Is an iPad worth the price tag with so many cheap competitors available?
By Jaime Vazquez
Feb 13, 2020 at 8:28 AM
Since the introduction of the iPad in 2010, Apple has steadily increased the available options. You can now choose between four different models, some of which come in different sizes.
At the same time, they've also steadily increased the price: While it's still possible to get an entry-level iPad for $329, you could end up spending up to $1,699 if you go for the largest model with all of the upgrades. So while it may be true that there's an iPad for everyone, many shoppers look to tablet alternatives that are a little easier on the wallet.
This begs a few questions: Are iPads worth the money? Are less expensive tablets a better option? And most importantly: Which iPad alternatives are the best?
The answers are complicated. While there are definitely some better tablet bargains out there, there are plenty of terrible options available as well, and it's up to you to determine what trade-offs to make. Here's a quick rundown of which iPads are the best bargains and which tablets offer just as much for less money.
Currently, there are four different types of iPad, and each type has upgrade options that increase the amount of available file storage or add cellular connectivity (which is great for instances when you don't have WiFi but requires a subscription with your wireless provider). Here are the best values across the different models.
This is Apple's smallest iPad, which packs internals similar to more expensive models but in a diminutive frame with a 7.9-inch screen. While it's definitely still a little pricey, we love the iPad Mini because it's fast and capable -- it has an A12 processor, just like the iPad Air -- and it's one of the few iPads left that still offers a headphone jack.
This is Apple's entry-level iPad, which offers a larger 10.2-inch display paired with the slightly less powerful A10 processor. This is definitely Apple's best value in iPads because it's the least expensive while still offering reasonable compromises: The cameras are good but not as powerful as those on the iPad Pro; the screen is bigger but has much larger bezels than more expensive models.
This iPad offers a portable middle ground between the iPad and the iPad Pro. It's got a 10.5-inch screen, an A12 processor, and best of all, it weighs only one pound. It's definitely more expensive than its less powerful siblings, but you get a lot more for your money when it comes to both power and portability.
The Pro costs the same as a mid-range laptop but offers enough power and flexibility that it's still a good deal for anyone looking for a tablet to use as a primary work machine. The 11-inch model has ultra-thin bezels, so it's about the size of a piece of paper and is built with the A12X chip, making it the fastest of the family. Paying this much for a tablet can be a tough pill to swallow, but if you're looking for a laptop replacement, it's still a solid deal.
Amazon's Fire Tablet is the perfect entry-level option for anyone looking for a model that's cheap but still fast. It's has a large 10.1-inch screen, a USB-C port for ultra-fast charging, and Amazon's digital assistant, Alexa, built-in. Amazon's tablets are all built on the Android operating system, so there's no learning curve -- and Amazon's solid customer support is available if you ever have problems.
This is another great option because it strikes a healthy balance between speed, features, and price. The 10.1-inch screen has super-thin bezels, it weighs about a pound, and it supports Dolby Atmos sound for superior audio quality. If you're looking for a tablet that's fast, light, and has outstanding sound, this is the one to get.
Lenovo's Smart Tab is a diamond in the rough when it comes to tablets. It's one of the most affordable 10.1-inch tablets we've ever seen, and it has a secret weapon included: a charging dock that works with Amazon's Alexa to become a hands-free screen similar to the Echo Show or Google Nest Hub. If you're on the market for a basic tablet that can double as an assistant in the kitchen or a smart alarm clock on your nightstand, look no further.
Amazon's child-friendly tablet also deserves your attention if you're looking for a device for little ones. It's a capable tablet that's fast enough for playing games and browsing streaming content -- but the real value is in how parent-friendly it is. Its durable frame means it can withstand plenty of abuse, and Amazon's two-year, no-questions-asked replacement policy offers plenty of peace of mind. Our favorite part: It comes with a free year of Amazon's FreeTime Unlimited, which curates content to make sure your child is only seeing kid-friendly, age-appropriate shows, games, and movies.
Jamie Vazquez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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