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Apple's original iPad essentially defined the tablet product category more than a decade ago.
Today, the line is more diverse than ever, offering everything from a budget-minded, updated version of the original, to a refreshed Mini, and higher-end Air and Pro models for tablet enthusiasts with more advanced needs. iPads can be used for activities including web browsing, streaming media, design, and business operation -- and the App Store is full of apps suitable for iPads, ranging from gaming to ebook readers and utilities.
While Apple's expanded range means it's more affordable than ever to grab yourself an iPad, every model here is still a sizable enough purchase that you'd likely want to do some comprehensive research before clicking that buy button.
To save your sanity and time, we've done the heavy lifting for you and collected the best deals currently available for every model of iPad out now.
Apple's iPad launched as the company's top-end tablet offering. In the years since, its perch has been filled by the iPad Air and iPad Pro. Luckily for shoppers, this means the original iPad has actually seen its price drop in the decade since its original launch. Today's iPad is more affordable than ever, representing one of the best values yet, thanks to Apple doubling its base storage tier. This positions it as a versatile, ideal option for students, couch-based streaming media connoisseurs, and casual gamers. ZDNet's own Jason Cipriani called it "a good fit for nearly everyone."
The best deal on the 9th generation iPad can be found at Walmart, with the retailer currently selling the 256GB model for a sizeable discount.
Apple's iPad Mini has gone in and out of production several times since its initial launch. It seems the world's need for smaller tablets tends to wax and wane. In its sixth iteration of the diminutive tablet, Apple decided to appeal to power users that wanted something they could fit in any bag, and even some bigger pockets. It created a completely redesigned iPad Mini with a processor even faster than the base iPad, Apple Pencil support, and design cues drawn from the iPad Pro and recent iPad Air. Our Jason Cipriani praised the design refresh, strong performance, and "unmatched portability."
Right now, the best deal available can be found at Walmart, where buyers can score an iPad mini for a $50 discount, bringing it down to $409.
Apple's iPad Air continues to exist as the middle ground between its standard model and the new iPad Pro. It's currently the cheapest option capable of using Apple's full Magic Keyboard, and the least expensive full-sized model to use Apple's most recent design aesthetic and edge-to-edge display.
It's an ideal solution for users that need a little more power and screen real estate than the standard model can provide, but not all of the maxed-out features of the more expensive iPad Pro. Our resident expert noted the latest model's excellent ability to balance productivity with entertainment, as well as its all-too-welcome switch to USB-C charging as standout features.
Right now, Best Buy is offering a discount on the 256GB version, currently on offer for $200 off its usual $749.99 price. You can pick up a cheaper version (64GB) at Apple for $599.
Apple's iPad Pro was already the tablet of choice for creatives and users seeking a model that could do most of what their laptop could. Now that the company has added its hugely successful M1 chip at the core of the device, the latest iPad Pro entries are more competent than ever, and easily capable of blowing away all but the most powerful laptops at just a fraction of the size. Our review found the new chip and added memory to be vastly more than any user could ask for, with excellent battery life as an added bonus.
Today, you can get the smaller 11-inch iPad Pro at a $50 discount and the 12.9-inch model at a $100 discount at Walmart.
The Apple iPad range has been popular for a long time and will likely remain so for years to come. While currently limited to four models -- the traditional iPad, iPad mini, iPad Air, and iPad Pro -- there are plenty of deals out there that include devices from different generations, suiting a range of different price points.
What's the difference between iOS and Android tablets?
The main difference is the operating system. Apple mobile products, including the iPad, run a proprietary operating system called iOS (or variants thereof). However, Google's Android OS is open for other vendors to use, including Samsung and Lenovo.
Is a tablet better than a laptop?
Tablets can be more suitable than laptops, depending on what you intend to use one for. For example, a tablet can be easier to maneuver and use in business meetings or on the train, as tablets do not require a flat surface (or your knees) to operate. However, you may prefer a tablet with a larger screen if you plan to use a tablet for designing, artwork, or business.
What is the main advantage of a tablet?
Tablets were designed to bridge the gap between the power of a laptop and the portability of a smartphone. Sometimes, you need a larger screen and more juice than a smartphone can give you (although, devices in recent years are much improved), but you also need a product that can be moved around and used more easily than a laptop. The light weight, thin form factor, and power of a tablet can make it a great go-between.
Are there any alternatives worth considering?
While we can't showcase every interesting tablet deal on the market, there are also other options to consider: