Apple’s iPad lineup has got increasingly complex in recent years, meaning it can be possible to buy a tablet that’s less powerful than another without realising it.
We’ve already put together our Black Friday iPad guide, and in it, we noted that the iPad Air with M1 chip is the best iPad for most users thanks to its combination of features, available accessories, and price point.
Amazon has reduced the price of the iPad Air M1 down to $549 (save $50), for Black Friday, too, meaning the iPad Air with M1 is actually only around $100 more expensive than the latest, but much less capable, iPad 10th generation.
So, what does that extra $100 get you over the (admittedly great, and good-looking) iPad (10th Gen)? The iPad Air M1 is ever so slightly thinner and lighter, but it supports the second generation of Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard Folio. That means you can use it more like a laptop in the future than you could the iPad (tenth generation) which offers a Folio-style case.
There’s plenty that’s similar – both have a 12MP pair of cameras (although the tenth gen iPad finally moves the front-facing one to the landscape side of the device), and both have a 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display that’s only bettered by the iPad Pro.
The biggest differentiator, though, is the M1 chip in the iPad Air. While the A14 chip in the iPad (tenth generation) is no slouch, Apple has already begun rolling out M-series-specific features to the iPad lineup, like true external display support and improved Stage Manager multitasking. That means you may want to invest in an iPad with the M1 chip to ensure you experience the best iPadOS has to offer in the future.
Still not convinced? We called the iPad Air M1 the “ultimate student tablet” when we awarded it 4.5 stars in our iPad Air M1 review. We said “the iPad Air M1 feels uniquely placed to be a more accessible tablet than the much more expensive iPad Pro. Its lightweight, looks great, has a stunning display, and offers excellent value for money.”
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Lloyd Coombes freelance tech and fitness writer for Live Science. He's an expert in all things Apple as well as in computer and gaming tech, with previous works published on TopTenReviews, Space.com, Dexerto and TechRadar. You'll find him regularly testing the latest MacBook or iPhone, but he spends most of his time writing about video games as Editor in Chief at GGRecon.com. He also covers board games and virtual reality, just to round out the nerdy pursuits.