Best overall: 128GB Wi-Fi only 9.7-inch iPad

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Whether you're looking to purchase your first iPad or upgrade from a previous model, the 128GB Wi-Fi-only 9.7-inch iPad (2018) provides a great entry point into iOS tablet computing. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles of the iPad Pro line, but an affordable price point, great specs, and Apple Pencil compatibility make this iPad a no-brainer for anyone looking to jump into tablet computing.

Bottom line: For readers, artists, students, and writers, the 128GB Wi-Fi-only 9.7-inch iPad (2018) is the best overall tablet you can buy.

One more thing: If you can't regularly tether to your phone and on-the-go internet access is a must, you can add a cellular option to your iPad for $130 more, upgrading it from a pretty nice Wi-Fi tablet to a self-sufficient computing device.

Why the 128GB Wi-Fi-only 9.7-inch iPad (2018) is the best

Bridging the gap.

The beauty of tablet computing is just how well it fits into a multitude of different situations. You can use an iPad to draw or take notes, create presentations for your class, play games, film or snap photos with the iSight camera, read novels, correct term papers, chat with your faraway family, or any other number of activities suited to a multi-touch computer.

As such, the perfect iPad for most people has to fit into a lot of use cases: It needs to be fast. It needs to have enough storage. It needs to work with accessories that make it a better computer, like Bluetooth and Apple Pencil. It should have a solid screen for both text and photographs, and stereo speakers for watching video or playing music.

Apple's 2018 9.7-inch iPad fits the bill — all in a compact 1.03-pound package and ten hours of battery life. Previous 9.7-inch iPad models were either too pricey (as with the 2016 9.7-inch iPad Pro) or too feature-limited (like the 2017 base-model iPad), but this 2018 base model is the best of both worlds: It offers enough advanced features to satisfy any entrant into tablet computing — including full Apple Pencil support — without an outrageous price point.

And let's highlight Apple Pencil for a moment. Even though the 9.7-inch iPad doesn't have the iPad Pro's advanced screen refresh technology, writing and drawing on it with Apple Pencil is still an excellent experience. Combine that with Apple's recently-updated iWork suite and a gigantic array of third-party apps, and you can plan, draw, write, sketch, or color to your heart's content. Using Apple Pencil still doesn't feel exactly like drawing on paper, but the company is inching ever-closer to that goal.

The 2018 9.7-inch iPad also gets a super-powered processor in the form of the A10: It's the processor from the iPhone 7 lineup, and it blasts the base-model iPad line into the present alongside its faster Pro cousins. It's also paired with Apple's M10 motion co-processor and 2GB of RAM — not as much memory as iPad Pro, but enough to get the job done.

Though the iPad's minimum storage size is 32GB, we're still reticent to recommend the baseline option unless you're really pinching pennies. Between apps, drawing creations, offline music, photo libraries, and downloading video, 128GB is a much more reasonable storage tier for most users — though this may also open you up to paying for more iCloud storage to back up said iPad.

You can get a top-of-the-line 2018 iPad and Apple Pencil for just over $500 (U.S.). Given that the iPad Pro's 64GB base model starts at almost $150 more — without accessories — it's an easy recommendation to make for most anyone interested in tablet computing.

Best Mac companion for pros: 256GB Wi-Fi only 10.5-inch iPad Pro

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If you don't need an iPad as your stand-alone machine but want a Pro-level tablet to dual-wield alongside a MacBook or MacBook Pro, consider the 10.5-inch iPad Pro.

It supercharges the base-model iPad experience with the A10X processor and 4GB of RAM, Smart Connector, an automatically adjusting Wide Color display with True Tone and ProMotion technology, a 12-megapixel iSight rear camera for 4K video and high-resolution photography, a 7-megapixel front-facing camera for video conferencing and silly selfies, and a quad-speaker setup that automatically adjusts acoustics based on how you're holding the iPad.

Bottom line: With a size and screen perfectly suited to travel, the 10.5-inch iPad Pro is an incredible machine if you need its power.

Best pro tablet: 512GB Wi-Fi + Cellular 12.9-inch iPad Pro

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The 12.9-inch iPad Pro has all the internal power of its 10.5-inch sibling, but combines it with some truly massive screen real estate. It's the biggest tablet in Apple's lineup, and uses that to great effect when paired with a hardware keyboard. Split-screen apps in iOS each have a pane as big as the base-model 9.7-inch iPad in portrait mode, giving you ample space to work.

Add an Apple Pencil, and you have a top-tier drawing tablet; add third-party software like Astropad or Astropad Studio, and you can turn that tablet into a Wacom Cintiq-style second screen workspace with your Mac.

Bottom line: If you want a high-powered drawing tablet to tote around in lieu of your Mac, go for broke with the Wi-Fi + Cellular 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

One more thing: If you're looking for the ultimate portable computer, we recommend tacking on a Wi-Fi + Cellular plan.

Best overall: 128GB Wi-Fi only 9.7-inch iPad

See at Apple

Whether you're looking to purchase your first iPad or upgrade from a previous model, the 128GB Wi-Fi-only 9.7-inch iPad (2018) provides a great entry point into iOS tablet computing. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles of the iPad Pro line, but an affordable price point, great specs, and Apple Pencil compatibility make this iPad a no-brainer for anyone looking to jump into tablet computing.

Bottom line: For readers, artists, students, and writers, the 128GB Wi-Fi-only 9.7-inch iPad (2018) is the best overall tablet you can buy.

One more thing: If you can't regularly tether to your phone and on-the-go internet access is a must, you can add a cellular option to your iPad for $130 more, upgrading it from a pretty nice Wi-Fi tablet to a self-sufficient computing device.

9.7-inch iPad

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iPad Pro

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