How To Choose Your Perfect Apple iPad
The iPad spans 12 editions, with plenty of size, colour, storage and connectivity options. We won't leave you up the creek without an iPad – we’ll help you pick the right one...
More storage equals more expense and, because it can’t be expanded, picking the right capacity is important. If you stream (rather than download) music and video from apps like Spotify and Netflix, an iPad with fewer gigabytes is fine. iCloud storage options can also lessen the burden.
Depending on the model, storage ranges from 16GB to 256GB. From eBay's main Apple Hub, you’ll be able to shop by selecting the desired capacity. When searching for a particular model, an iPad 4th Gen for example, you can filter desired options from the results page.
The iPad Mini range is 7.9-inches, the iPad Air and iPad 1/2/3/4 are 9.7-inches, and the iPad Pro comes in both 9.7 and 12.9-inches. Naturally, the largest model offers the best experience for watching video, working with a physical keyboard and creating art, but it’s also expensive and unwieldy for travelling and gaming.
For pure portability, the handbag-friendly iPad Mini wins out. The overall sweet spot is the iPad Air 2 with its 9.7-inch Retina Display. It's also worth remembering the larger screen size, the heavier the iPad.
You can pay a decent amount of money =for a brand new iPad Pro 12.9-inch 256GB Wi-Fi + Cellular tablet. For most people, these kinds of prices are overkill, and other editions have a friendlier price. For example, the iPad Air 2 is available for much less and the iPad Mini 2 is more affordable still.
There are plenty of ways to trim costs by shopping on eBay for current and discontinued models. Look out for new, used and refurbished items with a 12-month warranty.
This isn’t a black or white issue any longer. On newer models – like the iPad Mini 4 – the options are Silver (white fascia), Space Grey (black fascia) and Gold (with a white fascia). Progress to the likes of the iPad Pro and suddenly a whole world of colour awaits… well Silver (white fascia), Space Grey (black fascia), Gold (white fascia) and Rose Gold (white fascia), anyway.
iPads with Wi-Fi + Cellular are more expensive than straight Wi-Fi models. If you plan to use your iPad in the home, office or a coffee shop, a Wi-Fi edition will suffice. If you want to browse the web, send emails or stream music on the move, it’s worth considering the Cellular model. You can insert a 4G LTE SIM for mobile data (at an additional cost) or the Apple SIM lets you to connect to global networks without roaming fees.
Best for Travelling: iPad Air 2 Wi-Fi + Cellular
The iPad is the ultimate in-flight entertainment device. It’ll store the films you actually want to watch, plus music, podcasts, games and enough ebooks to cover you for 1,000 trips around the world. If your flight has Wi-Fi, then even better. For convenience go thin and light. The iPad Air 2 Wi-Fi + Cellular has a Retina Display and 10 hours of battery life, all while weighing under one pound (450g). And, at 6.1mm, it’s thinner than the iPhone 7. The Apple SIM also lets you connect to local networks at your destination.
Best for Replacing a Laptop: Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch
Many folks are replacing cumbersome laptops with a combo offering the best of both worlds. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro's excellent Smart Keyboard – which doubles as a cover – means you can work effectively with apps like Microsoft Office. An abundance of power also handles more complex, resource-demanding programmes like Pinnacle Studio Pro (movie editing), DJ Pro and Korg Gadget (music creation).
Best for the Coffee Table: Apple iPad 4th Gen
You could have an iPad 2 that practically lives on your coffee table for Netflix breaks and web browsing, and if this is as far as its capabilities are being stretched, an older model will suffice. There are some great deals to be had on used iPads, like the iPad 4th Gen which is capable of running the latest iOS 10 software and still works smoothly.
Best for the Bedside: iPad Mini 4
If your main iPad use is a spot of bedtime reading or video viewing, the new Night Shift setting alters the screen colour temperature to be kinder to your eyes. It’s compatible with the iPad Air 1st/2nd Gen, iPad mini 2/3/4 and both iPad Pro sizes. If you’re using it on a nightstand, a smaller 7.9-inch screen might be best, making the iPad mini 4 a good choice here. It’s easier to hold with one hand if you’re reading or playing games.
Best for Affordable Power: iPad Air 2
While the iPad Pro rules the roost in terms of power, display resolution and versatility, it may be beyond your personal needs. Weighing power against affordability is a key factor and the iPad Air 2 perhaps bridges this gap best. It has the desktop-class A8X processor that’s 40% faster than its predecessor and 12x speedier than the original iPad, while graphical performance is 180 times quicker, making it ideal for gamers. Despite its slim 6.1mm body it also has 10 hours of battery life. It’s not exactly cheap, but eBay has plenty of affordable new and used options.
Best for Streaming: iPad Air 16GB
Apple no longer makes the original iPad Air, but they’re still readily available and, unlike their successors, can be grabbed with a money-saving 16GB of storage. The first gen Air benefits from a Retina Display, so movies and TV shows will look great. Also, even though you’ll have to sacrifice a few memory-hogging apps, all your entertainment streaming needs are catered for.
Best for Artists: Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch
If you’re an avid designer, the iPad Pro is the tablet for you. Available in 9.7-inch or 12.9-inch variants, both come with a Retina Display and the same colour reproduction technology used in the movie industry.
However, the real star of the show is the pixel-perfect Apple Pencil, which is far from your average stylus. It is sensitive to pressure and tilting, allowing you to draw lines of varying thickness and even add shading. Some professional artists have even ditched their sketchpad in favour of the Pro.