So you fancy buying an iPad. But what about the next iPad? What if when you plonk down your cash, Apple releases an updated version, packed full of new features, and also gives you a free magic hat? That’s the dilemma. Apart from the bit about the magic hat – we’re pretty sure Apple won’t do that.
This article can help. For each iPad model we’ve dug into the current state of play, explored the rumours emanating from the industry’s guessing trousers, and provided a handy ‘Stuff says’ buying recommendation.
The state of play: In September 2021, Apple released the ninth iteration of the iPad. It’s the only one that still resembles the first, with its Home button, chunky screen bezel and headphone port.
What’s next: There were long rumours Apple would this year shove an A14 into the existing iPad, to boost its power and bring Wi-Fi 6/Bluetooth 5 support. A full redesign was rumoured for 2023, which would presumably see the vanilla iPad finally ditch the Home button. We could also see the iPad ditch the curved edges and opt for a more updated flat-side design, if a CAD render leaked by mysmartprice is to be believed. That’s now instead believed to be imminent.
Stuff says: The current iPad design is charitably described as ‘classic’ and ‘familiar’, but at some point must go all-screen – and ideally get a laminated display too. Hold fire for now, then, unless you’re desperate to go old school.
The state of play: The iPad Mini’s long been an enigma regarding release frequency and positioning. But Apple vastly improved its tiniest iPad with September 2021’s 6th-gen, more or less transforming it into an iPad Air Mini. There’s an A15 inside that tiny frame – but scrolling can be jiggly in portrait. Tsk.
What’s next: The main rumour swirling around is the 7th-gen iPad Mini getting a 120Hz ProMotion display, which will handily boot ‘jelly scrolling’ concerns into the sun. No-one’s prediction parrot has parped precisely when this’ll rock up, mind.
Stuff says: Removing the most overt flaw from the iPad Mini would be good. But who knows when it’ll happen? So if you want one, buy it now.
The state of play: In March 2022, the iPad Air played catch-up with the Mini (better camera; 5G) – and then blazed past by way of the surprise addition of an M1 chip. 64GB entry-level storage was the only major snag.
What’s next: Few rumours knocking around here. ProMotion is the most obvious drip-down tech. And if the iPad Pro 11in disappears, the Air getting four speakers would be a blast.
Stuff says: We doubt this unit will get updated any time soon, and so if you want one, ask that nice Mr Cook to send one your way today.
The state of play: The ultimate iPad was last revamped in April 2021, gaining an M1 chip and – in its 12.9in form – an eye-popping mini-LED display. It’s pricey and the 12.9in model is weighty – but it’s also brilliant.
What’s next: An M2 chip upgrade to match Apple’s entry-level Macs is a cert, as confirmed in a report by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. There are also rumours about MagSafe charging (possibly through a glass Apple logo) and reverse wireless charging for other Apple devices.
Venturing further into the weeds, the rumour mill churns up OLED iPad Pro panels (but probably not in 2022), a unit even bigger than the 12.9 model (which begs the question: why?), and the 11in not getting a mini-LED update. Boo and hiss.
An autumn 2022 update is mooted for at least some of this stuff.
Stuff says: The iPad Pro is a big investment. The hardware quality is such you can’t go wrong if you buy now, but if you don’t need one urgently, maybe wait; also use your innate psychic powers to convince Apple to put the selfie cam on the long edge, so you don’t look all distracted as you appear to gaze off to the side during video calls.
Regardless of which iPads above are released next, any new model will be running the latest and greatest version of iPadOS — in this instance, iPadOS 16.
Revealed at Apple’s 2022 WWDC developer event, it will be landing on most iPads very soon (though you can download a beta now). The fourth generation of the company’s tablet-specific OS, it’s rammed with all sorts of new features to help elevate the iPad experience.
For starters, as with iOS 16, there are lock screen changes that give you more control over your notifications. There are also improved tools for syncing with other devices. Apple Maps, for example, lets you send directions from your iPad to your iPhone. A new Reference Mode also lets your iPad’s screen colours sync up with those of other displays, which is a handy feature for professional colour work.
App-specific updates are also thrown in, with a new Mail app letting you schedule and retract emails, as well as set reminders for emails you’d rather deal with later.
One of the most potentially exciting changes is Stage Manager, which provides a more desktop-like experience, thanks to the ability to have overlapping and resizable windows. You can also move all of your background apps to the side to get a better overview of what you’re currently using, which is a godsend for multitaskers.
Alas, the feature has been buggy throughout the beta run and the ability to connect your iPad to an external display has been delayed. On the plus side, Stage Manager will now move beyond M1 iPad Pros, to include 2018 and 2020 models – although they’ll not later get the external display support, because reasons.
FreeForm — a new OneNote-like app for macOS Ventura — is also landing on iPadOS 16 at some point later on, and will let you scribble notes and annotate pictures and jot down ideas, before sharing them with others, if you so wish.
Finally, things are improved on the gaming front, with Metal 3 allowing for upscaled resolution while boosting frame rates for a more premium gaming experience. Key titles like No Man’s Sky are also arriving on iPad soonish.
As for which existing iPads will get iPadOS 16, Apple’s official list is this:
- iPad (fifth generation) and newer
- iPad Mini (fifth generation) and newer
- iPad Air (third generation) and newer
- All iPad Pro models