The best iPads for gaming show just how versatile Apple’s tablets are. Not only are they fantastic tools for digital artists or even interior designers, they can also be great gaming devices when you want to sit back and relax.
Since iPads can run the same iOS games as iPhones, this means they have access to a gigantic library of games. Mobile games have evolved rapidly over the years, and nowadays many of them offer the level of complexity and graphics that you used to only find on gaming consoles.
There is a huge range of iPads available at the moment. So which iPad model is best for gaming? Read on, and if you want an iPad for more productive reasons, check out our guides to the best iPads for graphic design or the best iPads for drawing.
If you’re looking for the best all-round iPad for gaming then we recommend the iPad (2022) as it offers a fantastic balance of affordability, performance and features.
It’s the cheapest iPad in Apple’s current lineup, and thanks to its recent upgrade, it offers excellent overall performance. While the A14 chip isn’t as powerful as the iPad Pros M1 and M2 (also included in this guide), it’s powerful enough to play mobile games on it. Keep in mind that these games are designed primarily for iPhones, so much more power is an overstatement.
It also has a large and vibrant 10.9-inch (2360 x 1640) Liquid Retina display that makes games look amazing, and the larger screen size means many games, especially text-heavy ones, are much more comfortable to play. Read more in our iPad 2022 review.
However, if you’re looking for something more portable, consider the iPad mini below.
Unlike most other iPad models, the iPad mini didn’t get an update last year, so the 2021 model is still the latest you can get. The good news is that it remains a brilliant tablet and can still play modern iPad games with relative ease.
What we love about the iPad mini for gaming is that with an 8.3-inch screen (which is a step up from the 7.9-inch previous models), it’s extremely easy to take with you. If you’re looking for a gaming device that’s almost as portable as the legendary GameBoy, then this is the iPad for you.
Despite the smaller screen, games still look fantastic thanks to the Liquid Retina display with a resolution of 2266 x 1488 at 326 pixels per inch, which is impressively sharp and vibrant.
It’s also packed with performance thanks to the A15 Bionic chip, USB-C support and 5G connectivity. So if you have the right mobile plan, you can download games and play online multiplayer on the go. It also supports the Apple Pencil 2, so you can once again take advantage of this excellent stylus and its advanced features, which may not help you in gaming, but means you can use it for creative work too. Read more in our full iPad mini (6th generation) review.
If you want the absolute ultimate gaming experience on an iPad, and money is no object, then the all-new 12.9-inch M2 iPad Pro is by far the ticket. Powered by the enormously powerful M2 chip, which is also found in MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022), even the most graphics-intensive games run smoothly on this thing.
In fact, there’s an argument that the M2 chip is an overstatement, and while that’s true, it also means this is an incredibly future-proof iPad for gaming – it will be Years before any game makes life difficult for the iPad Pro. If you’re a game designer, the power on offer here means you can code and test your games too.
Perhaps more importantly, the iPad Pro comes with a huge 12.9-inch Mini-LED XDR display. Not only is this the biggest screen you can get on an iPad, but the mini-LED technology makes games look phenomenal. However, keep in mind that the overall size of the iPad Pro is very large compared to other iPads and tablets, so you might find it less portable.
Paired with the Apple Pencil 2 you also have a great tablet for creative work, which means you might be able to better justify that purchase as this is a very expensive iPad if you’re going to be using it for other things too. If you just want to play on it, check out this guide for cheaper iPads that offer better value for money. See our iPad Pro (M2, 2022) review (opens in new tab) for more informations.
Released in April 2022, the latest iPad of them all is the 5th generation iPad Air. Apple has made its mid-range tablet much more professional, giving it the same M1 processor as the 2021 iPad Pros. This means it performs incredibly well on even the most advanced iPad games, making it a great alternative to the more expensive iPad Pro.
Combined with the stunning 10.9-inch 1640 x 2360 Liquid Retina IPS LCD screen, games look and play amazing. The smaller screen and thin design (this is an “Air” product, after all) mean the iPad Air is a great middle ground and offers excellent performance, but in a more portable body. It also comes in a variety of color options, giving this iPad a bit more personality compared to some others.
While it gets many things right, it’s not perfect. The new iPad Air also gets a new, higher price tag, making it worryingly close to the iPad Pro. If you’re a gamer who wants the biggest screen to play with, you might want to save a little more for the iPad Pro.
It also means people on a budget might want to look elsewhere too – like the new iPad, for example, which tops this list. The 64GB storage offered in the base device is on the small side, so you should probably go for the 256GB version if you install a lot of games. For more details, see our full iPad Air (5th gen, 2022) review.
The 2021 model of the base iPad may be two years old now, but it’s still a fantastic iPad to play with. It offers a choice of 64GB and 256GB of storage, which at the time of its launch was the largest capacity you could get on an iPad.
In 2023, most modern iPads also offer these amounts of storage, and while that means the iPad (2021) loses one of its unique selling points, it also means that if you opt for this older model, you won’t sacrifice storage.
There are many more reasons to choose this model. Its 10.2-inch, 1620 x 2160 resolution LCD screen is big and good-looking, and it can easily run any iPad game.
The most compelling reason to choose this model is the new low price. Apple has stopped selling this model but other retailers still carry it and since the newer model is no longer available you can pick this up at an impressively low price if you want to play on the iPad but don’t have a lot to spend , that’s it to get. For more information, see our more in-depth iPad 10.2 (2021) review.