with an iPad Pro over the regular model is to future proof the purchase. The faster processor and increased RAM memory will give the Pro an edge years down the line when the normal iPad may be screaming for an upgrade.

The "iPad"

The iPad 9.7 inch tablet showing iCloud Drive and the stylus pencil.

The 9.7-inch iPad was the first model introduced, and while it had a few years with the "iPad Air" name, it is generally the most popular iPad. The 2018 refresh of this model includes support for the Apple Pencil and an upgrade to the same A10 Fusion processor used in the iPhone 7 line of smartphones, which is a nice boost over the 2017 model. 

This iPad is Apple's entry-level tablet, starting at just $329 with a $30 discount for schools and other educational institutions. The new support for the Apple Pencil combines with enhanced stylus support in the iWork suite of apps, which includes Pages, Numbers and Keynote.

The biggest difference between the 9.7-inch iPad and the iPad Pro line of tablets is performance. The iPad Pro is much faster and has more RAM to hold applications in memory. The 9.7-inch iPad doesn't support the smart keyboard, although it does support most wireless keyboards, You can even hook up a wired keyboard.

The iPad Mini 4

The iPad mini 4 was a smaller version of the standard iPad tablet.

The iPad Mini 4 is all but dead. The only thing keeping us from an official burial is that Apple still sells it. But without a refresh since 2015, it seems clear Apple has no intention of reviving the Mini, and perhaps the only reason that it is still for sale is that it still does sale.

But should it? We don't recommend the iPad Mini 4 because the price tag is higher than the entry level 9.7-inch iPad, which has a faster processor and supports the Apple Pencil. The Mini 4 does include 128 GB of storage, which is nice, but the better deal for those who need the added storage is to pay a little more for the 128 GB version of the 9.7-inch iPad.

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro

Picture of the 9.7

While you can no longer buy it at Apple stores, the first 9.7-inch iPad Pro is the "newest" 9.7-inch iPad Pro and probably the last. Apple has moved on to the 10.5-inch size for the smaller iPad Pro, but you can still find the 9.7-inch version at some retailers and in Apple's refurbished listings. Should you buy refurbished? They do come with the same 1-year warranty, and are often one of the best ways to buy a cheap iPad. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro is a great tablet and can be a good way to slip into the 'pro' level without paying that iPad Pro price.