Since the Liquid Retina redesign in 2018, Apple’s advanced iPads have used the universal USB-C connector port instead of Apple’s own Lightning connector. You’ll find a USB-C port on the 11-inch iPad Pro (1st and 2nd generation) and 12.9-inch iPad Pro (3rd and 4th generation) and iPad Air. The latest M1 iPad Pro uses an even better USB-C-style Thunderbolt / USB4 port.
One USB-C or Thunderbolt port will suffice if all you use it for is charging or wired earbuds, but Apple’s tablets can also be used with many other peripherals that turn it into a versatile computer. As such, iPad Pro and iPad Air owners have a wide range of USB-C accessories available to them.
Best USB-C hubs for iPad Pro and iPad Air
HyperDrive 6-in-1 USB-C hub – lightest USB-C hub
Colors: Space Gray, silver
Ports: USB-C PD (5Gbps / 60W), USB-A (5Gbps), HDMI, UHS-I microSD, SD card, 3.5mm audio
Why we love it: The HDMI port means you can add an external monitor, and it can handle 4K monitors at 60Hz, though it can be a push if you use all the other ports at the same time.
This beautiful hub has a grip that attaches it to an iPad Pro without damaging the surface. However, you can remove the grip if you use a third-party iPad cover. It connects directly to the iPad, but it also comes with a USB-C extension cable, so you can also use it as a USB-C hub for your MacBook or other USB-C device. It is also light at just 47 g (1.6 oz) and at 3,66-x-1,3-x-0,39in (93-x-33-x-10 mm) it is small enough to slide down in a pocket.
Satechi USB-C Mobile Pro Hub – smallest USB-C hub
Colors: Space Gray, silver
Ports: USB-C PD (5Gbps / 60W), USB-A (5Gbps), HDMI, 3.5mm audio
Why we love it: There is no microSD or SD card reader or other bells or whistles, but it is the smallest USB-C hub we tested at only 3.25-x-1.06-x-0.38in (83-x- 27-x-0.96cm), and weighs 52 g (1.8 oz). It can also push a 4K screen at 60Hz. Just note that it is not compatible with iPad covers.
Twelve South StayGo mini – the most affordable USB-C hub
Ports: USB-C (for iPad), USB-C PD (85W), USB-A (5Gbps, 7.5W), HDMI 2.0, Audio Out
Why we love it: This small hub can be connected to your iPad (or MacBook) via either the integrated USB-C connector or a detachable cable (20 inches). The cable is useful if your iPad is in a protective case, and you can use your own longer cable if required. StayGo mini adds only four ports, but enough to connect an external monitor (4K at 30Hz), a USB-A device and headphones, as well as power your tablet or laptop at the same time – especially handy for tablets that only has one port.
Twelve South also sells a smaller mini but still very portable StayGo USB-C hub that boasts nine ports, including Gigabit Ethernet and SD and Micro USB card readers along with HDMI, USB-A and USB-C passthrough- the power supply.
Plug-in 7-in-1 USB-C Multiport Adapter – best USB-C hub with gigabit ethernet
Colors: Dark grey
Ports: USB-C PD (5Gbps / 87W), three USB-A (5Gbps), HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet and UHS-I microSD and SD card readers
Why we love it: The integrated USB-C cable on this USB-C hub means that it is a universal hub that works with all USB-C devices and not just the iPad. There is not much missing here when it comes to gates, which explains its slightly larger size and weight. At 3.7 oz (106 g), it’s heavier than most of the other bubs tested here, but it’s still light enough not to be detected in a travel bag and small enough to slip into a trouser pocket. And when you’re at a desk, it’s pushing a 4K monitor at 30Hz with its USB port.
Satechi 6-in-1 Aluminum Stand & Hub – best mini USB-C dock
Colors: Space Gray
Ports: USB-C PD (5Gbps / 60W), USB-A (5Gbps), HDMI (4K at 60Hz), 3.5mm audio and UHS-I microSD and SD card readers
Why we love it: This iPad Pro hub combines both a stand and a convenient selection of easily accessible ports on the back, elevating your iPad to a better angle for viewing and Zoom calling, as well as enabling easy device connection. It folds into a nice portable package (283 g, 10 oz) and connects to the iPad with its integrated USB-C cable, so everything is included.
UGreen USB-C multifunction adapter – best USB-C hub with multiple USB-A ports
Colors: Dark grey
Ports: USB-C PD (5Gbps / 60W), two USB-A (5Gbps), 3.5 mm audio, HDMI
Why we love it: As with other 5Gbps USB-C hubs, the ability to have an external 4K display at 60Hz depends on the number of other hub ports used. It is heavier (75 g; 2.65 oz) and thicker 36-x-17.7-7.8 inches (91-x-45-x-20 mm) than the HyperDrive 6-in-1 hub, but is still very portable. It also supports a 4K display at 60Hz, but while this hub offers two USB-A ports, there is no microSD or SD card reader.
HyperDrive 6-in-1 USB-C Media Hub
Ports: USB-C (for iPad), USB-C PD (5Gbps / 60W), one USB-A (5Gbps), one HDMI 2.0 port, UHS-I SD card, 3.5 mm audio, play / pause / rewind forward / back buttons
Why we love it: In addition to the handy extra ports, this mini-hub adds a number of large play / pause / fast forward / rewind buttons on the top for media control of your movies, songs or podcasts without interrupting your workflow.
We’ve seen faster ports on the other hubs reviewed here, but it’s the media buttons that make the difference here.
It can be connected in a tight fit to the iPad or via a detachable longer 2 “cable if you need the extra length.
It works with iPad Pro 11in & 12.9in, iPad Air 4th Gen or iPad mini 6th Gen, and weighs 41g.
CalDigit SOHO Dock – best USB-C dock for high speed data and external monitors
Ports: Thunderbolt (for iPad), USB-C (10Gbps), USB-C PD (10Gbps / 100W), USB-A (10Gbps), DisplayPort 1.4, HDMI 2.0, UHS II SD, UHS II microSD
Why we love it: This aluminum mini-dock comes with a separate USB-C cable and has the highest specifications. Although quite small, there is room for both DisplayPort and HDMI ports, so you can select your preferred connection to add an external monitor to the iPad. Since the cable is detachable, you can use your own longer cable if needed, but you will need one that is rated to handle 10 Gbps. And due to the high bandwidth, the dock can easily handle a 4K display at 60Hz, even with other ports in use.
CalDigit USB-C HDMI Dock – best Thunderbolt dock
Ports: Thunderbolt (for iPad), USB-C PD (10Gbps / 94W), three USB-A (5Gbps), two HDMI 2.0 ports, gigabit ethernet, UHS-II SD card, 3.5 mm audio
Why we love it: M1 iPad Pro super users will find everything they need on a proper docking station. Despite having USB-C in its name, this dock is compatible with both Thunderbolt and USB-C and is certified to the very latest Thunderbolt 4 and USB4 standards.
It’s expensive, but it will turn an iPad Pro into the full desktop experience as it can charge the iPad Pro and connect a 4K monitor at 60Hz, keyboard, mouse and hard drives.
It even works with your Thunderbolt MacBook Pro when you plug it in instead of the iPad.
Selecting a USB-C hub
With a hub, you can add additional USB ports (Type-C and the older Type-A), SD and MicroSD card readers, gigabit Ethernet, wired headphones, cameras, keyboards and more. You can also connect your iPad Pro to your computer or to an external monitor using a hub USB-C, HDMI, DisplayPort outputs. The latest iPad Pro can even connect to Apple’s Pro Display XDR display.
Some USB-C hubs are specifically designed for the iPad Pro, but you can also use a variety of generic USB-C hubs. And you can take it a step further with a complete docking station that can also work with your laptop. Depending on the model you buy, a hub or dock connects to the iPad and offers a number of additional ports.
Whichever hub you buy will use the iPad’s sole port, so you will need at least one additional USB-C port on the hub for pass-through charging, as you do not want your tablet’s battery to fade in the middle of use. Make sure that at least one of the hub’s USB-C ports is capable of Power Delivery (PD) for charging. And look for high charging power if there is a maximum watt on the hub. The iPad requires at least a 20W charger for fast charging, which all hubs can handle, but a more powerful charger can enable speeds up to 30W.
Multiple USB-C ports on the hub mean you can use them for more modern peripherals and an external monitor that connects via a USB-C cable. The minimum bandwidth on USB 3 is 5 Gbps, so this is the most common speed on hubs, but some offer 10 Gbps that are more capable of things like plugging in an external monitor.
The M1 iPad Pro uses the better Thunderbolt connection. It uses the USB-C connector, but Thunderbolt has bandwidth up to 40 Gbps compared to only 5 Gbps or 10 Gbps for USB. Thunderbolt hubs and docks are more expensive than their simpler USB-C cousins, but super users will benefit from the extra bandwidth.
For example, a Thunderbolt hub or docking can use this bandwidth to connect a 4K monitor running at 60Hz and still have data transfer capacity to other devices such as hard drives.
Universal and reversible, USB-C is a great connector, but most of us still have a few devices connected via the more common Type-A USB port, such as flash memory sticks, hard drives, and input devices. USB-A ports are mainly used for devices with less power, but the ports come at different speeds. USB 2.0 is the slowest with 480 MB. USB 3.2 Gen 1 is rated at 5 Gbps and USB 3.2 Gen 2 is 10 Gbps. Some hubs boast multiple USB-A ports, so consider how many you might need at one time.
SD and microSD card readers
You can connect a camera or card reader directly to the iPad’s USB-C port, but a more flexible option is to use a hub with either an SD or microSD card reader, and many hubs have both. These small memory cards are also an inexpensive portable storage and backup solution with capacities up to 1 TB. Look for the faster UHS-II type reader that can handle up to 312MBps data transfer compared to the UHS-II’s maximum 104MBps.
Wired internet or network access is much faster than WiFi, so if you use your iPad at a desktop, make sure the hub you choose has a gigabit Ethernet port. Otherwise, use a USB-C-to-gigabit Ethernet adapter that connects directly to your iPad.
If you want to connect some wired headphones or a microphone, look for a hub with a 3.5mm audio jack, as neither the iPad Pro nor the iPad Air have one.
A hub is basically essential when using an external monitor because the iPad only has one USB-C port and you can not charge the tablet at the same time. So you want to look for a hub with either two USB-C ports (one for charging) or a hub with an HDMI or DisplayPort (or even VGA if you have an older monitor).
If you want to mirror your iPad’s screen to a larger one, it is possible to connect an external monitor directly with a USB-C cable, but unless the monitor has its own USB-C input, you will need either a USB-C -HDMI or USB-C-to-DisplayPort cable or adapter.
For general productivity purposes, 30Hz display speeds are acceptable for 4K displays, but 60Hz is better for gaming or action graphics video. Depending on the cable, you may get different refresh rates. It’s a bit confusing, but for the most part 5Gbps USB-C is mostly limited to 30Hz (but can be pushed to 60Hz if bandwidth is not occupied by the other ports), a 10Gbps USB-C connection should allow 60Hz 4K, and Thunderbolt will easily push 6K monitors with high refresh rates.