We've all been there. You decide to pick up a shiny new device, so you head to the shops, return home with your expensive purchase and all is well with the world. Then a week later a newer, better version is released, and you're left wondering whether you've wasted your money.

In this article we show how to avoid this trauma by explaining when it's the best time to buy an iPad. If you're struggling to decide which one is the right device for you, you can also take a look at our iPad buying guide and round-up of the Best iPad deals.

Note that Apple has released a new 10.2in iPad during its 10 September 2019, so now is a pretty good time to buy a new iPad. We don't expect any new iPads until at least the Spring, though there could be some good deals around if you can hold out until Black Friday in November.

For related advice, see When is the best time to buy an Apple Watch?

Is the iPad updated every year, like the iPhone?

Sadly not. Life would be a bit easier for the iPad fanbase if you could always rely on the latest update to your preferred model appearing in September, as is the case with the iPhone. Instead, Apple tends to update them more sporadically, either around September/October or April.

For example, the iPad mini saw a major update in March 2019, but the previous model was released back in 2015! Yet the 9.7in iPad saw new versions in April 2017 and 2018, but then nothing in April 2019 (although the 2019 iPad Air could be viewed as a costlier successor to that device), but that all became clear when a new 10.2 model was announced in September. As you can see, the emergence of new devices can be a little tricky to predict with complete accuracy.

Still, we do have past records to go on, plus plenty of rumours from the supply chain. So here's our breakdown of which models you should or shouldn't consider right now.

iPad 9.7in

Apple iPad 9.7in (2018)
  • Last updated: April 2018
  • Should I buy one now? Not unless you can find it at a discounted price

The iPad 9.7in (2018) or 6th-generation iPad arrived back in April 2018, replacing the iPad 9.7in (2017) or 5th-generation iPad that itself debuted in March 2017.

With a starting price of £319/$319 and plenty of classic iPad features, it has been an easy model to recommend for those who don't care about the latest flashy innovations and instead want a reliable, larger tablet for general use. That said, with the September 2019 release of the new iPad 10.2in this 9.7in model has been discontinued.

Unless you find the 9.7in iPad at a discounted price (ie lower than the £349/$329 iPad 10.2in), don't buy it.

iPad mini

Apple iPad mini (2019)
  • Last updated: March 2019
  • Should I buy one now? Yes

If past form is anything to go on, then the iPad mini is the most certain device not to be receiving an update anytime soon. As we mentioned above, the 2019 model received a major overhaul of its components, making it internally identical to the iPad Air. This was a huge step forward from the iPad mini 4 that preceded it, which is hardly surprising as that was released way back in 2015.

The two models look the same, but they are entirely different beasts. The 2019 version is fast, powerful, and can work with the Apple Pencil (1st gen), while its forebear struggles to handle modern games and isn't able to run the new iPadOS.

If you want the surest bet on buying an iPad, it has to be the mini (2019). Get it from Apple.

iPad Air

Apple iPad Air (2019)
  • Last updated: March 2019
  • Should I buy one now? Yes

Another reasonably safe bet is the iPad Air. Reintroduced by Apple after a five-year hiatus, the Air (2019) is a serious device that brings a 10.5in display, A12 Bionic processor, and support for both the Apple Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil (1st gen).

The device was unveiled alongside the iPad mini (2019) in March 2019, and while it's possible that it could receive a spec bump in March 2020, Apple's seeming reluctance to have a yearly upgrade cycle means buyers should be confident that this model will remain current for a good while yet.

Even if a surprise update appears, the power and design of the Air (2019) is well worth the asking price and will prove a faithful companion for years to come.

iPad Pro

Apple iPad Pro 11in (2018)
  • Last updated: October 2018
  • Should I buy one now? Maybe

As the flagships of Apple's tablet range, the iPad Pro 11in and 12.9in are highly desirable devices that boast incredible levels of performance. These features don't come cheap, though, so you'll want to be careful when considering buying one at the moment.

Every year since their introduction in 2015, the iPad Pro line-up has been refreshed in one way or another. The dates and models are somewhat random, though, as the following timeline illustrates:

  • iPad Pro 12.9in (1st gen): Nov 2015
  • iPad Pro 9.7in: Mar 2016
  • iPad Pro 12.9in (2nd gen): Jun 2017
  • iPad Pro 10.5in: Jun 2017
  • iPad Pro 12.9in (3rd gen): Nov 2018
  • iPad Pro 11in: Nov 2018

We did not see an updated 11in or 12.9in model at the September 2019 event, but it's possible we will see one in the Spring (or summer 2020 at WWDC at the latest).

With this in mind, we're wary of giving a strong recommendation on buying an iPad Pro at the moment.