We’d like to have a tablet, with a stylus for kids, (elementary school and some preschool age), that’ll be used for educational stuff like handwriting and spelling, and maybe I’ll use it for reading & annotating PDFs. The logical device seems to be the “iPad” with no modifiers. It’s cheap and should work.
BUT: It seems wrong to buy an A10 processor, (that made its debut with the iPhone 7), in 2020. I’m also a little worried about a Gen 1 pencil in 2020, but I guess so long as it lasts as long as the device it’ll be ok.
BUT: The iPad Air is a lot more expensive. In Canada it’s $549 for an iPad with non-base storage, and $849 for an iPad Air with non-base storage. Add in a pencil & AppleCare and it’s more than $1000 for the iPad Air.
What have other people done for kid-focused devices when hand-me-downs are not available, and how did it work out?
I think as long as it does what you want today then I see no reason to let that keep you from using it.
I just picked up a cheap iPad mini 4 from Woot last week because I expect that I can use it for reading and watching the occasional video, sort of like a bedroom iPad. That will still work even if iPadOS 14 drops support for it (which I suspect it will, which I suspect is why Woot had them on clearance).
If the history of the iPad had shown us anything, it’s that these devices have long lives. People seem to hang on to them for a long time, which I assume is because they are sufficient for a long time.
I recently did a clean install of High Sierra on a MacBook Air from 2011. Despite being that old with only 4GB of RAM, and not being able to run the latest version of macOS, it ran remarkably well.
From what you’re describing that you want out of this iPad, I would expect it would have a useful life of several years, even if it isn’t running the latest version of iPadOS.
p.s. - if by some chance iPadOS 14 does support the A10 processor, my strongest possible advice is to wait wait wait before upgrading it. I suspect the thing that has “killed” a lot of iOS devices is people upgrading them to the latest version of iOS that supports it, and then finding that the experience is not good, and they cannot downgrade. Apple has made iOS upgrades such a one-direction action that it’s important to be extremely patient. IMO/FWIW/YMMV/Use only as directed.
My father-in-law is using an iPad 2 (I think. The first one with a retina screen).
The flip side is that I feel like buying something with a 4-year-old processor in it removes 4 years from the useful life. If I don’t buy this instant the right answer is probably to see if any new iPads are released in April. I checked the Macrumours Buying Guide today and it looks like the current iPad Air & iPad Mini came out at the same time as the 2019 iPad Pro, so maybe there’s an update coming. On the other hand the 2020 iPad Pro didn’t increment the processor version number, so maybe not.
The best advice is always to wait as long as you can, of course.
I wish there were some reputable places that sold them used.
I assume you’ve looked at Apple’s refurb site, and I also assume that any iPads that appear on Apple’s refurb site right now probably get bought very quickly as people look for ways to keep kids entertained at home.
I use iPad Mini 5s with the Logitech Crayon for this with my first grader and pre-K son. It works great, is the latest gen iPad Mini released last year so it will keep getting updates from Apple for a long time, and is the perfect size for a kid to use.
Lifespan of Apple devices and processors is lengthening. I would expect the A10 to qualify for a few more years of updates.
I’d also buy an A10 iPad refurbished or used for a child. Lowering the cost makes it even more viable because you can probably get a price better than the Air’s additional depreciation vs. standard iPad between now and when it becomes obsolete, if that makes sense.