You really want an iPad, but you cannot seem to justify spending hundreds of dollars on it. So now you are searching if it is useful to buy an iPad.
Apple has indeed created a great product and done an even better job at marketing and advertising it. We know what the iPad can do for artists, musicians, pilots, and businesses. These are clear ‘use-cases’ for which the iPad combined with the right app is a smart solution.
But what about the regular Joe who is neither an artist, student, or business owner? What need do they have for an iPad?
Do I need an iPad if I have a laptop?
To need something means having a problem to solve. With this logic, ask yourself: what is this problem to which the solution is an iPad. Is it communication? Productivity? Media consumption? Creative works? Browsing? Photography? Something else?
Given that the iPad and all tablets are somewhere between a phone and laptop, lets see if you are unable to solve the above problems with your existing tech. See which of the following scenarios applies to you. In this context, ‘laptop’ also means desktop/PC.
I own both a phone and a laptop/PC
If you own a smartphone with a reasonable screen and a laptop, you really do not need an iPad. The phone is your portable solution while your laptop is your big screen and powerhouse. Both can practically do everything an iPad can as far as the regular Joe is concerned. Even if you get an iPad, you would still default to your phone or laptop depending on the nature of the task.
And if you do start using your iPad as your primary device, you might be retiring your existing tech prematurely. At best, its a nice-to-have secondary device to your phone or computer.
I own a laptop but no phone
A laptop can do everything an iPad can, and a lot more. Almost.
The exception: the camera. Taking pictures and videos is not something the normal person can do with a laptop. If this is a serious requirement (even if casual), then you need an iPad and would certainly use its other features more once you have it. Despite what some might say, there is nothing wrong with using an iPad for photography.
Moreover, the iPad is a good secondary device to a laptop (if you don’t have a phone) due to its battery life and convenience/portability factor. Plus, if your laptop breaks or something, the iPad will cover your basic consumption, communication and even productivity needs during that limbo period. Just remember that the iPad cannot entirely substitute for a laptop. But that’s a whole other conversation.
I own a phone but no laptop
Ever heard of that saying “the iPad is just a big iPhone”? This is true for practical purposes.
If you are getting by without a laptop and only with your phone, you can continue to do so until you get tired of the small screen or your phone starts slowing down. It’s important to be honest with yourself here.
At this point, you would need a new device and could either upgrade your phone to one with a larger screen, or get an iPad. In this situation, it is cheaper or better value for money go for an iPad and keep the phone just for taking phone calls (as it was always meant to be). Note that good phones are generally more expensive than the cheapest iPad.
Otherwise, the iPad offers nothing more than a bigger screen to do the same stuff your phone already does. In fact, people with both phones and iPads still end up defaulting to their phones for most tasks as they are more convenient.
To summarize, you don’t need an iPad if you have a functioning phone.
I own neither a phone nor a laptop
You definitely need some device to browse the web, write some notes, check your emails, pay your online bills, watch our youtube channel, and capture some footage. An iPad is great for all those purposes and will last you a really long time. How are you even reading this article?
This table summarizes the above conversation
|If you||have a phone||don’t have a phone|
|have a laptop||don’t need an iPad||need an iPad|
|don’t have a laptop||don’t need an iPad||need an iPad|
So is the iPad Useful?
For the average user, the iPad is an undeniably useful device and companion, complete with all the functions of a smartphone (cellular version iPads) and basic laptop things. If your needs become anything more specialized, you are no longer the average Joe and may actually need some iPad-exclusive utilities.
Reality Check: Buying an iPad is not going to magically make you an artist, musician, or any of those power-users we see in its advertisements.
What I use the iPad for
My ‘average Joe needs’ are browsing, reading books, printing pdfs, social media, scanning documents, and watching videos, which I PREFER doing on the iPad than on my iPhone 8. The larger screen is easier on the eyes. This would be 85% of my iPad usage.
The other 15% includes my non-average but still casual uses which are recording music and editing videos, which again I PREFER doing on the iPad than on my ancient laptop.
You can see from the below images how over the past several weeks that my primary usage of the iPad is entertainment (consuming YouTube). Then there are some good chunks of productivity or creative sessions when I would inefficiently enjoy creating content. The reality is that I use the damn thing pretty much every day for hours.
For more serious work like web development, document editing, coding, and using spreadsheets, I always use the laptop. Typing with the iPad or those keyboard cases is a pain.
I don’t do any gaming.
The point is: the usefulness of the iPad depends on your use-case, which you have to understand on your own. If my needs or habits were any different, my iPad would probably stay in some drawer for months at a time. Many iPads face this fate or get sold off because the buyer did not fully understand their use-case before buying one. And then they unreasonably complain that the iPad is useless.
Conclusion: Useful, but optional for most use-cases.
Is it useful to buy an iPad?
Function is more necessary than convenience. If we are honest with ourselves and don’t give in to the advertised appeal of the iPad, we would in most cases conclude that its not a necessity. The convenience, fun form factor, and user experience of the device can all be categorized as ‘wants’. However, buying one is not a waste of money as it does offer a lot of utility, provided you use it.
Logically speaking, one should get an iPad only if there is a clear need for a function that a phone or laptop cannot provide. If this need does not exist, then neither does the need for the iPad. I know I can certainly live without one.
If budget is not a problem and you see yourself using the iPad on a regular basis, whats stopping you from getting one?