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Which iPad should you buy on Black Friday?

iPads on Black Friday
(Image credit: Future)

As Black Friday iPad deals approach, those looking to upgrade their tablets, or dive into the world of Apple's luxury slates, may be wondering exactly which device they should be buying. Apple currently has five iPads on the market; the 10.2-inch 2021 iPad, iPad Air 4, iPad Mini 6, iPad Pro 11-inch, and iPad Pro 12.9-inch. Deciding which iPad you should buy on Black Friday this year will come down to how you plan on using your device, and how much you're willing to spend for the best experience in your budget. 

The cheapest iPad on the market right now is the entry-level 10.2-inch 2021 model. This is the basic, everyday device that the vast majority of users will be seeking in this year's sales. However, if you're going to be using your device for more intensive work, note-taking, or media editing, you'll likely need to upgrade to one of Apple's more premium models. 

The iPad Air, iPad Mini, and iPad Pro models all have their own strengths and individual use-cases. That's why we're rounding up all the key differences, and who should buy which iPad on Black Friday right here. Before that, though, you'll find all the key specs of each model listed below for a snapshot overview.

iPad 10.2-inch (2021)iPad Air 4iPad Mini (2021)iPad Pro 11-inchiPad Pro 12.9-inch
DisplayRetina at 1620 x 2160Liquid Retina at 1640 x 2360Liquid Retina at 1488 x 2266Liquid Retina IPS 120Hz at 1668 x 2388Liquid Retina XDR mini-LED 120Hz at 2048 x 2732
Display Size10.2-inch10.9-inch8.3-inch11-inch12.9-inch
ProcessorA13 BionicA14 BionicA15 BionicM1M1
RAM3GB4GB4GB8GB-16GB8GB-16GB
Storage64GB / 256GB64GB / 256GB64GB / 256GB128GB / 256GB / 512GB / 1TB / 2TB128GB / 256GB / 512GB / 1TB / 2TB
Cameras8MP back, 12MP front12MP back, 7MP front12MP back, 12 MP front12MP back + 10MP Ultrawide, 12MP front12MP back + 10MP Ultrawide, 12MP front
Video1080p at 25/30fps, 720p at 120fps4K at 24/30/60fps, 1080p at 30/60/120/240fps1080p at 25/30/60fps4K at 24/25/30/60fps, 1080p at 25/30/60/120/240fps4K at 24/25/30/60fps, 1080p at 25/30/60/120/240fps
Battery lifeUp to 10 hoursUp to 10 hoursUp to 10 hoursUp to 10 hoursUp to 10 hours
Accessory supportSmart keyboard / Apple Pencil Gen 1Magic keyboard / Smart keyboard / Apple Pencil Gen 2Apple Pencil Gen 2Magic keyboard / Smart keyboard / Apple Pencil Gen 2Magic keyboard / Smart keyboard / Apple Pencil Gen 2
PortLightningUSB-CUSB-CUSB-CUSB-C
Touch-IDHome buttonLock buttonSide-mountedNA - FaceIDNA - FaceID

Which iPad should you buy on Black Friday?

As mentioned above, when it comes down to it, you'll find out which iPad you should buy on Black Friday by considering how you will be using the device. You'll find all the models and a quick rundown of which uses are best suited to each just below, but we're going into more detail just underneath the chart. 

iPad 10.2-inch (2021)iPad Air 4iPad Mini (2021)iPad Pro 11-inchiPad Pro 12.9-inch
MSRP$329 / £319$599 / £579$499 / £479$799 / £749$1,099 / £999
Web browsingYYYYY
StreamingYYYYY
GamingLightYYYY
Note-takingLightYYYY
Simple workflowsYYYYY
Multi-tasking NLightNYY
Media editingNLightLightYY

As the most affordable model on the market, those who simply need a device for web browsing, streaming, and some lighter work (note-taking, emails, and Numbers / Keynote applications) will be best served by the $329 / £319 10.2-inch iPad. The A13 processor and 3GB RAM inside might feel a little weaker compared to the more expensive models but will easily see you through everyday use, gaming, and entertainment. You can even use the first-generation Apple Pencil here, for light creative work as well. The vast majority of users should buy a 10.2-inch iPad on Black Friday if simply after a larger screen for gaming, web browsing, streaming, and a little note-taking.

However, if you're going to be regularly taking notes with Apple Pencil, and need a device that can keep up with some lighter multi-tasking and slightly heavier workflows, we'd recommend checking out the iPad Air 4. You're getting a beefier processor and a little extra RAM to keep up with more demanding apps and split-screen, as well as an improved display for streaming and gaming. Plus, the iPad Air uses the second-generation Apple Pencil, opening you up to easy magnetic charging, a more comfortable design, and touch gestures as well. Buy an iPad Air on Black Friday if you're seeking a little more power than the 10.2-inch model can provide, but won't be pushing demanding media editing apps or heavier multi-tasking workflows too far.

Apple iPad Pro

(Image credit: Future)

The iPad Air 4 still won't be enough if media editing is on your list, though. The smarts inside the iPad Pro 11-inch and 12.9-inch devices are required for editing high-quality video, audio, and photo files. The extra processing power in that blindingly fast M1 CPU, as well as the extra RAM, larger displays, and extra storage mean these are devices for those who are either pushing the iPad's media editing capabilities to their full capacity or looking to replace a conventional laptop experience. This is also one of the best gaming tablets on the market right now. We'd recommend buying an iPad Pro on Black Friday if you're looking to use a tablet for all of your work, or if a significant portion of your work is media editing on the go.

The iPad Mini 6 is an outlier here. A smaller 8.3-inch screen means there's little room for multi-tasking, though Apple Pencil Gen 1 support means you'll still be able to take light notes. Instead, the appeal of the iPad Mini lies in its form factor. If you're looking for a smaller device, the Mini is your only option. However, Apple has stacked this device particularly well for gaming and more demanding apps, with that A15 processor under the hood. Buy an iPad Mini on Black Friday if you're looking for a one-handed device but don't want to sacrifice that Apple design.

Black Friday iPad price predictions

Of course, buying the right iPad on Black Friday will also come down to the discounts you can find on each model. You'll find all our predictions for this month's offers just below so you can benchmark your budget accordingly.

iPad 2021iPad Air 4iPad Mini 6iPad Pro 11-inchiPad Pro 12.9-inch
MSRP$329$599$499$799$1,099
Record Low$299$499$459$699$999
Expected Black Friday Price$299$479 - $499$459 - $499$649 - $699$949 - $999

If you're after more Apple discounts, we're also rounding up all the Black Friday AirPods deals we're expecting to see this year, as well as the best Black Friday laptop deals already available for those after a more conventional computing experience. If you're set on the best of the best, though, it's worth paying particularly close attention to the best iPad Pro deals on the shelves now.

Tabitha Baker

I originally landed in hardware at our sister site TechRadar before moving over to GamesRadar. In between, I've written for Tom’s Guide, Wireframe, The Indie Game Website and That Video Game Blog, covering everything from the PS5 launch to the Apple Pencil. Now, i'm focused on Nintendo Switch, keyboards, mice, and the quest for an RTX gaming laptop.