Should You Wait for the Next iPad?

As rumors spread of the imminent arrival of new iPads, should you really wait to buy one?

Sitting with my iPad mini- which despite being new to me is now two years old- I couldn’t help but wonder whether I should hold on to it or wait for Apple to release the oft-rumored 2021 model. Certainly, the idea that it could have a thinner bezel, mini-LED screen, and more modern design (or, you know, not, according to some recent rumors) was enticing. Not to mention that any new iPad mini would likely feature the A14 processor rather than the aging A12. Oops… I mentioned it.

But the more I thought about it, the more a singular question popped into my head: why wait?

I use my iPad mini every day, and despite the thicker bezel and older processor, I have never once had an issue with the device. In fact, I’ve loved using it. It has become one of my most important everyday tools. Sure, I might want the fancy, newer gadget (when/if it ever comes out), but do I need it? Hell no.

I see countless articles and YouTube videos telling people not to buy a current-gen iPad right now. But I can’t help wonder if this is actually good advice. I mean, if you want an iPad right now, if you need an iPad right now, what is the benefit of waiting for an undetermined amount of time for the next one to come out?

Take a look at the iPad Pro, for example. Rumor has it that a new iPad Pro could be announced any day now (just as likely, though, it could be another month or two or five; after all, rumors also “confirmed” that new iPads were coming out at the end of March…). And if rumors are correct, it will bring, primarily, mini-LED screen technology, which will improve the look of the screen and decrease power consumption. It may also come with a more powerful version of the A14 chip, one speculated to be as good as the mighty M1 chip in the MacBook (hell, maybe it will just come with the M1 itself). And there might be a new Magic Keyboard, too.

But the 2020 iPad Pro is an excellent device; the screen, while not “mini-LED”, is beautiful. It is arguably the best screen you can get on a tablet today. The A12z processor can handle any task with absolute ease. The battery life on any iPad right now is stellar. And the current Magic Keyboard accessory is the best damn keyboard ever made for an iPad. And I’m certain that if you picked it up today and Apple released the 2021 model next week, there wouldn’t really be enough difference between them to justify the wait, especially if you wanted to get started using it ASAP. After all, there didn’t seem to be any game-changing differences between the 2020 iPad Pro and the 2018 model. It was an improvement, certainly, but not one that everyone who owned the 2018 model felt they had to get.

Of course, you could consider that the price of the current iPads will drop once their replacements have arrived, so that could be an argument to wait. But I doubt they’ll drop by a considerable amount right away, and unlike the iPhone, Apple doesn’t continue to sell last year’s iPad models once the new kids are in town, so if you are waiting because of that your window of opportunity is going to be pretty narrow, lasting only as long as it takes for retailers to sell out of their stock. And there’s always the iPad Air, which I feel I can guarantee is cheaper today than the 2020 iPad Pro will ever be while maintaining the same form factor (at least, the form factor of the 11-inch iPad Pro… sorry, 12.9 users).

You could also consider that a newer iPad will last longer than the models that are a year or two old; Apple will support them for longer, send them updates for longer, etc., and so forth. But Apple supports all of its devices for years; literally, iPadOS 14 is available all the way back on the iPad Air 2, which was released in 2014. And aside from those who will use their iPad until it dies, I think a lot of people (myself included) will probably trade their current iPad in for something newer in 2–3 years, well before the device is no longer supported. And again, if you really want the form factor of the iPad Pro (11-inch), but want something that could be potentially supported for longer, get the iPad Air, which has the latest A14 processor and is only a few months old.

I’m not saying that the next iPads aren’t going to be worth waiting for. They probably will have some good improvements over the current generation; after all, they usually do. But right now, there are lots of rumors swirling around about what exactly is coming (and when it is coming), yet we truly don’t know how innovative- or iterative- the next iPads will be. And the current models- whether you are looking at the Pro or the Air or the basic or the mini- are all excellent tablets that will see you through years of productivity and Netflix.

So if you are in the market for a new iPad today, I don’t think you don’t really need to wait. I mean, you absolutely can if you want to have the latest and greatest, but what is available now is pretty great already. If you want an iPad today, then by all means don’t listen to all the naysayers out there; go and get one.

I am just clever enough to get myself in trouble…

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