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The New 2024 iPads Are Here - Should You Buy One?

by Elizabeth Harper on May 07, 2024

Apple has announced massive updates for the iPad Pro and iPad Air, and they’ll be available in stores next week – if you’re willing to pay the price premium to get the latest, greatest Apple products. Despite the high price you’ll pay for a brand-new product, the new iPads are impressive, with faster processors, better screens, and sleek new accessories. The new iPad Pro lineup, in particular, will be a real powerhouse with a brilliant OLED display. If you’ve been holding off on upgrading because the iPad lineup hasn’t been refreshed in a while, now may be the time to buy.

Let’s talk about everything that’s new with the iPad and whether these upgrades are worth buying.

iPad Pro is Faster, Thinner, and Lighter

Apple’s iPad Pro tablet will come with the M4 chip – that’s right, the iPad Pro will be using a newer, faster chip than Apple’s latest laptops, which have M3 chips. (Though the introduction of the M4 in the iPad Pro suggests it will be coming to other Macs soon.) But even though they’re more powerful, iPad Pro models are thinner and lighter than ever: Apple calls the iPad Pro the “thinnest Apple product ever,” with the 13” model measuring just 5.1mm thick and 1.28lbs, a quarter pound lighter than the previous version. The 11” model is a little thicker at 5.3mm, but lighter at 0.98lbs. Both models are small and sleek, with an all-day battery life.

The 11” and 13” iPad Pro models feature an Ultra Retina XDR OLED display. They use a new technology called Tandem OLED to achieve maximum brightness levels of 1,000 nits and 1,600 nits for peak HDR performance – matching the brightness of the MacBook Pro. Additionally, an optional nano-texture glass is available to reduce glare for those who typically use their iPad in bright light. (Unfortunately, for those trying to save money, the nano-texture option is only available for the 1TB and 2TB models and adds an extra $100.) OLEDs are top-tier screens and it’s great to see them finally making their way to iPads, having been on Android tablets for years. Whether you're watching or editing videos, you'll notice the difference with these new displays.

Here are the new iPad Pro models:

  • 11” iPad Pro (256GB, upgradable to 2TB) starts at $999
  • 13” iPad Pro (256GB, upgradable to 2TB) starts at $1299

You can pre-order the new iPad Pro now, and it will ship on May 15.

A woman in a chair drawing on an iPad with an Apple Pencil

iPad Air Gets a Larger Size

In addition to the existing 11” model, the iPad Air will also have a 13” model, matching the iPad Pro lineup. These models aren’t getting upgraded to the OLED displays on the iPad Pros: both have Apple’s Liquid Retina display, which is an LED screen used in other iPads. It's a perfectly good display, but won't have the knock-out performance of the new OLED screen on the iPad Pro. Both sizes of iPad Air are getting a substantial speed bump with an M2 processor, which should make these models three times faster than the current iPad Air.

Despite the “Air” name, which Apple has traditionally used to indicate thinner, lighter products, the iPad Air is now a bit bulkier than the super-thin iPad Pro models – both Air models are 6.1mm thick and a bit heavier than their similarly sized Pro cousins. Still, the iPad Air is a speedy, slender tablet – and the larger screen option is great for anyone who's been wanting more display space without the high price of the iPad Pro.

Here are the new iPad Air models:

  • 11” iPad Air (128GB, upgradable to 1TB) starts at $599; add an additional $150 for cellular
  • 13” iPad Air (128GB, upgradable to 1TB) starts at $799; with an additional $150 for cellular

You can pre-order the new iPad Air now, and it will ship on May 15.

Read more: The 6 Apps You Should Download from Apple’s Best Apps 2023

Updated iPad Accessories

The new Apple Pencil Pro ($129) really impresses me, but it won’t be a must-have accessory for every user. With the Pencil Pro, you can squeeze, rotate, or tap the stylus to open up context-sensitive menus or other options. These additional control options will make it much easier to keep working and drawing without having to tap on the screen to open menus, and it will likely be a real convenience for creatives who already use Apple Pencil. The Apple Pencil Pro will be compatible with the new iPad Pro and iPad Air.

There’s also a new Magic Keyboard to match the new iPad Pro models ($299 for 11” or $349 for 13”). The new models are specific to the iPad Pro and have a row of function keys and a larger trackpad than the standard Magic Keyboard. These are very sleek and make your iPad feel much more like a laptop – particularly with the powerful new M4 processor on the Pro. However, it also bumps the price into premium laptop territory, so you’ll have to make the call as to how much value a keyboard will have for you. Bear in mind that you can get third-party keyboards (which are perfectly functional) for a lot less if you only occasionally need a keyboard.

What About Budget Buyers?

Alongside the new models, Apple announced that the 10th gen iPad is being discounted to $349, though it’s a bit of a hard sell with its older A14 Bionic chip. The new iPhone 15 uses an A16 Bionic chip, while the 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max use the A17 Pro chip, making the 10th gen iPad relatively out of date. If you’re only going to use your iPad to watch videos, check email, and do other basic tasks, this might still be a good buy. But if you can afford it, buying a new Air will future-proof your purchase with a tablet you should be able to use for a long time.

If you’re going to use your iPad frequently, run more demanding apps like image or video editing, or use the iPad as a desktop replacement, I would recommend spending the extra $250 to get an iPad Air. These new Airs offer a lot of power for the price and – compared to the Pro lineup – are fairly reasonable. Last-generation refurbished iPad Pro models are likely to become more common as the new models make their way to shoppers, but it’s likely that a refurbished M2 iPad Pro will still start close to (or a little higher than) the cost of the new iPad Air.

Although the smaller iPad mini used to be a lower-cost alternative, it hasn’t received any updates to performance or price. The tablet has an A15 chip and starts at $499. So, if you’re not concerned about having top-tier performance, get the 10th gen iPad.

If you can wait a few months on a purchase, Black Friday season sees frequent iPad sales from retailers like Amazon, Best Buy and Target. You’ll likely find 10th generation iPads at even lower prices then, as well as smaller price cuts on new models.

Read more: How to Update an Old iPad

Is Now the Time to Buy an iPad?

Practically, most of us don’t need a top-of-the-line iPad. If you own a recent generation iPad and you’re happy with it, you don’t need to shell out $600 or more on the latest models. I personally use an iPad Air (4th generation) that was released in 2020 and works very well for reading news, watching videos, writing, and playing games.

If your iPad is five or more years old and you use it frequently, or you’re having performance problems, it may be time to think about an upgrade. These new iPads have stellar speed and may be a suitable desktop replacement for many people. With their processor updates, the latest iPads should serve you well for a long time.

And if you’re a creative who will really make use of the Apple Pencil support for art, image editing, and video, the new iPad Air is a great balance of performance, features, and price. While the iPad Pro is getting huge upgrades, the new iPad Air models offer a lot of Pro-level features for a much lower price.

While the iPad Pro is a great device with top-tier performance – better than Apple’s current laptops – it is difficult to recommend at its price, which starts at $400 more than iPad Air models. For that price difference, I simply don’t think the average user will need the extra power. The killer feature of the iPad Pro is its new OLED screen, which will set it apart from all other iPad models. Whether that’s worth the price is up to you. As a desktop replacement, particularly for creatives who will really make use of all of its features and will appreciate the high-end OLED screen, it’s a very solid tablet that offers high-end performance. If you frequently use your tablet for watching or editing videos, the screen alone may be worth a purchase. This is a great tablet, but make sure you’ll use the iPad Pro’s extra features before committing to it.

Overall, from this new iPad lineup, I recommend the iPad Air 11” to anyone in the market for a new tablet. It isn’t a budget tablet, but if you frequently use your iPad – particularly if you use it for games or in lieu of a desktop computer – you’ll appreciate the extra power over the more budget-friendly models. The iPad Pro is a great tablet, but it’s definitely for the power users.

You can pre-order all of the new iPad models now, and they’ll ship on May 15.

[Image credit: Apple]

Elizabeth Harper is a writer and editor with more than a decade of experience covering consumer technology and entertainment. In addition to writing for Techlicious, she's Editorial Director of Blizzard Watch and is published on sites all over the web, including Time, CBS, Engadget, The Daily Dot and DealNews.


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