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iPad buying guide: How to choose an iPad Pro, iPad Air, or iPad mini

Jason Snell | Nov. 24, 2015
These days, picking an iPad can be tricky, but here's the lowdown on which model is right for you.

So you’re in the market for a new iPad. Excellent choice—I couldn’t live without mine. It’s my companion when I’m catching up on news and email in the morning over tea, reading a comic book in the evening to unwind, or watching a movie while traveling on a plane.

But these days, picking an iPad can be tricky. Apple currently sells five different models of iPad, with prices ranging from the $269 to $1079. There are size, storage, color, and connectivity options to consider. All in all, there are 61 different variations of iPad from which to choose. So which iPad is right for you? Read on.

If you want it all: iPad Pro

The iPad Pro is the newest and biggest iPad, with a 12.9-inch diagonal screen. It’s a bit like someone ripped the screen off of a 13-inch laptop and turned it into an iPad. The iPad Pro is also the fastest iOS device ever and offers many features that aren’t available on any other device.

ipadpro lineup late 2015 stock 
iPad Pro. Credit: Apple

If you’re an artist who has dreamed of having a larger and more responsive iPad to draw on, the iPad Pro is a dream come true. It’s the only iPad that supports the $99 Apple Pencil, and while there are other pressure-sensitive iPad styluses on the market, this is the one that’s made by Apple—and that means it will probably be the best in its class, if for no other reason that it will be deeply integrated into the iPad Pro’s software. The iPad Pro’s screen can scan for the location of the Apple Pencil 240 times per second, twice the rate of other iPads.

If you’re someone who does a lot of serious work on your iPad, the iPad Pro is made for you, too—its larger screen is perfect for running two apps in Split View. And rather than having to rely on a Bluetooth connection to attach an external keyboard, the new Smart Connector supplies data and power to both Apple’s $169 Smart Keyboard (which doubles as a carrying case) as well as other forthcoming keyboards, including the Logitech Create.

But despite its name, the iPad Pro isn’t just a tool for artists and other people wanting a more powerful and expansive iPad to get work done. It’s also a fantastic (albeit pricey) entertainment device, thanks to its stereo speakers and that gorgeous 2732-by-2048-pixel display.

For all its size, the iPad Pro doesn’t feel heavy. At 1.6 pounds, it’s about as heavy as the original iPad—but its weight is spread over a much larger area, making it comfortable to hold.


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