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

When it comes to choosing a color (or, if we're being honest, metallic finish) for your iPad, iPad mini, and iPad Pro, there are a few factors worth weighing. Do you want a white bezel around your screen, or a black one? Do you crave the rarest of iPad colors, rose gold? And does color even matter if you plan to hide your iPad in a case?

You may not need a guide to pick the iPad color right for you, and that's okay. But if you do, we've got you covered no matter your coloration concerns.

Fade to black vs bright white

Before you consider your iPad's rear case color, consider the hue around your screen: The silver, gold, and rose gold iPads have white faceplates, while the space grey iPad models use a black bezel.

Some prefer the look of black — which, like almost all TV sets these days, lets the border practically disappear into the screen. But a black faceplate is also prone to showcase fingerprints and smudges and may prove distracting to brighter content. In contrast, if you use your iPad as a personal reader, a white bezel can prove easier on the eyes when reading websites, documents, and ebooks with bright or white backgrounds.

Ideally, the faceplate shouldn't prove too distracting in practice for all but the pickiest of eyes, making it more personal preference than anything else.

  • If a white faceplate catches your eye — and not in a good way — you'll want to consider the Space Gray iPad line.
  • If you find a black bezel too constraining or contrasting, stick with a white faceplate and the Silver, Gold, and Rose Gold rear casing options available for it.

Discoloration vs damage

A big concern with white, silver, and other brightly-colored products is the chance for discoloration; dark colors have their own issues, too, with casings often showing scratches, chips, and smudges more easily.

Apple spent much of 2010 figuring out how to make the white iPhone resistant to UV and typical sources of discoloration. The iPads have used the same process for years, making them just as resistant. Still, if it's a major worry, there's no harm in sticking with Space Gray.

Likewise, the iPhone 5 and iPad mini taught Apple that black anodization was more susceptible to damage than it ought to be; instead, all other devices — iPads included — get space gray, a lighter (but tougher) anodization that rates about the same as other colored aluminum shells where scratches are concerned. That said, space grey still tends to show dust, smudges, and fingerprints more than the other colors in Apple's iPad line.

  • If you're concerned about picking up excess dust and smudges, or you have to photograph your device often, stick to silver, rose gold, or gold.
  • If you're worried about color discoloration, you shouldn't be — but space gray may allay your fears.

Popularity vs. personality

Black is almost always the most popular color when it comes to electronics and electronics accessories. And while Space Gray may not look as cool as "true" black, it'll likely still be the default color for many. That said, lighter-colored iPads can stand out more, especially with brightly colored cases; Space Gray iPad models tend to let accessories be the star.

There's also the exclusivity factor to weigh: The 10.5-inch iPad Pro is currently the only iPad that comes in Rose Gold, which means if you want the latest color option, you'll want to pick it. (That said, the 2018 iPad's gold hue is also fairly coppery-rose, so you can still get a reddish iPad hue if you want.)

  • If you want a reliable (and popular) color, it's hard to resist Space Gray.
  • If you want to stand out from the crowd, consider the 10.5-inch iPad Pro or 2018 9.7-inch iPad's Rose Gold or Gold options.

Case vs clean

Apple's iPads are more durable than ever, but they're still large pieces of glass. We generally recommend that if you plan to use your iPad anywhere you might risk a drop, a case is a good idea. But even if you're planning on locking your iPad Pro, iPad, or iPad mini up the moment it leaves the box, you'll still see much of the device's original color.

For one, most cases don't cover the faceplate; others, like Apple's Smart Cover and Keyboard, protect the screen and keep the rear casing entirely unprotected.

Choose a color you love, then add a case you dig to complete the look. (After all, they're accessories because they accessorize!) If you already have a great case, 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 accessories you may or may not add to it later.

Who should get a space gray iPad?

Get a Space Gray iPad if you want color that…

  • Won't distract you when you game or watch video
  • Absolutely won't discolor, even if it does show wear and tear a little more visibly
  • looks timeless (though more reserved)
  • You can get on any iPad model

Who should get the silver iPad?

Get a Silver iPad if you want a color that…

  • Draws more attention in its own right (without being overly fussy about it)
  • Provides a good bright bezel for e-reading activities
  • Might be more of a distraction but doesn't show as much damage
  • Works in tandem with accessories for a great finish
  • You can get on any iPad model

Who should get the gold iPad?

Get a Gold iPad if you want a color that…

  • Stands out from the crowd with a little tasteful bling
  • Provides a good bright bezel for e-reading activities
  • Might be more of a distraction but doesn't show as much damage
  • You can get on any iPad model (and get it rosy on the 2018 iPad!)

Who should get the rose gold iPad Pro?

Get a Rose Gold iPad Pro if you want color that…

  • Is exclusive to the 10.5-inch iPad Pro model
  • Brings extra luxury atop the champagne gold model
  • Provides a good bright bezel for e-reading activities
  • Might be more of a distraction but doesn't show as much damage

iPad Pro — See at Apple

Still undecided?

At the end of the day, we aren't going to be able to make the color decision for you — buy what you like, and what makes the most sense for your computing habits.

If you prefer black, go black; if you want a bit of popping color, choose silver, gold, or rose! Everything else is manufactured anxiety. Just close your eyes, picture your iPad in your hand, and carefully look at what color you're picturing. And hey, if you feel any buyers' remorse, Apple offers a pretty comprehensive 14-day return policy — so you can always try out one color and swap it if you're not feeling the look.

Updated March 30, 2018: Added information about the 2018 iPad.

iPad Buyers Guide