We’re in right smack dab in the middle of an iPad refresh, meaning that it’s been around six months since the iPad was last updated, and it’ll probably be another six months before it gets updated again. However, plenty of buyers are still in the market for an Apple slate and there are more choices to choose from than ever before.
This makes it a bit interesting, though, as you now have to decide which size iPad you’re going to get, including screen size and storage size. iPads come in two different screen sizes. The iPad Air comes with a 9.7-inch display and the iPad mini sports a 7.9-inch display. Furthermore, both models come in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB flavors.
Storage size can ultimately be the toughest decision, as you never know exactly how much space you’ll end up using, and the longer you own the device, the more apps and games that you’ll pile on over time, so important to choose the right storage size for this reason.
However, we have you covered, and we’ll give you some suggestions as far as what screen size and storage size would be best for you and your tablet needs.
Again, the iPad Air comes with a 9.7-inch display, while the iPad mini with Retina display comes with a smaller 7.9-inch screen. These two devices are Apple’s latest tablets — one for each screen size.
Knowing which screen size will fit your needs is difficult, so we’d recommend actually going to an Apple Store to try out both models and see how well they fit in your hand. Which one is easier to hold for you? The iPad mini is smaller, but can you still read text just fine? Do you think the iPad Air is too big for you?
Trying out both devices before you buy can answer many of these questions, but for the most part, users have praised the iPad Air for its larger screen and lightweight body, and it’s the perfect device for lying in bed or hanging out on the couch.
On the other hand, the iPad mini with Retina display is much better for portability, so if you travel a lot or like to take it with you during your commutes, the smaller tablet might be your best bet. And despite the iPad Air’s significant weight reduction, the iPad mini is still lighter than the iPad Air, making it much easier to hold and easier to carry around.
It’s important to at least note that the iPad Air’s screen is slightly better than the iPad mini’s display when it comes to quality, but we’ve found that most casual users won’t even be able to tell the difference.
In a lot of Android tablets, you don’t really need to think about what storage size to get, mainly because a lot of them come with microSD card slots that allow you to shove in an extra 64GB of storage whenever you need it, but iPads don’t have that luxury, so you’ll have to decide how much storage you’ll need for all your mobile games, photos, videos, music, movies and TV shows.
What Takes Up Space?
- iOS: Yes, the operating system itself takes up space on your iPad. Apple doesn’t tell you how much, though, but you can easily find out by opening up the Settings app and navigating to General > Usage. From there, add up the storage used and the storage amount that’s free, then subtract that number from the total space of your iPad (16GB, 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB). For me, on my 32GB iPad mini with Retina display, iOS 7 takes up 4.5GB of storage. This will vary depending on the iPad model, but that’s what you can expect.
- Apps: Apps themselves don’t take up a lot of space — usually under 200MB a piece for most, but additional data such as cache, history, etc. can add another couple hundred megabytes to that. Plus, if you intend on having a ton of apps, the storage required can really add up. There are also bigger apps like GarageBand, which can take up almost a gigabyte by itself.
- Games: Games can be one of the biggest culprits of storage hogging. Depending on the game, they can take up anywhere from a couple hundred megabytes, all the way up to several gigabytes. For instance, graphic-intensive titles like Real Racing 3 and Infinity Blade III can take up several gigabytes a piece, so if you plan on doing a lot of gaming while on the go, you might want to think about going for the higher storage capacity options.
- Music: Music files are pretty small, but you might have a pretty large music collection. I’ve met plenty of people who are rocking music collections over 25GB easily, so if you’re a music junkie, consider aiming high when thinking about storage. Of course, there are cloud and streaming options, but those really only work well if you’re around WiFi a lot or have an unlimited data plan. However, many users don’t have the luxury of either while out on the go.
- Movies & TV Shows: Besides games, movies and TV shows are the next biggest storage hogs; HD movies can take up a gigabyte or more a piece. You could go standard definition and save on space, but the iPad’s Retina display would make the smaller-res movies look a bit grainy, and if you’re a quality nut like I am, you’ll always want your content in high definition.
- Photos & Videos: Some people take a lot of photos and record a ton of videos, and all that media can add up quickly, especially when you have Photo Stream enabled, which will automatically send photos to your iPad that you take with your iPhone. Sure, you can constantly transfer your photos and videos to your computer in order to free up space, but sometimes we don’t have access to a computer while we’re out having fun. This is where you might need more storage for your photo memories.
What Storage Size Is Right for You?
- 16GB: We almost wouldn’t recommend a 16GB iPad to anyone since that’s so little storage for today’s large chunks of files, but we suppose it’s fine for the very basic of users. It’s perfect for those who don’t plan on consuming a lot of media or playing games (or if you do, you do it all through the cloud). Personally, I use the cloud for almost everything; Netflix for movies and TV shows, Spotify for music, and Dropbox’s instant upload for photos and videos that I take. The result is around 19GB free on my 32GB iPad.
- 32GB: This is the middle-of-the-road option that most users will be happy with, and it’s good for the type of users who don’t consider themselves basic users, but also not media junkies that have a lot of games and videos. If you have a healthy amount of apps and play a few games, as well as store a bit of music on there, 32GB is probably enough.
- 64GB: The 64GB version is the recommend model for those who like to play a lot of games, have large music collections, and like to store a lot of photos and videos. Because of this, the 32GB version most likely won’t cut it, so an upgrade to the 64GB model is the way to go in this case.
- 128GB: This is the highest storage option you can get on an iPad, and we wouldn’t recommend it for most users, unless you’re an extreme media junkie who has a lot of movies, music and games. Technically, we’d only recommend this to professionals like DJs, photographers or video editors. If you’re one of those users, go for it.
The Bottom Line
It’s important to remember that you’ll be paying $100 extra for each storage tier that you move up, with the 16GB iPad Air costing $499, the 32GB costing $599, the 64GB costing $699 and the 128GB version ringing in at $799 (take $100 off for the iPad mini with Retina display).
If you’re at a crossroads as to which storage level to get, paying $100 extra for something that you’ll pay at least $400 for isn’t a huge deal. Plus, it’s best to go with your gut feeling, so if you think 16GB might not be enough storage for you, it’s probably best to get the 32GB version.