What's the Best iPad for a New User?
The iPad is a sensible tablet solution for a very wide range of people. For those that want the latest and greatest, there are new model iPads available from $329 to $999.
There are also tens of millions of used and refurbished iPads that are no longer sold new by Apple. These models span the full continuum of price and features.
The most affordable iPads - the 2nd, 3rd, 4th generations and the iPad Mini - are still very practical for many people, especially if they are only using the tablet for a handful of features. If you already own one of these devices, they also make a great hand-me-down gift.
A Simple Solution - Discontinued iPads
The iPad works for people who are new to technology; it's intuitive, portable and has millions of native apps. However, with each annual software update, users must adapt to subtle changes and new features. A few years ago, I discovered a solution to this challenge - iPads that were no longer supported.
A gentlemen was attending one of our iPad workshops and wanted to know why his iPad screen looked different than the rest of the group. He was using the original iPad, which stopped receiving software updates in 2012.
I explained the situation, and to my surprise, he seemed delighted. He followed up with a simple question, “so you’re telling me it will never change?”. I confirmed that his tablet experience on that particular iPad would always be about the same, and he got a huge smile on his face.
He shared that he doesn’t care for gadgets but likes watching plays and musicals on YouTube. He was relieved to not have to deal with updates or changes. We connected recently, and he’s still using the same iPad!
Over the years, Apple has stopped offering software updates on a few models of the iPad. Since these models no longer receive updates, the user experience will not change, which for some people is a great feature!
iPads That No Longer Receive Software Updates
The Original iPad
The original iPad was the first model to stop receiving free software updates. Despite my friend’s aforementioned affinity for the device, it has some serious limitations. In addition to being slower and heavier than other models, it lacks a camera and support for a vast majority of apps. If you need a machine to store music or do basic web browsing, it gets the job done. Some retailers still sell the original model as a refurbished device, but they are scarcely available.
The second generation iPad was one of the most popular models of all-time, selling millions of units. It was released in March of 2011, and Apple supported it with free updates for five years.
Today, the device runs iOS 9, and is still a very capable machine. Although noticeably slower and heavier than previous models, iPad 2 still works great for email, surfing the web, sharing photos and using many popular apps. A refurbished iPad 2 usually costs between $100-$200.
iPad 3 (third generation)
The third generation iPad was released in 2012 and was the first iPad with an HD screen (retina display). Like the iPad 2, the third generation model runs iOS 9 and is still a very useful device. A refurbished third generation iPad costs approximately $120- $220.
Original iPad Mini
The original iPad Mini was released also released in 2012 and runs iOS 9. The 7.9-inch iPad Mini screen is approximately two inches smaller than the traditional 9.7-inch screen. The screen also lacks the HD (retina) resolution of newer models.
It does run a majority of popular apps and is one of the most affordable iPads available. A refurbished iPad Mini usually costs between $100 and $250.
iPad 4 (fourth generation)
The fourth generation model runs the latest version of iOS 10. Like the other iPads listed, it no longer receive regular updates.
Out of all the models that are no longer supported, the fourth generation model is the highest performing machine. Not only does it have an HD screen, but it is also faster and has a better front-facing camera. A refurbished fourth generation model costs $170 to $250.