Apple refreshed the iPad lineup yesterday with a brand new iPad Air and a brand new iPad mini. Just like every year, Apple will continue to sell older generation iPads at a reduced price. Given the variety of choices in the iPad lineup, here’s our guide to help you select the iPad that’s best suited to you
Let’s size things up
The first thing you should consider when buying an iPad is size. Do you want a larger 9.7-inch display or a smaller 7.9-inch screen? I’ve owned both models and can tell you that the larger iPad is great for reading, browsing the web and watching movies. It’s also the preferred size if you are drawing, writing or editing media files. Because of its size, it is more of an at-home or at-work device than a portable device. You need to have a good-sized bag to accommodate the larger form factor of the full-size iPad.
You can still edit documents, browse the web and watch movies on the smaller iPad mini, but the experience is not as enjoyable as it is on the larger screen of the 9.7-inch iPad. The smaller size of the iPad mini, though, makes it perfect for mobile users who can easily stow the tablet in the pocket of a bag and go. When out and about, these users will have a comfortable-sized screen when they need to look up something or have some free time for a movie.
Before you decide between the 9.7-inch iPad and the smaller iPad mini, consider how you will use your iPad. Will you use your tablet mostly at home or are you a traveler who wants an iPad while on the go? Once you decide between the iPad mini or the iPad Air, then you can consider the individual models like the iPad Air 2, iPad Air, iPad mini 3 or iPad mini 2.
The iPad Air 2 versus the iPad Air
There are two options for full-size tablet users — the new iPad Air 2 and the older iPad Air. The iPad Air was already quite thin, but Apple made the iPad Air 2 18 percent thinner at 6.1mm. It’s also lighter than the iPad Air. The tablet comes with an 8MP camera that supports Slo-mo, as compared to its predecessor’s 5MP camera. Another new feature on the iPad Air 2 is Touch ID, which lets you unlock your device with a fingerprint and make online purchases via Apple Pay. The iPad Air 2 also comes an anti-reflective display coating, and the A8X chip, which has a 40% faster CPU and a 2.5x faster GPU than the A7 chip in the iPad Air.
The iPad Air 2 starts at $499 for the 16GB version, $599 for 64GB and $699 for 128GB. The iPad Air is priced at $399 for 16GB, and $449 for 32GB. The $100 price difference between the iPad Air and iPad Air 2 gets you a faster processor, a better chip, a thinner and lighter design, a better camera and Touch ID. I think these improvements are convincing enough to spend the extra $100, but if you don’t find these new features particularly useful you can opt for the iPad Air as well. The iPad Air is still a pretty great device, runs all apps without any issues, and Apple is known to support devices for a long time with iOS updates.
iPad mini 3 versus iPad mini 2
Apple’s iPad mini update was one of the most disappointing updates in the history of iPads. The only two things that are new in the iPad mini 3 are: Touch ID, and a gold color option. The processor, camera, design, thickness, display, and everything else is the same. And the price difference between the two devices is $100. The iPad mini 3 starts at $399 while the iPad mini 2 starts at $299.
So if you want to buy a 7.9-inch iPad, I’d suggest you buy the older iPad mini 2 unless you absolutely need Touch ID or a gold colored iPad.
Note: Apple is also selling the first-generation iPad mini for $249, but it isn’t a good buy. For just $50 more, you can the iPad mini 2 with a Retina display, A7 chip and more.