There’s a fair selection of iPads in the
current Apple catalogue, from the diminutive iPad mini all the way up to the incredibly powerful (not to mention very expensive) iPad Pro. It’s an intimidating choice, especially as different users have different needs.
If you’re an older user looking to pick up an iPad, for example, or someone wanting to gift an Apple tablet to Grandad or Grandma, which is the best iPad for a silver surfer? Here’s our guide to finding the best iPad for seniors.
What makes an iPad good for older users?
iPad owners don’t magically transform into timid technophobes on their 70th birthdays, and there isn’t one right answer to this question. Any iPad model might turn out to be the right choice for a specific older user, depending on that user’s precise requirements.
But there are a few criteria that tend to become more of a factor when our bodies begin to age. Screen size is one element, with eyes not being as strong as they once were. Weight/portability can also become more important; some older users have arthritis, while others find they tire more easily than they used to when using a tablet for extended periods of time.
We will also want to think carefully about price vs power and features, since you don’t want to spend lots of money on a device with capabilities you’ll never really use.
But, as we say, these can be true for any user, so it’s always best to talk to the person in question about their particular needs if you want to pick the perfect tablet.
If you were to put us on the spot, however, we do have some thoughts about the iPads that are most likely to suit an older user. Here’s our selection.
iPad 10.2in (9th gen, 2021): Best affordable option
10.2in iPad (2021) may well be the cheapest iPad model you can buy, but that doesn’t mean it’s a truly ‘budget’ device in the pejorative sense. For many – perhaps most – people, this iPad will deliver everything you want from a tablet and not cost you a small fortune in the process.
Apple revamped its standard iPad in 2021, upgrading the processor, storage options, cameras and display, making an already good bargain a great one.
For surfing the web, watching streaming services and shopping online, the A13 Bionic processor chip will be more than capable. This is the same processor that also featured in the
iPhone 11 Pro, so you can see that it’s hardly something that’s been plucked from the spares bin.
One of the major upgrades brought to the 9th-gen model is the 12MP Ultra Wide front camera. Not only is this far better than the 1.2MP FaceTime camera of the previous iteration, it also brings advanced features such as Centre Stage (which allows you to move around on video calls while the iPad tracks you), 2x zoom and 1080p video to the cheapest iPad.
Why are these features particularly good for seniors? Well, having an excellent video-call experience will allow them to keep in touch with the grandkids, friends or family around the world, or if isolating, without looking grainy or like they’re calling from the early 2000s.
The 10.2in display is also large enough for eyes that might be starting to diminish in power, while the touch targets on the screen will be easy to hit with unsteady hands. Of course, many seniors are full of more life and vigour than their millennial grandchildren, and the ability to connect an
Apple Smart keyboard and first-gen
Apple Pencil makes this a perfect companion for travelling while writing memoirs or creating art.
The 9th-gen iPad 10.2in is a great iPad at a great price, starting at £319/US$329/AU$499 for the 64GB version or £459/US$479/AU$729 for the 256GB model. It isn’t just the best choice for older users, but probably for most users full stop.
iPad mini (6th gen, 2021): Lightest iPad
It’s a sad fact that as we age our bodies can lose some of their strength or gain some conditions that we avoided when younger. If you’re looking for an iPad that’s lightweight, and therefore easier to hold for longer periods, then the
iPad mini (2021) is the one to choose. At around 0.65lbs/293g it’s roughly half the weight of the iPad 10.2in discussed above.
This is made possible, as the name suggests, by the smaller display. But the 8.3in panel is still an excellent size for the web, not to mention actually better as an e-reader thanks to being easier to hold.
Under the hood the iPad mini is a powerhouse, with an A14 Bionic chip, 5G capabilities on the LTE models, plenty of storage, and powerful cameras with the same Ultra Wide front-facing module as on the 9th-gen 10.2in iPad. It’s compatible with the
Apple Pencil (2nd gen) and various
Bluetooth keyboards, so you can use it as a small laptop if you want to get stuff done.
It’s a lovely all-round package that offers the most portable solution for those who want to take their iPad with them. It does cost a little more than the entry-level model, at £479/US$499/AU$749 for the 64GB version and £619/US$649/AU$979 if you want 256GB, but it’s a device that you’ll want to keep for a long time.
iPad Pro 12.9in (5th gen, 2021): Best for performance
While considerations of cost, weight and video-calling quality have been the dominant factors in assessing the iPads above, they’re not the top priority for some customers. If the older user in question is after a powerful device that they can use for the next few years to create things, continue working on, or just enjoy the best speeds and displays that an iPad can offer, then the
iPad Pro 12.9in (2021) is the showcase option.
The gorgeous Liquid Retina XDR display is incredibly smooth thanks to the ProMotion feature and offers vibrant colours, while the 12.9in panel is the largest you can get on an iPad. A USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 port means you can connect a variety of peripherals, including external monitors or storage, and everything absolutely flies along thanks to the M1 processor that’s also a feature on the latest MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and iMac.
It certainly isn’t cheap, starting at £999/US$999/AU$1,649, especially if you pair it with the
Apple Magic Keyboard and
Apple Pencil (2nd gen), but if you want the best, then this is it.
To check out what offers are currently available on all of the models above, browse our roundup of the
best iPad deals.