New ipad recommendations.
February 27, 2015 5:02 PM   Subscribe

I'm thinking of splurging on a new iPad...Which one?

I currently own a iPad 3 with 16g of storage. It is wifi only. I've been eyeing the Air 2 and thinking of upgrading. I have to admit my current 16 g is not nearly enough and I don't store music and only special pictures. In fact to upgrade to iOS 8 I had to uninstall quite a few apps.

I keep looking at the Air 2 and am considering going with 64g, but have mixed feelings about taking the next step and adding cellular ability. What have your experiences been???
posted by OkTwigs to Computers & Internet (17 answers total)
I use the cellular on mine all the time, but I travel a lot. Wifi isn't available everywhere, and the places it's available, it's often slow. LTE on the iPad is fast most places. But if you already have a wifi iPad, you may have an idea of how often it happens that you're somewhere that you wish you had connectivity (or faster connectivity) and don't. I'd say that's your answer.
posted by primethyme at 5:13 PM on February 27, 2015

I've got a 128GB iPad Mini. I still run out of memory.

I got Verizon cellular on my previous iPad, (a retina "3rd generation") and it was a rip-off: they advertised it that it was contract-free, and that I could cancel and re-up at any time. So if I only wanted the cellular service at Christmas, I was set.

As it turned out, after 6 or 8 months of non-use, they (without telling me) recycled my SIMM number, and so to get service I would have had to go through a big hassle and get a contract, etc. I eventually tracked down that a number of people had gotten burned on this. Some sued. After wasting several hours on trying to set it up for a trip the next day, I finally gave up and said "Fuck You, Verizon" and vowed not to do service with them ever again.

So ... I don't know what the status of that situation is now, but you may wish to research it a bit before buying.
posted by doctor tough love at 5:55 PM on February 27, 2015

I had an iPad with 3G and never used it; I already have a smartphone that meets my need to check stuff on the go (and the things that are way better on the iPad than the phone - movies etc - are no good on 3G). For me it wasn't worth the up-front cost or the monthly, and in fact I cancelled the monthly after maaaybe two or three months, and never missed it.

On the other hand I upgraded to 64GB and have never looked back. I now have most of my music on here, and can easily still fit a bunch of movies or TV episodes when I'm traveling. For my multimedia-heavy iPad use, the extra storage can't be beat.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 6:45 PM on February 27, 2015

I've got an older iPad with the cellular radio. I think I used it for one trip. I can tether it to my phone, so I do that instead.
posted by adamrice at 8:08 PM on February 27, 2015

I love my iPad Air, which I beat like a rented mule as my primary manuscript reading tool. I did get the cell radio, and use it occasionally. T-Mobile gives you 100mb free a month and I'm a T-Mo cell customer and can add more data a la carte fairly cheaply. But mostly I just hotspot my phone, which has unlimited LTE, and connect the iPad through that, so there have only been a few times it's been handy. I'd probably forego it in the next one (if I paid for my own toys, anyway).

Apple makes it easier to leave stuff in the cloud, but icloud is still at best a mixed bag. I'd say at least 64gb, which is what I have, but 128 would totally be useful.
posted by spitbull at 8:10 PM on February 27, 2015

Interestingly, I'm someone who finds that even the 128gb iPhone is too small for all of my music and apps, but I have a 64gb iPad Air and have never filled it up. I don't keep any music on it, but I do put movies and tv shows on when I travel. For those of you who fill up a 128gb ipad, what are you storing on it?
posted by primethyme at 8:20 PM on February 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've owned two cell capable ipads and now i have a wifi only one. I'd never pay for it again, especially since it costs way over $100 more. They're heavier if only a bit, but every bit counts, more expensive, and not as durable with the little plastic bar which i've seen crack quite a bit(although mine all stayed fine, friends and clients i've seen cracked).

I literally never once used the data on my most recent previous ipad. It feels like it was a silly waste of money in retrospect. I really had use cases all planned out for when and how i'd want to use it that just... never materialized. Every time i needed data, i just used my phone. Every time i THOUGHT i'd need data specifically on the ipad, there was wifi or someone i was with had a hotspot(or i turned on the hotspot on my own phone)

Also, as someone who upgraded from the ipad 3, the ipad you want is the mini 2. Hear me out.

The difference in weight alone is a HUGE game changer. It's like going from an older powerbook to a current macbook air, or even more. I'd say the weight made a bigger difference for me than the retina display ever did, and that made want to use it a LOT more. It turned it from something i only wanted to use propped on my leg or stomach on the couch or just sitting down, to something i can comfortable hold with one hand and want to carry around with me all day at work and from room to room non stop at home.

The air 2 is a lot lighter than the ipad 3, but the mini is still almost half again lighter. Without looking at the specs, the way it sits in my hand makes it feel like it weighs as much as my iphone 6, even though it's much heavier. You also have to take in to account how easy it is to type on the mini. I can grab it like a phone, and just thumb type on it. That was always annoying, awkward, and just kludgy and clumsy on the regular sized ipads. It's a _bit_ better on the air-style chassis, but it feels completely natural on the mini.

You also have to take in to account that the mini has the same, if not better battery life and charges faster. The big ipads charge so slowly as i'm sure you know. This has improved generationally, but the mini is still in the lead there.

I'm telling you, as someone who was a staunch "a tablet is a tablet, and a phone is a phone" holdout who was angry at the iphone getting larger and wanted a large tablet because it's a tablet dammit, the mini is just a superior form factor in every way. I haven't once gone "wow, i wish i had the bigger display". Even when my partner, who inherited my old ipad 3, is using hers right next to me... nope, i made the right call.

It's also a no brainer to pay the extra $50 and get the 32gb one. And i'd say to buy one from the apple refurbished store. You can even get a 64gb if you want it. 32 is the sweet spot though.

You will not miss or notice the extra power of the air 2, nor have i felt like 1gb of ram wasn't enough. Nothing really takes advantage of that extra core yet, and this is the cpu they stuck with even in the mini 3. It's 64 bit, very strong, and it will feel fast and be well supported for quite a long while now.

Seriously, mini 2, best ipad they've ever made. I actually passed up a ridiculous deal on a used air 2 to get a mini 2 after i handled one.
posted by emptythought at 10:32 PM on February 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

MacRumors' buyer's guide suggests the timing is still okay to buy a current iPad (Air 2). However, there might be an iPad Pro on the way.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 2:09 AM on February 28, 2015

Wow! Great feedback everyone! thank you. 😀
posted by OkTwigs at 7:05 AM on February 28, 2015

I have the 64Gig iPadAir 1 and really like it. I got the wifi-only model, though, as I use it exclusively at home and occasionally out of the house at places that also have wifi.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:27 AM on February 28, 2015

primethyme: I have a fairly large music library (a bit under a terabyte of MP3s, not counting FLAC or WAV), and a really large library of videos. Plus I use my iPad for music creation, and so there tend to be a lot of samples and works-in-progress. Also, I'm Old School, and I'm not comfortable with using the cloud to store my personal works. if Apple announced a 256GB, 512GB, 1TB or larger iPad, I'd almost certainly own one as soon as the reviews all concurred that it was not a turkey.

emptythought: You make a good case for the Mini, but there are at least a few reasons I will likely buy a large format iPad for my next device: 1. My weary eyes get tired of the teensy-tiny text (which isn't always easy to scale)(in the App Store, for instance), 2. Drawing / painting is for me somewhat easier on a larger screen, and 3. There are a number of synthesizers / controllers that are simply easier to work with on a larger screen (Lemur, TC-11, etc).
posted by doctor tough love at 9:23 AM on February 28, 2015

I've found that I'm using my iPad 3 less and less. There are a few reasons for this. The weight is a big one, and the performance is also an issue. In the past, these might have been enough reason to upgrade it by now. The Ipad Air 2 would be a significant improvement on both fronts. An iPad Mini Retina 2 would also be a substantial improvement in performance, and an even bigger improvement in weight. On the other hand I'm not sure the Mini would be enough larger than my iPhone 6 (not plus) to be compelling, and having a smaller screen than the Air (or my existing iPad) would be a strike against it.

As for the cellular radio option. I used to swear by it, but now that I have a larger iPhone and a plan that allows tethering, my phone serves on its own in situations where I might have preferred the iPad before, and, for the times that it doesn't, the time it takes to establish a tethering connection from my iPad through my phone isn't a big issue.

If you want a iPad with larger storage, you might want to hold off until late spring, to see if the rumors of a larger screened iPad Pro are true. I'd guess that such a device would also come with options for more storage. Of course, if the iPad Pro isn't announced this spring, you'll be that much closer to next round of iPads in the fall...
posted by Good Brain at 1:19 PM on February 28, 2015

the mini is just a superior form factor in every way

As someone who has owned both an iPad Mini and a full-sized iPad, I completely and utterly disagree. I'd never buy an iPad Mini. Clearly, YMMV.
posted by primethyme at 4:27 PM on February 28, 2015

I do like the size and weight of the mini but this is a product which has gone from being "iPad Air technology, just smaller" to "last years technology that got no more than 3 minutes presentation time - with touch ID for $80 more".

I don't know what Apple is doing but the mini currently looks like it's on the downward spiral to the chopping block.
posted by mr_silver at 1:39 AM on March 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I bought the original mini but replaced it with the iPad Air shortly afterward as the type size quickly became too small for my middle-aged eyes, and the options for adjusting it didn't work well for me. YMMV.
posted by marguerite at 4:07 AM on March 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

I use an Air for only a few things: reading and annotating PDFs and browsing the web, and keeping an eye on my servers via VNC and the odd bit of server admin from the meeting table when I'm trying to pretend I'm paying attention and taking notes. (Number one best use of an iPad and a stylus -- you can read metafilter all through a dull presentation while appearing to be furiously scribbling notes.) And as my go to photo viewer I guess, which is why I like more storage. It's awesome to have thousands of pictures and a retina display to view them with.

I've used minis, but for what I need to do, which is write all over pages of text, the larger form factor makes all the difference. Mini is just too small. I like the weight of the Air in my hand too.

Can't see why I'd want replace my 1st gen Air anyway, unless the Pro really presents a laptop replacement I can live with. As it is, I now carry a freaking ipad, MacBook pro, and an iPhone everywhere I go anymore. I keep saying there's no way I'm buying Tim Cook's damn watch unless he gives me a hybrid MacBook Pro that's at least a 12" screen, with a removable/foldover touch screen, and running os x and ios. The competition is starting to make them pretty solid now. Third party ipad keyboards do not make them laptop replacements for me. I use laptops as computers.
posted by spitbull at 7:26 PM on March 1, 2015

I bought the original mini but replaced it with the iPad Air shortly afterward as the type size quickly became too small for my middle-aged eyes, and the options for adjusting it didn't work well for me. YMMV.

For what it's worth, I had this problem with the 1st gen mini as well, and I have exceptional vision. The 2nd gen allayed any concerns or problems like this I had. It's like a completely different machine that happens to resemble the original.

The increase in resolution helps more than the display size, at least in my opinion. It's not just that the type was small, but that it was fuzzy.
posted by emptythought at 7:26 PM on March 2, 2015

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