Which iPad should you buy in 2019? – Now that the new iPad Air and iPad Mini are available. Apple’s 2019 iPad lineup is complete, alongside the 2018 budget iPad and 2018 iPad Pro. And I personally think this is it until next year.
There’s no reason for Apple to update the budget iPad until next year. Since they’ll have to raise the price into the iPad Mini’s territory. And same for the iPad Pro, since the hardware is already way ahead of the current iOS software. So with four iPads in the lineup, how in the world do you choose one? Well, I’m confident that by the end of this article, you’ll be able to make up your mind!
Let’s get started with design differences. All three non-pro iPads look basically identical on the backside. The Pro looks much different with a darker space gray finish, antenna bar at the top, and a large camera bump, which none of the other iPads get. But it’s for a good reason, as you’ll see in the camera comparison.
The Pro also gets the smart connector on the back since it uses magnets to attach to the smart keyboard. And the iPad Air is also the only non-Pro iPad ever to get the quick connector, but it’s on the side. The iPad Pro is also the single iPad out of this lineup that gets four speakers. Two on the bottom and two on top, and as you’ll hear later. It destroys the others in the sound comparison.
Another difference is USB-C on the Pro, but you can’t really do much with it yet. But you do get a faster 18W charger compared to the old 12W charger that comes with the rest of these iPads. Of course, the Pro gets the new modern square-edged design that also comes with rounded corners on display. Making the other iPads look outdated compared to it.
However, the Pro is the only iPad that doesn’t get a headphone jack, which sucks for a lot of people. But it makes for the thinnest iPad out of the lineup, which is nice, but it led to some bendgate issues. Which I personally haven’t experienced at all.
The Pro has even bezels all-around thanks to the removal of Touch ID and the switch to Face ID. Which by the way, works great since there’s no notch, and you can use it in any orientation, even upside down. Some people still prefer Touch ID, though, and that’s totally fine. The Pro has smaller bezels than the 2018 iPad. But both the 2019 Air and Mini actually have slimmer bezels on the side.
Moving onto display differences, the new Air and Mini have literally identical displays. But the Mini packs the same amount of pixels into the smaller 7.9” screen. So it has the highest pixels per inch out of the whole iPad lineup. Including the Pro, and it also comfortably fits in one hand, so it’s the lightest and most portable out of all of these.
The 2018 budget iPad is the only one that doesn’t get a fully laminated display. Which basically means the screen is glued to the glass. This leads to it looking a little grey, lacking deep blacks like the rest, and there’s a gap between the display and the glass. Which is noticeable from an angle, and especially while using the Apple Pencil.
It’s also the only one that doesn’t have an anti-reflective coating. So you’ll notice reflections a lot more. It doesn’t get P3 wide-color gamut either, like the other iPads. Which makes for a very color-accurate display with colors that really pop. It also lacks True Tone, which automatically adjusts the display’s color balance to match the environment you’re in. I personally love True Tone!
So as you can see, the 2018 budget iPad is really lacking in the display department. Now the 2018 iPad Pro gets a couple more things. It boasts 600 nits of brightness compared to 500 on the 2019 iPads and around 450 on the budget iPad. The iPad Pro also gets ProMotion, which is huge in my book!
It allows the display to refresh at up to 120Hz and dynamically go down to match the frame rate of the content you’re viewing to save battery life. As you can see, the difference in the smoothness of ProMotion compared to the other iPads in this lineup is enormous! And trust me, you’ll feel this difference every day!
Not only that, but ProMotion lowers the latency of the Apple Pencil as well. Speaking of the Apple Pencil, all of the iPads support it. But the Pro supports the new Apple Pencil 2. Which is better in every way. You don’t have to plug it into the side like on the other iPads. It magnetically attaches to the side and instantly starts pairing and charging. The new matte finish feels a lot better in hand. And it comes with a new double-tap to switch tools feature, which is incredibly convenient.
Before we get into performance and gaming, let’s quickly compare the cameras. iPad Pro gets flash on the rear with a 12MP sensor compared to 8 on the other iPads. The Pro obviously looks better than the others. The iPad Pro is also the only one that can shoot 4K video at 60 frames per second. On the front-side, the budget iPad only gets a 1.2MP sensor compared to 7MP on the other iPads. So selfies look horrible compared to the other iPads. Especially the Pro since it gets Portrait mode thanks to the Face ID sensors. The Pro also gets 5 microphones instead of 2 on the other iPads, so it sounds much better as well.
Now let’s finally get into performance! The budget iPad only gets 2GB of RAM compared to 3 on the 2019 iPads and 4 on the Pro. But you can also get up to 6GB on the Pro if you buy the 1TB model. But it’s not worth the cash for almost everyone.
The budget iPad gets the A10 processor, compared to the A12 on the 2019 iPads and the A12X on the Pro. The budget iPads A10 is also the only one that doesn’t come with the neural engine. Getting into the Geekbench 4 benchmark, the budget iPad is way behind the others in terms of single-core. And even more behind in multi-core. With the Air and Mini almost doubling the score, and the Pro nearly tripling the score!
In the Metal test, the Air and Mini are around 75% faster than the budget iPad. And the iPad Pro is almost 2x faster than the 2019 iPads. And over 3x faster than the budget iPad. In Antutu’s 3D benchmark, there isn’t as big of a difference now, but the iPad Pro is still around 2.5x faster than the 2018 iPad.
Finally, for a more realistic test, we exported a 1-minute 4K 60p video on each of the iPads. And the iPad Pro finished 4x sooner than the budget iPad. And it was over twice as fast as the 2019 iPads. This is where you’ll actually feel the power of the new iPad Pro. And now, let’s talk about gaming. Each of these iPads, apart from the budget iPad, can run Fortnite at High graphics at 60 frames per second.
The budget iPad can only run Medium graphics at 30 frames per second. And that’s the same story for other games like Asphalt 9, running at 30 instead of 60 like on the other iPads. The graphics are noticeably worse, and I also noticed some dropped frames while gaming. The iPad Air, Mini, and Pro all run Fortnite and Asphalt 9, ideally at 60 fps. No dropped frames or issues at all, so the extra power of the Pro isn’t really being used for almost every game on the app store.
Out of all of them, the iPad Mini is by far the most comfortable to hold in the hand while gaming. The others weigh quite a bit more, so your hands will get tired over time. Let’s quickly mention some other spec differences before I start recommending which iPad you should buy.
The budget iPad gets Bluetooth 4.2 compared to 5.0 on the other iPads. Which also get simultaneous dual-band WiFi for more bandwidth and a more reliable connection. They also get Gigabit-class LTE if you’re buying that model. Now with all of that said, which iPad should you buy?
Well, the iPad Pro is obviously the best and most powerful iPad, but it’s also the most expensive at $800. The four speakers and ProMotion technology make a huge difference in daily use. But if you’re not gonna be doing high-end editing or anything that can use the power of the A12X chip. You’ll probably be better off with the 2019 iPad Air.
If you’ve got extra cash, you love the new design, and you want to keep it for over 5 years. The Pro may be worth the investment since the software will soon catch up to its fantastic hardware. Also, if you’re a serious artist, the laminated display, ProMotion tech, and Apple Pencil 2 make it the best option for drawing. And you can get the Pro in the 12.9” size as well.
Now the iPad Air is the best all-around iPad since it gets all of the fantastic display techs. The 10.5” size is excellent for most people, and the A12 processor is potent and can run most of the apps and games that the A12X can. It’ll also be fast enough for most photo editing tasks, as well. The new Air is also the only non-Pro iPad that comes with the smart connector. So if you’re planning on getting the intelligent keyboard and you don’t want to spend the extra cash on the Pro. The Air is a great all-around long-term option for the price.
Now the Mini is literally identical to the Air in almost everything. Except that it doesn’t get the smart connector, and it packs the same amount of pixels in a smaller display. So it’ll look sharper if you get up close to it. It’s also $100 cheaper than the Air, so you can save the right amount if you’re okay with the small display.
I’d also like to say that if you play a lot of games. The Mini is the best choice since it’s so comfortable to hold for longer gaming sessions. It’s small, light, and portable. So it’ll be an excellent option for kids as well. Now the budget iPad will also be a good option for kids since the non-laminated display is really cheap to replace.
It’s the slowest out of the bunch. The display and cameras are worse, but it’s also the cheapest. Especially if you can find it on sale for only $250 on Amazon. It’s a great budget option for everyone who just needs a basic iPad to do iPad things. And it’ll be excellent for most of the popular games on the app store.
Well, there you have it if this comparison didn’t help you make a decision, comment below with your specific situation, and we’ll help you out!
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