What’s got two thumbs and really loves iPads? The answer is me. But in my decade-plus of owning every generation of iPad, from the original to the very latest Apple iPad Air 2022, I’ve learnt some lessons the hard way.
Some of those lessons are about buying the right iPad without regretting your choice later; others are about using it, getting the most of it and appreciating what accessories can do.
As such, here are some of the iPad mistakes I’ve made that you might want to avoid if you too are currently browsing the best iPad deals on the market.
1. Buying one that's too small
That's small as in storage. The entry level iPad has 64GB of storage, and unless you intend to use cloud storage and offload unused apps you’ll fill it up surprisingly quickly – and even more so if it’s going to be a shared device or you're going to take lots of photos. More about that in a moment.
2. Assuming kids’ apps are kid-friendly
Apple’s App Store and parental controls are very good, but if you’re letting your kids install games it’s important to be aware that ad-funded games are often very inappropriate: I’ve seen games aimed specifically at young children whose ad breaks include video of very age-inappropriate zombies and other horrors. There are also lots of dark patterns where games make it very difficult to escape ads without taking you to the App Store or Safari, and many scammy apps promising things like free Fortnite V-Bucks.
3. Buying one that's too good
Maybe this one’s just me, but my previous iPad was an iPad Pro for no other reason than I wanted one and I have poor impulse control. And that’s okay, but it wasn’t exactly smart: for all the joys of an iPad Pro, and there are many, it was absolutely overkill for the things I actually use my iPad for. Today my daily driver is an iPad Air. Even that’s probably overpowered.
4. Using it as a camera when you've got an iPhone
Yes, the camera is better than it was. But taking photos still feels like you’re doing it with a dinner plate and is quite hilariously uncomfortable. The quality of the footage is also not at the same level as today's best iPhones.
Also, in public areas and, worse, crowded public areas it just becomes borderline rude to be wafting it around. How many times have you been to a concert or event and had your view basically blocked out by people recording the whole thing on their tablet? It might just about be understandable if the footage was great, but it won't be. Live in the moment, people, live in the moment.
5. Thinking the Apple Pencil is just for artists
The Apple Pencil is brilliant for more than just drawing: tons of apps can turn your handwriting into searchable, editable text, and that means iPads are also brilliant notepads for things like meetings, lectures or just idly planning world domination.
6. Expecting free iCloud storage to be enough
When Apple launched iCloud in 2011, it gave you 5GB for free. And in 2022, Apple gives you 5GB for free (unless you’re a student). That was pretty rubbish when iPads started with 16GB of storage, and it’s absolutely hopeless now that they start at 64GB. Additional iCloud storage isn’t expensive, but it just feels like Apple is penny pinching here.
7. Thinking it’s a MacBook alternative
Don’t get me wrong. The iPad is a brilliant mobile device, and I often take mine places where I used to take my MacBook Pro. But that doesn’t mean it’s a laptop replacement. While there are some superb high-end apps the multitasking is still pretty horrible and iPadOS feels exactly like what it is: a phone OS with a bigger canvas. Hopefully WWDC 2022 will see that change, but for now there are still significant disadvantages to an iPad for some kinds of tasks.