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4 Best iPads for College Students: Our 2024 Comparison

Which is the best iPad for college students? We have tested all the current tablets, and here are our recommendations for your studies.

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Apple iPad Air 5 and iPad Pro keyboards

Which are the best iPads for college students? We were students once too and know what matters in your studies. At MyNextTablet, we have been testing tablets since 2008, and thus have also been testing iPads since the very first model. The first iPad is, of course, no longer recommended, but the latest successors certainly are. These can now always be used with a stylus, and for most, there is even a good keyboard available.

Apple iPad Mini 6 on* Amazon

Below, we have listed the best iPads for college. At the beginning, you will get a quick overview with our recommendations, and further down, we go into more detail on each tablet. Linked are our detailed reviews, and you can see each of the devices in our review video.

Best iPads for College Students: An Overview 

  • Best pick for studies: Apple iPad Pro (at Amazon*). The current Apple iPad Pro, released in 2022, leads the way in the premium tablet category. With the iPad Pro, you get a device that can hardly be pushed to its performance limits. A clear recommendation for students who need CPU power for complex software and have the necessary funds.
  • An affordable premium tablet for students: Apple iPad Air 5 (at Amazon*). With the Apple iPad Air 5, you are well prepared for your studies. Hardware, build quality, software – the high quality of the iPad Air is impressive. In many ways, this tablet is similar to the 11-inch iPad Pro. The excellent value for money is undeniable.
  • Solid tablet for college students: Apple iPad 10 (at Amazon*). The Apple iPad 10 is a good and popular choice for first-year students, despite minor flaws. Compared to the competition from the Android camp, the iPad stands out with its remarkable processor performance and a beautiful display. If you don’t have extraordinary performance requirements for your tablet, the Apple iPad 10 will bring you much joy.
  • Mini iPad for college: Apple iPad Mini (at Amazon*). Not everyone would immediately think of the Apple iPad Mini 6 when it comes to iPads for students. With its compact size, combined with the usual Apple quality, the iPad Mini 6 is an interesting insider tip – also thanks to compatibility with the Apple Pencil 2. However, this device is not suitable as the main tablet for your studies.

iPads for College Students Compared: The Best Picks

Let’s take a closer look at the different iPads. Our reviews are linked, and we also recommend watching our videos on the tablets.

Score high with the Apple iPad Pro

We start our selection with the Apple iPad Pro. Without a doubt, this iPad is the best choice for college students who need a high-quality tablet. Demanding software poses no problem for the iPad Pro – not least because of the incredibly powerful M2 chip. This has been installed in all iPad Pros since October 2022 and outperforms many laptops in terms of performance.

Depending on which screen size you prefer, you have the choice between an 11” and a 12.9” display. The otherwise almost identical iPad models differ in price by a whopping $400. While Apple calls for a starting price of 1049 euros for the 11-inch iPad Pro, the 12.9” version costs at least $1500.

Best Tablet Overall
Apple iPad Pro 11 WiFi 128GB

The Apple iPad Pro M2 is the best tablet you can buy right now. It's more powerful than all competitors, has two very pretty 11-inch and 12.9-inch displays, as well as a premium built. We get great premium features like the good Apple Pencil 2, fantastic keyboard covers, facial recognition, and good speakers. However, compared to its predecessors, almost nothing has changed.

Buy on Amazon Our Review
03/27/2024 05:23 pm GMT

The XDR technology with impressive image contrasts and the larger Retina display bring important arguments for students in fields such as art, design, film, or architecture.

Consider whether the Wi-Fi version is sufficient for you or if you want internet access on the go. For the Cellular model, you will unfortunately have to lighten your student account by another $200.

An accessory that makes sense for most students is the Apple Pencil. The second generation of the stylus impresses with an intuitive writing experience – whether for short notes, calculations, or drawing.

For students, an expansion keyboard also makes sense. The Magic Keyboard or the Smart Keyboard Folio make writing papers easier.

The Apple iPad Air – Close on the Heels of the Pro Series

With the current Apple iPad Air, you get a tablet that nearly matches the performance of the iPad Pro in many aspects. In the fifth generation of the iPad Air, Apple has incorporated the M1 chip, which was previously only available in the Pro series models. Indeed, no Android tablet can keep up with the CPU power of the Apple iPad Air.

Therefore, college students who do more than just research with their tablet are making the right choice here.

Great Premium Tablet
Apple iPad Air 5
$599.00 $549.00

The Apple iPad Air 5 is a fantastic premium tablet. It's cheaper than the iPad Pro but offers the same super-fast Apple M1 processor. We get a premium metal body, good speakers, a fingerprint scanner, two keyboard options, and the fantastic Apple Pencil 2. The 10.9 inch LCD screen is a good one but a bit darker than the Pro and supports 60Hz only.

Buy on Amazon Our Review
03/26/2024 08:18 pm GMT

The design of the iPad Air is also pleasing: Its casing is only 6.1mm thick, ensuring a sleek profile. With a screen diagonal of 10.9 inches, it is almost as large as an 11″ iPad Pro and fits easily into any backpack or handbag.

One advantage over the iPad Pro is the lower price. At Apple, you can get the device starting from $750 – almost $300 less than the cheapest model of the Pro series. However, consider that the iPad Air is available with a maximum of 256 GB of storage space. To manage all your study documents and files centrally, you might need to resort to an external hard drive.

Our conclusion on the iPad Air: If you want a powerful tablet at a (still) reasonable price, then go for it. If your usage is limited to browsing, studying, and typing texts, you can buy a cheaper iPad.

Also Read: Best iPad Apps for Students Tested

Apple iPad 10: A Practical Student Tablet

Sure, the Apple iPad 10 is somewhat the entry-level model. Yet, it qualifies as a practical tablet for college students.

In everyday college life, the iPad reliably accompanies you – also thanks to decent battery performance. Thanks to the long update plan, you can be sure that even in a few years, the latest apps will run on the tablet.

Great Mid-Range Tablet
Apple iPad 10
$449.00 $349.99

The Apple iPad 10 is faster than all Android tablets. Especially compared to its predecessor, it offers a better and more modern design, a bit lager and bright 10.9-inch display, as well as a new and good keyboard cover. Overall, it's a great tablet but it does have a bunch of downsides. The screen is not laminated and I noticed a jelly effect. You can get it with the first-generation Apple Pencil. However, for that one to work you have to buy an extra adapter which is ridiculous. And, sadly, the price has increased.

Buy on Amazon Our Review
03/26/2024 08:23 pm GMT

The computing performance is also more than solid. Although it does not match the iPad Air or the Pro models, this is usually not a problem in studies.

Unfortunately, Apple has continued to omit laminating the display in the 10th generation of the iPad. The jelly effect when scrolling is also somewhat annoying.

As usual from Apple, the iPad 10 has a sleek design – significantly more modern than its predecessor. The brightness and brilliance of the Liquid Retina display are pleasing and not a given in this price range.

We believe that, despite some flaws, the iPad 10 deserves its place in this selection. Especially for research purposes or online lectures, the Apple iPad 10 serves well.

Also Read: Best Note-Taking Apps for iPads Compared

Apple iPad Mini 6 – The Digital Notepad

The phrase “small but mighty” aptly describes the Apple iPad Mini 6. Among the 8-inch tablets, the most compact edition of the iPad is undoubtedly the best choice for college students.

Weighing just 293 grams, the iPad Mini 6 is a real lightweight. The USB-C port is practical for students, as it makes data transfer among fellow students quite simple. The powerful CPU, the high-resolution display, and the flawless workmanship mean there is very little to criticize about this tablet.

Best 8-Inch Tablet
Apple iPad Mini 6
$499.00 $399.99

The Apple iPad Mini 6 is the best 8-inch tablet on the market today. It offers a premium design, is more powerful than every Android tablet, supports the Apple Pencil 2, and ships with up-to-date software. We get premium features like great speakers and a fingerprint scanner. Sadly, the otherwise excellent 8.3-inch screen has a jelly effect which is a bit of a bummer.

  • Premium design
  • Very powerful
  • Good speakers
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • Apple Pencil 2 support
  • Up-to-date software
  • Display has jelly effect
  • No phone capabilities
Buy on Amazon Our Review
03/26/2024 08:09 pm GMT

But is the iPad Mini 6 really suitable for college students? As a main tablet or as a replacement for a PC, the tablet, standing just 19.54 cm tall, is certainly not suitable. The display is too small to meet all the requirements of student life.

However, the iPad Mini 6 is ideal as a digital notepad, as it supports the Apple Pencil 2. For taking notes in lectures, there is hardly a better alternative – especially in a compact format.

Also Read: Apple iPad Mini vs iPad Air Comparison: What are the Differences?

Accessories for iPads in Focus – What’s Worth It?

Before your iPad is ready for university, there are a few last steps awaiting you. The question of which accessories you need cannot be answered universally.

From cables, various adapters, and stands to compatible cameras and microphones, there is almost a suitable accessory for every application.

In any case, a high-quality protective case is recommended. Since you, as a student, carry the tablet with you every day, it pays to invest in protecting the device.

Besides the original Smart Folio cases from Apple, countless products from other manufacturers are available.

In an era when lectures are usually available online, Bluetooth headphones can be a valuable purchase. On the way to the exam, you can review the content again on the train.

The Apple Pencil: Your Helper in Lectures

The Apple Pencil has already been mentioned. Nonetheless, it is helpful to take a closer look at the stylus.

Apple Pencil USB C

Currently, there are three different models of the Apple Pencil:

  • Apple Pencil (USB-C)
  • Apple Pencil 1
  • Apple Pencil 2

The second-generation pen offers the most features and allows for extremely precise work. Especially with drawing and design software, the $149 stylus plays to its strengths.

Note that the iPad 10 and iPad 9 are not compatible with the Apple Pencil 2.

Magic Keyboard, Keyboard Folio, and Co. – Keyboards Compared

A keyboard is essential if you want to use your iPad for studies. After all, writing term papers is part of almost every field of study.

Although you can also pair Bluetooth keyboards from third-party manufacturers with an iPad, we definitely recommend an original Apple keyboard. The ability to firmly connect the keyboard to the tablet is invaluable. This way, your iPad quickly becomes a notebook, and you benefit from an ideal workflow.

Apple iPad Pro M2 with Magic Keyboard

For the iPads in our selection, the following keyboard types are relevant:

  • Magic Keyboard
  • Magic Keyboard Folio
  • Smart Keyboard Folio

The Magic Keyboard is compatible with the current devices of the Pro series and with the iPad Air (4th and 5th generation). The same applies to the cheaper Smart Keyboard Folio, which, however, does not have a trackpad. The Magic Keyboard Folio can be connected to the iPad 10. There is no expansion keyboard from Apple for the Apple iPad Mini 6.

iPad Alternatives: Which Competing Tablets Are Suitable for Studies?

If Apple tablets have not convinced you, you can look for alternatives from other manufacturers for your studies.

Without going into further detail here, it’s worth taking a look at these tablets:

Conclusion: With the right iPad for you, you are well-prepared for your studies

iPads are popular among students for good reason. Regardless of which model you choose – the quality is right. This applies to both the software and the hardware.

By the way: Refurbished devices are an option with a limited budget, provided they have been professionally refurbished.

The iPad Pro and the iPad Air are technically at the highest level and meet the most complex requirements. The iPad 10 is a good all-around device with solid performance. However, you should consider whether smaller disadvantages like a non-laminated display or the jelly effect are deal-breakers for you. For an extra-compact tablet, the iPad Mini 6 comes into play.

If you find the right iPad for you, you are well-equipped for everyday student life in colleges.

Apple iPad Mini 6 Test
The Apple iPad Mini 6 is the best 8-inch tablet on the market today. It offers a premium design, is more powerful than every Android tablet, supports the Apple Pencil 2, and ships with up-to-date software. We get premium features like great speakers and a fingerprint scanner. Sadly, the otherwise excellent 8.3-inch screen has a jelly effect which is a bit of a bummer.
  • Premium design
  • Very powerful
  • Good speakers
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • Apple Pencil 2 support
  • Up-to-date software
  • Display with Jelly Effect
Buy on* Amazon
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