Should You Buy an iPad?

If you need a reliable device to do most of what a laptop can, then yes

The iPad Pro with smart keyboard and Apple Pencil

 Apple, Inc.

The iPad combines a high level of functionality and portability, so there are many reasons you may want to buy one. But, should you? That depends largely on what you need to use it for. Here we explore some of those needs and whether they're better met with an iPad or another type of device.

Is an iPad Better Than a Laptop?

With the iPad, you can accomplish many common tasks:

  • Check email
  • Browse the internet
  • Keep up with Facebook
  • Place video calls
  • Balance your checkbook
  • Work with spreadsheets
  • Create and print Word documents
  • Play games
  • Watch movies
  • Stream music
  • Make music

On the other hand, there are certain tasks an iPad can't perform on its own. For example, you can't develop the cool applications you use with an iPad on an iPad. For that, you need a Mac. Similarly, there are other applications you really need Windows or MacOS to run. If you need some of those applications for work or personal use, then a laptop might be a better choice for you.

You don't necessarily have to choose between a laptop and an iPad. You can have both! But if you're just buying one device right now, think carefully about what you need it to do.

If you don't need any of those applications, then you might want to choose the iPad. Here are a few good reasons to pick it over a laptop:

  • It's more portable.
  • When you compare price, build quality, and longevity, it's more affordable.
  • It's easier to use, troubleshoot, and keep viruses and malware at bay.
  • You can use it with a wide variety of cloud services to virtually expand the storage.
  • You can get a 4G version that gives you easy access to the internet while on the go.

Is an iPad Better Than Other Tablets?

Again, it depends on what you want to use it for. There are a few areas in which Android tablets shine. Some of them support Near-Field Communications (NFC), which allows you to tag a spot in the real world and have your tablet interact with that spot. For example, you can tag your desk and have your tablet automatically play a playlist when it's on your desk. NFC is also used for transferring files. Android tablets also allow for more customization and have a traditional file system that allows you to plug in SD cards for more storage.

The iPad doesn't support NFC, but it supports the wireless transfer of pictures and files.

Meanwhile, the iPad enables you to access the App Store, which offers a large number of apps designed for its larger screen. The App Store uses more rigorous testing before apps are allowed on it, which means the likelihood of a malware-infested app slipping past the screening processes is much lower than on Google Play.

The iPad also makes it easier to keep up with operating system updates, which means your device will continue to add new features. Android updates roll out on a device-by-device basis rather than globally to all devices that support the update. Google is looking to help out with this, but Apple still leads in making it easy to be on the latest version of iOS.

Additionally, the iPad tends to lead the tablet market with features. Apple was the first major brand to use a 64-bit chip in a mobile device and to equip its devices with high-resolution screens. Apple has also delivered cool features like a virtual touchpad on the on-screen keyboard, drag-and-drop from one app to the next and some really useful multitasking features. While Android has its perks, it also tends to follow where the iPad has already gone.

Is an iPad Better Than an iPhone?

In many respects, the iPad is simply a big iPhone that can't place traditional phone calls. So, what's the advantage? First, unlike an iPhone, you can use an iPad to run two apps side-by-side, which gives you more flexibility in how you use your device. You can use an iPad to do other things you wouldn't do on an iPhone, such as operating Excel or Word. In fact, other than making calls, the iPad is better for just about every task.

Still, no matter how much better an iPad is than an iPhone at many things, there's one thing it can't compete on, and that's portability. So, it's less of an either-or situation than iPad versus laptop, or iPad versus other tablets. However, you can make a different distinction, and that is how often do you need to buy a new phone?

If you mainly use your iPhone to make calls, text, check email and Facebook, and find your way around, it may make more sense to let your iPhone lag behind and upgrade to a new iPad every two years. You'll be getting a more powerful and useful device for less cost.

So, Should You Buy an iPad?

If you aren't tied to Windows or MacOS because of a specific piece of software, the iPad can make a great alternative to a laptop. It's more portable, has more features packed into it than the standard laptop, supports adding a wireless keyboard for those who don't like typing on a screen and can be cheaper than an average laptop.

If you can do all that with your smartphone, great, but doing so may be impractical if you need to use your device for heavy research, writing papers or proposals, or working with spreadsheets. Smartphones pack enough power to do many of these tasks, but it's not always comfortable on that small screen. Most of us will still want some type of larger device, and, for many people, that's the iPad.