Looking for an iPad for your kid? We’ve got the list for you.

Most iPads look the same. Throw in various price points, and suddenly, it’s confusing. We look at new Apple tablets each year when they arrive on the market to determine which ones are right for our readers. The iPad Air (2019) is currently our favorite iPad for kids, but we’ve gathered other noteworthy models to help you choose the one that fits your needs best.

Best Overall: iPad Air (2019)

Earlier this year, Apple surprised many by introducing the first new iPad Air in nearly five years. With this third-generation iPad Air, Apple also resurrected the 10.5-inch display size previously found on the smaller of the two discontinued 2017 iPad Pro models.

The iPad Air (2019) is a nice step up from the iPad (2018). With the newer model, you get a larger display (10.5-inches versus 9.7-inches), an advanced chip, and more available storage. This iPad also supports a Smart Keyboard thanks to its Smart Connector. Unlike the iPad (2018), the iPad Air (2019) has a fully laminated display with anti-reflective coating. It also includes a wide-color (P3), True Tone display. The newer tablet also has a better front-facing camera.

For these extras, you’ll pay around $130 more at each price point versus last year’s model. If the extras aren’t crucial to you, keep reading.

Pros:

  • Better storage
  • Latest internals
  • Smart Keyboard support
  • Screen with anti-reflective coating

Cons:

  • No Face ID
  • Pricey compared to iPad (2018)

Best Overall

iPad Air (2019)

Do you feel the Air?

Apple’s newest iPad is packed full of features and enhancements and comes highly recommended.

Runner-up: iPad (2018)

When the sixth-generation iPad arrived in March 2018, it became the first non-iPad Pro model to support Apple Pencil. Given the price difference between it and the more premium iPad offerings, this was and continues to be a big deal. Perhaps the last Apple iPad to feature a 9.7-inch display, the iPad (2018) offers plenty of great features that make it our runner-up choice for kids.

When looking at the iPad (2018), it’s important to note that many of the features on the newer iPad Air 3 are available here. The similarities include the same 8-megapixel back camera with f/2.4 aperture and 1080p HD video recording with slo-mo video support for 720p at 240 frames per second (FPS). Both models also include Apple’s second-generation Touch ID fingerprint sensor built into the Home button. Battery life is also similar; up to 10 hours of surfing the web and watching a video.

Why shouldn’t you consider the iPad (2018) versus the iPad Air 3 (2019)? The older model offers a slower A10 Fusion chip compared to the A12 Bionic chip with Neural Engine found on the newer model. Additionally, the 2018 version only provides storage up to 128GB, versus up to 256GB.

Pros:

  • Excellent regular price with occasional discounts
  • Apple Pencil support for less
  • At the iPad’s signature display size

Cons:

  • Limited storage options
  • Aging internals
  • No Smart Keyboard support

Runner-up

iPad (2018)

Apple Pencil support for much less

When bells and whistles aren’t necessary, you can’t go wrong with this still-impressive iPad model.

Best for Portability: iPad mini (2019)

On the day Apple revealed the third-generation iPad Air, it also introduced the first new iPad mini since 2015. Weighing just 0.68 pounds, the iPad mini (2019), includes nearly everything you can find on the latest iPad Air, but in a smaller body.

The 7.9-inch tablet has the same A12 chip for better performance, a True Tone display, first-generation Apple Pencil support, and also comes in 64GB and 256GB storage capacities. The only thing it’s missing is a Smart Connector.

Don’t confuse a smaller screen size with spending less, however. We’ve included the iPad mini on this list for one simple reason; if you’re looking for a 7.9-inch iPad, it’s the only game in town. Expect to pay around $100 less than the equivalent iPad Air (2019) and $70 more than the iPad (2018).

Pros:

  • Much like the iPad Air (2019), but with a smaller display
  • Easier to carry than other models
  • Storage up to 256GB

Cons:

  • Pricey for its size
  • No Smart Connector support

Best for Portability

iPad mini (2019)

The small one

When convenience and portability matter, consider the 7.9-inch iPad mini (2019).

Best Value: iPad (2017)

Every iPad on the list up until this point offers support for the first-generation Apple Pencil. Because not everyone wants an iPad that supports the Apple Pencil, we’ve also included the iPad (2017) as another budget option.

Officially the fifth-generation iPad, the 2017 tablet edition is surprisingly similar to the model which replaced it. Like the iPad (2018), the earlier model has a 9.7-inch display and is available with up to 128GB of storage. Inside, you’ll find an 8-megapixel back camera with f/2.4 aperture and functional 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD camera. The tablet also supports 1080p HD video recording.

Other than not supporting the Apple Pencil, the older iPad model also has an older chip (A9 versus A10 Fusion) and comes without « Hey Siri, » although it generally does support Apple’s voice assistant. It’s also the only iPad on this list that is no longer being sold by Apple, although Amazon has plenty of renewed models in stock.

Renewed products are not Apple certified, but have been inspected and tested by Amazon-qualified suppliers. These products come with the 90-day Amazon Renewed Guarantee.

Pros:

  • Great battery life
  • Great discounts
  • Will support iPadOS 13

Cons:

  • Discontinued
  • No Apple Pencil support
  • Weak FaceTime camera

Best Value

iPad (2017)

Not everyone wants to use an Apple Pencil

You can save big money on this iPad, which was officially retired in March 2018 but is still available at some retailers.

Bottom line

If you’re in the market for an iPad for your child, you’ll quickly notice there’s a wide selection from which to choose. Our advice is to go with the newest model, the iPad Air (2019). Yes, it costs more than the iPad (2018). However, for this, you’ll be ahead of the game when it comes to the latest technology. Besides, your kids with thank you!

The iPad Air (2019) features a 10.5-inch display, an advanced chip, and more available storage for all those games your kids will want. It’s also compatible with the first-generation Apple Pencil if you happen to know the next Picasso. Happy shopping!

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Bryan M. Wolfe is a dad who loves technology, especially anything new from Apple. Penn State (go Nittany Lions) graduate here, also a huge fan of the New England Patriots. Thanks for reading. @bryanmwolfe

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