Black vs white: Which new iPad should you choose?

Black vs white: Which new iPad should you choose?

Picking between one of two color options, black or white, for the new iPad might seem trivial to some or simply a matter of personal taste, but it's a question we get asked a lot. Once you've decided to get a new iPad, settled on your storage capacity, and chosen between AT&T and Verizon if you're going 4G LTE, color is what's left. While the black and white iPads are otherwise identical in terms of size and weight, storage capacities and carriers, there are a few points to consider.

Note: Unlike the black and white iPhones, iPads all have the same aluminum back plate so it's really only the front bezel border that changes.

Is white more distracting?

A white bezel tends not to blend away into the background, so some find it more distracting than black.

Imagine if your TV set had a white bezel instead of black, would that distract you from the show or movie you were watching? The game you were playing? If the goal of the device is to get out of your way so you can become totally immersed in the content, black has traditionally been a much safer color choice for manufacturers to go with.

Many people feel the same way about the iPad. Black disappears. Even if the content is white (like an ebook or web page), the environment around us usually isn't. So black melts out of the way and once the screen lights up it's all but forgotten.

The same can happen with a white bezel, but it depends more on the individual. White is definitely more noticeable than black. For some that means it's a lot more distracting and actually takes away from the viewing experience. For others, it's enjoyable, frames the viewing, and provides a two-tone look that's more fashionable than black.

I've had both a black and a white iPads and have never been distracted nor irked by either one. If white catches your eye a little too much, however, you might want to stick with black.

Will white discolor?

Black will show smudges more, but could theoretically maintain its color for longer.

Rumor has it Apple delayed the launch of the white iPhone 4 in order to improve the UV protection and prevent discoloration. That's just a rumor, however, and white iPads have shipped day and date with black iPads since they were introduced in March 2011. That also means white iPads have been on the market for almost a year now, and there haven't been any widespread accounts of discoloration. My own white iPad 2, bought in March 2011, still looks as crisp and clean as the day I unboxed it.

In 5 years time some more obvious aging issues may present themselves, but 5 years is an eternity in consumer electronics. If it concerns you, stick with black.

On the other hand, black shows fingerprints and smudges more dramatically and don't disappear when the screen is lit up, so if those annoy you, white is a better choice.

Does white look better?

Black iPads let accessories be the star while white iPads compete with or complement them more.

Some people just love the look of a white device, whether it's an iPad, an iPhone, a BlackBerry, an Android, or whatever. They sometimes get shipped later or come in more limited quantities so there's an air of exclusivity about them.

That's not the case with iPads.

White tends to stand out more and can be more obvious with brightly colored cases. Is that something that appeals to you? Or do you want the content and the accessories to be the star?

If you like the idea of a blank canvas, stick to black.

So which color should you get?

At the end of the day, the only real answer is get the color you like better. Everything else is manufactured anxiety at this point. Just close your eyes, picture your iPad in your hand and carefully look at what color you're picturing.

Then buy that.

Any questions?

If you've already chosen, let us know which one you went with and why. If you need extra help or want extra opinions deciding whether you should get, black or white, don't hesitate to ask.

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

Black vs white: Which new iPad should you choose?


I thought about getting a while one just to get one that looks different but at night when I am watching something in the dark it seems like it would be distracting.

I chose white with a blue smart cover but I'm taking it back [hopefully I can return it to the store] to replace with a different color. Buyers remorse set in immediately after hitting "purchase". lol.

If you ever plan on watching tv, movies, or videos then get black.
Look at your television. I can almost guarantee you it's either silver, or black. It is not white.
There's a reason for this.

Man, it's a tough choice. I love black, but hate fingerprint and palm smudges on the bezel (I find myself constantly wiping the screen, about 3-5 times a day). I don't particularly like white, but, from what i've seen, smudges don't stand out as much.
I guess I'm tired of constantly wiping down the screen, and just would like to see if white is a better fit.

Chose black , it isn't so hard to wipe off the smudges I have a black iPad and all I do is wipe it off with my sleeve or a towel when Im done using it and it's great

After owning a white iPad, I actually find it distracting to use a black one. I find that the white draws your attention to what is going on on the screen. The black let's me get distracted by whatever is going in around me.

I agree that I was more distracted by what was going on around me with black and felt more attention is drawn to the content on a white iPad.
And I had always hated Apple's cutesy colors and white iPods. But the iPad is different —I do watch vids, but usually I am reading. And usually I am reading websites with white backgrounds or books or PDFs with white backgrounds. The white iPad seems to make the iPad content expand into my world rather than appear limited by a black and smudged one-inch thick bezel.
What I don't like is the attention that I get for having a white iPad. No one cares about black ones. But suddenly people think they know me better and want to talk and touch my white iPad.

Get black. When I got my Kindle, at the time, they only had the white. It was distracting. In addition, when I put a black-ish skin on it, the text appeared to seem sharper.
When I bought my wife's ipad last month, there was no question. Black it was.

I pre-ordered white. I already have the black. My black iPhone and while iPhone both look great. So I'm sure the white iPad will look awesome too.

As I always say, if you have any doubts about the white, DON'T GET IT. You'll have buyer's remote at a later date.
In my opinion, the white has to scream 'Hell yeah!" as soon as you see it. It did for me, with both the iPhone and iPad.
No going back.

I have a white iPhone, because that was all they had in 32gb. With the case on, can not really tell. With the various iPad cases that will become avaliablle usually in black, the black iPad would look better.

I have had 3 black iPhones and a black iPad. I ordered a white iPad yesterday. I had been thinking about it for a long time and decided that it was time for a change. If the next iPhone is available in white from the get go, I'll get white then too.

I used to direct in the professional theatre, and I formed a surprising opinion about how a proscenium arch should be painted. (That's the arch in front of the curtain, which is the visual equivalent of the iPad's bezel border.) At first I thought the proscenium and the theatre walls near it should be as dark as possible to increase the "magic" and audience focus on what was going on onstage. Then I directed on a stage with the gaudiest, shiniest proscenium you could possible imagine--and the magic worked better than in a "black box" theatre! I don't have an explanation for this based on cognitive science (my current field). But it might be that the brain works harder to cancel a brighter border, resulting in greater concentration on what's inside. If that's true, then the white iPad bezel should really be more effective than the black.

I have a white 2 and I ordered a white 3. I tried using my wife's black iPad 2 and I hate it. Anyway, the white matches my white 4S.

I would absolutely get a white iPad to match my white iPhone and my white suit (kidding. I don't have a white suit. ;-)

I really want to win an ipad, I've been imnardeg for a iphone for ages but i havn't got one, I hoping to win an ipad. If i do win this, i will look back at zavvi and think what kind people.

And another copy/paste of the article you ran when the iPad2 came out. You guys need to be a bit more original please.

No. It's just pointless rambling to make the site look better than what it is.
You guys want to find out on apple news faster? And I don't think I have ever seen these BS filler articles there either.

I find these kinds of articles an interesting read. The writers are getting into the meat & potatoes of daily use. I found it a refreshing change after reading several other Apple blog sites. 3 or 4 of them are more or less parroting each other's content. iMore is MORE. I like it :) Keep up the good work!

I have iPad1 and iPad2 both black, I just pre-ordered the white one on Wednesday. I will pass the iPad1 to my son and the iPad2 to my daughter. Daddy will keep the snow one.

The white bezel has a black border around the screen, giving it a 3D look. Whereas the black bezel looks like it runs into the picture more. So I picked the white.

Maybe i'm just being picky, but the reason I opted for the black one instead of the white is the fact that the apple logo on the back is actually black. The white ipad just seems like one of those skins that you place on top of it to make it look more personalized.

Wow - who knew anyone put this much thought into this decision. . . and I'm a graphic designer. But white it is for me. I have no doubts or worries that regarding the distraction level of a white border. One of my favorite sayings is, "Seeing is believing but the eye is easily fooled." As humans, we tend to adjust to what we see often and our eyes create allowances for all types of things. I love my white iPhone and I love my white iPad, even though it's sitting in a holding pattern in a UPS warehouse in Kentucky right now.

GF wanted White. Then we played a music video in store and saw the top and bottom bars (video recorded in 16:9). The white stuck out so bad. So she matched me on black

Pre-ordered white, bought white iPad 2 in nov after freak ecoast oct snowstorm left without power for 8 days, love the device, thought white looked cleaner, though I bought iPhone 4 in black and like that for phone. I think your eye does get used to either color though the point about the black showing smears makes sense, my new Sony bravi tvs have the shiny black bezel which does need to be constantly wiped, would prefer matte finish, anyway in any color the iPad is the best thing since sliced bread, I can't wait for mine to be sprung and delivered tomorrow ( I hope) Thanks Apple!!!!

I think for the size of the iPad, white does look nice. It will bright the contents and make relax and easy for your brian. When it comes to the size of big TV, white will be distracting. It just like one of fashion rules: white doesn't look good on a big guy. A small guy looks smaller with black on.

I choose white one for a number of reasons:

  1. White is used by apple to promote its ipad 2 and of course the new ipad. See the official website. Traditionally, apple sells its product in the white and neat style.
  2. I find white less distracting when the background of content is white, e.g. youtube, fb, pdf...etc.
  3. Too many tablets, particularly the inferior, use black. Seems white stands out a little bit.
  4. White ipad fits my furniture at home which are mostly in wood or white colour.

I got the white 64 gb wifi Ipad one launch day. It was the only one left at the store I had a discount at. I have had it for about a week now and I have been getting use to it. I am thinking about taking it back; however, I don't know when they will be in stock with a black 64 gig. Also, they may not even return it, color really is not an excuse to take back a $700 device. I think I might be happier with a black though. The bezel of both my macbook and iphone are black, so it's just a little bit harder to adjust with the clash.

If this is an issue than I am quite in the middle cos i bought a black one todAy n realizes that i didn't like the white ipad 2 but its not the middle same with the 3 but the remorse issue d ve been if i d have white. its my first one so black is less remorsy and frankly black is colorless as the black looks like a macbook pro n white like macbook

I ended up going with the White iPad. I had some remorse at first but really began to like the white border, especially while surfing the web. In addition, I realized that I now have the best of both worlds since I just purchased a Griffin Survivor iPad case. The case completely blocks out the white borders if I feel like taking a break from white. When I want to show off the white borders, I can remove the iPad from the case fairly quickly. In agreement with previous posts, the white borders are less likely to show off fingerprints and smudges and I have not been experiencing any of the heating issues that have been observed with black iPads.

Ive never had a white device. I think the white looks fancy & new. My friends and family have tried changing my standpoint but hopefully I resist the urge to get a black one. ( I don't want to see smudges) And if i'm watching a movie at night. I wouldn'treally notice the white Bezel because my room would be very dark. And I want a blue smart cover and I think it looks better on a white iPad. I still have to continue saving for it though because i'm 16.

Does that mean I need to style the website three times, or can I get away with styling it once, and modifying only the pieces that need modifying for the different sizes?

I do not even know the way I ended up here, however I assumed this post was good. I don't recognise who you might be however definitely you are going to a well-known blogger if you aren't already. Cheers!

I think that the white border being a distraction is more or less a valid point, but the oc in me would be more distracted with the sight of smudges or dust, being more obvious on a black background. Well, that's just me. I'm going to get a white one this time.

I think the white looks kinda bad with the cases and if u like the white and have a case it covers it plus it's just plastic on it iPads are really all silver

Yes. I get ipad white and combine with a black case/cover. Simply stand and look great. You can try it, you would not regret it.

The black also adds better resale value. Most buyers would prefer black. Most cases look better for the black version and black blend better into the screen. It also hides the camera hole etc. black is the safe bet.

Well I have a black iPad I got it 2weeks ago i mean,about the smudges , yes that's true but it's not something you can't handle you just simply get your sleeve or a towel and wipe it off, when your done using if ur thinking of black I would recommend that. I mean white is pretty and people have been telling me to get black because white gets dirty ( I know it's not true) so I just got black. If you have any questions on how it's going with my iPad please search me up on face book my name is Evelyn Valladares Thank you

I, personally, would go with white.
1. It is newer. only a 1 1/2 years old.
2. It is different now. 2 years ago when I heard apple, I thought about a black macbook pro, a black iPod, a black iPhone, a apple TV or aluminum and only one, lonely, white MacBook. I liked the macbook a lot more because it looked cleaner(except the material it was made out of.)
and coming from a clean household and family, it looks cleaner. and it is.
It also catches the eye of some people who see it. and it is the ONLY popular tablet that is white so it's different from Apple itself and Android tablets too. But fashionable. lol

I was honestly leaning towards the white ipad throughout this whole article. However, I did exactly as Rene suggested and I closed my eyes, and imagined myself with both a white iPad and a black one. Result? I could only imagine myself content with a black one haha. Thanks Rene, now I know which to buy this Friday :)

The Chargers On All These Devices (Inc Computers) Are Always White For A Reason! White Is Apples Colour & The First Gen IPods Were Always In White. The Iconic White Headphones Etc,Etc. White Is Apple, Black Is So Every Other Manufacturer. Most Copied Apple By Releasing Black & White Options In Their Devices, However Pre Apple Products Like The IPod, Iphone & Ipad I Never Saw Any White Devices.