iPad: the Pros and Cons

It set the standard for tablets, but is it worth the money?

Mother with her sons watching tablet in bed

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The iPad is the most popular tablet in the world, and for good reason. Its introduction in 2010 virtually defined the tablet market. It wasn't the first one ever, but it was the first one people wanted to buy. Since then, it's been the flagship of tablets. But it's not perfect. Here are the pros and cons.

Pros of Buying an iPad

The iPad has a number of benefits, including:

Leading Edge Technology

The iPad doesn't just lead in sales, it leads in technology. It was the first tablet with a high-resolution display and the first to use a 64-bit processor. Each year, when the new iPad is released, it becomes one of the fastest tablets in the world. And the iPad Pro has surpassed many laptops in terms of pure processing power.

The App Store

The App Store now contains well over a million apps, and over half of these are designed with the iPad in mind. One big advantage the iPad has over the PC is the price of software. Most apps are under $5, and many are free. This can be really nice coming from the PC world, where anything under $30 probably isn't worth the price of the packaging. Each app in the App Store gets reviewed by actual people at Apple to make sure it's up to a minimal standard. This is a great guard against malware, an issue that plagues the Google Play store.

Plays Nice With iPhone and Apple TV

If you already own an iPhone or Apple TV, one big advantage of owning an iPad is how well they play together. Not only can you share apps between the iPhone and iPad, which is great for universal apps that support both within the same app, features such an iCloud Photo Library blend together well. Apple TV owners will also enjoy AirPlay, which lets you connect your iPad to your HDTV wirelessly.

Ease of Use

While Android has made great strides in this area, Apple still leads in providing an interface that's easy to learn and simple to use. While Android tablets allow for more customization, Apple's simple approach makes the iPad less overwhelming. This doesn't mean you can pick up an iPad and become a pro with it overnight, but it doesn't take long for most people to become comfortable using it.

Accessories

One advantage of being the market leader is that everyone wants a piece of the action. This has resulted in a vibrant ecosystem of iPad accessories that go beyond just tablet cases, wireless keyboards, and external speakers. For example, the iRig allows you to hook your guitar into the iPad and use it as a multi-effects package, and the iCade converts your iPad into a classic coin-operated arcade system (minus the need for quarters). 

Stability

The iPad is often referred to as a closed system, with Apple controlling both the hardware and the software. There are some disadvantages to a closed system, but one advantage is the stability it provides. While Android app developers must support dozens, even hundreds, of tablets and smartphones, Apple and iPad app developers are supporting a very limited number of tablets all based on the same basic hardware. Apple's app approval process also helps stability by getting rid of the most egregious bugs before they're approved.

Cons of Buying an iPad

While the iPad has many perks, it has a few downsides as well, including:

Cost

The price of entry into Apple's ecosystem is a little steep, especially when many Android tablets now offer a good experience for less money. The 7-inch tablet market is making this even more clear, with current-generation Android tablets going as low as $199. You can even get an Android tablet for as cheap as $50-$60, although you can't do much more on it than browsing the web. But, that's okay for many people. In comparison, a current-gen iPad starts at $329 and an iPad Pro starts at $800.

Limited Customization

Both an advantage and a disadvantage, the downside of limited customization is that the tablet experience cannot be altered on the iPad. This means no widgets on the home screen, but it also means some apps simply aren't available for the iPad. Apple's approval process does keep some apps from appearing in the App Store that could actually help the experience, such as one that simply switches Bluetooth on and off so you can hook in your wireless keyboard without digging through menus.

Less Expandability

If you run out of storage space on the iPad, you may be left clearing out music, movies, and apps. The iPad doesn't support flash drives to expand storage, and external hard drives and/or cloud storage can't be used to store apps. While all tablets are inherently less expandable than laptops, which in turn are less expandable than desktop PCs, the iPad tends to be more limited than some Android tablets.