Are you shopping for an iPad for a child? Our handy guide helps you find the right iPad for your child’s needs—and your budget.
iPad mini 4 vs. sixth-generation iPad
If your child isn’t yet in high school, focus your decision-making on the more affordable iPad mini 4 and the sixth-generation iPad, which are the most appropriate for a younger child. The iPad mini 4 costs $399 for a 128 GB model, whereas the sixth-generation iPad costs $329 for 32 GB or $429 for 128 GB.
The most significant difference between them is screen size: the iPad mini 4 has a 7.9-inch display, whereas the sixth-generation iPad has a 9.7-inch display. The iPad mini 4 is also lighter, weighing in at 0.65 pounds, about 30 percent lighter than the sixth-generation iPad’s 1.03 pounds.
Although the iPad mini 4 is more portable, it is a less-capable device than the sixth-generation iPad, and it will become obsolete sooner. Its A8 CPU is older and slower than the A10 Fusion in the sixth-generation iPad, and it doesn’t support the Apple Pencil or Apple’s Smart Keyboard (though it can use third-party Bluetooth keyboards). It also can’t take Live Photos, those 3-second mini-movies that can be fun for children to take, edit, and share. Most other features, including battery life, are the same on the iPad mini 4 and sixth-generation iPad.
What about an iPad Pro?
Three models of the iPad Pro are currently available, but with pricing starting at $649 for the 10.5-inch iPad Pro and features aimed at media professionals, they are overpowered and overpriced for the needs of most children. However, if you’re feeling spendy and you’re buying an iPad for a teenager who is already running into slowdowns when using an older iPad for complex media creation and editing, an iPad Pro could be a good choice. This is especially true if the teen has a track record of being careful with electronics, and you hope to buy an iPad that will retain its utility for as long as possible.
In addition to the older 10.5-inch iPad Pro, which has an A10X CPU and a Touch ID-capable Home button, Apple is also selling 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models with Face ID, just like on the iPhone X models. These start at $799 and are equipped with an A12 Bionic chip that promises blazing performance. Besides being better equipped to handle computationally intensive activities like editing movies and playing augmented reality games, all the iPad Pros have advanced screen features that help them adjust to changes in ambient lighting and display video more smoothly. They also have more-capable cameras than those found in the iPad mini 4 and sixth-generation iPad.
Accessories to Consider
The first accessory to add to your shopping list is a good case, to protect the device from the inevitable bumps and falls. It’s a must, especially for younger children.
Some kids will enjoy having a keyboard—the iPad’s onscreen keyboard isn’t designed for long bouts of typing, and it takes up a lot of screen space. With any iPad Pro model, Apple’s Smart Keyboard is a nice option that works as a case/keyboard combination. It costs between $159 and $199, depending on model. Many third-party Bluetooth keyboards are available and work with all iPad models, including the iPad mini 4. Some of these keyboards are integrated with cases.
Many people like the Apple Pencil for drawing on the screen, and older students are increasingly adopting it as a note-taking tool. The first-generation Apple Pencil ($99) works with the sixth-generation iPad and 10.5-inch iPad Pro, and the second-generation Apple Pencil ($129) works with the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
We hope this article has given you a sense of which iPad models and accessories you are most interested in. To finalize your decision, feel free to visit one of our stores. You can test drive a floor model and try the accessories in person.