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The best iPads for photo editing, video editing and photography in 2021

best iPads
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

We've put together this guide to the best iPads for photographers so you can find the tablet that's right for you and your photo editing. More and more photographers are taking to iPads as great portable tools for editing photos, and with these tablets getting more powerful with every iteration, the days of having to suffer with sub-par performance are long past.

Just like all of the best tablets for photographers in general, iPads provide a superior balance between portability and power. Slim enough to take anywhere, they're great for giving you an easy, streamlined way to edit and share your images while on location or in transit. All iPads use the app store of course, and this gives you a huge range of programs to choose from when it comes to editing your photos, from the mighty Adobe Photoshop, to smaller and more specialised solutions.

The range of iPads is broad and covers a lot of different price points. There are compact options like the iPad Mini and serious pro-level tablets like the flagship iPad Pro, and several in between, so you can be confident there will be a tablet pitched at your level. We've included the newest iPads in this guide, as well as some more affordable older options that are still in production, so there should be something for every budget.

How to choose the best iPad for photo editing

As we mentioned, there are a range of iPads available, so what are the differences and how do you pick the best iPad for your needs?

Let's start off with the regular iPad. This is the best mid-range iPad that offers a large and vibrant screen (10.2-inches), whilst remaining thin and light enough to easily carry around with you. It has enough power to run photo and video editing apps without a hitch, and new models also support the Apple Pencil stylus (check out the best stylus for iPads). Crucially, the asking price of the iPad sits between the expensive iPad Pro and iPad mini when it comes to size and power, making it a great compromise. If you get the 2018 model, you get a smaller 9.7-inch screen, which may be more appealing to some people.

If you want something that's more portable - then the iPad mini is the best iPad for you. With a screen size of 7.9-inches, this is an ideal tablet for carrying around with you. The screen is still large enough to use comfortably, and thanks to the gorgeously vibrant and sharp image quality, it's a great iPad for showing clients your work.

The latest model also features some of Apple's best hardware yet, and it's also compatible with the Apple Pencil, making it great for photo editing and doodling. The iPad mini used to be the cheapest iPads, but the most recent version is actually more expensive than the standard iPad - but considering the power and size, it's well worth the investment.

Last year also saw the release of a new iPad Air. This is a great compromise device that offers a larger 10.5-inch screen, while remaining affordable - and as the name suggests, it's also lightweight enough to comfortably carry around as well.

Finally, there's the top-of the range iPad Pro, which has been updated for 2020. These are larger, more powerful models of the iPad that come in 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch sizes, and feature power and performance (as well as price tags) that rival laptops. They are great for working on intensive apps, like video and photo editors, and if you're after an iPad that can double as a laptop (you'll need to buy a keyboard, however) then this is a good shout.

Now you know the options, read on for our pick of the best iPads for photo editing and photographers.

The best iPad in 2021

(Image credit: Apple)

1. iPad Pro 12.9 (2020)

The very best iPad for photographers

Weight: 639g | Dimensions: 280.4 x 214.8 x 5.8 mm | OS: iPadOS 14 | Screen size: 12.9-inch | Resolution: 2048 x 2732 pixels | CPU: A12Z Bionic | Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB | microSD slot: No | Battery: 9,720mAh | Rear cameras: 12MP wide (f/1.8), 10-MP ultra-wide (f/2.4) | Front camera: 7MP

Faster performance than ever
Improved battery life
Full mouse/keyboard support
Apps still need to catch up
Magic keyboard costs extra

Apple finally updates its flagship iPad after two years of waiting, and accordingly knocks it out of the park. The iPad Pro 12.9 for 2020 is arguably the finest tablet ever made, and a seriously powerful device for photographers.

Though it may look virtually identical to the 2018 version, the iPad Pro 12.9 for 2020 has undergone plenty of improvement, not least of which is the new A12Z Bionic chip that delivers faster than ever performance across the board. This iPad is lightning-fast, and it's clear that Apple are gunning for their users to replace personal computers with this model. It's got support for the new Magic Keyboard (though that'll cost extra), and though app developers need to do some catching up to the new mouse/keyboard inputs offered by the new iPad, it's certainly a boon for photographers who may prefer this method of editing to the touchscreen.

Battery life is also majorly improved over the 2018 model, and given that this was one of that iPad's major flaws, it makes this edition pretty tough to come up with any arguments against. If you can foot the pretty hefty cost, then you'll enjoy serious processing power and a gorgeous display in the best iPad Apple has ever produced... for now.

• See best iPad Pro cases

(Image credit: Apple)

2. iPad 10.2

The best iPad for most photographers

Weight: 483g | Dimensions: 250.6 x 174.1 x 7.5mm | OS: iPadOS 13 | Screen size: 10.2-inch | Resolution: 1620 x 2160 pixels | CPU: A10 Fusion | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32/128GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: 8,827mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP

Slightly bigger screen
Works with the Smart Keyboard
Marginally better than iPad 9.7
iPad Air is superior for sketching

If you like the look of the iPad Pro, but its price tag puts you off - and you won't quite need all that power - then the iPad 10.2 is a brilliant choice. You still get a large and vibrant screen, and it supports most of the peripherals that the iPad Pro does, including the excellent Apple Pencil.

It's also had a bit of a specs upgrade since the previous model, and it now comes with an extra gigabyte of RAM. This makes all the difference when it comes to opening and using apps - they now feel faster and more responsive than ever before.

Add in the gorgeous design Apple is known for, and this more affordable iPad offers some brilliant features for many photographers.

(Image credit: Apple)

3. iPad Mini (2019)

The best compact iPad for photographers

Weight: 304g | Dimensions: 203.2 x 134.8 x 6.1 mm | OS: iPadOS 13 | Screen size: 7.9-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 pixels | CPU: A12 Bionic | Storage: 64GB/256GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: 5,124mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 7MP

Perfect portable size
Surprisingly powerful specs
Bezel-heavy design
Uses the older Apple Pencil

The two iPads above this are big devices which offer great experiences for working on, but what about photographers who are often travelling? Carrying around such large iPads isn't always convenient, which is why the iPad mini is such a great choice.

It comes in a compact size with a 7.9-inch display, yet it's also impressively powerful, with Apple's recent processor. Compared to compact Android tablets, the iPad mini blows them out of the water when it comes to performance, and it can even compete with Apple's larger devices.

This is definitely the best iPad for photographers who spend a lot of time on the road.

(Image credit: Apple)

4. iPad Air 10.5

A brilliant all-round iPad

Weight: 456g | Dimensions: 250.6 x 174.1 x 6.1 mm | OS: iPadOS 13 | Screen size: 10.5-inch | Resolution: 1668 x 2224 pixels | CPU: A12 Bionic | Storage: 64GB/256GB | microSD slot: No | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 7MP

Brilliant-looking laminated screen
Cheapest Smart Keyboard iPad
Uses the 1st Gen Apple Pencil
Traditional design doesn't wow

If you want a bit more power than the entry-level iPads, but don't want to spend a huge amount on the iPad Pro, then the iPad Air is the best iPad for you. It's cheaper than the iPad Pro, while still offering a large screen and enough power to run photo editing apps with ease.

It is compatible with Apple's Smart Keyboard Cover, meaning you don't need to deal with tricky Bluetooth keyboard connections if you want to type up emails, documents and more.

It's all powered by Apple's A12 chipset, which is also used in the iPhone XS. This means it's a very fast tablet that's large enough to work on, while being thin and light enough to still easily carry around. A winning combination, in our book.

(Image credit: Apple)

5. iPad Pro 11

Another brilliant iPad Pro for photographers

Weight: 468g | Dimensions: 247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9 mm | OS: iPadOS 13 | Screen size: 11-inch | Resolution: 2388 x 1668 pixels | CPU: A12X Bionic | Storage: 64GB/256GB/512GB/1TB | microSD slot: No | Battery: 7,812mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 7MP

Pencil clips on, finally
Insane amount of power for a tablet
Software limits laptop experience
Pencil and keyboard expensive extras

If you want the iPad Pro experience, but the 12.9-inch version at the top of this list is too large and expensive, then the 11-inch version will be for you. It's got the same features and design as the larger model, but in a smaller body.

So, you get amazing performance, brilliant speakers and impressively thin bezels around the screen which makes the iPad Pro 11 look and feel modern, while also keeping the overall size of the iPad as small as possible, while maintaining that lovely large 11-inch screen.

This is an ideal iPad for photographers who have the budget for one of the most powerful tablets around.

(Image credit: apple)

6. iPad 9.7 (2017)

An oldie, but a goodie

Weight: 469g | Dimensions: 240 x 169.5 x 7.5mm | OS: iPadOS 13 | Screen size: 9.7-inch | Resolution: 1536 x 2048 pixels | CPU: A9 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 32GB/128GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: 8,827mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP

Good screen quality
Powerful for the price
Apple Pencil costs extra
Getting old

iPads are brilliant devices, but they can often be quite expensive. One of the best ways, then, to get an affordable iPad, is to buy one of the older models. Even though this iPad was released three years ago, it's still a brilliant performer, and while more modern iPads come with features and performance you won't get with this iPad, you can still run pretty much any app you want to on it.

The main selling point is the price, though. If you're a photographer who wants to get started with an iPad, but you're conscious of spending too much money on one of Apple's tablets, then going for the older iPad from 2017 is the best choice for you.

Read more:
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The best photo-editing laptops
The best desktop computers for photo editing