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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.

Color options: Silver, Gold, Space Gray.

Storage options: 32GB ($799) or 128GB ($949).

Cellular option: Only the 128GB model is available with a cellular variant, for $1079.

Who it’s for: Artists, people who use their iPads to get work done, and anyone who wants a big, bright screen (and good audio) for watching videos.

The all-purpose powerhouse: iPad Air 2

It was introduced more than a year ago now, but the iPad Air 2 is still the beating heart at the center of the iPad product line. It was so advanced compared to any other iOS device that preceded it, that even a year later it’s the model that most people should consider when they’re shopping for a new iPad.

apple ipad air 2 3up stock 
iPad Air 2. Credit: Apple

In terms of tech specs, the iPad Air 2 is impressive: It’s got a three-core Apple A8X processor and 2GB of RAM. This year’s iPad Mini 4 can’t even match it in terms of speed, and the extra RAM improves almost everything when it comes to switching among a bunch of different apps. While it’s technically “last year’s model,” it’s probably more accurate to say that the iPad Air 2 was next year’s model back in 2014, and in 2015 it’s still in its prime.

The iPad Air 2’s 9.7-inch display puts it firmly in the center of the iPad product line. It’s got the same screen size as the original iPad model from five years ago—but of course, things have advanced an awful lot since then. This screen is a Retina display at 2048-by-1536 pixels, and is laminated to an anti-reflective glass coating, the result being a relatively low-glare screen that feels incredibly close to the surface. It’s also thin and light, weighing in at less than a pound.

Yes, the displays of the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 2 offer the exact same number of pixels. What sets them apart is sheer size. On the Air, those pixels are given room to breathe—and if you’ve got aging eyes, you’ll be grateful for that. I’ve found reading comic books much more pleasurable on the iPad Air 2 than on the iPad mini, and it’s entirely down to the fact that everything on the screen is bigger.

To sum it all up, the iPad Air 2 is a powerful, thin, light iPad with a beautiful screen. It’s the mainstream iPad and the one that most potential iPad buyers should consider first.

Color options: Silver, Gold, Space Gray.

Storage options: 16GB ($499), 64GB ($599), or 128GB ($699).

Cellular options: 16GB ($629), 64GB ($729), or 128GB ($829).


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