iPad buyers guide (Late 2012)

Update: Check out our new 2013 iPad Air and Retina iPad mini buyers guide!

  • We've got an all new, all updated version with iPad Air and Retina iPad mini ready and waiting for you, so check out our 2013 iPad buyers guide now!

Everything you need to know about choosing the perfect iPad mini or iPad 4 color, capacity, carrier, and more!

There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to buying a new iPad mini, iPad 4 or any tablet for that matter. Once you've decided you do indeed need a new tablet, you still have to decide if the new tablet you need is an iPad. While we still believe the iPad is the best choice for most of the people most of the time, there are a lot of other tablets on the market these days and there might be one better suited to some people's individual needs. If you do decide the iPad is perfect for you, then comes the choice of model (iPad mini, iPad 4, or iPad 2), color (white & silver or black & slate), storage capacity (16GB, 32GB, or 64GB), and carrier network (in the U.S., AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint are the major ones). And what do you do with your old, broken tablet when your new, hot iPad arrives?

Enter iMore's iPad buyers guide, late 2012 edition. If you need help deciding what to buy, we've got your back. And if you've already decided, just bookmark, email, Facebook, or Tweet this so we can help your friends and family and you can get on with enjoying your new iPad!

iPad reviews

If you already know you want to get an iPad, and have an idea which one you want to get, but want a lot more information on the specific technology and experience that comes with it, check out our definitive reviews.

iPad mini, iPad 4, or something else: Which iPad should you get?

Buy vs upgrade vs skip: Should you get the new iPad?

Just because Apple has released the new iPad mini and iPad 4 doesn't mean you have to race off and get it. Crazy, I know, particularly coming from the greatest iPad enthusiast site in the world, but that just goes to show you how true it is. When the time comes for you to get your next tablet, whether it's today or next year, and iPad or something else, you should look at what's on the market and decide what best suits your needs.

If you want the sleekest, slimmest, easiest to use, most mainstream friendly, most content rich, most well supported tablet in the industry, the iPad mini might just be for you. If you want all of that but with far more power, and far more pixels on a much bigger screen, the iPad 4 might just be for you.

If you're not sure, here's a breakdown of the pros and cons of upgrading to the iPad mini or iPad 4, whether you own an existing iPad, an Android tablet, a BlackBerry PlayBooks, an Amazon Kindle, or something else.

Now vs. later: When should you buy an iPad?

Once you've decided to get an iPad, you may still be wondering when exactly you should get it. Apple releases new iPads every year... or so. So should you buy now or wait and get the next one, and hopefully more bang for your buck, when it launches? Here's the deal...

For a brief sliver of time in 2010 Apple released a new iPad in the spring, new iPhone in the summer, and new iPod touch in the fall. Now, who knows? This year, we got new iPhones and iPods in the fall, and new iPads in both the spring and fall.

The bottom line is this -- buy one when you need one. There will always be new and better iPads coming. If you need one, get one when you need one. If you don't need one, wait as long as you can until you do, check iMore for any rumors of impending updates, pick your date, and then pull the trigger and feel great about it.

iPad 4 vs. iPad 2 vs. iPad mini: Which iPad should you get?

iPad 4 vs. iPad 2 vs. iPad mini: Which iPad should you get?

The latest, greatest, iPad -- in this case the late 2012 iPad 4 -- can't be considered a no-brainer buy this year because Apple has now also introduced the all-new iPad 4. The iPad 2 has also stuck around in some sort of limbo-like middle ground, further complicating your purchasing decision.

Power vs portability, starting at $329 vs. starting at $399 or $499 -- there's a lot of factors to consider. Here they are:

Black or white, which iPad mini or iPad 4 should you get?

Black or white, which iPad mini or iPad 4 should you get?

Apple has updated the iPad and launched the new iPad mini, so we're updating our buyers guides to help you choose just exactly the right devices for you. Now, ever since the iPad 2 launched with a choice of black or white faceplates, one of the biggest decisions we've all had to make is which color to get. This year, that stays the same for the iPad, but for the iPad mini, which has an iPod touch 5-style colored backplate as well, it's an even bigger -- make that smaller -- choice.

Here's what you need to consider:

16GB vs 32GB vs 64GB: Which new iPad mini or iPad 4 storage capacity should you get?

16GB, 32GB, or 64GB: Which new iPad capacity should you get?

The iPad mini and iPad 4 come in three storage sizes -- 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB, and each step up in size costs an extra $100. Saving money and running out of space is no fun, but neither is paying for space you don't end up using.

How many photos and videos you want to keep with you, how many apps and games, and how many TV shows and movies you want on your iPad will determine how much space you need. Also, online storage like iCloud or third party services like Dropbox, SugarSync, or Box.net might change the equation.

Here's how the different price points work out, and what you need to consider when choosing between them.

AT&T vs Verizon vs Sprint: Which iPad carrier should you choose?

AT&T vs Verizon vs Sprint: Which iPhone 5 should you get?

If you're in the U.S. it's probably not so easy deciding which carrier is best for your iPad or iPad mini needs, AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint. Price is always a huge factor to consider when choosing a carrier, but coverage should be just as, if not more, important when making a decision. Since the iPad and iPad mini support LTE cellular technology, you're going to want to take a close look at which carriers offer the best LTE coverage in your area.

Here are the prices and plans you'll want to consider.

Apple Store vs. other stores: Where should you buy?

So now that you know what you're getting, how about where? Carrier compatibility aside, the iPad you get will be the same, but the customer service you receive can vary greatly. Also, if you have specific loyalty rewards at a certain carrier or company, that can change the deal you get.

  • Apple Retail: If you have an Apple Retail Store in your area, you can go there, and if it's in stock, leave with your new iPad right away. They also offer help with your purchase and will even help you get set your new iPad up and running free of charge. If you're worried about protecting your investment, they can also get you setup with AppleCare, and their Genius Bar can help you with hardware problems in the future. Corny as it sounds, It's not just shopping, it's an experience. Apple Retail has the best customer service in the business and it shows. There are no discounts, however, not ever. (Though your carrier discounts can still apply.

  • Apple Online: If there's no Apple Retail store near you there's also Apple Online in many countries. Again, no discounts but you're dealing directly with Apple. If there are any shortages or shipping delays, you can still order and they'll get it out to you as soon as stock allows.

  • Carrier stores and big box retailers: If you want brick-and-morter but don't have an Apple Store nearby, and you want a cellular iPad, your carrier may offer them and have one or several stores in your area. Drop buy or get it shipped to you. If you want a Wi-Fi iPad, big box and chain retailers typically carry the iPad. If you have loyalty points or they're just super convenient, check them out as well.

Shady operators also try to sell discount iPads, sometimes devices that aren't even really iPads but cheap -- and highly breakable -- knockoffs. It goes without saying you should avoid those. Any deal too good to be true probably is. If you save money only to end up with a phone that doesn't run iOS and may not even run on your carrier you really just wasted your money.

iPad mini and iPad 4 user guides

Once you've bought your new iPad mini or iPad 4, it's time to enjoy. Here's how to set it up with iCloud over-the-air (OTA), including updates, backups, security, music and media, and apps and games, how to get Siri up and running and assisting you, and how to get started with iMessage and Notification Center, and even use your iPad as a camera.

How to get more help with your iPad

No article can cover every detail or address every unique circumstance or concern. Luckily iMore also hosts the iPad Forums, a vast community where users can ask questions, give feedback, and get help.

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, ZEN and TECH, MacBreak Weekly. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter, App.net, Google+.

More Posts

 

15
loading...
0
loading...
71
loading...
0
loading...

← Previously

Deal of the Day: 47% off the Body Glove Icon Hybrid Case for iPhone 5

Next up →

No Tricks, Just Treats Halloween Sale - Save 15% on ALL Accessories at the iMore store!

There are 9 comments. Add yours.

chris.lenderman says:

Great stuff Rene. One thing I haven't really been able to get a solid answer on is, with the LTE iPads, do you have to purchase a carrier specific version of the iPad (like you do with the iPhone), or can an LTE iPad access any carrier?

S.Mulji says:

I'm sure about the USA but here in Canada, you purchase the iPad LTE and it can work on any carrier. You just purchase the SIM card from the carrier you want to be on.

tomyang says:

so cool, the iPad 4 is my best choice, good post!

RyTry says:

Thanks for the good info Rene.

spice69 says:

IM FROM BOSTON. I LIKE READ. IMORE. BECAUSE IS BETTER. LIKE MAGAZINE. NICE. PICTURES. NICE. COMMENTS. AND NEWS. THANKXX. I MORE. COM. FOR. YOU NEWS. IN APPLE. IPAD. MINI. MY NAME IS ISMAEL SANTOS

tomjhon says:

@Loise, you make $27h thats great going girl good for you! My story is that I quit working at shoprite to work online, seriously I couldn't be happier I work when I want and where I want. And with a little effort I easily bring in $35h and sometimes even as much as $85h…heres a good example of what i'm doing, lazycash9.com

gtg465x#IM says:

I get paid over $600 per hour and have 7 kids at home! All I have to do is protect the United States from terrorist attacks. state.gov/j/ct/

Manish Ahuja says:

SIR I WANT TO BUY AN APPLE I PAD BUT I AM CONFUSED BETWEEN APPLE 3 RD GENERATION AND APLLE I PAD 4...SO PLZ CAN U HELP

roshenper says:

Good post, really helpful for consumers who are willing to buy an iPad. Hey guys I just found a good and trusted place to buy iPad accessories, smart phones, black berry accessories and lots of good stuff. They offers worldwide free shipping and numerous payment options.
http://www.jsxltech.com/