Apple sells 5 different types of iPad and it's hard to choose -- but there's one that's best for most people

Steve Kovach/Tech Insider
  • Apple’s lineup of iPads can be confusing.
  • There are now five different iPad models to choose from, each with different storage and cellular options.
  • For most people, the best iPad is the 6th Generation iPad, which starts at $US329.

This past weekend, I was asked what should be a simple question by a friend: “Which iPad should I buy?”

It turns out, for many people, buying a new Apple iPad is anything but simple. “There are just so many of them,” he lamented.

He’s not the only person to be confused by the proliferating iPad lineup. You now have the iPad (6th generation), iPad (5th generation,) iPad Pro with a 10.5-inch display, iPad Pro with a 12.9-inch display, and the iPad Mini 4 – that’s a lot to choose from, even if you just want an iPad to do iPad things with.

The good news is that any iPad can surf the web, send emails, and install apps. The trick is to know exactly how much iPad you need, so you’re not paying for specs or features you might not use.

These iPads are ranked in order of what is most likely the best fit for you.


1. iPad 6th Generation

Prachi Bhardwaj

Who’s it for? Anyone who needs an iPad for home or light work at the best value.

Starting at:
$US329 for 32GB

Why this iPad? This iPad – just iPad – can browse the web, play games, and check social media, and the price is right. This year, it also got Pencil support, so you can use it to draw or take notes. The 9.7-inch screen is nearly the same size as a sheet of paper, so it also makes a great reader.

Any drawbacks? It’s not as powerful as the iPad Pro and doesn’t have the connector for Apple’s Smart Keyboard, although it works just fine with third-party keyboards like Logitech.

Specs:

  • 9.7-inch 2048-by-1536-pixel display
  • Supports Apple Pencil
  • 8-megapixel camera
  • 1080p video recording
  • 10-hour battery life for surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music
  • A10 Fusion Chip

Read Business Insider’s review here.


2. iPad 5th Generation

Hollis Johnson

Who’s it for? Anyone who needs the best deal on an iPad.

Starting at: $US239 (Apple Refurbished) or $US250 (Wal-Mart.)

Why this iPad? You’re not gonna find a better deal on a new or almost-new Apple tablet.

Any drawbacks? It was released in March 2017, so it’s using last year’s chip, and it doesn’t support Pencil, Apple’s stylus.

Specs:

  • 9.7-inch 2048-by-1536-pixel display.
  • Does NOT support Apple Pencil
  • 8-megapixel camera
  • 1080p video recording
  • 10-hour battery life for surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music
  • A9 Chip


Read Business Insider’s review here.


3. iPad Pro, 10.5-inch display

Steve Kovach/Tech Insider

Who’s it for? Designers, artists, and professionals who might want to cut video or get work done on the road. This is probably the iPad to buy if you want to replace a laptop and cost is no object.

Starting at:
$US649

Why this iPad? Because it’s Apple’s most powerful iPad in the roughly-the-size-of-a-piece-of-paper tablet category. It also works with Apple’s own Smart Keyboard for the iPad, in case you wanted an Apple-designed keyboard. The screen is slightly better than the less expensive iPads.

Any drawbacks? At $US649, it’s pricey if all you want to do is surf the web and watch Netflix. Don’t trade up to this model unless you know you need the power or really want Apple’s keyboard.

Specs:

  • 10.5-inch 2224-by-1668-pixel display.
  • Supports Apple pencil.
  • 12-megapixel camera.
  • 4K video recording
  • 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi‐Fi, watching video, or listening to music
  • A10X chip

4. iPad Pro, 12.9-inch display

Matt Weinberger/Business Insider

Who’s it for? Anyone who wants Apple’s largest, most powerful tablet. Designers, artists, and other graphics pros, mostly.

Starting at:$US799

Why this iPad? Because it’s huge! 12.9-inches may not sound that much larger than the 9.7-inch iPads you’re probably used to, but it’s a lot of extra screen space, which is great for multitasking or using the Pencil. It also supports Apple’s Smart Keyboard attachment.

Any drawbacks? It’s huge! It’s a little too big to use as an everyday tablet. It’s also pricey – at $US799 before a keyboard accessory, you’re starting to have the option to get a fairly nice laptop instead

Specs:

  • 12.9-inch 2732-by-2048-pixel display.
  • Supports Apple pencil.
  • 12-megapixel camera.
  • 4K video recording
  • 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi‐Fi, watching video, or listening to music
  • A10X chip

5. iPad Mini 4

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

Who’s it for? People who want a smaller iPad.

Starting at:$US399

Why this iPad? Because it’s smaller than the other iPads, and it still has a great screen.

Any drawbacks? This iPad was launched in 2015, so its chip and other components are significantly slower than the other iPads, making it a worse value for most people. It doesn’t support Apple’s stylus, Pencil, either.

Specs:

  • 7.9-inch 2048-by-1536-pixel display
  • Does NOT support Apple Pencil
  • 8MP camera
  • 1080p HD video recording
  • 10 hour battery life surfing the web on Wi‑Fi, watching video, or listening to music
  • A8 chip

Do I need LTE?

Getty

The last question you might ask yourself before buying an iPad is whether you want to upgrade to an LTE-supported iPad.

Getting LTE on an iPad usually costs about $US130 more, and it allows you to get a cellular connection on your iPad, similar to your phone, although your iPad won’t have a phone number.

LTE service itself requires a monthly fee, usually about $US10.

The one thing you need to know is that if you don’t get an LTE modem when you buy the iPad, you can’t go back and add one later. I personally don’t have LTE on my tablets, and I know I would probably just use Wi-Fi or my phone, so I usually don’t get LTE service. But if you need your iPad to have internet on the go, and don’t want to tether it to your smartphone, LTE is worth considering.


Do I need more space?

Getty

The other big question is whether you want to upgrade for more storage space, usually for about $US100. For example, the 6th Generation iPad – the one that’s the best value for most people – comes with 32GB of space for $US329, and 128GB of space for $US429.

32GB can fill up quickly, especially if you’re taking photos. Games might also need more space – titles like “Hearthstone” take up gigabytes. On the other hand, if you stream movies on Netflix and music through Spotify, you might not need all that space.

But considering you get four times the space for only $US100 more, it’s worth considering how much space you want before you buy.

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