Should I buy an iPad?

Should I buy an iPad?

"Should I buy an iPad?" is a question we're getting asked a lot these days at iMore, especially with the iPad 3 just around the corner. The holiday gift-giving season may have passed, but a lot of people who didn't get an iPad are still looking at them, considering them, and wondering if they should get an iPad in general, and get an iPad 2 now or wait for an iPad 3 in specific.

Should you buy an iPad?

Apple introduced the iPad as a device that sits somewhere between smartphones like the iPhone and laptops like the MacBook. They believe the tablet form factor combined with iOS software allows the iPad to do certain things better than either the phone or laptop. These things include email and web browsing, watching movies and playing games. It's not the phone you can easily carry in your pocket, small of screen but hugely portable. And it's not the laptop you need to put on a table and keep plugged in, hot and noisy, and overly complex for most tasks. It's a 9.7" piece of glass that turns on instantly, lasts for up to 10 hrs between charges, and is easy enough for a toddler or grandparent to use, but powerful enough to delight geeks and gadget-lovers alike. Apple truly succeeded in changing the game -- for the first time it's not about specs, it's not even about content, it's about the experience. It's about using it.

If Windows or Mac OS X frustrate or annoy you, and you just want something simple to use the internet and apps, you'll like the iPad. If you want to be able to curl up on the sofa or in bed and read an ebook or watch a video, or often find yourself on a long, cramped plane or train ride and need to get work done, you'll like the iPad. If you're the creative type who just wants a clean canvas to record music, paint with digital bits, or map minds with your fingers, you'll like the iPad. If for any reason a phone is just too small and a laptop is just too much of a pain, you'll like the iPad.

Should you buy an iPad 2 or wait for iPad 3?

iPad 3 is probably coming in March. While Apple doesn't always stick to their yearly product cycles, they stick to them often enough that a new iPad this spring is high likelihood. With a new iPad there come new features, usually at the same price as the old iPad. In this case, with the iPad 3, we're probably going to be seeing a double density Retina display, meaning 2048x1536 resolution in the same 9.7-inches the current iPad uses for 1024x736. So text will look sharper, more like reading ink on paper, and graphics will look crisper. The pixels will all but disappear.

It will probably also have an Apple A6 processor. Whether or not that means quad-core, it will certainly mean faster -- faster rendering web pages and much faster -- and hence better -- graphics. It may or may not offer super fast 4G LTE connectivity, and if you live in one of the relatively few areas that have 4G LTE, that might matter to you. It could also have better cameras than the current, rather pitiful iPad 2 cameras.

So if a new iPad is only a couple of months away, is there any reason to buy an iPad 2 now? Sure, if you need it badly enough now. If you need an iPad today, this week, or this month, then get it. If your netbook broke and you need a portable PC, if you're about to leave on a business trip or vacation and need a way to stay connected, if you're going to move from developing iPhone apps to iPad apps, if your child or significant other really wants one for his or her birthday, if your parents are about to be grandparents and you'd give anything to be able to place FaceTime video calls to them, get an iPad now. It's a great device, it has tons of great software, and just because a new one comes out in a few months doesn't mean your current one will spontaneously combust. Get it, be happy, and if the new one entices you, give or sell the current one to friend or family member and make the upgrade.

If you're still on the fence, if you're still undecided, check out the link below and then head on over to your local Apple Store or electronics retailer and try one out. Try out the web and the apps and the games. See how it feels and how it feels to use it. Then make up your mind. Chances are that within a few minutes you'll find out if you should buy an iPad.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Should I buy an iPad?


If you buy one between now and March, please don't come back here and post how Apple screwed you by introducing a new one (he says as he anxiously awaits upgrading his original iPad).

If you do buy one, buy a refurbished one from The 16GB Wifi is currently $419. Refurbs from Apple carry the same warranty as new.

I sold my iPad2 to a friend in December to give to his wife for Christmas and since then I have really missed it. I use the iPad for work while in meetings and use it at home mainly to read news and surf, so I'm on the fence about getting another iPad2 or waiting for the 3. For what I do with it, it really is a toss-up.

I'm waiting for the retina iPad 3, but if recent history teaches anything, it won't have retina display or A6, just a better camera and Siri integration. In that case I'll just buy an iPad 2.
Apple has been VERY economic in its upgrades, therefore to say we will "probably" get a retina display is a bit of a strech at this point. I hope I'm wrong, tough.

Have to agree here. We shouldn't be counting on a retina screen as a sure thing by any means. Apple could still upgrade the RAM, processor, maybe a bit thinner & lighter and improve cameras & add Siri. Which would make for a decent but not essential upgrade from ipad 2 and still sell boatloads overpriced.

If interested in 16gb one, i could see getting a refurb. The higher storage ones? Those will drop 200-300 after a new ipad. Best to wait.
Last year, the 64gb ipad one 3G was going for 529 at AT&T (even cheaper on ebay) after the ipad 2 was introduced. 300 drop. Expect similar this year as they try to move all the old ones out.
If your netbook is broke? Get another one. An ipad won't replace it.

I finally bought a 16gb iPad2 WIFI model from WalMart the day after christmas. No more than 2 weeks after buying it all the new about the iPad3 starts to come out.
Of course you only get 14 days to get a refund at Walmart.
I will say this though, the iPad 2 is very fast, does everything I want it to do, my daughter LOVES it (she is 5) and even my wife has messed with it a few times.(she hates tech) its dual core and the battery life is great.
I would have to imagine the iPad3 if quad core is not going to have as great a battery life, or will end up being heavier.
And as far as the camera, I use my iphone for pics anyway.
You cant exactly hold up an iPad and say cheese.
I love the ipad2 and will continue to get a lot of use and fun out of it. If the iPad3 becomes the 2nd coming of christ, I will sell my ipad2 on ebay but I just dont see that happening.

I Sold my first gen iPad and bought an iPad2 over the weekend knowing full well that the ipad3 will most likely be released in march. And the iPad2 will drop $100. Why?, because the A5 JB is going to be released any day now. I have a feeling it is going to be quite a while (if ever) before the A6 JB gets released. and I figure that new firmware that patches the A5 5.0.1 JB will come before the ipad3 is released.

I am an Android user, but I listen to Rene almost as much as I do to Phil and Jerry. His POV is 99% balanced and realistic about iOS and Apple equipment - fantastic job.
The specification of the iPad3 could substantially change the experience. For some a price drop iPad2 becomes a better choice, with more good second hand units on the market. All of that means the iPad3 HAS to be fantastic for me to go for it.

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