iPad Buying Guide 2023: Which one of Apple's tablets to get?
Introduction and pricing
Note: This feature was first published on 21 February 2023.
iPad Buying Guide 2023
Apple’s iPad lineup looks very different now following the launch of the 10th-generation iPad and 6th-generation iPad Pro late last year. The cheapest iPad has never been more capable and Apple’s flagship iPad has never been more powerful. Throw in the very portable iPad Mini and the extremely competent iPad Air, and it’s easy to see why one might be confused about which iPad to buy. Fret not, this guide will help you decide.
What’s an iPad good for?
With its gorgeous displays, excellent performance, and surprisingly loud speakers, any iPad is a great device for entertainment and work. It’s equally comfortable browsing the web and watching shows on your favourite video streaming service as it is answering emails and editing spreadsheets. And if you get an Apple Pencil, they can be great for note-taking and art creation too.
But beyond all of this, the iPad is also an excellent companion device for a Mac. If you have a Mac, Sidecar lets you extend or mirror your Mac’s display onto an iPad. Another nifty feature is Universal Control which lets you control your Mac and iPad using a single keyboard and mouse (or trackpad). This makes it extremely convenient to use two devices to multitask.
How much is an iPad?
Let’s face it. Your purchasing decision is largely going to be determined by how much an iPad costs. So let’s take a look at how much you should expect to pay for an iPad, beginning first with the Wi-Fi only versions.
|11-inch iPad Pro||12.9-inch iPad Pro|
And now let’s take a look at how much the Wi-Fi and cellular versions cost.
|11-inch iPad Pro||12.9-inch iPad Pro|
A couple of things stand out. The least expensive iPad starts at S$685.30 and the sky is really the limit when it comes to the flagship iPad Pros.
Also, cellular connectivity adds about S$230 to the cost of the iPad and that’s something you can forgo if you don’t mind tethering to your phone.
Storage adds quite a bit to the cost of the iPad so we’ll address this in the next section.
Finally, one should also consider accessories because they are pricey. The Smart Keyboards are excellent to have but they start at over S$200. The Apple Pencil is also especially nifty for note-taking, annotating documents and images, and sketching, but no one's going to call them affordable either. Here’s a list of how much Apple’s most popular accessories cost:
- First-generation Apple Pencil, S$150.35
- Second-generation Apple Pencil, S$200.85
- Magic Keyboard Folio for 10th-gen iPad, S$382.50
- Magic Keyboard for 12.9-inch iPad Pro, S$533.90
- Magic Keyboard for 11-inch iPad Pro & iPad Air, S$453.15
How much storage is enough?
You might be wondering how much free space you actually get on a 64GB iPad. The answer is around 50GB. That’s because the iPad reserves around 13GB for iPadOS and other system data.
50GB is adequate if you use mostly cloud services to store your files and photos, and if you don’t use large apps and intend to store large files. Take note gamers, because games can easily take up to 3GB of storage or more.
Another thing to consider is that the amount of storage will also limit the number of shows you can download for offline viewing. This can be a problem if you intend to download entertainment to take with you on a trip. A 4K movie can be over 5GB in size and an entire series (depending on length) can easily take up over 10GB of space.
If you are eyeing an iPad, iPad Mini, or iPad Air, my advice would be to get the 256GB version. 256GB is plenty and it saves you the hassle of having to worry about managing storage. Furthermore, the premium (around S$230) isn’t entirely unreasonable considering you are getting four times the storage.
Now, on to the recommendations.
The most affordable: iPad 10th-generation
Apple thoroughly revamped the most basic iPad last year. The newest 10th-generation iPad has an all-new design with a larger screen and thinner bezels. It’s also the only iPad where the camera sits on the long side, so it’s above the display when you place it in landscape orientation. Other improvements include proper stereo speakers on both sides of the screen in landscape mode, a USB-C port, and a dedicated keyboard accessory called the Magic Keyboard Folio. It is, by all accounts, a very solid and capable iPad. My only complaint is that it only works with the first-generation Apple Pencil and the way the two devices work with each other is clumsy.
For more details, read our iPad review here.
You can find the 10th-generation iPad on Amazon, Lazada, Shopee, and the Apple Online Store.
The most portable: iPad Mini
If you want the most compact and portable iPad, the iPad Mini is the best option. With its 8.3-inch Retina display, no iPad is as compact. And although it’s small, it’s no slouch. It has a great display and its A15 Bionic chip ensures competitive performance. It also has double-sided speakers and it supports Apple’s second-generation Apple Pencil. The only downside is that no one makes a dedicated keyboard for it, so using it for work can be a little tricky. Still, if you find yourself moving from place to place a lot, this is a great iPad to have.
For more details, read our iPad Mini review here.
You can find the iPad Mini on Amazon, Lazada, Shopee, and the Apple Online Store.
The best iPad for most people: iPad Air
The iPad Air received a minor update last year and it remains the best iPad for most people. The iPad Air is a super solid tablet with almost no equal. Performance is never lacking, thanks to its M1 chip, and it features a brilliant display, great speakers, and works with loads of accessories like the Magic Keyboard and second-generation Apple Pencil. The only problem is that it’s pricey. Prices start at $879 and with a smattering of accessories will see your total outlay easily go over a grand. But if you can afford it, this is arguably the best iPad to have.
For more details, read our iPad Air review here.
You can find the iPad Air on Amazon, Lazada, Shopee, and the Apple Online Store.
The pinnacle of iPad: 12.9-inch iPad Pro
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is the ultimate expression of the iPad. It also happens to be the largest and therefore the most conducive for doing work. Sheer screen size aside, it is also the only iPad to have a Liquid Retina XDR display, which means it has a mini-LED panel that delivers greater brightness and higher contrast ratios. Coupled with its faster refresh rate of up to 120Hz, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro has easily the best display of the bunch. As for performance, it’s powered by Apple’s newest M2 chip so there’s nothing it can’t run smoothly. Creative professionals will also be happy to know that it has a USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port so it can connect to high-res external displays and fast external SSD drives.
For more details, read our 12.9-inch iPad Pro review here.
You can find the 12.9-inch iPad Pro on Amazon, Lazada, Shopee, and the Apple Online Store.
What about the 11-inch iPad Pro?
You probably noticed we haven’t mentioned the 11-inch iPad Pro. That’s because it doesn’t fulfill any role quite as well as the other iPads do. It isn’t the ultimate version of the iPad in the same way the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is because it lacks a mini-LED display. It isn't as compact as an iPad Mini. And considering its price, we think most people will be better off with an iPad Air.
That said, you might still want the 11-inch iPad Pro if you absolutely must have most of the features of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro but in a more portable form factor. It’s also the only other iPad with a USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port and even though it doesn’t have a high-tech mini-LED display, its display is still capable of a 120Hz refresh rate. Maybe you need more storage? The iPad Air is only available in 64GB and 256GB while the 11-inch iPad Pro is offered with 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, and even 2TB capacities.
You can find the 11-inch iPad Pro on Amazon, Lazada, Shopee, and the Apple Online Store.