iPad buyers' guide

iPad buyers' guide

There's a lot to consider before you buy or upgrade to a new tablet, even a new iPad Air 2 or iPad mini-3. What's more important, portability or display size? Can you live with an older, cheaper model or do you really need something more future-proof? Which color and what capacity is best for you? There's never been more to choose from, which means it's never been harder to choose!

Enter iMore's 2014 iPad buyers guide. We'll go over all the details, all the options, and help you decide on which iPad is perfect for you. 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 buyers guide podcast

Serenity, Peter, Ally, and Rene discuss whether you should upgrade your iPad, what the alternatives are, which model is best for you, and options for color, capacity, and more! If you'd rather watch or listen before you read, start here!

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iPad evolution

Since Steve Jobs first unveiled it at a special event in 2010, the iPad has improved steadily in one way or another. The iPad 2 was thinner, lighter, and faster. The iPad 3 got a Retina display and LTE. The iPad 4 went Lightning. The iPad mini dropped back to iPad 2 tech, but in a much smaller form factor. The iPad mini 2 brought Retina to the smaller screen, and the iPad Air made the bigger iPad noticeably smaller. Now the iPad mini 3 and iPad Air 2 add gold finishes, Touch ID, and in the latter's case, a powerful new Apple A8X processor to boot.

iPad iPad 2 iPad 3 iPad mini iPad 4 iPad Air iPad mini 2 iPad mini 3 iPad Air 2
iPad iPad 2 iPad 3 iPad mini iPad 4 iPad Air iPad mini Retina iPad mini 3 iPad Air 2
Code Name K48 K94 J1, J2 J65 J72 J85 J85 J81
Model Name iPad 1,1 iPad 2,1 iPad 3,1 iPad 2,5 iPad 3,4 iPad 4,1 iPad 4,5 iPad 4,7 iPad 5,1
Launch OS iPhone OS 3.2 iOS 4.3 iOS 5.1 iOS 6 iOS 6 iOS 7 iOS 7 iOS 8.1 iOS 8.1
Screen Size 9.7 inches 9.7 inches 9.7 inches 7.9 inches 9.7 inches 9.7 inches 7.9 inches 7.9 inches 9.7 inches
Screen Resolution 1024x768 (132ppi) 1024x768 (132ppi) 2048x1536 (264ppi) 1024x768 (163ppi) 2048x1536 (264ppi) 2048x1536 (264ppi) 2048x1536 (326ppi) 2048x1536 (326ppi) | 2048x1536 (264ppi)
Screen Type IPS LED IPS LED IPS LED IPS LED IPS LED IPS LED IPS LED IPS LED Laminated IPS LED
System-on-a-chip Apple A4 Apple A5 Apple A5X Apple A5 Apple A6X Apple A7 Apple A7 Apple A7 Apple A8X
CPU 800MHz ARM Cortex-A8 1GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 1GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 1GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 1.4GHz dual-core Swift (ARM v7s) 64-bit dual core Apple A7 Cyclone (ARM v8) 64-bit dual core Apple A7 Cyclone (ARM v8) 64-bit dual core Apple A7 Cyclone (ARM v8) 64-bit dual core Apple A7 Cyclone 2 (ARM v8)
GPU PowerVR SGX535 PowerVR dual-core SGX543MP2 PowerVR dual-core SGX543MP4 PowerVR dual-core SGX543MP2 PowerVR quad-core SGX554MP4 PowerVR G6430 PowerVR G6430 PowerVR G6430 PowerVR GX6650?
Co-processor none none none none none M7 Motion M7 Motion M7 Motion M8 Motion
RAM 256MB 512MB 1GB 512MB 1GB 1GB 1GB 1GB N/A
Storage 16GB/32GB/64GB 16GB/32GB/64GB 16GB/32GB/64GB 16GB/32GB/64GB 16GB/32GB/64GB/128GB 16GB/32GB/64GB/128GB 16GB/32GB/64GB/128GB 16GB/64GB/128GB 16GB/64GB/128GB
Cellular Data HSPA LTE LTE LTE LTE LTE LTE LTE LTE Advanced
SIM Micro Micro Micro Nano Micro Nano Nano Nano Apple
Rear Camera none 1.3MP/720p 5MP/1080p 5MP/1080p 5MP/1080p 5MP/1080p 5MP/1080p 5MP/1080P 8MP/1080P
Front Camera none 0.3MP/VGA 0.3MP/VGA 1.2MP/720p 1.2MP/720p 1.2MP/720p 1.2MP/720p 1.2MP/720p 1.2MP/720p
Bluetooth Bluetooth 2.1+EDR Bluetooth 2.1+EDR Bluetooth 4.0 Bluetooth 4.0 Bluetooth 4.0 Bluetooth 4.0 Bluetooth 4.0 Bluetooth 4.0 Bluetooth 4.0
Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n 802.11a/b/g/n 802.11a/b/g/n 802.11a/b/g/n 802.11a/b/g/n 802.11a/b/g/n MIMO 802.11a/b/g/n MIMO 802.11a/b/g/n MIMO 802.11a/b/g/n/ac MIMO
GPS aGPS aGPS aGPS, GLONASS aGPS, GLONASS aGPS, GLONASS aGPS, GLONASS aGPS, GLONASS aGPS, GLONASS aGPS, GLONASS
Sensors Ambient light, accelerometer, compass Ambient light, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope Ambient light, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope Ambient light, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope Ambient light, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope Ambient light, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope Ambient light, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope Ambient light, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope Ambient light, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope, barometer
Speakers Mono Mono Mono Stereo Mono Stereo Stereo Stereo Stereo
Connector 30-pin Dock 30-pin Dock 30-pin Dock Lightning Lightning Lightning Lightning Lightning Lightning
Height 9.56 inches (242.8 mm) 9.5 inches (241.3 mm) 9.5 inches (241.3 mm) 7.87 inches (199.9 mm) 9.5 inches (241.3 mm) 9.4 inches (238.8 mm) 7.87 inches (199.9 mm) 7.87 inches (199.9 mm) 9.4 inches (238.8 mm)
Width 7.47 inches (189.7 mm) 7.31 inches (185.7 mm) 7.31 inches (185.7 mm) 5.3 inches (134.6 mm) 7.31 inches (185.7 mm) 6.6 inches (167.6 mm) 5.3 inches (134.6 mm) 5.3 inches (134.6 mm) 6.6 inches (167.6 mm)
Depth 0.53 inches (13.5 mm) 0.34 inches (8.6 mm) 0.37 inches (9.4 mm) 0.28 inches (7.1 mm) 0.37 inches (9.4 mm) 0.29 inches (7.4 mm) 0.29 inches (7.4 mm) 0.29 inches (7.4 mm) 0.24 inches (6.1 mm)
Weight 1.5 lbs (680 g) 1.33 lbs (603 g) 1.44 lbs (653 g) 0.68 lbs (308 g) 1.44 lbs (653 g) 1.0 lbs (454 g) 0.73 lbs (331 g) 0.73 lbs (331 g) 0.96 lbs (437 g)
Battery 6600mAh 6930mAh 11560mAh 4440mAh 11560mAh 8820mAh 6471mAh 6471mAh 6471mAh | N/A
Colors Black Black/White Black/White Black/White Black/White Space gray/Silver Space gray/Silver Space gray/Silver/Gold Space gray/Silver/Gold
Launch Price Wi-Fi: $499, $599, $699
Cellular: $629, $729, $829
Wi-Fi: $499, $599, $699
Cellular: $629, $729, $829
Wi-Fi: $499, $599, $699
Cellular: $629, $729, $829
Wi-Fi: $329, $429, $529
Cellular: $459, $559, $659
Wi-Fi: $499, $599, $699, $799
Cellular: $629, $729, $829, $929
Wi-Fi: $499, $599, $699, $799
Cellular: $629, $729, $829, $929
Wi-Fi: $399, $499, $599, $699
Cellular: $529, $629, $729, $829
Wi-Fi: $399, $499, $599, $699
Cellular: $529, $629, $729, $829
Wi-Fi: $499, $599, $699, $799
Cellular: $629, $729, $829, $929
Release Date 4/3/2010 3/11/2011 3/16/2012 11/2/2012 11/2/2012 11/1/2013 11/12/2013 10/24/2014 10/24/2014

iPad Air 2 vs. MacBook Air: Which Apple ultra-portable should you get?

iPad Air 2 vs. MacBook Air: Which Apple ultra-portable should you get?

Apple has two products designated as "Air", the MacBook Air, updated last June with the latest generation Intel Haswell processors, and the brand new iPad Air 2, introduced in October with a custom Apple A8X chipset. Both are ultra light, super thin, and have insanely great battery life, but one has a keyboard and runs OS X and the other a multitouch and iOS. Both can be absolutely killer on a plane, in an office, or around the house. But which one is better for you?

Should you upgrade to the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3?

iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3: Should you upgrade?

When new tablets like the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini-3 hit the market one of the hardest decisions we face is whether or not to upgrade from our current model to the latest and greatest. If you have unlimited funds, you can just buy everything, all the time. Most of us don't, however, so we need to check out the new features, see how they compare to what we already have, and decide if the difference is worth the price of an entirely new device, a price that starts at $399 and goes up considerably from there. So, what's the difference between your current iPad and the new ones, and is there value enough to justify the upgrade cost?

How to sell your old iPad

How to sell your old iPad so you can buy the new iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3!

If you plan on upgrading to an iPad Air 2 or iPad min 3i, selling your old iPad is a no brainer. Apple products hold their resale value very well. If you've taken good care of your iPad, you should have no problem finding it a new home and putting some cash in your pocket while doing it. Selling the old really does help you afford the new. If you're not sure how to sell, or if you just want to make sure you get the most money, or save yourself the most time and effort, possible, here's everything you need to know!

Which iPad should you get?

Which iPad should you get?

Apple's 2014 iPad lineup is jam-packed. At the top end there's the brand new iPad Air 2. Then there's the updated iPad mini 3, last year's iPad Air and last year's iPad mini 2, and at the lower-than-ever bottom end, the original iPad mini. There are different features, different screen sizes, different capacities, and different price points to consider. In other words, there's a lot to choose from. So do you go with big or small, old or new, cost or value? Which iPad should you get?

What color iPad should you get: Silver, gold, or space gray?

What color iPad should you get: Silver, gold, or space gray?

The iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 come in a wider variety of colors — or metallic finishes — than ever before. Now, in addition to space gray and silver, you can also get both the new iPads in gold. The space gray still comes with a black faceplate and the gold, like the silver, comes with a white faceplate. With greater choice in colors, however, comes a harder choice — which one should you get?

What iPad storage size should you get: 16GB vs 64GB vs 128GB?

16GB vs. 32GB vs. 64GB vs. 128GB: Which iPad Air or Retina iPad mini storage capacity should you get?

The iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 come in three different storage sizes — 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB. Picking between them can be the hardest buying decision a new iPad owner has to make. That's because App Store apps are getting larger, media files are becoming more accessible than ever, and the functionality of our iPads keeps getting better. All of this comes at the price of storage space. This is why choosing a storage size that matches your particular use case is so important. The last thing you want to do is get the dreaded out of space error after only a few months of owning your new iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3. Luckily that's where iMore comes in! From start to finish, we can walk you through what you can expect to get out of each iPad storage size!

iPad insurance: Should you get AppleCare or something else?

iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 insurance: Should you get AppleCare or something else?

If you plan on picking up a new iPad Air 2 or new iPad mini, one of the questions you're probably asking yourself is whether or not you should buy AppleCare+ insurance, something else, or forego insurance altogether. It's a question we get asked on a rather regular basis here at iMore so I figured the best way to address it was to put together a guide, since no one insurance plan is right for everyone. And more importantly, if you're using a credit card to buy your new iPad, you may be covered already and not even know it! Follow along to see what we think are the best insurance options to protect your new iPad!

Need more help?

If there's any detail you're still not 100% sure about, or any question you'd still love to get answered before you buy your brand new iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3, we have fantastic information pages that are always kept up-to-the-minute, and amazing community forums filled with experts for you to talk with. Bookmark them and check back often! And once you've decided, let us know in the comments - which iPad did you get and why?

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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