iPad Buying Guide: Which One is Right for You?

which ipad

With five different models in two sizes and prices ranging from $249 to $829, there has never been more variety for iPad shoppers. That’s a good thing, but how do you decide which one to buy? Use our handy iPad buying guide to get the right Apple slate for your needs and budget.

Common Features

All iPads provide access to more than 675,000 apps optimized for the big screen, which is far more than Android or Windows offer. You can also expect a high-quality aluminum unibody design and a bright and crisp display. With iOS 8, iPads are now more versatile, with interactive notifications, support for third-party keyboards and Family Sharing for App Store and iTunes purchases.

Also note that all iPad models can be ordered with 4G LTE capability, which allows you to get online when you’re out of Wi-Fi range. You’ll pay $129 more than you would for the Wi-Fi-only version, plus the cost of whatever monthly data plan you sign up for.

iPad Models Compared

The iPad lineup is made up of two families: the iPad Air and the iPad mini. But as you drill down to the individual models, there is plenty of variety in specs, features and price. Here’s a quick breakdown.

  iPad Air 2 ipad air mini3 100 ipad mini 2 ipad mini 100
    iPad Air 2  iPad Air  iPad mini 3  iPad mini 2  iPad mini
Starting Price $499 $399 $399 $299 $249
Screen 9.7 inches (2048 x 1536), 264 ppi 9.7 inches (2048 x 1536), 264 ppi 7.9 inches (2048 x 1536), 326 ppi 7.9 inches (2048 x 1536), 326 ppi 7.9 inches (1024 x 768), 163 ppi
Processor A8X A7 A7 A7 A5
Storage (GB) 16, 64, 128 16, 32 16, 64, 128 16, 32 16
Cameras (Rear / Front)
8 MP, 1.2 MP  5 MP, 1.2 MP  5 MP, 1.2 MP 5 MP, 1.2 MP  5 MP, 1.2 MP 
Touch ID Yes  No  Yes  No  No 
Wi-Fi 802.11ac  802.11n  802.11n  802.11n  802.11n 
Dimensions 9.4 x 6.6 x 0.24 inches  9.4 x 6.6 x .29 inches 7.9 x 5.3 x .29 inches  7.9 x 5.3 x .29 inches  7.9 x 5.3 x .28 inches 
Weight 15.36 ounces  1.05 pounds  11.7 ounces  11.7 ounces  10.9 ounces 

Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
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Submit Comments

  1. Rahul Says:

    Personally I would prefer the iPad Air simply because of the low weight compared to previous models. The bezel is thin but iOS 7 is optimized to detect fingers obstructing the screen and still stay away from causing any problem. The iPad Mini with retina display is good but sometimes I feel it’s just too small for the complete tablet experience.

  2. wade Says:

    No where can I find where to buy an Apple Wi-Fi 3g or 4g Ipad with true GPS capability by model number or store where they can be purchased. Approx cost would be nice. Any help is appreciated

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