Apple iPad vs iPad Pro

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If you’re in the market for a new tablet, it won’t have escaped your notice that Apple’s long-established iPad is widely regarded as one of the best. However, a slightly trickier question concerns which model should you buy – the iPad 8th Gen, or the iPad Pro?

According to our research, the 10.2-inch iPad 8th Gen is the best you can buy for most users, given it offers great value as a compact but capable tablet. The iPad Pro, on the other hand, gives you a drastic redesign and a notably powerful processor, which will come in handy for those bigger projects, but is unnecessarily expensive for the average buyer.

We take a look at the models side-by-side, so you can see which one works for you.

iPad 8th Gen or iPad Pro – Which is Best?

Though they come from the same stable, the iPad 8th Gen, and iPad Pro are very different beasts. While they may look similar, their functions are poles apart, as indicated by their price tags – the iPad Pro will set you back at least twice as much as the iPad 8th Gen.

There’s no such thing a bad iPad, but there is certainly a right iPad for you. Whether to grab an iPad 8th Gen or an iPad Pro depends entirely on your needs and budget:

If you’re after an iPad, it’s worth knowing that you can’t really go wrong with either the iPad Pro or the iPad 8th Gen. All offer Apple’s trademark attention to detail and pleasing level of polish, and offer more than enough power for the average user.

The Pro excels for creatives and professionals, although we’ve noted that updates to the standard iPad that allow for the use of the Apple Pencil, and the Smart keyboard have somewhat narrowed the gap.

The best choice iPad for virtually everyone. The screen and super processor are perfect for day-to-day browsing and apps, and it’s excellent value

An excellent portable tablet, but it feels less essential in this age of extra-large smartphones – especially as it’s pricier than the iPad 10.2

The absolute best iPad that money can buy, with a price tag to match. Pair it with the Magic Keyboard and it truly is a laptop alternative.

An exceptional tablet, and cheaper than the top-of-the-range 12.9 inch iPad Pro. The screen is glorious and there’s plenty of processing power

A slim tablet with an unbeatable processor and great rear camera, but priced far above the excellent iPad 8th Gen.

iPad 8th Gen Overview

The standard iPad, also know as the 10.5-inch model, may be the cheapest too, but don’t assume that its basic. With an A12 processor and 10.5 inch screen, there’s plenty to love, and at we believe that this is the right iPad for most users. Whether you’re streaming, working or playing games, it will run buttery smooth and won’t let you down. The 10 hour batter life is great too.

In the past the standard iPad has missed out on a few key features that more expensive models have received, but with each iteration, we’re seeing these trickle down. For example, the iPad is now compatible with the iPad Pencil, meaning you can make onscreen notes, or doodle until your heart’s content. The peripheral will cost you an extra $99 though. Not only that, but updates to iPadOS also mean that you can now easily add a mouse, if you want to replicate a more traditional laptop experience.

However, it can’t quite do everything. It’s out classed by the Air and Pro models, which have more powerful processors (A14 an M1, respectively), and is also saddled with the Apple Lightning port, rather than USB-C. However, for most users, it’s an excellent device.

iPad Pro Overview

The 2021 iPad Pro is the most powerful and best iPad Apple has ever made. It supports the Magic Keyboard and the 2nd generation Pencil, the stylus designed for drawing and annotating on the iPad screen.

It’s also the first iPad to receive Apple’s dedicated M1 processor, which it boasts is 50% more powerful than the A12, still found in the iPad and iPad Mini.

There’s a few other key differences too. The design, will still the traditional rectangular slate, has been trimmed, meaning that the bigger 11-inch screen barely takes up much more room than the standard 10.-5 inch model. It even manages to be lighter! The bigger 12.9-inch model doesn’t quite manage the same feat, but even so, it’s far from weighty and is comfortable to hold for extended periods.

The iPad Pro also features a USB-C port, a neat replacement for the traditional Lightning port that is much more practical. It can even be used to power other devices.

All this tech doesn’t come cheap – the Pro starts at $799 for the 11-inch model, but those that need extra power from their iPads will be more than happy to pay up for the most advanced iPad Apple offers.

The iPad 8th Gen is Best for Casual Users

If you’re mainly a browser, streamer or social media addict, then the iPad 8th Gen is the one for you. In fact, it’s the smart choice for pretty much everyone, outside of those with very highest demands on their tech. Chances are that most owners don’t even get close to stretching the iPad, and it’ll happily cope with your daily demands.

The processing boost proves that it’s no slouch, and while the Pro’s display does colors more justice, you won’t have any complaints in isolation. The iPad’s Retina display is still sufficiently gorgeous that your Netflix binges will look superb.

Throw in the iPad’s decent-to-great specs, plus its reasonable price tag, and you’ve got yourself a heck of a tablet that will last you a long time.

Tempted by an iPad Mini or Air? See our full guide – Which iPad Should You Buy

The iPad Pro (12.9-inch) is Best for Designers

If you’re a creative type, then the 12.9-inch Pro makes the most sense for you. Firstly, it has that bigger screen, making is easier to get perspective on your work as well as comfortably work on detail. You’ll also appreciate the new range of color reproduction.

The M1 processor means you’ll be able to do some serious video and image editing, without the iPad breaking into a sweat or slowing you down.

The USB-C port is also a boon for artists, as it allows you to directly plug in a device like a digital camera to your Pro and export photos as soon as you’ve snapped them. It can also plug directly into a large display.

The Pro also boasts improved cameras over the regular iPad, with a 12Mp camera and ability to shoot in 4K.

Need something more than a tablet? See our guide to the Best Laptops for Designers

The iPad Pro (11-inch) is Best for Business

For most office workers, carrying the 12.9-inch Pro between meetings might not be ideal. However, the 11-inch is deceptively diminutive, while still managing to offer up a decent size screen.

That M1 processor means that no matter what applications you’re using for work, you won’t cause your iPad to burst into flames, and it’ll handle the most graphically intense presentation that you can muster with ease.

It’s also a handy tool for business meetings online, with the front facing camera producing a Full HD image, and the four speakers (compared to the iPad’s two) helping pick out the voices of your meeting pals loudly and clearly.

Then there’s the Apple Pencil 2, which does feel like an integral part of the Pro experience. It’s an excellent tool for making notes or sketching ideas quickly, while the clever magnetic hold and charge solution that Apple has hit upon makes it even more compelling.

Another peripheral worth mentioning for business users is Apple’s folio keyboard, which is the perfect companion for the 11-inch model and will make typing those reports a lot more comfortable and enjoyable than doing it on the screen. It also frees the display of the virtual keyboard, so your view won’t be obscured while you work.

For more information, read our guide to the best tablets for business.

Best iPad for Home Working

The last year has upended the traditional work environment for millions of people, with many of us swapping the boardroom for the bedroom, or any other space at home we could find. If you want an iPad best suited for home working, we think that’s the iPad Pro, thanks to its large screen, USB-C port and powerful M1 chip.

However, we know that’s an expensive option, so if you can’t stretch to a Pro, then the standard, 10.2-inch model iPad is a great alternative. The screen isn’t quite as big, but thanks to updates to the iPadOS, even the standard iPad can now almost perfectly mimic a traditional laptop, with folders, and mouse and keyboard support. Not only that, but the 10 hour battery life will keep you going for a long time, whether you’re in the office or at home.

Verdict: Which iPad Should you Buy?

Like we said at the top of the page, knowing which iPad to buy depends entirely on knowing what you’ll be using it for. Hopefully, you’re now somewhat clearer on what that is.

To summarize, if you’re a typical user – and that’s most of us – the iPad 8th Gen will do all you want, and more. Don’t feel like you’re compromising either, in not picking up the premium Pro – the iPad packs a punch in its own right, not to mention boasting a highly detailed screen and a slim design.

If you’re a designer, artist, or simply have high demands from your tablet, plump for the Pro. It’s packed to the gills with processing power that puts many laptops to shame. You won’t be left wanting, and the M1 processor is ideal for image/video editing and general graphically intense work. is reader-supported. If you make a purchase through the links on our site, we may earn a commission from the retailers of the products we have reviewed. This helps to provide free advice and reviews for our readers. It has no additional cost to you, and never affects the editorial independence of our reviews. Click to return to top of page

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Jack is the Content Manager for He has been writing about a broad variety of technology subjects for over a decade, both in print and online, including laptops and tablets, gaming, and tech scams. As well as years of experience reviewing the latest tech devices, Jack has also conducted investigative research into a number of tech-related issues, including privacy and fraud.