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Should You Buy a High-End Tablet on Prime Day?

Deals on iPads and tablets are coming. But also, what's your definition of "high end?"

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR, gaming, metaverse technologies, wearable tech, tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Scott Stein
4 min read
an iPad Pro

The iPad Pro may get an update later this year. Still, discounts on older models might be worth it.

Scott Stein/CNET

Short answer: Yes, if you're fine with a deal on an older tablet and you aren't picky about particular storage configurations, Prime Day could be a good time to buy. However, Samsung's new tablet is expected soon, and Apple should have new iPads in the fall.

Amazon Prime Day is back beginning July 11, bringing a flood of sales that are often confusing and tempting. Every time there's a Prime Day sale, some of the discounts are on tablets: iPads in particular. Should you take the opportunity to upgrade?

If you're looking for a low-cost tablet, the answer's easier: Apple usually releases new basic iPads (simply called "iPad") each fall. This year, Apple hasn't released any new iPads at all, so updates to the midrange Air and high-end Pro models could be on their way, too. Prime Day can often get you discounts on older or current models, or configurations with more onboard storage. Low-cost Amazon Fire Tablets are always on sale, too.

For more expensive iPads, the math gets more challenging. The savings can be greater on iPad Air or iPad Pro models, but you may also want to consider waiting, too. 

Read moreBest iPad for 2022

Should I buy an iPad Pro on Prime Day?

The iPad Pro last got an upgrade at the end of 2022, with M2 processors added but not much else. The good news on iPads is they generally have a long lifespan, and Apple's highly specced-out Pro models have speed and features that can take years to trickle down to lower-cost iPads. Apple is expected to update its iPad Pro line with OLED displays at some point (maybe not until 2024), and that could be a moment where Apple chooses to redesign the iPad Pro a bit. Right now, Apple's iPad Pro lineup has been pretty consistently designed for several years, but lacks one key feature of the entry-level 10th-gen iPad: a front camera that's properly centered on the long edge for better-looking video chats.

That being said, Apple's iPads with M1 and M2 chips (the 6th-gen iPad Pro models from 2022, the 5th-gen iPad Pro from 2021, and the 2022 5th-gen iPad Air) are still worth getting on sale, and are likely to have performance that will feel great for a while. The only big advantage to the M2 iPad Pros over the M1 models is a modest performance boost and a "Pencil hover" feature that recognizes the Pencil tip when it's floating at close range over the iPad screen.

At this point, I'd shop only for iPad Pros with an M1 processor or better. Apple's multitasking and external monitor support with Stage Manager, and some Pro apps like Final Cut Pro, require an M1 chip to work. It's likely Apple's iPadOS future will increasingly require an M1 processor or better. For anyone looking for "pro" performance, it's worth it.

Keep in mind that only the 12.9-inch 2021 iPad Pro has a step-up Mini LED display that's brighter and has better black-level contrast than other iPad models.

Should I buy an iPad Air on Prime Day?

The iPad Air was updated last spring, and it's very much the M1 iPad Pro at a lower price with most features intact. It lacks the front-facing Face ID camera, the rear depth-sensing lidar sensor that the iPad Pro uses for some AR and 3D scanning features, but it has a really good display, four speakers, USB-C charging and the same fast M1 chip, and also works with Apple's Magic Keyboard (although it lacks the faster screen refresh rate of the Pro iPads). If it goes on sale, it's a solid pick -- unless you can find a 2021 iPad Pro for even less. 

The 2021 iPad Pro is still a better tablet, though, so if the price on the Pro drops to match the 2022 Air, you should definitely buy the iPad Pro instead.

But keep in mind there should be a new Air coming, most likely this fall. It may only get a new M2 chip, or possibly add the properly-centered front camera the 10th-gen iPad has. But maybe, with the Air, you should wait it out and see what happens in the fall. 

What about a Samsung tablet?

Samsung's premium Android tablets used to be the only players in the Android tablet space, but times have changed: the Pixel Tablet and OnePlus Pad offer more affordable options, and Amazon's latest Fire tablet has a keyboard, too. Samsung's Galaxy Tab S8 Plus is a good upgrade over Samsung's previous S7 tablet line, and has an included stylus and an AMOLED display. But, Samsung is expected to announce a new tablet in just a matter of weeks. Considering Samsung tends to have sales on its products and a variety of promotions, you're best off waiting. However, if a great deal rolls in on an S8 model that undercuts the OnePlus Pad and Pixel Tablet (which are $479 and $500 each, respectively), you might be tempted.