The Right iPad for Your Budget

Finding value in the balance between iPad costs and features

Illustration of a person trying to decide which iPad to buy - each iPad has different amounts of currency on their screens

Lifewire / Lisa Fasol 

Now that the iPad comes in a variety of sizes, it also comes in a variety of prices as well. A brand new iPad can cost as little as $269 on the low end, and all the way up to $1,079 for the whopping 12.9-inch iPad Pro on the high end. This puts an iPad model within almost any budget's reach, and when you consider options other than buying a brand new iPad, the price can be even lower.

The first question to ask yourself is how much you want to spend on an iPad. In general, the more you spend on an iPad, the larger the storage, screen size, and computing power. Which size and options are right for your needs and budget is what we'll take a look at to help you decide.

12.9-inch iPad Pro

Apple introduced an iPad with a huge 12.9-inch display to bridge the gap between tablets and laptops. The iPad Pro is definitely a tablet with the processing power of a PC. The A9X chip is about as powerful as a mid-range laptop, and with 4 GB of RAM for apps to go along with that expansive display, it is a multitasking beast. It can also be a great family iPad, with a screen that won't have you missing your HDTV when streaming to it. The iPad Pro starts at $799 and can range all the way up to $1,129 for the 256 GB model with data connectivity.​

9.7-inch iPad Pro

Just as powerful as the 12.9-inch Pro with a few features that even surpass it, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is great for those who want a Pro-level iPad but don't want to spend as much as a higher end laptop. The newest iPad in Apple's lineup has a 12-megapixel back-facing camera that can compete with your smartphone's camera and has a screen capable of displaying a wider array of colors than past iPads. Are these attributes worth the $599 price tag for you? To put it into perspective, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is actually the same price as the original iPad when you take the 32 GB of storage into account, and when you consider it has the power of that 12.9-inch Pro, it shapes up to be a pretty good choice.

iPad Air 2

The iPad Air 2 is aging, but it is still a worthy iPad at its discounted price. It boasts Pro-level features, including split-screen multitasking and the ability to split the Safari web browser into two windows. While the official price tag from Apple is $399—$200 cheaper than the 9.7-inch Pro—some retailers are discounting it even further. Check Best Buy, Frys and other retailers for the best price.

iPad Mini 4

The iPad Mini 4 is essentially a small iPad Air 2 when it debuted. When the Air 2 dropped in price, the Mini 4 did not, so you have a choice between a 7.9-inch iPad Mini 4 and a slightly faster 9.7-inch iPad Air 2 for the same $399 price. Unless you really, really want the smaller iPad or find one at a good discount at a store, the value goes to the Air 2.

Shop around for the best deal

The retail prices listed here are based on buying from Apple's online store, and it is wise to shop around for a good deal. Retailers often put the iPad on sale as the holiday season approaches. This makes it worthwhile to check retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, and Frys.

Should you buy a used iPad?

It might be tempting to buy an older model used iPad, but sometimes the short-term savings cost more when you find yourself needing to upgrade the tablet after only a few years. That entry-level iPad Mini 2 is over four times faster than the iPad 2 or the original iPad Mini, and it has a much better display. Even if you can get an iPad 2 for only $170, it may not be worth it.  

Refurbished iPads can be great deals

If you are looking to save a little money, Apple's refurbished iPads have the same 1-year warranty as the new iPads. Refurbished products at a discount backed by Apple's work reconditioning it and it's warranty is a smart way to to buy a cheap iPad.