iPad Buyers Guide: Which iPad should I buy?

Apple has announced two new iPads, expanding the product line to include the iPad mini, iPad 2 and the new fourth generation iPad. When it was just one iPad, there was no choice. Customers asked, “Should I buy an iPad.” That was back when people weren’t sure how this new device would fit within our digital lives. Apple has sold 100 million iPads, so clearly that question has been answered. That brings us to today, with many asking, “Which iPad should I buy?” Here are our recommendations and iPad buying guide.

I Do Not Currently Own A Tablet

If you do not currently own a tablet, I’ve got an iPad or three for you. You have the easiest and toughest decision. Easy because any of the three options are great options, all of which offer you access to 250,000 apps in the App Store, all of which have been designed specifically for the iPad.

Least Expensive, More Portable: If you are looking for these options, then the iPad mini is the perfect iPad for you. The entry level model features 16GB of storage and is priced at $329. Given the size, thinness and weight, the iPad mini is also ideal for those looking to make extensive use of iBooks (reading).

Bigger Display, Less Expensive: With similar specifications to the iPad mini, the iPad 2 offers a bigger display, but costs $100 less than a similar fourth generation model. If you plan on taking photos with your iPad, please note this model does not have a very good camera. You are better off considering the iPad mini or fourth generation iPad. If you have a good number 30-pin dock connectors, chargers lying around your house, this model will make good use of them. It’s the only iPad in the current lineup that does not feature Apple’s new Lightning connector.

Best Of The Best: With a retina display, the new fourth generation iPad comes with some impressive upgrades over the previous model. These include a new upgraded A6X processor, offering up to twice the speed of the previous version. Those who have moved to the new iPhone 5 will also note the upgraded connection to Lightning. As you purchase cables and connectors, they will also work with the iPad 4.

I Currently Own…

iPad 3
Released just six months ago, owners of the iPad 3 must be feeling the sting of today’s iPad 4 announcement. Both the 3rd and 4th generation iPads look identical, but there are some key differences.
Faster processor: The new fourth generation iPad features the A6X processor. Apple claims this will offer up to twice the speeds of the previous A5X chip.

Lightning connector: This could be a plus or minus, depending upon your current accessories. The new connector does offer advantages. It’s non-orientation specific, so there is no longer a wrong way to plug it in.

Facetime HD camera: The front-facing camera is now HD offering 1.2MP photos and support for 720p HD video.

Unless you absolutely need bleeding edge specifications or you’re able to get an incredible return on the secondary market for your iPad 3, then you’ll likely want to remain on the sidelines for this generation.

iPad 2
You held out while your friends were trotting around with their fancy retina display, but you’re will and fortitude has paid off in spades. You get all the glitz and glamour of retina display, plus the added benefit of the timely refinements found in the fourth generation iPad. As we noted in our iPad 3 review, the new iPad is a bit chunky and not ideal for book readers. This new model might be faster and take better photos, but it’s still not svelte like the iPad 2.

If you crave retina, then you know the answer. You’ve held out long enough and these should upgraded features should be enough to have you reaching for your wallet.

As for the iPad mini, you’ve already got one, but with a slightly larger display. The iPad mini shares many of the specifications, save for the camera. If you are an avid book reader and take the occasional photo with your iPad, than by all means consider the iPad mini.

First Generation iPad
Here’s to you mister early adopter. The iPad stopped getting iOS updates with iOS 5, so there are more than just hardware reasons to make the switch. iOS 6 features over 200 new features, with the iPad getting it’s very own clock app. Okay, so maybe the clock app isn’t a upgrade-worthy feature. If you didn’t flinch and make the leap with previous generations, than you might be happy with your current iPad. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with sticking with technology that works for you. Over the past few years, the iPads have seen upgrades across the board. They are faster, thinner and more capable. All of the models are suitable replacements for your current original iPad. That doesn’t mean you have to ship off your trusty, old friend. Consider gifting to a family member and opting for the model with features that matter most to you.

If you want absolute thinness, than go for the iPad mini. It has nice upgrades over the iPad 2, it’s small but not too small, and it’s cute. That’s got to count for something.

The natural progression, if you are set on a 9.7-inch display, is to go for the iPad 4. With the clock on the newest product lifecycle starting now, it’s likely we won’t see a new iPad 5 until this time next year. Moving from a first generation iPad to an iPad 4 is a major jump. You’ll fall in love with iPad all over again.

Deals on iPads

Getting deals on new iPads isn’t very easy. Apple does have Black Friday deals, but the percentage off is minimal. If you are looking for a deal on an iPad, than I’d highly recommend you check out Apple’s refurbished section. These iPads ship out in a non-descript white packaging, but that’s the extent of the differences between an entirely new iPad. Given the quick exit by the iPad 3, there are a number of those available for purchase at the time of this article. I wouldn’t be surprised to retailers offering deep discounts on those models in order to clear out inventory.

As I mentioned throughout, all of the current iPad lineup are great devices. When deciding which iPad to buy, it really is decision based upon your needs. If you currently own an iPad, it’s much easier to assess your needs, since you have an idea of how you use your iPad. If you are new to tablets and not sure of how’ll you’ll utilize your new iPad, then I’d highly recommend a trip to the Apple Store. They all run iOS 6 with access to over 250,000 applications in the App Store, so there really is no bad choice.

  • Steven B

    “If you are looking for these options, than the iPad mini is the …..”
    Dude, you can’t be serious. You don’t know the difference between then and than, as well as its and it’s. You previously spelled “motto” as “moto”, as well. Sharpen up, if you want to be taken seriously as a writer. Otherwise, the articles are fairly well written.

    • http://www.everythingicafe.com Christopher Meinck

      Thanks for your comments. I’ll be sure to make the corrections you’ve highlighted.