How to choose the right iPad for you

Shopping for an iPad can be overwhelming. Apple sells five iPad models in a wide range of sizes and capabilities. Each tablet has its strengths and weaknesses. You don’t want to have a feature that doesn’t have all the features you want, but you also don’t want to pay a lot for features that you won’t use.

Here are some straightforward tips on choosing the right iPad for you.

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Which iPad should I get?

Instead of feeling stressed by the many options, consider instead the advantages of the wide range of Apple tablets available. The smallest is the iPad mini with an 8.3-inch screen. The largest is the iPad Pro with a 12.9-inch screen. Prices range from $329 to $1,099. There’s the right iPad out there for you.

But before we get into the differences, let’s think about the strengths they all share. Any of these computers can use the Apple Pencil to take notes or draw, and they do it very well. (Alternatively, you can use a third-party stylus.)

Plus, you can add a keyboard and trackpad that can be clicked to turn any amazing tablet into a high-powered laptop. Then, at the end of the day, pull the keyboard back and lean back to enjoy games or a video.

One such device is the right tablet for you.
Graphic: Ed Hardy / Cult Mac

Let’s do a quick summary of the options:

  • iPad: 10.2-inch display, Lightning, Apple Pencil 1, $329
  • iPad mini: 8.3-inch display, Apple Pencil 2, USB-C, $499
  • iPad Air: 10.9-inch display, Apple Pencil 2, USB-C, $599
  • iPad Pro: 11-inch screen, Apple Pencil 2, USB-C, $799
  • iPad Pro: 12.9-inch display, Apple Pencil 2, USB-C, $1,099

The regular iPad is a powerful computer at a low price

The 10.2-inch iPad is the most popular model for an obvious reason: It costs just $329. That’s about a third of the price of the cheapest MacBook. Even adding a clickable keyboard and trackpad to let the tablet turn into a laptop still puts it at less than half the cost of a MacBook.

Also, the budget iPad is a very capable computer—everything a young student could need. Heck, he can do everything most adults need for their personal lives.

The 10.2 inch screen is large enough to be usable. It’s a little cramped for side-by-side multitasking, but it’s larger than the 9.7-inch screen that’s been the only option for several years.

iPad Cons: This budget tablet generally uses a processor that debuted a couple of years ago. This means that regardless of version, the base iPad is one of Apple’s slowest tablets. It offers decent performance but is not a speed demon. It is Apple’s smallest full-size tablet.

iPad mini is very portable

The best computer is the one you have with you. A 16-inch laptop isn’t very useful if it’s too bulky to carry around often.

Consider the size advantage of the iPad mini, which measures just 7.7 inches in its tallest dimensions and weighs just over half a pound. However, it still boasts an 8.3-inch screen. iPadOS makes a powerful PC, outperforming even the largest iPhone for watching video or playing games.

But where he really shines is for him to be an e-book reader. There is no better iPad than this one to lay back and enjoy a novel.

On the other end of the scale, you can add a clickable keyboard to make the little laptop of your dreams.

iPad mini Cons: Anyone planning to use the iPad mini as their everyday tablet needs a good view of the 8.3-inch screen. And at $500, it’s a bit pricey if all you’re looking for is an e-book reader.

iPad Air is Goldilocks for tablets

We all grew up with the “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” story. Well, the iPad Air is like its third bowl of porridge. that it just right Because it offers a better set of features than the cheaper model but is less expensive than the first.

With a 10.9-inch screen and a reasonably powerful processor, it’s ready for anything most users need, from watching a video to writing a novel. And while it can’t deliver the raw performance of the iPad Pro series, it costs at least $200.

The USB-C port allows you to connect Mac accessories so that you can, for example, use an external monitor and a solid network.

If you’ve been using a basic iPad for a while and are ready for a newer and better model, iPad Air might be your best choice. Especially if you don’t have the money to get a professional.

iPad Air Cons: There are quite a few flaws in Apple’s Goldilocks tablet. Just note that it costs twice as much as a 10.2-inch iPad — sure you need the extra capabilities.

iPad Pro ready for the pro

People who make a tablet usually choose the iPad Pro as their primary computer because it’s Apple’s biggest and most powerful device. Someone who uses a computer all day doesn’t want to compromise.

It’s built around a surprisingly powerful Apple M-series processor, the same chip used in MacBooks. This gives it a performance comparable to that of Apple mobile devices. Not the latest MacBook Pro, but still.

However, Apple has made iPadOS simpler than macOS. This often makes it easier to use, which is beneficial for ordinary users. But advanced capabilities are missing, and this frustrates some hardcore users.

With the tablet’s USB-C port, it can connect to just about any accessory your Mac can. And there’s Thunderbolt support for high-speed file transfers, too.

Unlike other Apple tablets, this model comes in two sizes. Choosing which of these is right for you is just as important as choosing between the iPad Pro and the iPad Air.

iPad Pro 11 inch

As noted, tablet buyers are drawn to the Pro models because they offer the best performance. And the 11-inch iPad Pro offers that in a more portable design than its big brother. If you expect to carry your computer frequently, this might be the version for you.

12.9 inch iPad Pro

There is no better option than the 12.9-inch iPad Pro for someone who will make a tablet as their primary computer. The screen is big enough to be used all day, and the processor can easily handle just about anything you ask of it.

The full size display makes it well suited for people who must frequently refer to large graphics, images or databases. Or show videos and photos to customers.

Plug in a keyboard/trackpad and you have a powerful convertible PC.

iPad Pro Cons: Regardless of the size, the iPad Pro is an amazing device. It’s also expensive. Think carefully about whether the iPad Air might be enough for you, especially if you’re looking forward to the 11-inch version. For the 12.9-inch version, consider if a MacBook might be a better option.

Which one to buy? Don’t panic.

While it is important to consider choosing the right iPad, don’t think too much about it. Really, there isn’t a bad tablet in Apple’s lineup.

The worst that can happen is that you will buy more tablets than you need. And you might feel differently about that decision in a couple of years when you and your iPad are inseparable.

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