Selecting a tablet was not a difficult task a few days ago, given that Apple dominates this category — you either opted for one of the two iPad Pros, or went with the basic iPad. And that was pretty much it, unless you wanted an older model.
And the price gulf between those models was so vast—the basic model started at Rs 28,900 while the most affordable iPad Pro started at Rs 71,900—that the choice was not a difficult one to make, and more often than not, got totally dictated by your budget.
However, with Apple launching two new iPads—the iPad Air and the iPad mini—suddenly those in the market for an iPad have more options than they perhaps ever did in the past.
At the time of writing, you could choose between as many as five different kinds of iPad, each coming with its own pros and cons, and each at different price points as well. So which one should you go for if you are looking for a really good tablet?
Here is a handy guide:
1. 12.9-inch iPad Pro
Rs 89,900 onwards
If you are looking for an iPad that can step in for your notebook, then look no further than this one. Yes, you can get some very good notebooks (including its arch-rival the Surface from Microsoft) for its starting price of Rs 89,900, but the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is simply the most powerful tablet out there.
At 633g, it is also incredibly light for its size. Apple claims its A12X processor can even match the Intel Core i9 and while you would need to spend a little bit more to get the smart keyboard and Apple Pencil that complete its notebook identity, it is a brilliant device thanks to the processor, the sheer quality of the 12.9 inch Liquid Retina display with relatively small bezels, and four speakers.
Whether it is working on a presentation, playing games or just good old Web browsing and messaging, the 12.9-inch Pad Pro handles them all with a surprising degree of ease, and still serves up close to ten hours of battery life.
Paired with a keyboard, it becomes a high-end notebook and not just a notebook-wannabe. The presence of the USB Type-C port for charging only adds to the notebook feel.
2. 11-inch iPad Pro
Rs 71,900 onwards
Want all that power of the 12.9 inch iPad Pro but in a smaller form factor, because you mainly want to use the device as a tablet? Well the 11-inch iPad Pro steps into that particular slot.
It has largely the same hardware as its bigger brother and a similar design. Where it differs most significantly is its size—thanks to its 11 inch display, it has a smaller footprint and at 468g is much lighter and easier to carry around.
Yes, it too can step into the shoes of a notebook with a smart keyboard (or any other keyboard for that matter), but while it performs just as well as the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, its slightly smaller size makes it more of a browsing and writing device.
That brilliant display, speakers and battery life, however, mean that this is as good as a pure tablet experience can get, even if you do not pair it with an Apple Pencil or a keyboard.
3. iPad Air
Rs 44,900 onwards (launching soon in India)
This is the tablet sits squarely between the iPad Pro and the basic iPad range. It does not have the A12X processor, or the four speakers, or the Liquid Retina display of the Pros, but it still brings a lot to the tablet table.
It is powered by a A12 processor which is the same that is found in the very quick iPhone XR, XS and XS Max. And the 10.5 inch display is a True Tone retina display, which is a very good one in its own right.
It also comes with two very good speakers and more significantly, support for the first generation Apple Pencil, which means you can scribble on it almost as conveniently as you can on an iPad Pro. Apple has even given it a smart keyboard cover—all of which makes it the perfect step for anyone wanting a very good tablet, without emptying the bank account.
Battery life remains excellent at 10 hours and some might actually be relieved to see a fingerprint scanner rather than the new (and slightly erratic) Face ID. Ditto for the Lightning Port, given the fact that there are limited USB Type C accessories from Apple in the Indian marker at the time of writing.
4. iPad Mini
Rs 34,900 onwards (launching soon in India)
The iPad mini is back in our Apple tablet life after a brief sabbatical. In terms of design, it certainly remains the smallest, with its 7.9 inch display. It is also perhaps the only iPad that you can use one handed. But the smallness is limited to its size - in terms of specs, it pretty much matches the new iPad Air—A12 processor, True Tone retina display dual speakers, great battery life and all.
Most intriguingly of all, it now comes with support for the first generation Apple Pencil. And that in our opinion, brings it into the zone of that other stylus device in the market—the Galaxy Note from Samsung.
As a pure note taking device the iPad mini (when paired with an Apple Pencil) is suddenly is in a zone of its own. It is a very good compact tablet in its own right, but we would say go for it if you really are into scribbling and note taking mode, because that is where it shines, as you can actually stand and still scribble on it—something you cannot do easily on the larger iPads.
Rs 28,000 onwards
With all these choices, does the most basic iPad had anything to offer at all? It remains a formidable device for anyone wanting a tablet that turns in a good performance.
The 9.7-inch display might look like a poor cousin of its True Tone counterparts on other iPads, but it is still a retina display and is great for watching videos and reading text (sound quality is decent too).
The A10 processor is a little on the older side and will not handle PUBG quite as smoothly as the A12 and A12X, but will still provide a decent experience with very few hiccups.
And if all you want to do is watch films and browse the Web and use social networks, this is perhaps the perfect portable big screen to do it on. The fact that the first generation Apple Pencil works on it is a massive bonus, and even brings it into the category of a student’s productivity or entertainment tool.