We compared Apple's basic iPad to the new iPad Air - and the regular iPad is still the best buy for budget shoppers
- Apple sells a number of different iPad models, including the entry-level iPad and the more-powerful iPad Air.
- Because the devices look pretty similar, it can be tough to determine which iPad model is right for your needs.
- We put the two iPads head to head to find out which is better, and the 2018 iPad is still the best choice for bargain hunters with its $329 price tag.
- The standard iPad also frequently goes on sale, so you can usually get it for even less. We've seen it drop to $249 at Walmart.
- That said, the Air is the clear winner on paper with its faster, newer processor, and it will last you longer if you can afford its $500 price tag.
Apple's iPad is largely considered to be the best tablet out there, thanks largely to the fact that iPads have a great design, easy-to-use software, and are relatively powerful. That said, there are multiple iPad models out there - so if you're in the market for an iPad, then it's not necessarily as easy as just buying an iPad.
The standard iPad and the iPad Air are two of the more popular iPad models, but they do have a few key differences. Which one is right for your needs? We put the iPad and the iPad Air to the test to find out.
As you can see, there are a few key areas in which the iPad and the iPad Air have slightly different specs. For starters, the standard iPad is powered by Apple's A10 Fusion chip, which is an older processor from 2016. By comparison, the iPad Air has Apple's latest A12 Bionic chip, which is the flagship chip for 2018. As such, it's quite a bit more powerful.
Of course, that said, the A10 Fusion chip is still more than capable of handling most tasks, so for most people, the standard iPad will still be more than powerful enough. For those that need that extra horsepower, however, the iPad Air may be a better choice. It is also more future-proof, so it will last longer.
There's also the difference in storage. While the base model of the iPad comes with 32GB of storage, the base model of the iPad Air has 64GB - and it can be upgraded to 256GB, which is double the upgraded storage for the iPad. Again, most people will be perfectly fine with less storage, especially if you've gotten used to using cloud storage and streaming services.
Other spec differences are decidedly less important. While the iPad Air has a 7-megapixel front-facing camera, the standard iPad's front-facing camera is 1.2 megapixels, which will still do the job perfectly well. Apart from that, both devices have a Lightning port, and both have a Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
When it comes to the design of the iPad and iPad Air, you'll find that they look very similar. They both feature that "classic" iPad design, with a Touch ID Home Button under the display and a Lightning port at the bottom. Both devices are available in three color options, including Silver, Space Gray, and Gold.
Perhaps the biggest difference in design is the size of the screen. The standard iPad has a screen size of 9.7 inches, while the iPad Air steps things up to 10.5 inches. It's not a huge difference, but if screen size is important to you, then perhaps the extra 0.8 inches is worth considering.
The pixel resolution is pretty similar between the two devices, but not exactly the same. The iPad Air has a resolution of 2,224 x 1,668 pixels, while the standard iPad's display sits in at 2,048 x 1,536 pixels. Considering the fact that the iPad Air has a larger screen, the pixel density is exactly the same, coming in at 264 pixels-per-inch.
Apart from that, there are only minor differences. Because the iPad Air has a larger screen, the body of the device is also bigger. The iPad Air is also a little thinner: While the standard iPad comes in at 0.29 inches thick, the iPad Air sits in at 0.24 inches.
Both the standard iPad and the iPad Air offer very similar user experiences. That's because of the fact that they both run Apple's iOS, soon to be renamed as iPadOS for the iPad. They're both super easy to use, and they integrate perfectly with the rest of your Apple products, so you'll be able to sync things like podcasts, photos, and more.
Both the iPad and the iPad Air work with a wide range of accessories, including the Apple Pencil. In other words, if you're an artist or graphic designer, you'll be able to use Apple's much-loved stylus with both devices.
Apart from that, the overall experience will be very similar between the iPad Air and the standard iPad - unless you start using the device for high-performance gaming and video editing, in which case, the iPad Air may run a little more smoothly.
The bottom line
The iPad Air is clearly a better device here, in almost every way. It's more powerful, has a bigger screen, and is thinner, too. But it's also more expensive with a starting price of $499.
Considering the difference in price, we still think the standard $329 iPad is the best device for most people. It's still very reliable and able to handle pretty much anything most people need it to do, including running apps, browsing social media, and streaming video.
For those who need a little extra power, or who have the cash to spare, the iPad Air is a worthy upgrade that will likely make for a device that will last a little longer and run a little smoother.
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Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Insider Picks team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.