Best iPad for School: Choosing the Right Model for Students

Updated on April 23, 2024

Top iPads for School Use

In the age of digital learning, having the right tools is crucial for academic success. iPads have become an integral part of the classroom experience, loved for their portability, versatility, and user-friendly design. We’ve curated a selection of iPads that stand out for their performance, durability, and features that cater specifically to students’ needs. From note-taking and research to creative projects and presentations, these iPads promise to enhance the educational journey.

iPad 10th Gen

Apple iPad (10th Generation): with A14 Bionic chip, 10.9-inch Liquid Retina Display, 64GB, Wi-Fi 6, 12MP front/12MP Back Camera, Touch ID, All-Day Battery Life – Blue

After spending some quality time with the iPad 10th Gen, we firmly believe it offers a fantastic balance of performance and versatility for students.

Pros:
  • Robust performance for studying and multimedia
  • Vivid and responsive Liquid Retina display
  • Simplified fingerprint unlocking with Touch ID
Cons:
  • Requires adapter for compatibility with older Apple Pencil
  • Limited port variety with only USB-C
  • Higher price point compared to other educational tablets
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Choosing the right iPad for school can be a pivotal decision. In our experience, the A14 Bionic chip housed within the iPad 10th Gen makes multitasking a breeze, whether you’re toggling between research tabs or piecing together a presentation.

The 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display is a pleasure to interact with, providing sharp, true-to-life colors. This is particularly beneficial for art and design students who rely on accurate color representation for their creations.

Security and convenience are married nicely thanks to the integration of Touch ID. This quick and easy unlocking method means less time fumbling and more time focusing on your studies.

However, it’s not without its drawbacks. For one, the reliance on an adapter for the first-gen Apple Pencil might be a hurdle for students who’ve previously invested in this tool. Additionally, the sole use of USB-C may necessitate additional purchases for compatibility with existing accessories.

Price is also a consideration—compared to other options in the market, the iPad 10th Gen can be on the steep side for those on a strict budget.

All in all, if performance and screen quality are top priorities for your school needs, the iPad 10th Gen has a strong hand to play. Just be prepared for possible extra expenses for full compatibility with your current peripherals.

9th Gen iPad

Apple iPad (9th Generation): with A13 Bionic chip, 10.2-inch Retina Display, 64GB, Wi-Fi, 12MP front/8MP Back Camera, Touch ID, All-Day Battery Life – Space Gray

We believe the 9th Gen iPad is ideal for students because of its seamless blend of price, performance, and usability.

Pros:
  • Strong A13 Bionic chip provides snappy performance.
  • Stunning 10.2-inch Retina display enhances learning with vivid visuals.
  • Compatibility with Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard supports versatile studying styles.
Cons:
  • Limited to 1st generation Apple Pencil, missing out on newer features.
  • Base model only comes with 64GB, which might require careful storage management.
  • Heavier and bulkier compared to other models which may affect portability.
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After spending some time with the 9th Gen iPad, we’re impressed by its performance in an academic setting. The A13 Bionic chip handles everything from video streaming to document editing without breaking a sweat. The large Retina display is not only a treat for the eyes, but it also makes reading and writing more enjoyable, which can be a game-changer for long study sessions.

One-handed use might be tricky with this iPad’s heft, but it’s a small compromise for the solid build and the features it offers. The Apple Pencil, despite being an older generation, works wonderfully for taking notes or drawing diagrams. The Smart Keyboard is a huge plus, turning the device into a pseudo-laptop, ideal for typing up essays or research notes.

We’re aware that storage could be a concern, especially for students who save a lot of media and documents. Therefore, investing in cloud storage or being diligent about managing files might be necessary. The weight is also worth noting, as it could be a bit much for younger students to carry around all day.

In conclusion, our hands-on experience with the Apple iPad 9th Generation reinforced our belief in its value for educational purposes. It easily handles daily academic tasks and the Center Stage camera feature is a nice touch for interactive online classes. Despite some limitations, its benefits far outweigh its drawbacks, making it a top choice for students looking for a reliable iPad.

iPad Air 4th Gen

Apple iPad Air (10.9-inch, Wi-Fi, 64GB) - Rose Gold (Latest Model, 4th Generation) (Renewed)

After extensive use, we're convinced that the iPad Air 4th Gen strikes a perfect balance for educational needs, offering both capable hardware and robust design.

Pros:
  • Seamless multitasking with the A14 Bionic chip
  • Sharp and vivid visuals on the 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display
  • Lightweight design paired with broad color spectrum, ideal for creative projects
Cons:
  • Limited base storage at 64GB
  • Apple Pencil and keyboards sold separately, increasing the total cost
  • Lacks the advanced camera system of the more expensive iPad Pro
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Our classroom experience with the iPad Air has been nothing short of exceptional. Its lightweight design makes it a breeze to carry around all day, and the A14 Bionic chip inside ensures that everything from switching between textbooks and note-taking apps to video editing for projects is swift and lag-free.

We found the 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display to be a standout feature for studying. Whether we’re reviewing documents or creating presentations, the wide color gamut and True Tone technology provide an experience that’s easy on the eyes, which is important during long study sessions.

When it comes to creative work, our artistic side appreciates the precise color accuracy and the compatibility with the 2nd Gen Apple Pencil, which, although sold separately, turns the tablet into a digital canvas or notepad in no time. However, we did notice the base model comes with just 64GB of storage, which can quickly fill up with coursework, apps, and media.

The USB-C port simplifies connecting to a variety of devices and charging, which is a definite improvement over previous models with the Lightning connector. That said, if you’re planning on using the iPad Air as a laptop substitute, remember that accessories like the Magic Keyboard or the Smart Keyboard Folio are additional purchases.

Holding steady with up to 10 hours of battery life, the iPad Air accompanies us through the entire school day without needing a charge. And as we wrap up our study sessions, we utilize the stereo speakers during relaxation time, enjoying rich and immersive audio that’s surprisingly good for a tablet.

Overall, the iPad Air 4th Gen provides the versatility and performance we require for our educational endeavors. With a display that showcases work beautifully and the power to handle all manner of apps and multitasking, it’s a smart choice for any student – provided you’re prepared to invest in extra storage or accessories, if needed.

iPad Air with M1

Apple iPad Air (5th Generation): with M1 chip, 10.9-inch Liquid Retina Display, 64GB, Wi-Fi 6, 12MP front/12MP Back Camera, Touch ID, All-Day Battery Life – Purple

For a robust blend of power and portability to breeze through school assignments, we find the iPad Air with M1 a top contender.

Pros:
  • Impressive multitasking capabilities
  • Vivid Liquid Retina display enhances reading and media
  • A full day's power to handle school and more
Cons:
  • The price point might stretch a student's budget
  • Essential accessories like the Apple Pencil are extra
  • Storage could be limiting for heavy users without the upgrade
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We’ve been putting the iPad Air with its M1 chip through its paces, and the experience is fluid even when we’re juggling between note-taking, web browsing, and educational apps. The iPad Air keeps up with our hectic school day seamlessly, proving to be a lightweight champion in our backpacks.

Its display is a delight; every article we read, video we watch, and diagram we create is presented with eye-popping clarity and color. The screen makes study sessions much less of a strain on our eyes, which is something we’ve genuinely appreciated during long research hours.

Battery life stands up to our demanding day; from the first lecture right through to evening study groups, we haven’t had to scramble for a charger. This reliability gives us peace of mind, especially on those days packed with back-to-back classes and no access to power outlets.

iPad 8th Gen

Apple iPad (10.2-inch, Wi-Fi, 128GB, 8th Generation)- Space Gray (Renewed)

Let's make your academic journey smoother and more efficient with this well-rounded iPad.

Pros:
  • A12 Bionic chip ensures smooth multitasking.
  • Battery life that holds up throughout a busy school day.
  • First gen Apple Pencil support for note-taking and creativity.
Cons:
  • Outdated compared to the newest models.
  • Limited to Wi-Fi 5, missing the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard.
  • Only compatible with the 1st gen Apple Pencil, not the second.
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Stepping into our classroom, we noticed how this iPad becomes a game-changer for our study sessions. The A12 Bionic chip really stands out, handling everything from app-juggling to streamlining our creative projects with grace. There’s no stuttering or lag, and it feels as if this device understands our need for prompt responses when switching through study materials.

The battery life garners our praise. Even during long days packed with lectures and study groups, we never had to scramble for a charging port before the day’s end. We’ve effortlessly transitioned to working anywhere, from library nooks to cozy cafés, without worrying about the next charge.

Taking notes on this iPad feels natural, almost as if jotting down on paper. Using the Apple Pencil, we sketched diagrams and annotated PDFs with ease. While some might crave the latest gadgets, for us, this iPad nails the essentials, making it a fine companion for our educational endeavors.

Should you consider adding it to your backpack? We certainly think so.

Buying Guide

Understanding Your Needs

Before we select an iPad for school, it’s important we assess our specific needs. Are we planning to use it primarily for note-taking, research, or multimedia projects? Understanding the primary use will guide our choice.

Key Features to Consider

When evaluating iPads, we should look for several essential features:

  • Storage: We’ll need ample space for apps, documents, and media. A minimum of 32GB is recommended, but 64GB or higher is preferable for long-term use.
  • Size and Weight: The size affects portability. A lighter, more compact model may benefit us if we are always on the move.
  • Display Quality: A clear, high-resolution screen is crucial for reading texts and creating visual content.
  • Battery Life: We need an iPad that can last an entire school day without charging, so a battery life of at least 10 hours is ideal.

Performance

Processor speed is critical for multitasking and running complex applications. Look for recent models that can handle demanding tasks.

Durability and Service

We should consider the durability of the device and the availability of service and repairs. A robust case can provide additional protection.

Connectivity

Having both Wi-Fi and cellular options can be beneficial for on-the-go learning and research.

Cost

Finally, we must balance the features we need with our budget. We don’t always need the top-of-the-line model; sometimes mid-range iPads can meet our educational needs effectively.

Here’s a quick reference table to summarize our considerations:

FeatureDetails
StorageMinimum 32GB, 64GB+ preferred
Size & WeightDepends on preference for portability
Display QualityHigh-resolution for clarity
Battery LifeMinimum 10 hours
PerformanceRecent processor for multitasking
DurabilityConsider a protective case
ConnectivityWi-Fi essential, cellular optional
CostBalance features with budget

By keeping these factors in mind, we can make an informed decision that aligns with our academic needs and budget.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we cover some of the most common inquiries regarding iPads for educational use, focusing on specific features and functionalities that can aid in learning and teaching environments.

What are the key differences between the iPad Pro and the iPad Air for educational purposes?

The iPad Pro offers a more powerful processor and a ProMotion display with a higher refresh rate, which can be beneficial for advanced graphic and video editing tasks. The iPad Air, while less powerful, still provides ample performance for most educational apps and tasks at a more affordable price point.

How suitable is the iPad Air for students who need to take notes frequently?

The iPad Air is highly suitable for note-taking. With Apple Pencil compatibility, students can easily take handwritten notes, annotate PDFs, and create sketches directly on their device.

For teachers in educational settings, which iPad model offers the best balance of functionality and usability?

We recommend the iPad Air for teachers, as it offers a great balance of performance and portability. It supports a variety of educational apps and accessories like the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil, ensuring a versatile teaching experience.

Yes, students can effectively study with an iPad. For general study purposes, the standard iPad provides excellent value with a strong performance and support for the 1st generation Apple Pencil, making it a suitable choice for most students.

What options are available for school students seeking iPads that accommodate stylus use?

All current iPad models support stylus use. The standard iPad and iPad Mini are compatible with the 1st generation Apple Pencil, while the iPad Air and iPad Pro support the 2nd generation Apple Pencil with added features like magnetic charging.

What considerations should budget-conscious students prioritize when choosing an iPad?

Budget-conscious students should prioritize the standard iPad for its affordability and compatibility with essential educational tools. It offers a balanced performance for studying, note-taking, and media consumption within a modest budget.

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Rohit Mittal

Rohit Mittal is the co-founder and CEO of Stilt. Rohit has extensive experience in credit risk analytics and data science. He spent years building credit risk and fraud models for top U.S. banks. In his current role, he defines the overall business strategy, leads debt and capital fundraising efforts, leads product development, and leads other customer-related aspects for the company. Stilt is backed by Y Combinator and has raised a total of $275M in debt and equity funding to date.

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