Which 9.7-inch iPad Should I Buy? is a question I’m hearing even more than normal in 2018 now that there is a $300 iPad that supports the Apple Pencil. While Apple doesn’t sell the 2017 model anymore, you can still find it at a number of retailers, making it a very tempting option. This guide will help you figure out which 9.7-inch iPad to buy in 2018, and what options you need to decide on when you buy the new iPad.
We’re already seeing some 2018 9.7-inch iPad deals that can help you save $20 to $25 on the latest model with WiFi and up to $200 off the 2018 9.7-inch iPad with LTE. There are also a number of closeout deals on the older model, which are tempting.
Here’s what you need to know about the 2018 iPad options, and which choices you should make so you are happy with your purchase. This is the same advice I give to my friends and family.
2017 9.7-inch iPad or 2018 9.7-inch iPad?
The new 2018 9.7-inch iPad is the same price as the old model, but we are seeing some deals cutting $50 off the price of the 2017 iPad. That makes it a tempting choice for budget shoppers.
The main differences between these two are that the 2018 model supports the Apple Pencil, comes with stereo speakers and a faster processor. One other thing to consider is that the newer model will get software updates for a year longer.
If you want the Apple Pencil, stereo speakers or you plan to keep your new iPad for three to four years then you definitely need to buy the 2018 model, which Apple also calls the iPad 6th generation. Here are the best 2018 9.7-inch iPad deals.
If you don’t care about using the Apple Pencil, plan to use headphones with your iPad most of the time and you think you will upgrade in 2-3 years, look for a deal that will help you save $50 or more on the 2017 model that Apple calls the iPad 6th generation. Best Buy offers it for $279, a savings of $50.
Which 9.7-inch iPad Color is Best?
The new 9.7-inch iPad comes in three color choices; silver, space gray and a new gold color. Apple offered gold on the older model, but this new color matches the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus colors.
I recommend space gray for most users if they plan to watch movies on the iPad most of the time. This is the only iPad with a black front bezel. This is important because it looks more like the black edges of a TV, and ultimately delivers a more familiar and better movie watching experience.
If you don’t care about the front bezel, silver and gold are both good options. Many people pick an iPad that matches their iPhone. You don’t need to worry about discoloration on any of these color options. Scratches may show more on the space gray model, but if you plan to put your new iPad in a case the only color you’ll end up seeing is on the front. Here are the best 9.7-inch iPad cases.
How Much iPad Storage Do You Need?
Apple offers the 9.7-inch iPad with 32GB of storage or 128GB of storage. This is an important choice because you cannot upgrade the storage later and if you choose the 128GB option you will pay $100 more.
If you plan to use the iPad to mostly play some games, look at pictures and stream movies or tv shows from a service like Netflix or Hulu then you should be good with 32GB of storage. It’s adequate for most of my family members. With this option you may want to plan on using iCloud storage to store your photos in the cloud. If you spend $99 cents a month you can get 50GB of cloud storage that integrates easily with your iPad. You can upgrade to 200GB of storage for $2.99 a month later if you need it.
Users who need to keep a lot of apps, or who plan to download a lot of movies, tv shows and music to watch offline while traveling will want to spend the extra $100 to get 128GB of storage. If you want to keep all of your photos locally on your iPad so that you have them even when you don’t have an Internet connection, you may also want to go this route.
Should I Buy WiFi or LTE?
The final choice is do you need an iPad with WiFi only or one with LTE as well. The cheaper iPad includes WiFi so you can connect at home, work and at many restaurants. You can also use your iPhone as a hotspot or even connect to WiFi in some newer cars to get online while on the road. The WiFi only iPad is the best choice for most buyers.
If you plan to travel and need an Internet connection on your iPad at all times, or if you are buying this to use at home without WiFi, an iPad with LTE is a great option. This can simplify connectivity and you have an always on connection. It can serve as a phone alternative for a kid or for a senior who doesn’t want a smartphone but wants to be able to text and use Facebook.
The LTE model is $130 more than the WiFi model, but you can save if you buy it at a carrier like Verizon and sign a two year contract. With the LTE model, you need to pay a monthly fee for data. This may be $10 to $20 depending on existing plans and how much data you need.