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BACK-TO-SCHOOL iPad Buying Guide 2021


If you’re looking to buy an iPad for school and you’re not sure which one is the best value you wanna make sure that you don’t spend more money than you need to, this video will help. There’s also one iPad that I really don’t recommend, and you’ll see why in a minute. The first iPad I wanna talk about is the iPad 8, because I think it’s such an outstanding value and it’s an option that would work great for a lot of users.

As far as portability, the iPad 8 is roughly the same size as the iPad Air 4 and the 11 inch iPad Pro. But because of the bezels, we’re getting a smaller 10.

2 inch Retina display. It’s also not a fully laminated display so you’ll notice that there’s a gap between the glass and the image. Now I’ll get to the advantages of a fully laminated display in just a moment. But for the vast majority of what I do, I don’t notice a difference. Moving on to processing power we’re getting the A12 Bionic chip with its neural engine, which is the same chip that we have on the iPhone 10S and we’re also getting 3 gigabytes of RAM.

For what most students need this is plenty of processing power and enough RAM. You’ll see that as we go up in price, you’ll be getting more processing power and more RAM, but it’s only worth paying for it if you actually use it, otherwise, it will just have more headroom that isn’t being used.

This is we’re looking at what the student needs comes into play. If this iPad is going to be used for viewing content, taking notes, surfing the web, and then working with productivity and web based applications, then the iPad 8 is a great choice. If you plan on drawing or using the Apple pencil for taking notes, then the iPad 8 is compatible with the first-generation Apple pencil, as well as some more affordable third-party options.

If you plan on gaming, I play PUBG and Call of Duty Mobile, and I’ve had no issues with lagging on the iPad 8. Of course, if your goal is to play the most demanding games available, then you’ll wanna go with one of the higher end models. But for the majority of users, the iPad 8 will work great. The front facing camera is 1.2 megapixels, so it’s only capable of 720p.

And there are two speakers at the bottom, which are okay, but not as good as the other models. Also, since they’re both at the bottom, if you’re watching content or playing games in landscape mode, then the speakers are pointed to the side.

It’s definitely not the end of the world, and you may end up always using headphones like I do, but it was something that I wanted to mention. And speaking of headphones, the iPad 8 is the only iPad on this list that has a 3.5 millimeter headphone jack.

Now the rear facing camera is an 8 megapixel camera with an aperture of F 2.4. And even though more expensive iPads, have more powerful camera systems, ask yourself if you’re even going to use your iPad for photos or video, or if you’ll just end up using your phone? In the US Apple Store, the iPad 8 starts out at $329 for the WiFi only version, with 32 gigabytes of internal storage.

And then it goes up to 429 if you wanna quadruple that and get 128 gigs.

And I’m using the Apple Store pricing because it’s more standardized, but most of the time you can get all of these iPads at better prices by using the links in the description. If you want self-service, then you can add 130 bucks to each model, but I don’t end up doing that on any of my iPad’s, because I’m rarely in situations where I don’t have WiFi, and even when I am, I can just tether off my phone.

Now if for some specific reason you do find yourself working with a cellular connection a lot, and you’re okay with paying for an additional dedicated data plan, then by all means upgrade. The iPad 8 uses the older style home button for biometric authentication, and it uses a lightning port for charging and accessories. And that’s nice if you have an iPhone, since you can reuse the cable.

It also uses 4G LTE, Bluetooth 4.2 and supports the previous generation WiFi, which potentially offers slower speeds depending on whether you have a WiFi 6 router or not. Now looking at the pros of the iPad 8, it’s the most affordable current iPad, and it’s an excellent value.

It supports the first-generation Apple pencil. The display size is similar to the iPad Air 4 and the 11 inch iPad Pro.

It has plenty of processing power for what most users need and it has a headphone jack. As far as cons, 128 gig is the maximum internal storage. So if you need more, you’ll need to look at one of these other options. The first-generation apple pencil doesn’t charge wirelessly. So you do have to plug it into the iPad, use a lightening male to female adapter, or get it educated female lightening cable, which is what I did.

The display still has larger bezels on the top and on the bottom. And if you plan on using the speakers, these aren’t the best that Apple has to offer. I have dedicated reviews and comparisons of every iPad that I’m gonna cover in this video. So if you’re interested in more information, I’ll link to those videos in playlist, in the description. If you want more than what the iPad 8 has to offer, then you should check out the iPad Air 4.

You’re not getting a 10.9 inch display instead of the 10.2 inch on the iPad 8. We’re getting a Liquid Retina DCI P3 display, which is a wider color gamut that offers a lot more variations of each color for more accurate color reproduction. The display also has smaller bezels all the way around, and it’s a fully laminated display, meaning that the display panel, the touch layer and the cover glass are all laminated into one single piece of displaying glass.

This makes the screen thinner. There’s also no air gap. And the image looks like it’s painted right on the screen rather than appearing to be under the glass like it does with the iPad 8. Looking at the design, the iPad Air 4 comes in multiple colors. And it’s very similar in form factor to the 11 inch iPad Pro.

We have squared off edges and a USB-C port for charging and connecting accessories. This is a more powerful port meaning that the iPad Air 4 can drive more demanding accessories like external SSD drives without needing to be plugged in. We’re also able to use USB-C hubs to expand the functionality of the iPad Air 4. Since we no longer have a home button on the front, Apple incorporated a touch ID fingerprint sensor into the new power button at the top. We have an upgraded stereo system, and although we do see two grills on the top and two on the bottom, we’re actually only getting two total speakers.

This system is noticeably better than the iPad 8. So if that’s a feature that you plan on using for watching content or playing games, it may be worth the upgrade. We’re also getting a higher resolution, 1080p FaceTime camera, and a better rear facing camera. We’re getting faster connectivity with Bluetooth 5.0 and WiFi 6 and a smart connector on the back, which makes the iPad Air 4 compatible with the smaller version of the magic keyboard.

It’s also compatible with the Logitech Folio Touch. And if you’re interested in finding out which one is, is a better fit for you, check out my comparison video when you’re done with this one. Now the iPad Air 4 is compatible with the second second-generation Apple pencil, which I absolutely love. Both versions work well as far as actual use, but I like the shape of the second generation Apple pencil better. It’s also stored and charges wirelessly on the edge of the iPad Air 4, so I don’t have to plug it into the port.

Finally, it has double-tap functionality that you can assign to do things like switch between tools, alternate between the current tool and an eraser or show the color palette.

Now looking at performance, we’re getting four gigs of RAM and the A14 Bionic chip, which is the same chip that’s used on all four models of the iPhone 12. It’s a newer and more powerful chip than the one on the iPad 8. And it makes the iPad Air 4 about as capable as any student is going to need a tablet to be. Now as far as price and storage option, we’re looking at 599 bucks for the 64 gig model and 749 for 256 gigs.

Now these are double the storage size that we saw on the iPad 8 and make sure that you choose enough storage based on which apps and games you plan on downloading, and whether you plan to locally store large files. The textbooks don’t typically take up a significant amount of space. So it really comes down to large games and then things like photo and video files. Those are the things that are really gonna take up storage. I think the iPad Air 4 is right in the sweet spot for students, especially as you get 2MB on high school, and you’re getting a lot of functionality and performance for the cost.

Looking at the pros for the iPad Air 4, we have a more powerful processor with more RAM. It comes in multiple colors. We’re getting a nicer and larger display with smaller bezels. Better speakers, a better camera system, and it’s compatible with the second generation Apple pencil. One con that I wanna mention is that since we’re getting a fully laminated display, where all the components are combined, if you crack the screen, it’s going to be more expensive to replace.

If you get a case or a keyboard case, you should be fine. And if you wanna be super safe, get a clear screen protector. If you want a better writing or drawing experience, get a paper-like screen protector. That’s what I use, and I’ll link to a couple of great options in the description. If you’ve gotten value from this video give it a thumbs up.

It lets me know what kind of content you like, so I can make more of it.

And if you’re a new viewer and you like the content hit that subscribe button. Moving onto the iPad Pro, in the past, it was easier because the only difference between the 11 and the 12.9 inch models was the size of the display. But this year, not so much.

The features and upgrades are the same, but the display type isn’t. So first let me cover everything the two models have in common, and then I’ll get to the 12.9 inch version. The display on the 11 inch model is still better than the one on the iPad Air 4. It’s slightly larger at 11 inches versus 10.

9 inches. It’s fully laminated just like the iPad Air 4 but it offers promotion which is Apple’s adaptive refresh rate of up to 120 Hertz. This means that when you’re doing relatively static things like reading the iPad Pro can lower the refresh rate and then save on battery life.

But if you’re watching content, if you’re gaming, scrolling, or even just navigating around the iPad, then it can bump it up to that faster 120 Hertz refresh rate and provide a smoother user experience. As far as performance, the iPad Pro took a major leap forward, and it now gets the M1 chip that we saw on the Mac mini, the iMac, the MacBook Air and the Mac Book Pro.

And this gives it a significant boost in performance capabilities over any other iPad.

Models with 128, 256 and 512 gigs of storage come with 8 gigs of RAM. And with the one and two terabyte models, we’re getting 16 gigs of Ram. Now whether you actually need this added performances another story altogether. And it’s one that I cover in my more detailed reviews.

The short story is that iPad OS, isn’t running desktop apps. So unless you’re doing something extremely demanding, you’re unlikely to tap into this additional processing power. Now the 11 inch iPad Pro sells for 799 bucks for the 128 gig version. 899 for 256, 1099 for 512 gigs. 1499 for one terabyte and 1899 for two terabytes.

I mentioned this in another video, but a real life decision that you might be facing is if you are going to go with the 512 gig version, should you spend the extra 400 bucks and then go to one terabyte where you’ll be doubling the internal storage and doubling your RAM. So I’m going to apply the same logic here, and I would say that only upgrade if you need that additional storage.

Even with the new iPad OS updates, which allows select apps to request access to more than the 5 gig limit. We’re still looking at very specific use cases where students might see enough of a real life improvement and performance to justify 400 bucks. Another update with the iPad Pro is the upgrade of the charging port to thunderbolts/USB 4.

This allows for a faster data transfer rates reported up to 40 gigabits per second, and also for things like a higher resolution, external display, like the Pro display XDR at 6K. Now, if you’re transferring large photo and video files to, and from your iPad, the faster transfer speeds are nice, but for most use cases, it isn’t really a meaningful advantage. Now as far as the external display iPad OS has very limited support for external displays. And I don’t know how many students use a $6,000 Pro display XDR. So it shouldn’t really be a deciding factor.

Like the iPad Air 4 the 11 inch iPad Pro is compatible with the smaller magic keyboard.

And the second generation apple pencil, which is nice. Now looking at the camera system, we’re getting a 12 megapixel front-facing true depth camera, which enables face ID for biometric authentication. This camera also has a new feature called center stage where the ultra wide camera can track a subject and then zoom in as it moves through the frame. I actually really liked this feature and it works great for things like FaceTime and Zoom.

The rear facing camera is also a lot more sophisticated with 12 megapixel wide, a 10 megapixel ultra wide, flash and a LiDAR scanner. And moving on to speakers, we’re taking another major step with a quad speaker system that is much better quality even than the iPad Air 4. And it’s able to respond to horizontal or vertical orientations and provide a more immersive experience with fuller and more rich audio. Finally, for connectivity, we’re seeing Bluetooth 5.0 WiFi 6.

And if you plan on getting the cellular model, then you are getting a device that supports 5G. Looking at the pros of the 11 inch iPad Pro we’re getting an incredible processing power and more RAM at a lower cost than a 12.9 inch model.

An upgraded camera system with center stage and face ID. 120 Hertz display with promotion, the best speaker system, and a more powerful port.

As far as cons, it’s more expensive, and if your face is obstructed, there’s no touch ID. Now let’s get to the 12.9 inch iPad Pro, which has all the upgrades that I mentioned for the 11 inch model. In addition to the display being larger, it’s also a Mini LED Liquid Retina XDR display, which provides deeper black levels and higher contrast ratio, when viewing HDR content. For students who are looking for the largest display to work with for easier multitasking and a better user experience when drawing or taking notes with the Apple pencil, the 12.

9 inch iPad Pro is an amazing option. If you plan on watching a lot of HDR content, which you’re probably going to do as time goes on, you won’t regret having this new display. A 12.9 inch iPad Pro starts at 1099 for 128 gigabytes. 1199 for 256 gigs, 1399 for 512 gigs, 1799 for one terabyte and 2199 for the two terabyte models.

The pros for the 12.9 inch model are the larger display. And the Mini LED Liquid Retina XDR display.

The only real con would be the price. Now, if the new upgrades of the iPad Pro are not critical for you, then I would consider getting a used or refurbished 2020, 12.

9 inch iPad Pro, or even a 2018. I have comparisons of all three in the description, and you still get all the advantages of a 12.9 inch display with the exception of Mini LED. If you’re curious about which iPad I don’t recommend, it’s the iPad Mini 5. It’s more expensive than the iPad 8 and with a smaller display, which in my opinion, doesn’t offer enough of an advantage over using a phone.

So if I was looking at that price point, I would just get the iPad 8.

Remember that I have links in the description to all the products I talked about. Hopefully this video was helpful. Click on my face to subscribe, and then watch one of these videos. You know what I always say, buy it nice or buy it twice.

Good luck, and see you soon..

Read More: 1 YEAR LATER!!! iPad Air 4 vs iPad 8 – Long-term Review

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