iPad: The Pros and Cons

Should You Buy? The Good and the Bad of an iPad

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.  The introduction of the iPad in 2010 virtually defined the market.  It wasn't the first tablet ever, but it was the first tablet people wanted to buy.  Since 2010, it has been the flagship of tablets.   But it's not perfect.  If you are looking to buy a tablet, it's important to study both the pros of an iPad and the areas where it doesn't quite shine as brightly as the competition.

 

iPad Pros:

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.  It was 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 strength of the iPad doesn't just revolve around the technology used to build it.  The technology that supports is also a large piece of the puzzle.  The App Store now contains well over a million app, and over half of these apps are designed with the iPad in mind.  These apps extend beyond just streaming movies to your iPad or games ranging from causal games like Candy Crush Saga to hardcore games like Infinity Blade 3.  You can do everything from creating documents in Microsoft Office to edit movies in iMovie to organizing your projects in Things.

 And one big advantage the iPad has over the PC is the price of the software.  Most apps are under $5, and many great apps 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.   And each app in the App Store gets reviewed by actual people at Apple to make sure it is up to a minimal standard.

This is a great guard against malware, an issue that plagues the Google's Android app store.

Plays Nice With iPhone and Apple TV

 If you already own an iPhone or Apple TV, one big advantage to 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 a 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 is easy to learn and simple to use. Android tablets allow for more customization, which is great for people that love to tweak their devices, but 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 Google and Android app developers must support dozens and 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 ridding apps of the most egregious bugs before they are approved.

iPad Cons:

More Expensive

One big advantage to the iPad when it was released was the price point. $499 for an entry-level tablet was tough to match, but as the market has matured, Android tablets have appeared that 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. And if you don't want to spend much money, you can get an Android tablet for as cheap as $50-$60, though I wouldn't plan to do much more on it than browsing the web.  But that's okay for many people.  In comparison, the cheapest iPad is $269 and the new iPad Pro starts at $599.

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 an app that simply switches Bluetooth on and off so you can hook in your wireless keyboard without digging through menus. You can get it on Android, you can only get it on the iPad if you jailbreak the device and find your way around the App Store.

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.

How to Buy an iPad