iPad Basics: Buying an iPad

Lesson 2: Buying an iPad


So you want an iPad

Apple's iPad has become a widely popular device since its launch in 2010. Before purchasing an iPad, however, it's important to familiarize yourself with the different options available. This includes choosing between the Wi-Fi and cellular model, as well as where you'll purchase your iPad: either online, from Apple, or from another retailer.

Understanding your options

There are several iPad models to choose from, depending on your budget and individual needs:

  • iPad Pro: This version is primarily designed for people who use a tablet in the workplace. It supports new attachments, like the Smart Keyboard, which makes it a suitable replacement for a laptop computer. It's also faster than other models, has better cameras and speakers, and supports various accessories unlike its predecessor. However, it's also heavier and substantially more expensive than other iPad models.
  • iPad: This version isn't quite as powerful as the iPad Pro, but it is cheaper and should work for anyone looking to use an iPad casually. Unless you really need the upgraded features of the iPad Pro, you'll probably want to go with an iPad.
  • iPad Mini: This version has a smaller screen than the above models. It offers the same features as the iPad in a smaller, lighter device, although it's also a bit less powerful. The storage and Internet options are the same as the iPad, although it's less expensive.

If you're interested in the detailed specifications for each model, you can visit Apple.com to compare iPad models and see different versions side by side.

Which model is right for you?

If you're still not sure which model you want, take some time to think about the features that are most important to you and how they fit into your budget. Things to consider before you buy include Internet access (do you want a cellular data plan or just Wi-Fi?) and data storage (do you need a lot or just a little?).

Internet access

All iPad models have two connectivity options: the standard Wi-Fi model and the Wi-Fi + Cellular model:

  • Wi-Fi models cost less, but you'll only be able to access the Internet when connected to a Wi-Fi network in places like your home, work, or a local coffeeshop.
  • Wi-Fi + Cellular models give you Internet access almost anywhere, but you'll also be required to purchase a mobile data plan from a wireless provider (like AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon Wireless), which usually costs at least $20 per month.

Data storage

There are several ways to approach storing data on your iPad. Here are some things to consider before making a decision:

  • At 64GB (64 gigabytes of space), the smallest configuration has enough data storage for most users. However, if you anticipate storing a lot of music, movies, and TV shows on your device, you may want to purchase the 128GB or 256GB model instead.
  • If you truly need a lot of storage, look into Apple's iCloud service before buying one of the more expensive models. iCloud gives you free, unlimited cloud storage for media you've purchased from the iTunes Store, including music, movies, and TV shows. You can also subscribe to iTunes Match or Apple Music for even more options. We take a closer look at iCloud in our lesson on how to sync your iPad.

For more help making a decision, you can always ask an associate at your local Apple Store for advice. You can also call 1-800-MY-APPLE for more information.

When you're ready to buy

You can purchase an iPad a couple different ways:

While the price may vary slightly among retailers, you won't find a new iPad for much less than you'd pay at the Apple Store. Be wary of any sales, promotions, or contest giveaways that sound too good to be true. Because the iPad is in high demand, there will always be scammers and other disreputable sellers—especially online—who will try to take advantage of unsuspecting buyers. When in doubt, purchase your device from a well-known retailer.