Want to save on an iPad? Of course you do. But which iPad? This tablet line has gotten larger as time has gone on, which can make it confusing to decide on which one to buy. But there’s good news for any potential iPad shopper this Black Friday The iPad discounts are many, and all of the options are pretty amazing. It’s just a matter of how much you’d like to pay.
iPad 10.2-inch (2019): The best for most
The 10.2-inch model is CNET’s Editors’ Choice for a reason: Even though it has an older A10 processor, it works perfectly well with the latest iPadOS, has a slightly bigger screen, supports the Apple Pencil, and now works with Apple’s older Smart Connector keyboard accessories. It’s already on sale, too. I’d consider the 128GB model, though, over the 32GB, especially if you’re planning on downloading movies. The ideal size I would have recommended would have been 64GB… which, of course, Apple doesn’t sell.
There are several sales on this model, and probably more to come. Amazon is offering about $49 off both storage sizes of the iPad, plus an extra $30 with “no rush shipping,” meaning either $280 or $250 for the 32GB version. (I’d recommend the 128GB version, though).
Best Buy is offering the iPad for $250, but you need to sign up for a free Best Buy reward program membership.
iPad (2018): Almost the same as the 10.2-inch iPad
You could save even more by getting last year’s model of the entry-level iPad, which has the same A10 processor (and also supports Apple Pencil). Amazon’s deal on the LTE, 128GB version is down to $429 ($130 off), which is the most affordable way to an LTE iPad…but do you really need LTE? (I’d say no.)
iPad Air (2019): Step up from basic
The difference between the entry-level 10.2-inch iPad and the iPad Air released this year is basically a better A12 processor, and a slightly bigger screen (10.5 inches). It’s also a bit thinner. Anyone who wants a bit more graphics oomph for photo or video work could consider this a way to split the difference between the basic iPad and the iPad Pro. You’ll find it for $469, a discount of $30, at B&H electronics.
The 2017 iPad Pro is like the 2019 iPad Air, with a couple of extras
Save yourself the headache and know that the 2019 10.5-inch iPad Air is a slightly more budget version of the 2017 10.5-inch iPad Pro. The Pro from 2017 has a faster-scrolling 120Hz display, better quad speakers and slightly different cameras. If you can somehow get it for less than the Air above, it’s well worth it! The 2017 iPad Pro’s on sale below, but at a higher cost than the iPad Air.
iPad Pro (2018): The fanciest option, but…
For the right price, last year’s iPad Pro is still a great pick. Its A12X processor is extremely powerful, it has Face ID (which is great on an iPad), supports newer Pencil accessories that stick to the side to charge, its optional keyboard case is great (and expensive), and it supports USB-C. Amazon has the 11-inch 64GB Pro for $150 off, but even then it’s still $649. (Other storage sizes are available at less impressive discounts.)
iPad Mini (2019): Not a bad travel proposition
The smaller 7.9-inch iPad was upgraded this year with an A12 processor and Pencil support, and it’s a great smaller tablet. It’s normally too expensive to justify over the entry iPad, but Black Friday sale deals could make it a tempting travel gadget. It’s not so great for typing, though, and the $15 off deal below isn’t very much off the regular price.
Consider at least 64GB of storage
Some of the basic iPads start with just 32GB, which doesn’t cut it. Some models start with 64GB, which is acceptable. If you’re downloading movies for trips or plan on putting lots of games onboard, consider 128GB. I wouldn’t consider 256GB and up unless you’re a video editor.
For kids, Fire tablets or Chromebooks are worth considering
Amazon’s always-crazy-low tablet sales on Fire tablets are tempting if you have Amazon Prime or live in Amazon’s ecosystem. As ultra-budget tablets for videos and games, they’re totally fine.
Chromebooks are excellent choices as secure kid-friendly laptop alternatives, or for anyone who might want a laptop-type browser without a full computer price.
iPad at any price?
If you’re treating yourself, last year’s iPad Pro is a stellar laptop alternative, provided you can live in Apple’s controlled iOS world (iPadOS, the name of the iPad-focused iOS 13 update this year, does have a far better browser, improved Pencil support and file access). Apple might update the iPad Pro as early as spring next year, though, so maybe you should also consider getting an IOU.
The extra $129 for an LTE antenna (and the cost per month of a cellular plan on the iPad) aren’t worth it, unless you’re dying to use LTE on a tablet or have someone who’s footing the bill. Tether with your phone instead.
Save some money for dongles and Pencils and things
Your purchase, sadly, doesn’t end with just the iPad. You’ll want a case for that delicate tablet, and probably one of Apple’s Pencil styluses (the old one for most iPads, and the new one for the 2018 iPad Pro). A keyboard case is useful, and costs extra too. If you get the USB-C iPad Pro, you’re also going to want a few dongles (like one for a headphone jack).