Choosing the right iPad can be difficult. With the addition of the new iPad and iPad Mini, many customers may be confused about which iPad is the best value for money.
Now, there are four main iPad models, each with its own pros and cons, which include iPad Pro M1, iPad Air (4th Gen), iPad (9th Gen), and iPad Mini (6th Gen)
In an ideal world where the price is not a concern, it is fairly easy to choose:
- Buy the iPad Pro, for best performance and big display screen.
- Buy the iPad Mini, for best portability.
However, the truth is all of us have budget constraints.
Not only that, as we all know iPhone and iPad prices increase drastically according to the built-in storage. This will certainly cause more confusion among users who are not tech-savvy.
In this review, I will compare the differences between different models of iPads and analyse critical factors on which iPad to buy.
Comparing Different iPad Models
|Specifications||iPad Pro 11" (3rd Gen)||iPad (9th Gen)||iPad Mini (6th Gen)|
|Display||Laminated LED||Non-laminated LED||Laminated LED|
|Chipset||M1 chip||A13 Bionic Chip||A15 Bionic chip|
|Back Camera||12MP Wide and 10MP Ultra Wide||8MP Wide||12MP Wide|
|Front Camera||12MP TrueDepth camera||12MP Ultra Wide camera||12MP Ultra Wide camera|
|Audio||Four speaker||Two speaker||Two speaker|
|Apple Pencil||2nd gen||1st gen||2nd gen|
|Keyboard||Smart Keyboard||Smart Keyboard||Bluetooth Keyboard|
|Unlock||Face ID||Touch ID||Touch ID|
Best iPad For Students
Apple iPad 9th Gen (2021)
For most people, especially students, the Apple iPad 9th Gen will be sufficient. I recommend buying the iPad 9th Gen, 64GB WiFi model because it gives you the best value for money.
The main reason I picked this model is because of its price. It is the cheapest iPad available right now.
Performance is never a big issue on any particular model of iPad. The iPad 9th Gen is even updated with an A13 Bionic Chip which is also used on the iPhone 11.
The biggest improvement from the 8th-generation iPad is the base storage has been increased from 32GB to 64GB.
Honestly, if you’re using an iPad as a productivity tool instead of an offline media entertainment tool. You probably will never exhaust the 64GB storage space.
The screen is a 10.2” retina LCD True Tone display, which adjusts the colour temperature of the screen to match the ambient lighting so that you get higher colour accuracy. TrueTone feature is not present in the previous 8th-gen iPad too.
Another big upgrade on iPad 9th gen is its front and back camera, especially the front camera that bumps up to 12 megapixels Ultra Wide from the mere 1.2 megapixels previously.
Furthermore, it has the Centre Stage feature that automatically adjusts to keep you centred in the frame. This improvement definitely makes zoom calls and video conferences as well as online classes on the iPad more pleasant than ever.
The Apple iPad is also compatible with Apple Pencil (1st Gen) and smart keyboard. You really don’t lose any important features on this iPad even though it is only the cheapest base model.
You can use it to take notes, scribble, mark up screenshots, and draw casually.
However, the iPad is the only iPad without a fully laminated display, which means there’s an air gap between the actual display and the glass that we are touching.
It doesn’t affect user experience much on the iPad except that it sounds hollow if you tap on the glass.
But if you’re mainly using an iPad for drawing, this could be a huge setback. Because of the gap, you don’t get the perfect position accuracy and it can be very annoying. This also makes it feel less like drawing on paper.
This iPad is also the only iPad model which is still using the Lightning Cable charging port. It is not necessarily a bad thing.
But USB-C will be more convenient since many iPad users are actually Android Smartphones owners.
You might wonder about the iPad 256GB model.
Should you get the iPad 256GB? My answer is no.
Here in Singapore, you pay $499 for a 64GB iPad and $729 for the 256GB model.
The fact that you are paying up to almost 50% of the price of a full device is not a good use of your money. The same logic applies to 1TB iPhones and iPads that charge exorbitant prices for extra built-in storage space.
For a student, one should budget properly and think twice before spending on any unnecessary upgrade.
Rather than paying extra to upgrade the storage on your iPad, you should buy Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard, two accessories that would transform your iPad into a complete portable workstation.
Best iPad For Kids
Apple iPad 9th Gen (2021)
It is a tough decision to make here. Overall, I believe the Apple iPad 9th is the best iPad for kids in terms of performance and price.
To be honest, the previous iPad mini used to be the better choice because of its compact form factor. You can easily carry it around and the screen size is just right for kids
However, the iPad Mini 6th Gen has undergone a total upgrade, and the selling price is now $749. The current performance and specifications are way too high for the needs of a kid.
As we all know, most kids use tablets for fun stuff like listening to songs, watching YouTube (eg: Baby Shark), and doodling which iPad 9th Gen can handle pretty well.
Moreover, with the new norm of work from home, and the rise of Covid 19 cases, we will be going out less often. The portability of the iPad is not that critical at this moment.
In short, I think the iPad 9th Gen is currently the best iPad for kids in Singapore despite it could be too big for kids. If you have enough budget, the iPad Mini 6th Gen is highly recommended for its compact size and awesome screen.
Best iPad For Travel
iPad Mini 6th Gen
The iPad Mini, without a doubt, is the best iPad for travel. It is obvious that this is the most portable iPad, with a size of 195.4 x 134.8 x 6.4 mm. It is only 293 grams, which is very light in comparison to the iPad’s 487 grams.
The iPad Mini has an 8.3” LED laminated display with 2266 x 1488 resolution (326 PPI).
Unlike iPads, which require both hands to operate, the iPad Mini can be held comfortably with just one hand.
Combined with the new narrow-bezel anti-reflective display, it also stands out as the best iPad for reading, considered as the best alternatives to Amazon Kindle.
It is powered by the latest A15 Bionic chips, which means it is more powerful than the regular iPad. It also supports the 2nd generation Apple Pencil.
So, the iPad Mini is actually pretty decent for both gaming as well as drawing. Procreate can run smoothly on the iPad Mini.
As usual, I recommend only getting the base iPad Mini 64GB WiFi model, $749. The storage upgrade is not as bad as the iPad, it costs $979 (about 30% more than the base model).
I recommend that you should only consider getting the 256GB model if you plan to use it for a very long time, like 5 years or more.
Best iPad To Buy In Singapore
11” iPad Pro M1 (3rd Gen)
The best iPad to buy in Singapore is the 11-inch iPad Pro with an M1 chip. You may be wondering why the iPad Pro is a better buy than iPad Air.
In fact, I think the iPad Air is the worst buy among all the different iPad models. Let me explain to you the reason behind this in an objective way.
First, let’s go through a side by side comparison of the iPad Pro vs iPad Air.
|Specifications||iPad Pro||iPad Air|
|Base model price||$1199||$879|
|Max Brightness||600 nits||500 nits|
|Back Camera||12MP Camera + 10MP Ultra Wide Camera + Lidar Sensor||12 MP Wide Camera|
|Front Camera||12MP TrueDepth Camera||7MP HD camera|
|Charging Port||USB-C (Thunderbolt support)||USB-C|
|Audio||Four Speaker||Two Speaker|
|Audio Recording||Audi Zoom, Stereo Recording||–|
One might argue this is not a fair comparison. Because the iPad Pro is more expensive by $320, so this comparison isn’t accurate. The iPad Pro is selling for $1199 and the iPad Air is $879.
If you invest close to $900 on an iPad, I bet you plan to keep it for a long time and you don’t want storage to become a limitation. So it becomes necessary to upgrade the storage.
Unfortunately, there’s no 128GB for the iPad Air. You can only pay $1099 for the iPad Air 256GB WiFi model.
Hence, this brings the difference between iPad Pro 11” 128GB and iPad Air 256GB to as little as $100.
For just a little bit more money, you can upgrade your iPad Air to a substantially superior iPad Pro that includes:
- Better and faster M1 Processor
- Brighter LED screen with ProMotion variable refresh rate
- More RAM
- Powerful back camera and ultra wide camera
- Lidar sensor for professional use
- Higher pixel for front camera
- Four Speaker
Unless iPad Air comes up with a new base model with 128GB and slightly better pricing. iPad Air will be the only model I would avoid buying, especially since the iPad 9th Gen is really a very good deal right now.
At this moment, I consider the iPad Pro M1 is the best value for money iPad to buy in Singapore.
For creative professionals, you can consider getting the 12.9” iPad Pro. It is simply the best iPad for drawings as you get a big clean canvas (screen) with the Liquid Retina XDR mini LED display.
To sum it up, the Apple iPad 9th-gen 64GB base model is the best option for those with budget concerns. It is a powerful note-taking device, which at the same time is great for casual gaming and entertainment.
If you’re looking to use the iPad for professional works, which can benefit from the better display and performance, then iPad Pro M1 will be the right choice.