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Monday, September 30, 2019

How to Choose Your Next iPad

The iPad Pro on a pretty marble countertop.
xMarshall/Shutterstock

It’s tough to shop for an iPad. They all seem to do the same thing, but the difference between their prices is dramatic. Here’s how to navigate Apple’s ecosystem and find the iPad that’s right for you.

What Will You Do with an iPad?

You can do just about anything with an iPad. They’re great for playing games, watching TV, or browsing the web. But they also make fantastic digital tools for illustrators, musicians, or video editors. Some people even buy iPads as total laptop replacements.

So before you get into shopping for an iPad, you should figure out why you want one. Generally speaking, any iPad is excellent for playing games or browsing the web, while more demanding tasks like video editing will require some extra processing power.

Think About Specs

Once you know what you want to do with your iPad, it’s time to narrow things down. Any iPad can be used for drawing, but you also have to think about screen size. Plus, some iPads don’t work with accessories like the Apple Smart Keyboard or the 2nd Gen Apple Pencil—that’s not good news for writers or artists.

Here are some details to look out for:

  • Screen Size: iPad sizing is directly related to iPad pricing. Before worrying about specs, you should figure out which screen size you’re comfortable with. Are you dead-set on a 12.9″ screen (if so, just buy the iPad Pro), or are you open to any screen size?
  • Storage Capacity: Extra storage is useful if you keep a lot of music or movies on your iPad. But iCloud exists, and you can always plug an external storage device into your iPad.
  • Ports: Okay, do you want a Lightning port or a USB-C port? USB-C ports are becoming the industry standard, and they can support more peripherals than Lightning ports—but you’ll have to go for a Pro model if you want the added versatility of USB-C.
  • Apple Pencil Support: All 2018 and 2019 iPads work with the 1st Gen Apple Pencil. But, the 2nd Gen Pencil charges wirelessly, and it only works with the iPad Pro.
  • LTE/Cellular connectivity: Apple sells an LTE/cellular version of each iPad model. Cellular capability is useful if you want to use your iPad on the go, but the LTE/cellular iPad models cost about $100 to $200 more than their Wi-Fi equivalents (and then there are carrier fees). If you’re set on a cellular iPad, factor that extra cost into your budget.

You don’t really have to worry about battery life, as all iPad models have the same battery life, according to Apple (10 hours of continuous browsing).

Now that you know what you’re looking for in an iPad, it’s time to learn the differences between each iPad model. Shopping for iPads can be confusing because new models are released each year, so we’re going to detail each model by its screen size, year, specs, and features. We’ll start with the iPad Pro and work our way down by screen size, but keep in mind that the iPad MIni is technically more powerful than the basic iPad.

iPad Pro (11-Inch and 12.9-Inch 2018 Model)

The iPad Pro
Apple

Ah, the most expensive of the iPads. The iPad Pro isn’t super portable, but it’s great for professionals, video editors, and artists. It’s also the most advanced version of the iPad, with features like Face ID and a USB-C port that should become the standard across all iPad models over the next few years (but for now, they’re Pro-only).

  • Size: The iPad Pro comes with an 11-inch or 12.9-inch screen. It doesn’t have a home button, so the screen feels big and comfortable when rotated in any direction.
  • Capacity: 64GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB of storage.
  • Specs: The iPad Pro has 4GB of RAM (the 1TB model has 6GB), and it sports a super-fast A12X Bionic processor. These specs make the iPad a lightning-fast multitasking monster.
  • Cameras: A 12MP rear camera and 7MP front-facing camera.
  • Special Features: The iPad Pro has Face ID, which eliminates the need for the home button. It also has a USB-C port, which is more universal than Lightning (and works great with USB-C hubs). It also works with 1st and 2nd Gen Apple Pencils.

All in all, the iPad Pro is the Mac-Daddy of all iPads. It’s great for power users, artists, people who work with video, or people who just want a big iPad (no shame). It’ll do whatever you want it to, it’ll stay up to date for a while, and it’ll work with a wide array of accessories.

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