In a flatlining economy, the $399 iPhone that Apple introduced last week might sound attractive. But there’s a better gadget deal in the pandemic: the iPad.
Remember the iPad? You would be forgiven if you had forgotten.
Apple unveiled a new entry-level model of the tablet computer last year for $329. Yet it barely got a mention at the company’s glitzy product event in September, when Apple highlighted new iPhones that cost $699 to $1,099. The iPad, which always seemed like an optional accessory sitting between your computer and smartphone, has long been treated as that “other” device.
Now it’s time for us to reconsider the iPad. Last week, I wrote about how the coronavirus had revealed our most essential tech and weeded out the excess. The tech we have turned to over and over boils down to a computing device, communication tools, entertainment and an internet connection. The iPad delivers on all of those needs even better than a smartphone.
With a bigger screen than an iPhone, the iPad excels at videoconferencing with apps like FaceTime and Zoom, and it’s great for watching movies and programs on Netflix and YouTube. When you attach it to a good keyboard, it becomes an excellent budget computer with a zippy internet connection for browsing the web, writing emails and composing documents. All for half the price of a regular iPhone.
“It’s really in that sweet spot of being relatively affordable and having everything I think most people will need,” said Nick Guy, a writer for Wirecutter, a New York Times publication that tests products.
So even though Apple is releasing its new iPhone SE this week, with its sped-up internals and a better camera than its predecessor, now may not be the ideal time to buy one. After all, what good is an improved camera if you can’t leave the house?
It’s tough to recommend buying any tech in the coronavirus outbreak, actually. But if your gadgets are failing to fulfill your needs in any of the aforementioned areas and you have the money to spend, an iPad is one of the few products I can endorse for its practicality. (Apple declined to comment on this column.) I picked up an iPad for a $100 discount last Black Friday. Over the past few weeks, it has been my go-to device. Here’s why I’m naming it the gadget of the pandemic.