Cyber Monday is here, and with it an overwhelming number of ways to save—especially on Apple products, iPads in particular. But even though the deals are incredible, there are so many options available for iPad purchases. Do you need an iPad Air, a Pro or a Mini? Will a 2017 iPad suit you, or would a more recent model be better? Now is the perfect time to invest, either for yourself in advance of the holidays or on a major gift for someone special, so let us help you get your iPad ducks in a row and figure out how to best take advantage of the savings to be had.
In our iPad buying guide below, we've got a list of the best deals for each model that you can get right now. We'll update the list frequently, as prices tend to fluctuate, so bookmark this page and check back often.
A final note before we dive in. Unlike 2018, there has yet to be a new release of the top-end iPad Pro, but the recently released 10.2-inch budget-line iPad is a great option. We'll help you decide if this is right for you, or whether the iPad Mini or iPad Air might be better a better choice.
(By the way, here's the proper etiquette for buying tech gifts in general, and here's what to consider when buying smart home gifts.)
Let's get to it!
iPad 10.2-inch (2019): The best for most
The 10.2-inch model is CNET's Editors' Choice for a reason: Even though it has an older A10 processor, it works perfectly well with the latest iPadOS, has a slightly bigger screen, supports the Apple Pencil, and now works with Apple's older Smart Connector keyboard accessories. It's already on sale, too. I'd consider the 128GB model, though, over the 32GB, especially if you're planning on downloading movies. The ideal size I would have recommended would have been 64GB... which, of course, Apple doesn't sell.
There have been several sales on this model, and there are probably more to come, but Target is ahead of the pack at the moment with the 32GB model for $230 and the 128GB model for $330.
iPad (2018): Almost the same as the 10.2-inch iPad
Buying last year's model of the entry-level iPad, which has the same A10 processor (and also supports Apple Pencil), means more savings. Amazon's deal on the LTE, 128GB version is down to $429 ($130 off), which is the most affordable way to an LTE iPad... but do you really need LTE? (I'd say no.)
iPad Air (2019): Step up from basic
The difference between the entry-level 10.2-inch iPad and the iPad Air released this year is basically a better A12 processor, and a slightly bigger screen (10.5 inches). It's also a bit thinner. Anyone who wants a bit more graphics oomph for photo or video work could consider this a way to split the difference between the basic iPad and the iPad Pro. You'll find it for $469, a discount of $30, at B&H electronics.
The 2017 iPad Pro is like the 2019 iPad Air, with a couple of extras
Save yourself the headache and know that the 2019 10.5-inch iPad Air is a slightly more budget version of the 2017 10.5-inch iPad Pro. The Pro from 2017 has a faster-scrolling 120Hz display, better quad speakers and slightly different cameras. If you can somehow get it for less than the Air above, it's well worth it! The 2017 iPad Pro is on sale below, but at a higher cost than the iPad Air.
iPad Pro (2018): The fanciest option, but...
For the right price, last year's iPad Pro is still a great pick. Its A12X processor is extremely powerful, it has Face ID (which is great on an iPad), supports newer Pencil accessories that stick to the side to charge, its optional keyboard case is great (and expensive), and it supports USB-C. Amazon has discounts across the entire range, currently between $100 and $150.
iPad Mini (2019): Not a bad travel proposition
The smaller 7.9-inch iPad was upgraded this year with an A12 processor and Pencil support, and it's a great smaller tablet. It's normally too expensive to justify over the entry iPad, but Cyber Monday sales could make it a tempting travel gadget. It's not so great for typing, though, and the $30 off deal on the 256GB version below isn't very much off the regular price.
Consider at least 64GB of storage
Some of the basic iPads start with just 32GB, which doesn't cut it. Some models start with 64GB, which is acceptable. If you're downloading movies for trips or plan on putting lots of games onboard, consider 128GB. I wouldn't consider 256GB and up unless you're a video editor.
For kids, Fire tablets or Chromebooks are worth considering
Amazon's always-crazy-low sales on Fire tablets are tempting if you have Amazon Prime or live in Amazon's ecosystem. As ultra-budget tablets for videos and games, they're totally fine.
Chromebooks are excellent choices as secure kid-friendly laptop alternatives, or for anyone who might want a laptop-type browser without a full computer price.
iPad at any price?
If you're treating yourself, last year's iPad Pro is a stellar laptop alternative, provided you can live in Apple's controlled iOS world (iPadOS, the name of the iPad-focused iOS 13 update this year, does have a far better browser, improved Pencil support and file access). Apple might update the iPad Pro as early as spring next year, though, so maybe you should also consider getting an IOU.
Cellular? Skip it
The extra $129 for an LTE antenna (and the cost per month of a cellular plan on the iPad) aren't worth it, unless you're dying to use LTE on a tablet or have someone who's footing the bill. Tether with your phone instead.
Save some money for dongles and Pencils and things
Your purchase, sadly, doesn't end with just the iPad. You'll want a case for that delicate tablet, and probably one of Apple's Pencil styluses (the old one for most iPads, and the new one for the 2018 iPad Pro). A keyboard case is useful, and costs extra too. If you get the USB-C iPad Pro, you're also going to want a few dongles (like one for a headphone jack).