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Everything you need to set up a new iPad

We've rounded up all the accessories you would need to set up an iPad--including the new 2024 iPad Air and iPad Pro models.
Written by Kayla Solino, Associate Editor
Reviewed by Allison Murray
Zagg InvisibleShield Glass Elite Privacy Screen Protector | A warranty-backed iPad screen protector
Zagg InvisibleShield Glass Elite Privacy Screen Protector
A warranty-backed iPad screen protector
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Zugu iPad Case | A solid case to protect your iPad
Zugu iPad Case
A solid case to protect your iPad
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Logitech Combo Touch | A functional keyboard case
Person holding up the Logitech Combo Touch Keyboard cover.
Logitech Combo Touch
A functional keyboard case
View now View at Amazon
Apple Pencil 2nd Gen | A functional iPad stylus
Apple Pencil 2nd Gen
A functional iPad stylus
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iPads -- no matter what model -- are expensive purchases. That's why its essential to invest in good protection, like a proper case and screen protector from day one, to keep your iPad in tip top shape for as long as you plan to keep it. Plus, upgrading your iPad's protection often comes with a boost in function, too. 

And with Apple's latest rollout of new iPad Air and iPad Pro models -- which are available for preorder now, it's a great time to gear up your new purchase with the best accessories. 

Also: Everything Apple announced at its 'Let Loose' iPad event

Keyboard cases, wireless mice, stylus pens like the new Apple Pencil Pro, and other accessories all help you optimize and up the ante on your device's capabilities. These accessories are a simple way to bring the ease of a computer to a tablet-style device without sacrificing on style or substance. But with so many on the market, it's not easy to pare down what's essential and what's not -- and perhaps even more important, what's actually worth your cash. 

Also: The best iPad models you can buy

That's why ZDNET is here to cut through the noise. Here's our one-stop guide for everything you need to build the ultimate iPad setup, no matter what model you own or are looking to purchase, or if you're starting from scratch with a brand new iPad or adding to your current setup. And as a tech editor who tests iPad gear for a living, rest assured many of these are my top product picks that I'd recommend. 

A screen protector 

An iPad is an investment, and a screen protector is a low-cost way to equip your iPad with an added layer of protection. Plus, some iPad screen protectors offer extra features, like blue light filtering and privacy screening in addition to guarding against fingerprints, dust, dirt, drops, cracks, and scratches. It should be common sense to outfit your iPad with one, just as I'd recommend ensuring your phone has a screen protector, too. 

The Zagg InvisibleShield Glass Elite Screen Protector (ZDNET's best overall iPad screen protector) provides incredible protection for your iPad against everyday hazards. The smooth screen is made of tempered glass that features the ultimate trio: Scratch resistance, smudge resistance, and oil resistance for incredible clarity. The tempered glass screen also has reinforced edges for extra impact protection and an anti-microbial coating to fend off germs and bacteria. 

It fits onto your screen tightly with an EZ Apply Tray to simplify application, and if you're that worried about application, you can even have it applied at retailers such as Best Buy for a small fee. Despite a higher price tag than some other options on this list, the Zagg InvisibleShield is our top pick for its limited lifetime warranty, which protects your product purchase against wear and damage. 

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A basic case 

Listen, this may be a hot take to some, but in 2024, outfitting your expensive Apple tablet with a case is an absolute must (I have the same stance on iPhones). It makes no sense to purchase such a costly piece of tech and not properly protect it. It doesn't matter if you've never broken a piece of tech in your life. The good news is that the best iPad cases don't have to break the bank, and often add features like kickstands, stylus holders, and rugged protection, too. 

The Zugu iPad case is a truly solid case that serves as more than a light cover, and it is available for the majority of iPad models. It features an adjustable stand with eight configurations, a bumper and rugged shell for added drop protection, a stylus pocket, wireless charging capabilities, and more. 

When I tested the Zugu case on the iPad Air this year, it quickly became my favorite iPad Air case. It's functional and practical, providing true security from bumps and drops. I loved using it as a stand, especially while testing several note-taking apps this month. The material feels premium and expensive, and it features a clean, appealing design. 

Also: The best iPad Air cases of 2024

What's even better is that Zugu offers a one-time AppleCare+ repair fee if your iPad is damaged while in a Zugu case.

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A keyboard case

If you're using your iPad for work, school, or other activities that would benefit from a keyboard, I highly recommend adding a reliable keyboard case to your collection of iPad accessories. Keyboards can quickly upgrade your iPad from tablet to laptop, often giving you more bang for your buck, and are available for nearly every model iPad, including the iPad Pro and iPad Air. 

The Logitech Combo Touch is ZDNET's pick for the best overall iPad keyboard case thanks to its top features and more affordable price. The Combo touch is packed full of function thanks to a detatchable keyboard, backlit keys, built-in stylus stoarge, iPad OS shortcut keys, and more. It offer four modes of use: type, view, sketch, and read, to suit itself for any of your iPad activities. 

Review: My favorite iPad keyboard and stylus are not made by Apple

When ZDNET's Senior Reviews Editor, Kerry Wan, tested the Combo Touch and Logitech Crayon Stylus with the iPad 10th Gen back in 2022, he lauded it for its ability to "flex on the Magic Keyboard [Folio]," adding, "Logitech's Combo Touch cover and Crayon stylus for the iPad are cheaper and practically better than Apple's own accessories."

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A stylus 

When you need to take notes, draw, or sketch and don't want to use your digits, a stylus is a handy accessory to your iPad that can level up its productivity. And the good news is there are plenty of top stylus models that are compatible with iPads, and many even have some of the same technologies as the Apple Pencil, like palm rejection and tilt recognition. 

This Apple Pencil builds on the first-generation model with a double-tap function that you can customize to switch between pencil and eraser, show the color palettes, as well as attach to the side of select iPads and charge wirelessly.

In our testing of the Apple Pencil, we've found it to be super responsive and have pixel-perfect precision with industry-leading low latency to write, markup, or draw. It also has tilt sensitivity and palm-rejection technology, so the screen only recognizes the Apple Pencil, not your hand or finger.

Also: How to pair and charge your Apple pencil

Keep in mind that the third iteration of Apple's handy pencil may be launching soon, so if you're willing to hold out, you can nab the newest model which will for sure include some upgraded features. 

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You might also need: 

While everyone's idea of essential accessories for their iPad will be different, here's a few other top-tested items we think amp up your iPad's function and are worth the investment.

What is the best iPad?

ZDNET's top pick for the best iPad is the iPad Air (5th generation) because it includes nearly all of the best features the iPad has to offer at a price that's more approachable than the iPad Pro. However, we'd recommend the 10th-generation iPad model for Facetime and Zoom purposes, and those who want a portable tablet for reading should go with the iPad Mini (6th generation). 

What are the new iPad models?

Apple announced the 6th-generation iPad Air and the 7th-generation iPad Pro models on May 7. You can preorder the tablets now at Apple's website, and they are officially available on May 17.

Also: How to preoder the new iPad Air, iPad Pro, Magic Keyboard, and Apple Pencil Pro

The new iPad Air comes in two sizes for the first time (11 inches and 13 inches) and features the M2 chip. In addition, the iPad Air now starts at 128GB instead of the mere 64GB that Apple previous included in the base model.

Is there a new Magic Keyboard?

Yes, there is a new Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro. On May 7, Apple announced an upgraded version of its Apple Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro, where the brand simultaneously unveiled brand new iPads. 

Also: Everything Apple announced at its 'Let Loose' iPad event

This new Magic Keyboard is only compataible with the new M4 iPad Pro 11-inch and 13-inch models, and includes a larger trackpad, a function row, and other upgraded features. It is available for preorder now. The 11-inch Magic Keyboard model will costs $299 while the 13-inch is $399

What's the Apple Pencil Pro?

The Apple Pencil Pro was announced on May 7 and features a slew of new features to go with the new iPad Air and iPad Pro models. It supports Apple Find My and includes a new sensor in its barrel, enabling new gestures, like squeezing and barrel rolling. Priced at $129, it's the same price as the 2nd Gen Apple Pencil. 

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