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cpdp

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 10, 2023
8
4
Austria
Hey there,

my name is Christopher and I am a long time reader of macrumors. Now I need the help of you experts helping me decide which iPad is the right one for me :)
First, I am coming from an iPad Air 2 (which has 9.7"). Now I am think about the iPad Air 5 or the iPad Pro 12.9" to have something between my iPhone 14 Pro Max and 27" iMac. I need a cellular option and at least 128GB, preferred maybe 256GB.

My using profile with my old iPad: Watching movies on the go (plane, train) or at work during nightshifts and also on vacations. For on the go, i use AirPods, for work and vacation the normal speakers. Sometimes sitting on the couch and browsing the internet. But since this old tablet is way too messed up I don't really use it much. I could imagine using a newer iPad for trying to draw (absolute newbie), edit photos and using it for studies/taking notes when I start my education to become a psychotherapist :)
I am not really playing or anything like that. Carrying the iPad around is mostly done by car so the weight / size isn't a brainer for me.

The iPad Air seems nice since it comes in handier on the couch (can't really imagine whether the 12.9 would be too clumsy) and is way cheaper. Furthermore, I would have the option to buy a bigger one sometime. Going down from an 12.9 to a 10.9 isn't really imaginable.

The iPad Pro 12.9 seems nice since it has a better and bigger display and 4 speakers. It also has the 120Hz screen but I cannot see the difference - also on my iPhone.

I went to the store to test them out of course - the 12.9 felt good overall, holding it in the hand was on the borderline, but still okay. The Air seemed smaller than my iPad air 2 until I put it side to side to a 9th gen. 12.9 model could stream videos bigger, but I felt it was only a small leap, primarily the black bars were a lot bigger.. So the store visit didn't really help me much with my decision.

Based on my profile and your experiences, what do you guys think is best for me? :)

Thanks a lot!
Kind regards from Austria,
Christopher
 

Isamilis

macrumors 68020
Apr 3, 2012
2,098
1,004
Hi Christopher, from your explanation, I couldn’t see any needs to go with 12.9” iPad. Hence, iPad Air could be good choice (it comes with 64gb and 256gb). You may also want to consider (refurbished M1) iPad Pro 11” (base model is 128gb) - it has better speaker and display, and the base model has similar price with iPad Air 256gb. Hope this helps.
 
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fatTribble

macrumors 68000
Sep 21, 2018
1,530
4,082
Ohio
Kudos to you Christopher for doing research and writing a thorough post!

I don’t think there is a bad choice for you. I have the 12.9 iPad Pro with M1. I love the display! Have you considered the larger iPad for home use then just use your 14 Pro Max for travel and work? I agree that if you do need a portable iPad the Air might be better. I try to get as much storage as I might need a few years from now just to plan ahead. Whatever you end up getting I’m sure you’ll love it. Let us know!
 

ericwn

macrumors G4
Apr 24, 2016
11,958
10,643
You cannot go wrong with any iPad for your use case. Pick the screen that you’re most comfortable with and you should be set.
 

floral

macrumors 65816
Jan 12, 2023
1,011
1,232
Earth
I have similar uses to you and I had an iPad mini which worked perfectly! It's portable, you can do beginner-to-advanced drawing on it, notetaking, web browsing, especially good on the couch, watching content etc. Even though it doesn't have a big and mini-LED display I don't think you'd need one (nor does anyone else really except for diehard iPad users).

If you prefer the Air instead, then get that, but I think mini would work just as well, for cheaper, and for less size. :3
 
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cpdp

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 10, 2023
8
4
Austria
Hi Christopher, from your explanation, I couldn’t see any needs to go with 12.9” iPad. Hence, iPad Air could be good choice (it comes with 64gb and 256gb). You may also want to consider (refurbished M1) iPad Pro 11” (base model is 128gb) - it has better speaker and display, and the base model has similar price with iPad Air 256gb. Hope this helps.
Thanks! The only reason I would go for the pro would be the bigger display so the 11" Pro just doesn't make sense for me - I'd rather save a few bucks and get the Air. I also looked at Apple refurbished but it's somehow manifested in my mind that the newer the model the longer the devices durance and the longer I'll receive updates :)
Kudos to you Christopher for doing research and writing a thorough post!

I don’t think there is a bad choice for you. I have the 12.9 iPad Pro with M1. I love the display! Have you considered the larger iPad for home use then just use your 14 Pro Max for travel and work? I agree that if you do need a portable iPad the Air might be better. I try to get as much storage as I might need a few years from now just to plan ahead. Whatever you end up getting I’m sure you’ll love it. Let us know!
Thanks! I don't get people asking which one is better...every iPad makes sense, it's just a matter of how you want to use it. My iPhone ist just way too small for watching movies etc. on the go. I like things big that's why I am so tempted to the 12.9. I'm just asking myself if it's money blown away for tech I don't need :D
Thanks for your answer :)
You cannot go wrong with any iPad for your use case. Pick the screen that you’re most comfortable with and you should be set.
Thanks - If only it were that easy :D
I have similar uses to you and I had an iPad mini which worked perfectly! It's portable, you can do beginner-to-advanced drawing on it, notetaking, web browsing, especially good on the couch, watching content etc. Even though it doesn't have a big and mini-LED display I don't think you'd need one (nor does anyone else really except for diehard iPad users).

If you prefer the Air instead, then get that, but I think mini would work just as well, for cheaper, and for less size. :3
Thanks for your answer :) As mentioned, every iPad makes sense on it's own. The mini would be the one I wouldn't want at all since it's only marginally larger than my iPhone and for carrying around size is not really relevant to me :)
 

floral

macrumors 65816
Jan 12, 2023
1,011
1,232
Earth
Thanks! The only reason I would go for the pro would be the bigger display so the 11" Pro just doesn't make sense for me - I'd rather save a few bucks and get the Air. I also looked at Apple refurbished but it's somehow manifested in my mind that the newer the model the longer the devices durance and the longer I'll receive updates :)

Thanks! I don't get people asking which one is better...every iPad makes sense, it's just a matter of how you want to use it. My iPhone ist just way too small for watching movies etc. on the go. I like things big that's why I am so tempted to the 12.9. I'm just asking myself if it's money blown away for tech I don't need :D
Thanks for your answer :)

Thanks - If only it were that easy :D

Thanks for your answer :) As mentioned, every iPad makes sense on it's own. The mini would be the one I wouldn't want at all since it's only marginally larger than my iPhone and for carrying around size is not really relevant to me :)
Only... marginally larger?

Oh right, they're massive. Sorry, been a while since I've seen an iPhone... Forgot there's the "Plus" and "Max" sizes. I'm used to the mini still being 2x larger than the usual iPhone. In that case if you have a larger iPhone then definitely go for an Air.
 

pdxrevolution

macrumors member
Sep 2, 2015
38
61
Oh right, they're massive. Sorry, been a while since I've seen an iPhone... Forgot there's the "Plus" and "Max" sizes. I'm used to the mini still being 2x larger than the usual iPhone. In that case if you have a larger iPhone then definitely go for an Air.
This is kind of a weird take. You have to go back to the iPhone 5 to find a phone smaller than the mini. Every model from the iPhone 6 to the 14 is larger. So unless you were using an iPhone 5 for the last decade, you've owned a larger phone than the mini. And let's not forget that iPhones, outside of the Max, are smaller than most Android phones. I'm not hating on the mini, having owned both a 12 and a 13 myself.

I've also owned every iPad mini. The current generation, in my opinion, is the worst because Apple finally did away with the tapered edges. Even though the iPad mini 1-5, at its thickest point, is roughly the same thickness as the 6, the 6 feels much thicker and heavier than the previous mini models. But this is true for all of the iPads that have lost the tapered edges: they just aren't a joy to hold, and that will feel different for OP coming from an iPad Air 2.

OP: are you wasting money on the 12.9? Definitely. Do you have to waste money if you want that large of a screen? Definitely. At this point, it's just the way it is.

Rumors are that there will be an Air refresh in October, likely with an M2 chip. If you're going to pay full price for an iPad, I'd wait another month for the next Air model. But that also means that between now and the end of October, you'll probably find some good prices on that 256 MB Cellular M1 model.

So is the 12.9 Pro worth the added cost over the M1 Air? Clearly not. The Air runs at $899 for the model you want, and you have to pay $1399 for the equivalent 12.9" model. $500 is a lot of money for what will feel like only a screen upgrade to you. And yet, lots and lots of people spend that money because they really want the larger screen. Only you can decide.
 

Populus

macrumors 603
Aug 24, 2012
5,093
7,408
Spain, Europe
Hello Christopher 👋🏻

I agree with some of the opinions here: Air 5 (once the Air 6 gets released this October, the Air 5 will drop in price on several retailers), or a refurbished 11” M1 Pro, from Apple’s Refurbished Store.

Good luck!
 

Allen_Wentz

macrumors 68030
Dec 3, 2016
2,816
3,071
USA
Hey there,

my name is Christopher and I am a long time reader of macrumors. Now I need the help of you experts helping me decide which iPad is the right one for me :)
First, I am coming from an iPad Air 2 (which has 9.7"). Now I am think about the iPad Air 5 or the iPad Pro 12.9" to have something between my iPhone 14 Pro Max and 27" iMac. I need a cellular option and at least 128GB, preferred maybe 256GB.

My using profile with my old iPad: Watching movies on the go (plane, train) or at work during nightshifts and also on vacations. For on the go, i use AirPods, for work and vacation the normal speakers. Sometimes sitting on the couch and browsing the internet. But since this old tablet is way too messed up I don't really use it much. I could imagine using a newer iPad for trying to draw (absolute newbie), edit photos and using it for studies/taking notes when I start my education to become a psychotherapist :)
I am not really playing or anything like that. Carrying the iPad around is mostly done by car so the weight / size isn't a brainer for me.

The iPad Air seems nice since it comes in handier on the couch (can't really imagine whether the 12.9 would be too clumsy) and is way cheaper. Furthermore, I would have the option to buy a bigger one sometime. Going down from an 12.9 to a 10.9 isn't really imaginable.

The iPad Pro 12.9 seems nice since it has a better and bigger display and 4 speakers. It also has the 120Hz screen but I cannot see the difference - also on my iPhone.

I went to the store to test them out of course - the 12.9 felt good overall, holding it in the hand was on the borderline, but still okay. The Air seemed smaller than my iPad air 2 until I put it side to side to a 9th gen. 12.9 model could stream videos bigger, but I felt it was only a small leap, primarily the black bars were a lot bigger.. So the store visit didn't really help me much with my decision.

Based on my profile and your experiences, what do you guys think is best for me? :)

Thanks a lot!
Kind regards from Austria,
Christopher
I am similarly coming from an old iPad (v1 Air) that has gotten disused because it is so slow, and I am currently testing an 11" iPad Pro and a Mini. The 11" iPad Pro has seen great discounting and sounds like it suits your needs, even though you did not list it as an option. If you ever do get into drawing the Pro takes the Apple Pencil 2 and allows the useful hover function.

iPad Air has been rumored herein to upgrade in the next month or so. That is probably worth waiting to see and compare against a discounted 11" iPad Pro. Usually the Pro is better, but careful comparison is required.

Some recommend older boxes and I disagree for your usages, or for mine. IMO in 2023 we do not want to buy any iPad that lacks WiFi 6E or lacks Bluetooth 5.3.

Also note that the cellular version adds a lot of cost. I used to buy cellular but now find that it is easy to tether to an iPhone when one needs cellular (figured this out when cellular on my v1 Air quit a couple of years ago). Save big by buying a WiFi-only version. Refurbs are a good choice when available as long as one does not drop back to WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 tablets.
 
Last edited:

jlc1978

macrumors 603
Aug 14, 2009
5,539
4,344
IMHO, unless you need the extra screen space because you find your current iPad screen to small, go with the Air. It will be more than powerful enough for your use case, the only caveat is unless you must have one now i’d wait and see, as others suggest, if a new Air is released in October.

Unless you need cellular connectivity a lot, stick with the WiFi version and use your phone as a hot spot. My first 12 iPad Pro had cellular and I used so infrequently when I replaced it I went with WiFI only; saving on its cost as well as my cell bill.

I say this as a 12” iPAd Pro user who use dit as a second screen when traveling to the extra space was very useful.
 
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floral

macrumors 65816
Jan 12, 2023
1,011
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This is kind of a weird take. You have to go back to the iPhone 5 to find a phone smaller than the mini. Every model from the iPhone 6 to the 14 is larger.
I'm sorry... what?

Sure, the iPhone-to-iPad-mini size gap might be considerably smaller than early iPhones, but it definitely is not larger than the mini. My dad has one of the latest phones (13 pro), so I did a quick comparison between that one and my mini 5... the mini is about 20% taller and 40% wider.
 

Populus

macrumors 603
Aug 24, 2012
5,093
7,408
Spain, Europe
I'm sorry... what?

Sure, the iPhone-to-iPad-mini size gap might be considerably smaller than early iPhones, but it definitely is not larger than the mini. My dad has one of the latest phones (13 pro), so I did a quick comparison between that one and my mini 5... the mini is about 20% taller and 40% wider.
I think you’re misunderstanding the user comment, @floral . The comment is only talking about iPhone, meaning that you have to go back to the iPhone 5 (or the original SE) to find a device smaller than the iPhone 12/13 mini.

Although given the context and the topic of the thread (talking about iPad) your confusion is understandable.
 

floral

macrumors 65816
Jan 12, 2023
1,011
1,232
Earth
I think you’re misunderstanding the user comment, @floral . The comment is only talking about iPhones, meaning that you have to go back to the iPhone 5 (or the original SE) to find a device smaller than the iPhone 12/13 mini.
Oh. Sorry, I guess this is a misunderstanding of a misunderstanding then!
 
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cpdp

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 10, 2023
8
4
Austria
Drama is I go on vacation in October with immense waiting time at airports. So I', not gonna wait for iPad Air 6 - if it even comes in October. I waited for yesterdays Keynote to see if it brings - unexpectedly - new iPads. Unfortunately not. Thanks everyone for their inputs - you helped me a lot to realise nobody can really help me, I have to use both. I tend to go with the 12.9" model - how is the feeling using it as a real tablet without Keyboard dock? 😬
 
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cpdp

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 10, 2023
8
4
Austria
Hey guys, sorry to disturb you again! I now opted to go with the 12.9 inch pro. I have two good offers, both 1 month old iPads inclouding Pencil and Magic Keyboard. First one is a M1 256GB, second is a 100€ cheaper M2 128GB. Which would you go for? Note I have a 2TB iCloud+.
I am unsure if 128GB suits my needs and if I will really benefit from the hover feature. Performance wise both will do a more than good job for me. Only thing I don't want is to permanently mess around to free up space on my iPad.
 

jlc1978

macrumors 603
Aug 14, 2009
5,539
4,344
Hey guys, sorry to disturb you again! I now opted to go with the 12.9 inch pro. I have two good offers, both 1 month old iPads inclouding Pencil and Magic Keyboard. First one is a M1 256GB, second is a 100€ cheaper M2 128GB. Which would you go for? Note I have a 2TB iCloud+.
I am unsure if 128GB suits my needs and if I will really benefit from the hover feature. Performance wise both will do a more than good job for me. Only thing I don't want is to permanently mess around to free up space on my iPad.

Personally, I'd go with the M2 simply because it is newer. While you can't add storage, you can always put stuff on an external drive and get it from there, or the cloud.
 

Digitalguy

macrumors 601
Apr 15, 2019
4,472
4,246
The difference between M1 and M2 is minimal, personally I'd go with M1 and more storage. But I don't have (or want) iCloud, I want local storage and don't want to manage it all the time...
 

MarkNewton2023

macrumors 6502a
Sep 17, 2023
604
602
how is the feeling using it as a real tablet without Keyboard dock? 😬
It is fine for me. I do not use keyboard dock ever when using my iPad Pro 12.9. However, this might be different for others. You can try it without keyboard. Then , if that does not work, get a keyboard dock.
 

MiamiBeach

macrumors 6502
Sep 16, 2020
259
157
Another vote for the M2. You can always manage storage, use your 2TB iCloud space, however you can’t upgrade the processor. Plus, whilst they are both 1 month old as you mentioned, the battery for the M1 may have been sitting around unused for longer. The M2 battery will most likely be a more recent one.
 

TheBeverage

macrumors member
Feb 2, 2014
66
154
Hey guys, sorry to disturb you again! I now opted to go with the 12.9 inch pro. I have two good offers, both 1 month old iPads inclouding Pencil and Magic Keyboard. First one is a M1 256GB, second is a 100€ cheaper M2 128GB. Which would you go for? Note I have a 2TB iCloud+.
I am unsure if 128GB suits my needs and if I will really benefit from the hover feature. Performance wise both will do a more than good job for me. Only thing I don't want is to permanently mess around to free up space on my iPad.
Both of the iPads you’re looking at are obscenely overkill CPU-wise for the tasks you described in the OP, so I wouldn’t decide based on that. See how much storage you’re using on your current iPad and go from there, if you can work with 128GB you may as well save the hundred bucks, especially considering how crazy expensive the 12.9s are. Speaking personally, I have a 64GB iPad that I don’t come close to filling up because none of my iPad tasks involve storing files larger than books and pdfs, and those files are measured in megabytes or kilobytes and are a non-issue.
 

ericwn

macrumors G4
Apr 24, 2016
11,958
10,643
I don’t know your storage needs. Personally I’d opt for more storage rather than a faster chip. I don’t connect hard drives and stuff to a tablet much.
 

floral

macrumors 65816
Jan 12, 2023
1,011
1,232
Earth
Hey guys, sorry to disturb you again! I now opted to go with the 12.9 inch pro. I have two good offers, both 1 month old iPads inclouding Pencil and Magic Keyboard. First one is a M1 256GB, second is a 100€ cheaper M2 128GB. Which would you go for? Note I have a 2TB iCloud+.
I am unsure if 128GB suits my needs and if I will really benefit from the hover feature. Performance wise both will do a more than good job for me. Only thing I don't want is to permanently mess around to free up space on my iPad.
Hi,

You don't need an iPad Pro for your uses. I don't think what you're opting for is the right choice, I still recommend the M1 iPad Air. Yes, it is technically older, but you don't even need an A13 for what you do, so an M1 would be plenty. Spend the money saved on extra storage.
 
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