Which iPad Should I Buy?

I received this email a few days ago from a friend who was trying to decide which iPad to buy.

Brian,

I need the advice of a young professional.  Santa is going to bring me an iPad.  If you were going to purchase one, what would you get?  iPad thin?  regular iPad.   I am familiar with Apple and moderately tech, as you already know.  Would you be willing to get Santa some advice?

-J

Here is my response to her:

Here is what I would tell Santa… you have basically four choices, the iPad Air, iPad 2, iPad mini, or iPad mini with retina display.  The first decision to make is what size iPad you want.  I’d take a look at them in the store and see which size you feel most comfortable with.  I prefer the larger iPad, but I know quite a few people who like the smaller size of the mini because as an e-reader it is more comfortable to hold…

If you want the larger size, I would recommend the iPad Air for a few reasons:  First, the iPad 2 was released about 3 years ago, and I am not sure how much longer Apple will be supporting it.  My hunch is that the next version of Apple’s operating system will not work on the iPad 2.  If this happens, then there will be a growing number of apps that the iPad 2 cannot handle.  The iPad Air also has a significantly faster processor.  The A5 processor on the iPad 2 lags occasionally, especially using the new iOS7.  The Air also has a nicer camera and a much nicer display.  It has the “retina display”, which means that the display is so fine that the naked eye cannot see anything finer…

The iPad 2 is also a great machine… I have had mine for about 2 1/2 years and I like it very much.  My main concern is that if you get an iPad 2 now you probably only have 2 or so years of high level functionality with it before Apple’s other products advance to the point where the iPad 2 will be left in the dust.  The iPad Air should be good for 4-5 years…

If you’re choosing between the minis, the differences are about the same as between the full size… the mini with retina has a faster processor, better camera, and better screen.  I think the mini will be supported by Apple a little bit longer than the iPad 2, since it was just released last year, but who knows…  The specs for the mini with retina display are almost the same as the iPad Air.  At that point it’s a matter of cost and form factor.

The last choice to make is storage capacity.  I have the 16 GB iPad 2, and I have filled it to capacity with apps, pictures, etc… but that doesn’t mean that I necessarily suggest getting a larger size.  For the amount extra that Apple charges for the larger sizes, I don’t think its worth it.  If you fill it with apps, you can always delete the apps that you’re not using.  Any apps that you buy are associated with your Apple ID, and can be downloaded again at any time…  if you get music, you can use Apple’s “cloud match” service so that you don’t have to store the songs on your iPad.  You can store pictures, documents, and video on any number of free cloud storage services (dropbox, Google drive, iCloud, etc…)  There is not much benefit to the larger capacity for the cost, in my opinion, until developers start releasing much more robust apps that take up much more space, and I don’t see that happening anytime soon (though I could be wrong)…

I know this is a lot, but I hope it helps!

Merry Christmas!
Brian

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