Just a few years ago, the iPad seemed to be a kind of wallflower in the Apple cosmos - the iPhone was so much more important. In some ways the iPad appeared to be a kind of unnecessary side business.

But this assessment was obviously wrong - while iPhone sales today show slight weaknesses, Apple tablets continue to soar. Probably not least because of the home office boom during the pandemic, tablets have been in great demand. iPad sales increased by almost 50 percent in the second half of 2020 and in the first quarter of 2021 alone generate 7.8 billion sales for Apple.

Tablet more popular than laptop

If you estimate the daily use time of users - from Instagram to Netflix to Zoom, the iPad has probably overtaken the notebook for many, and not only as a "couch computer". Many also used an iPad instead of the MacBook when working in the office. With an Apple keyboard, an iPad is a mobile and efficient companion, not least for meetings. There are also the many pupils and students who were also able to survive homeschooling with the help of their £320 iPad.

We are not saying that an iPad can always replace a notebook. Whether it is suitable for your own work is dependent on the nature of the tasks you need to carry out - a tablet is ideal for everyday reading of texts and for video chat, less useful for producing and entering content. In our opinion, the notebook or desktop with full-size keyboard and mouse is still unbeatable here.

In part, the popularity of the iPad is probably also due to the weak Android competition, as well as the good device management software. Although the Android platform has caught up here, Apple scores points with a clear model policy and long device support. Samsung may have a real competitor on offer with its Galaxy tabs, while Microsoft, with its touch devices, is probably more likely to provide pressure on laptops from Lenovo and HP.

What to expect from Apple's new iPads

The update cycles on the iPads are similar to those of the iPhones: Usually we get a completely new design of an iPad, such as the iPad Air or Pro, followed by several years of minor update (better processors, improved displays, etc). Little has changed on the iPad Pro since 2018 so a design update could be due.

iPad Air

iPad Air

Perhaps Apple's most popular iPad is the iPad Air, which is more powerful and modern than the standard model. An update is overdue and all being well a new version with a faster chip is likely to be released in the spring. We can expect either the A15 or the M1 (although the M1 and M2 will probably be reserved for iPad Pro models).

You will also probably have to do without the HDR display and mini LED of the iPad Pro, as the distance to the significantly more expensive models must be maintained - unfortunately this also applies to pro motion technology.

However, a better front camera with ultra-wide angle is expected in the follow-up model. The new wide-angle function may seem like an unnecessary gimmick, but is a significant benefit for video conferences. 5G is also to be expected, a new design is not. Even so, however, the Air should become the best-selling iPad model again following the update.

Read about the 2022 iPad Air.

iPad Pro

Thanks to the inclusion of the fast M1 chip that Apple already uses in the MacBook Air, 13in MacBook Pro, Mac mini and 24in iMac, the current iPad Pro is a real performer. If there are no delays an update should appear in the second half of the year.

The design of the current iPad Pro was last updated in 2018, so a new design could be due here. Apparently, Apple is planning a housing with glass backing to enable wireless charging, as with the iPhones.

MagSafe support for the iPad is also said to be in the works. However, Apple will probably avoid choosing a solution like the MacBook Pro, where Thunderbolt and MagSafe are available as their own ports. Charging other devices from the iPad may be possible.

However, you will have to do without a faster chip like Apple's M1 Pro or Max, the heat development of these chips is too high for an iPad. We suspect that improved battery life will also be on the agenda.

Read about the 2022 iPad Pro.


iPad 2021

This might be the cheapest iPad model, but you still get solid technology at an entry-level price. It’s not only consumers looking for a bargain that buy this model, Apple also targets the education sector for whom Apple must keep a cheap tablet on offer. In that market there is strong competition from cheap Chromebooks so a low price is essential if Apple wishes to continue playing here. For educational institutions Apple sells the iPad at the low price of £299/$299.

In order to remain profitable despite the low price, Apple is likely to do without expensive display technologies and will probably continue to rely on the home button and touch ID for the next model. Other ways Apple can keep production costs down are by using the housings, modules and older chips of older iPad models. And by retaining the 4G modem Apple can save money as it costs a fraction of the 5G model in the iPad mini.

It is not without reason that the iPad continues to be popular. The design is a bit dated, but it offers great performance and has the best price-performance ratio. In 2021 it even got the Ultra Wide-angle Camera with Center Stage (Center Stage) as seen on the iPad Pro and the iMac, plus it got twice the storage space of the iPad from 2020.

A slightly improved successor will not be available until the end of 2022, or even the beginning of 2023. However, the current chip crisis could cause delays here. Apple even had to postpone the production of iPads at the end of 2021 in order to have enough chips available for its more profitable iPhones.

Read our 2021 iPad review

iPad mini

The release of a new small iPad mini was no surprise in 2021, the small form factor for certain tasks is practical. It’s also a great size for small hands and is a popular choice for children.

Since the latest update the iPad mini has been one version ahead of the iPad Air. It also has a higher price than the iPad. With so much up-to-date technology and its elaborate design, the small iPad is not a bargain. But you get what you pay for in terms of innovations such as 5G.

The next iPad Mini is not expected in 2022 - Apple has always updated the mini models a little less often than the other series.

Read our 2021 iPad mini review.

This is part of a series of articles about what to expect from Apple in 2022:

Also see:

Apple Trends 2022: The High-End Macs Are Coming

Apple Trends 2022: iOS 16 will be a big surprise

Apple Trends 2022: macOS could be a Mammoth update

This article originally appeared on Macwelt. Translation by Karen Haslam.