iPad Buying Guide: Which One is Right for You?
With five different models in three sizes and prices ranging from $269 to $1,029, there has never been more variety for iPad shoppers. That's a good thing, but how do you decide which one to buy? Use our handy iPad buying guide to get the right Apple slate for your needs and budget.
iPad Models Compared
The iPad lineup is made up of three families: the iPad Pro, iPad Air and the iPad mini. But as you drill down to the individual models, there is plenty of variety in specs, features and price. Here's a quick breakdown.
|iPad Air 2||iPad mini 4||iPad mini 2|
|Best For||Laptop Replacement, Professional Artists||Note-Taking, Light Productivity||Media Consumption, Gaming||Reading, Email, Social Media, Light Gaming||Kids, Budget|
(2732 x 2048)
(2048 x 1536)
(2048 x 1536)
(2048 x 1536)
|Storage (GB)||32, 128, 256||32,128, 256||16, 64||16, 64, 128||16, 32|
(Rear / Front)
|8 MP, 1.2 MP||12 MP, 5MP||8 MP, 1.2 MP||8 MP. 1.2 MP||5 MP, 1.2 MP|
|Silver, Space Gray, Gold||Silver, Space Gray, Gold, Rose Gold||Silver, Space Gray, Gold||Silver, Space Gray, Gold||Silver, Space Gray|
|Dimensions||12 x 8.7 x 0.3 inches||9.4 x 6.6 x .29 inches||7.9 x 5.3 x .29 inches||7.9 x 5.3 x .29 inches||7.9 x 5.3 x .28 inches|
|0.73 pounds||0.73 pounds||0.68 pounds|
All iPads provide access to more than 1 million apps optimized for the big screen, which is far more than what Android or Windows devices offer. You can also expect a high-quality aluminum unibody design and a bright and crisp display.
With iOS 9.3, iPads are now better nighttime companions. The Night Shift feature shifts the color temperature away from blue light that can make it harder for you to get to sleep. Also, the iOS update improves security on the Notes app with password protection and adds multiuser support.
Also note that all iPad models can be ordered with 4G LTE capability, which allows you to get online when you're out of Wi-Fi range. You'll pay $129 more than you would for the Wi-Fi-only version, plus the cost of whatever monthly data plan you sign up for.
Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro delivers a big and beautiful display, fast performance and long battery life, but it's best for creative pros. The Apple Pencil (sold separately for $99) delivers awesome precision, and the A9X processor can handle anything you throw at it. If you add the $169 Smart Keyboard, you've got a 2-in-1 that might be able to rival your laptop.
Best For: This behemoth is large enough to replace a laptop, if you pair it with the keyboard. It also provides the largest canvas for professional artists and video editors to do their work.
Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch
The 9.7-inch iPad Pro offers the same beautiful display, power and support for the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard as its 12.9-inch big brother. The key differences are a more affordable $599 starting price, a Rose Gold option and the ability to shoot 4K video and 5-MP selfies.
Best For: If you need to take a lot of notes or require a tablet for business purposes -- editing and showing presentations, clipboard use, etc -- the iPad Pro 9.7-inch offers the best balance between portability and productivity.
Apple iPad Air 2
The Air 2 is thin and powerful, and $200 less than the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. The Air 2's screen is the same as the one on the new Pro flagship line. But, this 0.24-inch slim slate packs an A8X processor, which still delivers fast CPU and graphics performance. And like its fancier brethren, the Air 2 offers Touch ID and runs iOS 9.3 with Night Shift technology.
Best For: The Air 2's relatively-large display and light weight make it a good choice for watching videos, playing games and using other content-consumption software such as recipe apps.
Apple iPad Mini 4
If you're looking for a more purse-friendly tablet with a stunning screen, the iPad mini 4 may be the device for you. It features the same pixel resolution as the larger iPad Pro and iPad Air models on a smaller, 7.9-inch display. It also features the same advanced 8-MP and 1.2-MP cameras as the ones on the iPad Air 2, but its more compact size may be more suitable for small or childlike hands.
Best For: If you like to read on the couch, in bed or on the go, the Mini 4 is a great size for books, especially comic books. Its relatively small screen makes it easy to type quick social media posts or send off emails, during one handed use or while standing up.
Apple iPad mini 2
It's the oldest and least expensive iPad that Apple sells. But old doesn't mean dead. The iPad mini 2 features a Retina display, long battery life and zippy A7 performance for just $269. You won't get Touch ID support or Apple Pencil support, but you will get access to the latest iOS 9.3 update. It's worth noting that you can't get the mini 2 in Gold or Rose Gold; just Silver or Space Gray.
Best For: Because of its relatively low price and small dimensions, the mini 2 is a good first tablet for kids. The mini 4 is also appropriately sized for children, but it costs around $150 more, making for a costly replacement when junior drops it down the stairs.