Going off to college? While a laptop used to be a staple accessory for students in university, iPads have quickly become as common–if not more common in some instances. Why? Because iPads now support external keyboards and mice, meaning you can turn any iPad into a laptop–and it has the added benefit of a touch screen too. But which iPad is best for college and university?
iPads You Can Buy In 2020
As of now, Apple makes four different classes of iPads:
- The iPad Pro
- The iPad Air
- The iPad
- The iPad mini
The iPad Pro and the iPad Air have an all-screen design. That is, then don’t have Home buttons. But each achieves this design in a different way. The iPad Pros have Face ID, which gives them their bezel-free design. The iPad Air has its Touch ID sensor integrated into the power button on the side of the device, which is what enables its all-screen design.
The regular iPad still has the Touch ID home button as does the smaller iPad mini. But which iPad is best for you depends on how you are going to use it at college and university.
Best iPads For Art And Media Majors
If you are in an arts field (photography, advertising, design, film, etc) your best bet is to go with either an iPad Pro or an iPad Air.
The reason for this is both those iPads maximize your screen real estate. The iPad Pro comes in 12.9-inch and 11-inch models and the iPad Air comes in a 10.9-inch model. They also share other characteristics, such as support for the second-generation Apple Pencil and USB-C ports, so you can plug in external devices like hard drives and digital cameras.
So, if you are thinking about an iPad to use as mainly a content creation device at uni, go with either the iPad Pro or iPad Air. You’ll get the most bang from your buck since these iPads are heavily geared towards the creative industries.
Best iPads For Laptop Replacements
If you are looking for an iPad as a laptop replacement, the iPad Air is probably the best one to go for. Why? Because it’s a mid-priced iPad (starting at just $599) but retains that all-screen design. You can also get it with up to 256GB of storage–twice what the regular iPad offers.
The iPad Air is also compatible with Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio, so it’s easy to turn it into a defacto laptop. And as mentioned earlier, the iPad Air has a USB-C connector, which makes it a much more laptop-like device than the Lightning port found on the regular iPad.
Best iPads For General School Use
But what if you just want an iPad for school that is good for general use? That is, you already have a laptop you use and just think it might be nice to have a tablet lying around that you can use for digital textbooks and supplemental use like note-taking.
If that’s the case, the regular iPad is your best choice. Yes, it’s got the older design (Touch ID Home button), but it’s also relatively cheap–at just $329. It’s also compatible with the first-generation Apple Pencil, so you can still take handwritten notes on it like you would a physical notebook.
And if you did want to turn the regular iPad into a laptop-like device, you can still do that thanks to the regular iPad supporting Apple’s Smart Keyboard.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is an iPad good for college?
Yes, an iPad is great for college. Matter of fact, if you get a keyboard and mouse for your iPad, you might not even need a laptop!
Q: How much storage do I need on my iPad for college?
If you are using your iPad as your main computing device at college, you’ll want to get an iPad with a high amount of storage. 256GB should be the minimum you get, but 512GB and 1TB are even better.
Q: Which is better for college laptop or iPad?
If you can only get one, go with the laptop. A MacBook is much more powerful and versatile in a college setting than an iPad. However, a Mac and an iPad together is a killer combination.
Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.