We've all been there. You decide to pick up a shiny new device, so you head to the shops and return home with your expensive purchase; 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, incidentally, you should also take a look at our iPad buying guide. For advice on where to buy, read our roundup of the Best iPad deals.)

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

Is the iPad updated once a 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 updates its iPads on a less predictable schedule, with new models tending to appear around September/October or April.

For example, the iPad mini saw a major update in March 2019, having previously been refreshed back in 2015! The 9.7in iPad, meanwhile, saw new versions in April 2017 and April 2018, but then nothing turned up in April 2019. 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 the five types of iPad that Apple currently sells, and in each case whether you should buy now or wait.

iPad (10.2in): Buy now or wait?

Apple iPad 9.7in (2018)
  • Last updated: September 2021
  • Buy now or wait: Yes, you can buy now: a new model was launched in September 2021

The current iPad 10.2in arrived in September 2021 (which was a bit of a surprise as we expected to be waiting until October).

With a starting price of £319/$329 (that's £10 less here in the UK) and plenty of classic iPad features, this has been an easy model to recommend for those who don't care about the latest flashy innovations and instead want a reliable, mid-size tablet for general use.

The new model has a much better FaceTime camera than the older model, which is a great reason to buy it!

iPad mini: Buy now or wait?

Apple iPad mini (2019)
  • Last updated: September 2021
  • Buy now or wait: Yes, you can buy now: a new model was launched in September 2021 and it's great!

The 2021 iPad mini received a major overhaul both of its components and its design. This was a huge step forward from the iPad mini 5 that preceded it. There are new much improved cameras, and the iPad mini has the exact same processor as the new iPhone 13 series, so it's now better than the iPad Air currently on sale!

iPad Air: Buy now or wait?

Apple iPad Air (2019)
  • Last updated: September 2020
  • Buy now or wait: There may be an update in the spring of 2022, but we don't expect a huge update, so if you need one now is still a good time to buy

The iPad Air (2020) is a stunning machine at a comparatively affordable price; but you wouldn't want to spend £579/$599 only to see an even nicer version appear within a couple of weeks.

The good news is that it's unlikely that the iPad Air will be undated until at least spring 2022, and then, if it is, we don't expect much more than a specs bump to bring it into line with the iPad mini (2021). So, if you want an A13 and a better FaceTime camera with your iPad Air wait until then, otherwise, you can buy now. 

iPad Pro: Buy now or wait?

Apple iPad Pro 11in (2018)
  • Last updated: April 2021
  • Buy now or wait: Buy now

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 when to buy.

The good news is that they were last updated in the spring of 2021, and Apple is extremely unlikely to launch a new Pro in the immediate future. The iPad Pro line-up has been refreshed at somewhat random intervals, as the following timeline illustrates, but you should be safe to buy right away.

  • 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