The tablet market may be shrinking but Apple is still raking in money from iPad sales. Despite the decline in the tablet market, Apple still leads with 22% market share, followed by Samsung with 15% tablet market share. If you’ve already made up your mind to go for an iPad, there are several models in the market to choose from.
This iPad buying guide will specifically consider only these iPad models: iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad Pro (both versions), and the most recent iPad Mini. And by the way, it isn’t going to be all technical.
What about iPad 4?
Unless you intentionally want to miss out on new features that make a tablet a productivity tool, you shouldn’t buy the iPad 4 or older models. But if you’re getting an iPad for just multimedia purposes, watching movies and playing games, you should know that the 4th generation iPad is clearly on its way out.
It is the oldest iPad supporting iOS 10 and Apple is going to phase it out pretty soon. Besides, you’re going to have to deal with an old processor and just 1 Gigabyte of random access memory.
Of course, if you’re on a budget and you only need an iPad for basic stuffs, reading and watching movies, it’s still a good choice. Also, it’s still a gadget you can give to your kids for learning.
And by the way, it supports iOS 10, but there’s no guarantee an iOS 11 update is coming to this device.
Note: You won’t find this in Apple Store officially any longer. You’re only going to be able to get an already used one.
Known as the 5th generation iPad, the original iPad Air ushered in a new design which Apple has kind of sticked to. Compared with its immediate predecessor, the iPad Air is 20 percent thinner and 28% lighter. Of course, compared to what we have in the market right now, it’s relative old with less powerful hardware.
The iPad Air comes with 1GB of RAM and this puts a limit on things. Your Chrome tabs are still going to reload when you open too many. The iPad Air happens to be the iPad that stayed with me the longest through the years but I had to move on. Of course, it still supports the latest iOS version and the form factor looks, well, “modern.” It still doesn’t suit well if you need a lot of processing power.
The iPad Air is still going to run every single GPU/CPU-intensive game in the App Store and Apple is still going to support it for at least two more years. That is certain. However, features like split-screen multitasking (Split View) isn’t available on this device because of the 1GB RAM, but you still get to use Slide Over. You also have no Touch ID. I mostly consider the camera on iPads not particularly important and this shouldn’t be a deciding factor, but if you care to know, the iPad Air has a 5MP camera at the back and a 1.3MP shooter in the front.
If you don’t care about being unable to run a lot of stuffs at once, split-screen multitasking or Touch ID, the iPad Air is still a great way to save some cash.
Note: You won’t find this in Apple Store officially any longer to. You’re only going to be able to get it used or refurbished.
iPad Air 2
Well, if you’re seriously considering doing some productive stuff on an iPad, the iPad Air 2 still remains one of the best tablets in the market despite being around for about two years now. This is the first iPad to come with 2GB RAM and this drew a thick line between older models and newer Apple tablets. With a faster A8x processor, iPad Air 2 gives you great performance and the 2GB RAM lets you multitask efficiently.
It supports Slide Over, Split View, and Picture in Picture. The iPad Air 2 gained Touch ID and a much better screen than it’s predecessor. The design is ultra-thin and the device feels so light, with a thickness of 6.1 mm and weighing only 437 grams.
It’s what I personally use at the moment and I do recommend it if you’re not yet willing to go Pro. Of course, Apple Pencil won’t work for you, you may need to rely on 3rd party styluses like Adonit Jot Pro and others.
12.9-inch iPad Pro vs 9.7-inch iPad Pro
With the iPad Pro, Apple aims to replace your computer with this powerful tablet, but everyone knows is is only a dream. The iPad Pro is definitely a powerhouse that redefines Apple’s approach to tablets, however the limitations of iOS will never make it a desktop replacement.
Unless you’re a creative person who does a lot of digital art and you’re going to be using Apple Pencil a lot, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro may be a little too big. But if you really want a bigger screen and a large space to type, the bigger iPad Pro is sure the better option.
As for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, it has always been the perfect size for a lot of people. It retains the exact weight and thickness of the iPad Air 2. Make no mistake, there are more difference between these two versions apart from the screen size.
The bigger iPad Pro packs twice the size of the RAM on the 9.7-inch model. You find the same 2GB RAM the iPad Air 2 packs on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro while the huge 12.9-inch iPad Pro comes with a whopping 4GB RAM.
As for the display, the 9.7-inch totally wins in this department with the Wide Color and True Tone display which photographers might find particularly useful. This is absent on the bigger tablet. Also, the smaller iPad Pro has a 12MP iSight camera equipped with LED flash, a camera almost as good as the one on the iPhone 6s. The 12.9-inch model has an 8MP iSight camera.
For regular users, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is recommended while the 12.9-inch model is perfect for digital artists and those who want an iPad as a notebook.
iPad Mini 4
For some, even a 9.7-inch iPad is way too big. All iPad Minis come with 7.9-inch displays and the iPad Mini 4 remain the best choice. To cut the story short, the iPad Mini 4 is more like a smaller iPad Air 2 with similar specifications apart from the less powerful A8 processor. It also comes with 2GB RAM, making multitasking very smooth.
3 iPad models rumored to be coming next year
Apple has been rumored to be working on 3 iPad Pro models to be released next year and one of them is said to be bezel-free. The models are said to come in 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch screen sizes as well as a brand new 10.9-inch screen size.