Thinking about buying an iPad? Learn all about your iPad purchase options in this free lesson.
So you want an iPad
Apple's iPad has become a widely popular device since its launch in 2010. Before you purchase an iPad, however, you should familiarize yourself with the different options you have to choose from. This includes choosing between the Wi-Fi and cellular model and where you're going to purchase your iPad—either online, from Apple, or from another retailer.
Understanding your options
There are several iPad models to choose from, depending on your budget and individual needs:
- iPad Air 2: This version has a 9.7-inch Retina display, which offers a very high resolution. There are several versions of the iPad Air 2, ranging from 16GB to 128GB of storage. All versions can connect to the Internet when they are near a Wi-Fi hotspot, but some versions also include cellular (4G/LTE) connectivity if you need an Internet connection wherever you go. A 4G/LTE connection also requires you to buy a monthly data plan, just like with an iPhone.
- iPad Mini 4: This version has a smaller 7.9-inch Retina display. It offers the same features as the iPad Air 2 in a smaller, lighter device, although it's also a bit less powerful. The storage and Internet options are the same as the iPad Air 2, although the iPad Mini 4 is cheaper.
- iPad Pro: This new, larger size was introduced in 2015. It has a 12.9-inch Retina display, and it's primarily designed for people who use a tablet in the workplace. It also supports new attachments, like a keyboard and a stylus, which makes it a suitable replacement for a laptop computer. However, it's also heavier and more expensive than other iPad models.
- Older versions: If you don't need all of the latest features, you can still buy older versions of the iPad Air and iPad Mini 2. These are cheaper than the newest versions, and they have many of the same features. They have slower processors, but this may not be noticeable for many tasks. However, keep in mind that the older devices will become out of date more quickly, so they may become more sluggish after a year or two.
The iPad Air and iPad Mini
Visit Apple.com to Compare iPad Models and see different models side by side.
Which model is right for you?
If you're still not sure which model you want, take some time to think about the features that are most important to you and how they fit into your budget. Things to consider before you buy include Internet access (do you want a cellular data plan or just Wi-Fi?) and data storage (do you need a lot or just a little?).
All iPad models have two connectivity options: the standard Wi-Fi model, and the Wi-Fi + Cellular model:
- Wi-Fi models are cheaper, but you'll only be able to access the Internet when connected to a Wi-Fi network, like at at home, at work, or at a local coffee shop.
- Wi-Fi + Cellular models give you Internet access almost anywhere, but you'll also be required to purchase a mobile data plan from a wireless provider (such as AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon Wireless), which usually costs at least $20 per month.
There are several ways to approach storing data on your iPad. Here are some things to think about before you make a decision:
- At 16GB (16 gigabytes of space), the smallest model has enough data storage for most users. However, if you anticipate storing a lot of music, movies, and TV shows on your device, you may want to purchase the 64GB or 128GB model instead.
- If you truly need a lot of storage, look into Apple's iCloud service before you purchase one of the more expensive models. iCloud gives you free, unlimited cloud storage for media you've purchased from the iTunes Store, including music, movies, and TV shows. iTunes Match also allows you to store music you've purchased elsewhere on iCloud for $24.99 per year. We'll take a closer look at iCloud in our lesson on Syncing Your iPad.
For more help making a decision, you can always ask an associate at your local Apple Store for advice. Alternatively, you can call 1-800-MY-APPLE for more information.
When you're ready to buy
You can purchase an iPad a few different ways:
While the price may vary slightly among retailers, you won't find a new iPad for much less than you'd pay at the Apple Store. Beware of any sales, promotions, or contest giveaways that sound too good to be true. Because the iPad is in high demand, there will always be scammers and other disreputable sellers—especially online—who will try to take advantage of unsuspecting buyers. When in doubt, purchase your device from a well-known retailer.