When shopping for an iPad, it can be hard to know the differences between the iPad vs. iPad Air and which one is right for you.
When comparing the iPad vs. iPad Air for note-taking, consider what you prioritize. If you prioritize getting an iPad with the needed functionality for the lowest price, get the iPad. If you want a more powerful premium option or want the Apple Pencil 2nd generation, get the iPad Air.
Let’s look at the differences between the iPad and iPad Air.
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Comparing iPad vs. iPad Air
There are two iPad models that Apple sells—the iPad 9th generation and the iPad 10th generation. Apple currently sells the iPad Air 5th generation.
Let’s compare each model:
|Battery||Up to 10 hours on Wifi||Up to 10 hours on Wifi||Up to 10 hours on Wifi|
|Chip||A13 Bionic||A14 Bionic||Apple M1|
|Pencil compatibility||1st Apple Pencil||1st Apple Pencil||2nd Apple Pencil|
|Keyboard compatibility||Smart Keyboard||Magic Keyboard||Magic Keyboard|
The iPads and iPad Air both have all you need for note-taking. They both allow you to have all your notes in one place and use a note-taking app.
They are similar in size (the iPad 10th generation and iPad Air are the same size) and offer the same storage options of 64 GB or 256 GB. Find out how much storage to get on your iPad.
The biggest differences are in price, power, and which Apple Pencil is compatible with them.
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The biggest difference between the iPad and iPad Air is the power.
The iPad Air has the Apple M1 chip, the iPad (9th generation) has the A13 Bionic chip, and the iPad (10th generation) has the A14 Bionic chip).
The iPad Air is more powerful and high-quality. However, it is probably more powerful than most users will need, and both devices are sufficient for taking notes.
Price can be a big factor in determining which iPad to buy.
There is a $270 difference in price between the iPad and the iPad Air. The iPad (9th generation) is $329, the iPad (10th generation) is $449, and the iPad Air is $599 (from the Apple Education Store).
The iPad is less expensive, but both the iPad and the iPad Air are reasonably priced for what you are getting (I mean, they are obviously horrendously expensive, but for how expensive Apple products are, I think they are a good value).
Make sure to get the student discount price online at the Apple Education Store or in the store by using your student ID.
Find out more about the best Apple deals with our guide on Apple Student Discounts.
The Apple Pencil 2nd generation has improvements, such as wireless charging. You do not need to plug the Pencil into your iPad’s charging port, so both the Pencil and iPad can charge at the same time.
I have and use the Apple 1st generation Pencil, and I think it works great the charging doesn’t bother me (I rarely have to charge it). However, if you feel strongly about using the Apple Pencil 2nd generation, then get the iPad Air.
There is also a difference in the Apple Pencil usage between iPad generations. The iPad (10th generation) is a USB-C port instead of the Lightning port, so you must use a USB-C to Apple Pencil Adapter. The 9th generation iPad has a Lightning port, so you will not have to use an adapter.
For a comparison of all iPad models, check out the Best iPad for Note-Taking.
Should you get an iPad or iPad Air?
Students should get an iPad if they want the best value model. It offers all the functionality that college and note-taking require and is the least expensive iPad model. If they want a more powerful iPad, then the iPad Air is a great buy.
Additionally, if you feel strongly about getting the Apple Pencil 2nd generation instead of the first, then get the iPad Air.
I would get the iPad (9th generation) since it does what I need it to do and is the least expensive. If I didn’t get that, I would get the iPad Air. I wouldn’t get the iPad 10th generation—for the difference in price, I would want to go for the premium, more powerful option.