How to pick the perfect space gray, silver, gold, or rose gold iPad finish for you!

iPad comes in a wider variety of colors—or metallic finishes—than ever before. The 12.9 inch iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, and the iPads mini come in silver, space gray, and gold. The 9.7-inch comes in all of those, and rose gold as well. Space gray still comes with a black faceplate and gold and rose gold, like the silver, comes with a white faceplate. With greater choice in colors, however, comes a harder choice: which one should you get?

Fading black vs. whiting out

The silver, gold, and rose gold iPads have white faceplates, which means you'll see a white border around the screen any and every time to use it. For some people, that's distracting. The space gray iPads have black faceplates, which means a black border that disappears, just like almost all TV sets.

iPads might be personal TVs, but they're also personal readers, and a lot of the things we read, from websites to documents to ebooks have bright backgrounds. In those cases, the white border can better blend.

I've had both white and black iPads for years, and neither makes a big difference for me. I barely notice the faceplate color no matter what I'm doing. However, other people notice them. A lot. All the time. They simply don't like the contrast between the border and the screen even when the device is off.

  • If a bright faceplate catches your eye, and not in a good way, you'll want to stick with black.
  • If dark is too constraining or contrasting, stick with white.

Discoloration vs. damage assessments

One the biggest concerns with white/silver products is that they'll discolor over time. One of the biggest concerns with black/space gray products is that they'll show scratches and chips more easily.

Apple spent much of 2010 figuring out how to make the white iPhone resistant to UV and other typical sources of discoloration. I've had a white iPhone 4 since the day it launched, and it still looks every bit as white. The iPads use the same process, so they're just as resistant to discoloration. Still, if it's a major concern, stick to space gray/black.

Likewise, the 2012 iPhone 5 and iPad mini taught Apple that slate black anodization was more susceptible to damage than it ought to be. Hence, goodbye slate gray, hello space gray. The new finish has proven much tougher than the old. Dark colors, however, still shows dust and damage slightly more than light.

  • If you're worried about scratches or dust, stick to silver
  • If you're worried about discoloration, stick to space gray

Popularity vs. personality

Black is almost always the most popular color for electronics and electronics accessories. That's why it's so common. It's literally the hot little black number. However, true black is incredibly hard to anodize, which is why the dark iPad mini was closer to charcoal, and the dark iPad Air and Retina iPad mini is closer to graphite. Space gray may not look as cool as blackout black, but it'll likely still be the default for many people.

That said, some people just love white tech. At the end of the day, you need to buy what you like. White iPads stand out more and can be more obvious with brightly colored cases. Black iPads tend to disappear more, and let the accessories be the star.

Speaking of which, even if you're planning on locking your iPad Pro, iPad Air, or iPad mini up in a case the moment it leaves the box, the color will often still show through. Many don't cover the face plate. Some, like smart covers, leave the back completely open.

Choose a color you love, then add a case you love to it to complete the look. (They're accessories because they accessorize!). If you already have a case you love, pick the iPad color that either makes it pop (black) or helps it shine (white). Either way, make sure you love the iPad you get regardless of the accessories you may or may not add - or keep - to it later.

Who should get a space gray iPad?

If you want a color that won't distract you when you game or watch video, that absolutely won't discolor, even if it does show wear and tear a little more visibly, that's closer to timeless even if it's also more reserved, then get the space gray and black iPad Pro, iPad Air, or iPad mini.

Who should get the silver iPad?

If you want a color that draws more attention in its own right and stands out better from the crowd (without being overly fussy about it), that may be more of a distraction but that doesn't show damage as much, then get the silver and white iPad Pro, iPad Air, or iPad mini.

Who should get the gold iPad?

If you want to stand out from the crowd, if you're also not easily distracted but hides scuffs and scrapes pretty well, if a little tasteful bling is your thing, then get the gold and white iPad Pro, iPad Air, or iPad mini.

Who should get the rose gold 9.7-inch iPad Pro

If champagne gold isn't luxurious enough, if you want everyone to know you have the latest and greatest iPad, or if you just want to try something different, get the rose gold 9.7-inch iPad Pro.

Still undecided?

At the end of the day, the only real answer is: get the color you like better. Everything else is manufactured anxiety. Just close your eyes, picture your iPad in your hand, and carefully look at what color you're picturing. Then buy that. And if you change your mind later, you can get a case. If you're still not sure about silver and white, or space gray and black jump into our iPad discussion forums and the best community in mobile will happily help you out. Once you've decided, though, let me know - which color did you go with and why?