First Time Looking into Buying Apple Product; iPad The Best Tablet Option? Are There Ever Any Good Deals on iPads?

I'm looking into buying an iPad, primarily for its handwriting ability using the Apple Pencil, but also for general content consumption, productivity, etc. I am aware of the Microsoft Surfaces and the Samsung tablets that fit what I'm looking for, but I'm under the impression that the iPad is really the best option that exists when it comes to tablets, especially when considering the handwriting experience (let me know if I'm wrong in this assumption).

Since an iPad is a pretty steep investment for what is to me, essentially, a replacement for paper, with a few other perks sprinkled on top, I'd like to get it on a good deal, if possible. I'm looking at the 11" iPad pro, with probably 128GB storage (or 256 if it's not too much more). I was wondering what is the lowest I could expect to pay for this? I just wanted to check because this is my first time buying an Apple product, so I don't really have any experience of the pricing or the overall market.

There is also the concern of the M1 iPads being released soon. Is the expected increase in performance (and all the other goodness I've heard about the M1 such as energy efficiency) worth the price, particularly for my use case?

Edit: Had a bit of a deeper dive into the Samsung tablet range seeing the votes on the poll. Aside from being much cheaper than comparable iPad Pro models, it also seems quite competitive, even beating the iPad is areas such as the display. This purchase decision just got even harder haha.

Edit 2: Just wanted to explain the seemingly abrupt shift in direction of the first edit. For example, the Tab S7 is just over $800. For this amount, you get a vastly superior screen to the iPad Pro (OLED vs LCD is really no contest) and a superior desktop experience (Samsung Dex). There are advantages to the iPad of course, for example, the better optimised apps on iOS, etc, but I am now having trouble finding reason whether these advantages of the iPad justify the at least $400 extra I will have to pay for it (~$1000 for 2020 iPad Pro + $200 for Apple Pencil, M1 iPad would be even more expensive). Surprisingly, the handwriting experience on both platforms seems quite competitive (here is a comparison between them: The iPad has other wins like the better rear camera system, but this is something that I do not see myself using at all.

Poll Options

  • 2
    iPad Pro 11" 2020 + Apple Pencil
  • 32
    iPad Pro 11" 2021 (M1) + Apple Pencil
  • 4
    Samsung Tab + Stylus
  • 1
    Microsoft Surface + Surface Pen


  • +1 vote

    Why the pro?
    The pen works the same with the cheap ipad, and you didn’t mention anything that needs the pro features.


      That is a good suggestion. The lowest spec storage option for the iPad Air is quite cheap, but I don't think it is enough storage, especially since it's non-expandable. On the higher specced iPad Airs, the price starts getting pretty close to the Pros, so I guess I kind of thought the little bit extra for the Pro was worth it?


        The 10.2in cheap iPad has a 128gb version for $649 RRP.
        I agree 32gb is too small, my iPad is 128gb and is about 3/4 full with lots of music and years of photos.

        FWIW, i rarely use the pencil. I found handwriting on the screen didn’t really work the same as pen and paper - I like making notes that have arrows going places, and underlines and asterisks and lines joining ideas. The pen is very good for drawing, however.

    • +1 vote

      120hz display, quad speak config, and better screen overall.

      • +3 votes

        Sure, but it is an 80/20 rule. You can get 80% of the benefit for half the cost. OP hasn’t had an iPad before, so even the cheap one will be a good experience.


          Well, in my opinion iPad Pros generally last longer and he doesn't need to actually upgrade along the way.


    If you can’t spend a lot on an iPad with pencil then get an older version with original Apple Pencil

    The original Apple Pencil works with these iPads:
    iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st and 2nd generations, released in 2015 and 2017)
    iPad Pro 10.5-inch (released in 2017)
    iPad Pro 9.7-inch (released in 2016)
    iPad (6th generation, released in 2018)
    iPad (7th generation, released in 2019)
    iPad Air (3rd generation, released in 2019)
    iPad mini (5th generation, released in 2019)

  • +2 votes

    I don't like the locked-down Apple ecosystem, but in terms of quality and functionality iPads have no equivalent Android/Windows tablet equivalent. The battery just keeps going.

    I still personally prefer Windows for my uses (hardware keyboard shortcuts) but a Surface Pro as a basic tablet just doesn't have the simplicity and longevity of the iPad. I rarely get to the point where the iPad battery is dead during use, unlike the Surface.

    Not used a pen on either though, so I can't provide any feedback there.


    Can't go wrong with the new iPad Pro if you can afford it. It has all the benefits of the old Pro, plus really good HDR and the M1 chip. You could get the cheaper iPad but the Pro is the big boy version.


    I don’t understand the doesnt reflect either the comments or the poll


      I hadn't looked into the Samsung tablets until now, because I didn't think they were any good compared to the iPad. Based on the info that I'm finding, this used to be the case in the past but not so with the latest generations of Samsung tablets. They seem to be surprisingly on par with iPads at the moment. People still don't seem to be recommending them that much which I assume stems from them being Android tablets which generally aren't very good.

      The Samsung tab S7 looks pretty enticing, to me at least, because it's about $200 cheaper than the equivalent model iPad.

      If there are any glaring drawbacks to Samsung tablets that I do not seem to be aware of, please do let me know!

      Edit: not to mention that the tab S7 comes included with an S Pen meaning that's another $200 saved compared to the iPad.


        Don’t get the tab s7! The m1 iPad Pro will blow that out if the water and will last longer. The M1 iPad Pro can beat out some desktop PCs! I used to own a Samsung tablet and the optimisation was not even close to what Apple does with their iPad. I know I may sound like a fanboy but the reality is that I’m not, I’m just extremely satisfied with my own iPad compared to Samsung tabs and I’ll never look back.


          I agree with you, if cost was no concern to me, I would wait for the M1 iPad and buy that. The thing is, as I've highlighted in my post, I'm not exactly looking for the best performance I can get, since my use cases don't really demand it.

          Also, I don't know how long ago you used a Samsung tablet, but have a look at this Dave2D video for a brief review of the newest Samsung tablets: It is surprisingly good.

          So ultimately, if I were to go with the M1 11" iPad (and Apple pencil), I would be spending $500-600 extra over the Samsung, with no significant benifits to my personal use case.

          Only thing holding me back is Samsung's crap software updates compared to Apple (2-3 years vs 4+ on Apple)



            I would be spending $500-600 extra over the Samsung, with no significant benifits to my personal use case.

            But the iPad will basically be future proof and would have significantly higher resale value as the Samsung tabs resale value plummets because of the lack of software updates and support. Also you get extra discount on the education store here without even needing a special email or even being a student

            he thing is, as I've highlighted in my post, I'm not exactly looking for the best performance I can get, since my use cases don't really demand it.

            But you will notice much better performance even on the simplest of things.


    Go the iPad Pro with M1 it’s more powerful than most PC’s.


      As I've said in the original post, my use cases don't exactly demand high performance. I really don't need to match PC performance on a tablet, at least personally, because I really won't be using it for the same things I do my PC.


        I see that, the point I’m mainly trying to make is that due to it’s power it will last a lot longer than an android tablet for example.


          Exactly what I am trying to convey to the OP

  • +1 vote

    I was never much of an Apple fan for anything, but when it came to getting a tablet, it's in a different league to the alternatives. Every android tablet I have tried sucked. The Surface is quite good, and I did own one a few years ago, but it's definitely more of a laptop in my view, I rarely found I used it in it's tablet form.


    Check the apps and software as well as the hardware. Then get whatever gives you what you want. I love my iPad Pro, 11 inch, but I would never try to convince people they are the best thing since sliced bread.