Now is the absolute worst time to buy an iPad — two models you must not buy before Apple's May 7 event

hand holding 12.9-inch iPad Pro with the lockscreen displayed. The Apple Music widget is shown playing Anti-Hero by Taylor Swift.
(Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

Sometimes, as much as you might want an iPad, there are times when buying one is a very bad idea — and this year, that time is now. In only a few days time, Apple is going to announce new iPad models (we think) at the Let Loose event — and while you might think we’re only telling you not to buy an iPad because they’re about to be replaced and you’ll want to get the more powerful model, there’s actually more to it.

Price reductions, stock changes, and more just to name a few reasons — and while it might seem like common sense not to buy an iPad just before the new ones come out, we’ll still run you through why it’s a bad idea.

What’s coming, and which should I avoid?

Blue iPad (2022) laying screen side down with Apple Pencil

(Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

So it’s not the whole iPad line that might be reworked over the coming months. We’re expecting new iPad Air models in the form of the iPad Air 6 and a brand-new 12.9-inch option, and then new 2024 iPad Pro models. Those iPad Pro tablets could be an even bigger upgrade than we first thought as well — there are rumors that there will be an M4 chip powering them rather than the M3.

The iPad 10th gen, iPad 9th gen, and iPad Mini are currently not pegged for a fresh release during the event, but you never know. Either way, to avoid disappointment (of various types), we’d recommend you don’t buy an iPad Pro or an iPad Air until after the event, and, just in case, give it a few days and announcements before you drop the hammer on the rest of the line as well.

But why?

Reason one: Jealousy

iPad Pro 12.9-inch in iMore freelancer's office

(Image credit: Future/Lloyd Coombes)

If you buy an iPad Air today, you’re getting an M1-powered tablet from 2020. It’s still a mighty device, don’t get us wrong, but if you’re not worried about price and want to maximize the power you can get out of your budget, you’re going to be disappointed when your brand-new iPad Air is usurped mere moments after its left its box.

Similarly, with the iPad Pro, you’ll miss out on key features that the M2 iPad Pro models don’t have. There are rumors that there is going to be an OLED panel on the iPad Pro line this year, making for potentially some of the best displays that iPads have ever seen. If you buy one of the M2 iPad Pros today, you’ll still get a stunning display, particularly the 12.9-inch with its Pro XDR high dynamic range panel. You won’t, however, get the deep blacks and incredible contrast ratio of the potential OLED upgrade coming to iPad.

Reason two: The price might not be right

Apple iPad Air 5

(Image credit: iMore)

Say instead that you don’t care how powerful your iPad is — only how good a deal you can get on it. In that case, you should still wait for the iPad event and the subsequent release of the new iPads. Sometimes when a new version of the product is released, you’ll spot the older versions getting significant price drops so that retailers can clear shelves ahead of the new models. 

In recent years this has been less common, as retailers don’t want to bring customers away from buying the new model — so they leave the old version at full price, and encourage the buying of the new model instead. It’s still well worth waiting until the event, however, to see what prices retailers offer on the older models. No price drop, but still want a deal? Just wait a couple of months until retailers become sick of the sight of the old iPads and drastically reduce the prices over events like Prime Day: A little patience goes a long way.

Reason 3: The size question

iPad Pro on train

(Image credit: iMore)

If you’re looking to buy a new, large-screen iPad, then you’re stuck for options at the moment: You can only buy an iPad Pro with a 12.9-inch screen. If the screen size is the only reason that you want a massive iPad, then you’re left paying $1099 for a very powerful iPad of which you only want a small portion.

In this case, you should absolutely wait for the May 7 iPad event — and not for the new big-screen Pro. We expect to see an iPad Air 6 with that massive 12.9-inch display, which will likely cost a whole lot less than the Pro model. If you want a massive screen but don’t need the Pro, this might be just what the doctor ordered.

Still need an iPad right now?

Of course, we can’t tell you what to do. They’re your dollars after all, and you get to decide how to spend them. So, to help you out at least a bit if you absolutely need to buy an iPad before Apple unveils new models, we’ve got a selection of buying guides to find the perfect iPad for you.

Tammy Rogers
Senior Staff Writer

As iMore's Senior Staff writer, Tammy uses her background in audio and Masters in screenwriting to pen engaging product reviews and informative buying guides. The resident audiophile (or audio weirdo), she's got an eye for detail and a love of top-quality sound. Apple is her bread and butter, with attention on HomeKit and Apple iPhone and Mac hardware. You won't find her far away from a keyboard even outside of working at iMore – in her spare time, she spends her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays. Also known to enjoy driving digital cars around virtual circuits, to varying degrees of success. Just don't ask her about AirPods Max - you probably won't like her answer.

  • Captain NV
    Yeah, I'm currently in that limbo. My Air 4th generation lost the touch ID, and Apple wanted $500 to fix it. That's a huge chunk of a replacement cost with the latest model, so I've been living with it until the 6th generation dropped.