Would you like some guidance on selecting a new iPad? Clients often ask me to help them select an iPad since this has become a more complicated choice. When Apple first introduced the iPad in Jan 2010, there was only 1 screen-size and a few decisions that needed to be made. Now, iPads come in 3 screen sizes and there are more choices. This article will highlight the important decisions that you need to make. If you would like to read about the differences between the models in greater detail I would direct you to Wikipedia’s iPad page or EveryMac’s iPad page. Also check out Apple’s current lineup of iPad models.
These are the primary decisions that one needs to make when purchasing an iPad. We’ll look at
- What’s the best time of year to make your iPad purchase?
- What size screen do you want?
- How much storage capacity should you choose?
- Do you want an iPad with Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi plus cellular data capabilities?
- What color do you want?
For the past few years, Apple has often, but not always introduced new iPhones and/or iPads in the September to October time frame, so buying an iPad during the last quarter of the year is the safest time since it’s likely that you’ll be buying a iPad closer to the start of it’s production cycle. MacRumors lists rumors about when updated iPads are likely to be released.
2. Screen Size
iPads are currently available in 3 screen sizes: 7.9”, 9.7” and 12.9”. Interestingly, the 7.9″ and 9.7″ screens actually display the same amount of data since they both have resolutions of 2048 by 1536 pixels. Of course, those dots or pixels, are smaller on the smaller screen so they can be more challenging to see as one’s eyes age. The 12.9″ screen offers a resolution of 2732 by 2048 pixels. In addition to screen resolution, think about the associated weight. The current weights are approximately two-thirds of a pound, one pound and one and a half pounds, respectively. Think about how you’ll be using the iPad. If you’ll be sitting in a chair or in bed holding the iPad while reading or watching the screen, every ounce matters after a few minutes.
3. Storage capacity
Currently, iPad storage capacities range from 16 to 128 GB. If you’re just going to store some email messages, calendar events, address book contacts, a couple of electronic books (eBooks) and some apps then 16 GB is adequate. The three things that can really gobble up storage space are music, photos and videos/movies. If you want to store thousands of songs or photos or a dozen of more movies then consider 32 or 64 GB of storage. To learn more about how much storage space different kinds of files consume, read my How Big Is A Kilobyte article.
4. Internet Connectivity
All iPads can connect to the Internet using a wireless (aka Wi-Fi) network. If you want your iPad to also be able to connect to the Internet just any old time, like while driving or walking down the sidewalk then you need an extra chip inside. This chip adds cellular data capabilities. All iPhones have cellular data chips inside which means that they work on wi-fi at your home and office and some hotels and airports but the rest of the time (on the sidewalk or in your car) they use the cellphone network to get to the Internet. Adding cellular data capabilities adds about $130 to the iPad’s price tag plus the cost of a cellular data plan.
The back of iPads can be one of four colors: silver, dark grey, rose gold or champagne. Take your pick. If you put a protective or decorative case on your iPad then nobody sees the back of the iPad anyway so it may not matter much. All colors cost the same.