The iPad Classroom Gear Guide

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With an increasing number of iPads to choose from, and a selection of new ones released on a regular basis, it can be hard to decide which iPads you really need for your classroom. Is one iPad really any different from another? This quick guide aims to resolve that problem and help you pick between Apple’s current lineup of tablet devices – the iPad Mini 4, the 2018 iPad, and the iPad Pro. (Prices are listed in US Dollars).

The 2018 iPad (32Gb or 128Gb)

Education Pricing: starts at $299 each, or $2,940 for a 10-pack.

There is little doubt that Apple’s latest 9.7-inch iPad is aimed squarely at schools and colleges. It was released in March 2018, and was built to meet a price point that would help it compete with the recent deluge of cheap Chromebook laptops. Essentially, that meant a few compromises along the way, but the new iPad is still better than the device it replaced, (the 5th Generation iPad), not least because it now supports the Apple Pencil. It also has a faster processor and retains previous features like Touch ID, a 10-hour battery life, a great rear camera, and it weighs just one pound. What more could you want? See the 2018 iPad on Amazon (affiliate link).

Recommendation: If iPads are the device you are looking for, then this is the one to get.

iPad Mini 4 (128Gb)

Education Pricing: $379 each, or $3,740 for a 10-pack.

Apple’s smallest iPad has a 7.9-inch screen and sounds like it might be a great choice for younger students. However, the latest version is not as good a deal as it used to be. It’s priced at $379, which is a full $80 more than the new iPad, (see above). Some of that price difference is explained by the larger storage capacity, but this is a device that was introduced in September 2015 and has seen no hardware upgrades since it was launched. It’s not a bad device, it will work very well in any modern classroom, but it is hard to justify the additional expense unless portability and storage capacity are very high on your shopping list. Buy the iPad Mini 4 for less on Amazon, (affiliate link).

Recommendation: The only real reason to get this model is the size. If portability is your goal, this is the smallest iPad you can buy. Otherwise, the 2018 iPad is faster and cheaper. If it were me, I would get that instead.

iPad Pro: 2018 (64Gb, 256Gb, 512Gb, 1TB)

Education Pricing: 11-inch $749 or $7440 10-pack, 12.9-inch $949 or $4720 5-pack

The 2018 iPad Pro is available with either an 11 or 12.9-inch screen. It was released in November 2018. This latest update to the iPad Pro line is essentially a re-imagining of everything that an iPad has grown to become. It’s also, very powerful. For instance, Apple says the new A12X chip is faster than 92% of 2018’s notebook computers, and has graphics as powerful as the Xbox One S. The edge-to-edge screen mirrors that of the latest iPhones, and Face ID has replaced the home button. The new iPad Pro also supports the second generation of Apple Pencil which attaches magnetically to the iPad for pairing and charging. See the 11-inch iPad Pro and  12.9-inch iPad Pro on Amazon, (affiliate link).

Recommendation: This iPad is the embodiment of Apple’s vision for the future of computing. It likely has more power than you will ever use, but if you need the best tablet that money can buy, your search begins and ends right here.

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iPad Pro 10.5-inch (64Gb, 256Gb or 512Gb)

Education Pricing: $599 each or $5,940 for a 10-pack.

The 10.5-inch iPad Pro was released in June 2017. It shoots 4K video and does 120fps slow-motion at up to 1080p. It has a True Tone display that automatically adjusts to the ambient light and wide color display technology for more faithful color reproduction. The 10.5-inch iPad Pro  has four speakers, supports the first generation Apple Pencil, and has a Smart Connector for accessories like the Apple Smart Keyboard. In short, it is designed for a pro user with pro needs. It could very well meet the requirements of your teachers and students. However, many schools will likely feel that the higher price tag is hard to justify, especially when the new iPad will still perform well in almost all other scenarios. See the 10.5-inch iPad Pro on Amazon, (affiliate link).

Recommendation: If you need an iPad Pro, and the new models are more than you want to pay, the 10.5-inch model is still a great choice. You may also find it on sale more often so there are deals to be had if you look for them.

Should You Wait For The Next New iPad?

Well, here’s the thing. There will always be a new model around the next corner. That’s how Apple, and other companies, make their money. If you see a good deal, or have to spend money by a certain date, then buy the one that makes most sense based on the information above. If you have the luxury of being able to wait a little longer, then do what I do, and consult the MacRumors Buyer’s Guide. They have a pretty good feel for what’s going on in the Apple universe and give you a handy Buy or Don’t Buy for each product in the lineup.

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