Which iPad should I buy?

I am about to start my flight training and am currently working through Ground School using the Sporty’s iPhone app. Ever since I started studying secionals, it is next to impossible without a larger display. I need an iPad from this point on. My question is, what iPad should I buy. I have read several articles and I am finding conflicting view points. I am working on buying an SR22 now so that is the cockpit I expect to be in. Thank you in advance for your feedback!

Bill, there are several great threads on the Members side discussing this choice. Time to re-join COPA!

There is also one in Marketplace here.

So you talked me into the membership and I just signed up. Thanks for the tip. Is there a trick to narrowing the search? Should I repost now in the member forum? Thanks for the direction.

Welcome back. Re the search, yeah, use the “and” conjunction thoughtfully to narrow the search. If you enter “choose ipad” you will get every thread that has “choose” or “ipad”, while if you enter “choose and ipad” you will only get threads that have both words in one or more posts.

Also, when you get the initial search results on the right, you can get to the advanced search by selecting “Show all…”

Try several keywords. Think about what someone posting a relevant post would use in his/her post. E.g., use “ipad and mini” and try “ipad and select”.

I have the 2nd generation iPad. Buy one with wi-fi + cellular. You won’t need an external gps with this unit when running fore flight. I have 16 gb. Last week when I started to upgrade to the new OS, I was informed I didn’t have enough memory. You may want to buy the 32 gb.

Keith, thank you much. Do you experience any latency with speeds with the 2nd gen? Some would say, get the new Air because of the faster processor. If the 2nd gen is as effective, I am fine with that. Thanks, Bill

I have the iPad 2 and first generation mini. The 2 is noticeably slower and I’d suggest getting the faster processor. Often slower to the point I want to throw it out the door. I made sure they running the same programs and did a complete reboot prior to the comparison. It’s worse with the latest OS update. Both are 32GB units with similar free storage. It is possible my iPad 2 isn’t the same as others but I doubt it.

I have a 2 at home and also a first generation mini that I fly with. Both run FF but clearly the newer units faster processor help. Get extra memory and cellular (for the GPS). For now a 2 will work but I think you would be happier and for a longer time with a newer unit.

Also, assuming you do buy a new one from apple directly, I believe you have 14 days in which you can return your purchase. If your trying to decide between full size air or iPad mini retina, maybe get both and give it a personal test in the aircraft. Keep whichever you like best. You’ll want to confirm this is still the policy. I did this and while I found the mini sufficient for cockpit use, I ended up using the tablet way more than I thought I would outside of the aircraft (i also already had an iPhone). Ultimately, I opted for the larger real estate of the air, but I know many who love the mini. It’s a personal choice. I think once you try a tablet in the plane you’ll be hooked either way.


Just be sure to check the hardware requirements of the software you are considering. For example, FF will not allow some functions to operate on the old Ipad (1), like geo-referenced approach plates and airport diagrams. As others have said, the newer models are so much faster in so many ways…it really doesn’t make sense to buy to old of a unit. For sure, get the cell model for the built in GPS. You don’t have to activate the phone unless you want to. Happy choosing…

An important point. So far Apple has made each new iOS available on the 2. That is what deletes important capabilities on the original 1. That will end someday. Just a crap shoot on when. One other important point. If you will be running Stratus you don’t need a cellular iPad because it provides GPS location.

The cost of an iPad is trivial compared to other flying costs, especially since FF with its chart subscription is so darn cheap anyway. Don’t screw around. Get the latest version of the iPad, either an Air (which I have and prefer due to the larger screen) or the current Mini. Get one with plenty of memory and with the cellular capability so it has the built-in GPS. (Note that you do not have to activate cellular service to utilize the GPS.)

Another reason to get a new one is that battery life degrades significantly as they get older. I have an iPad 2 as my backup, and I can tell you that even just sitting in my flight bag unused for 2 weeks on a trip, when I get back home almost half the battery life is gone and I have to recharge it. And as others have said, it is dog slow compared to the Air. I doubt that my iPad 2 will be viable even as a backup a year from now. I will attach a long handle to it and use it as a shovel at that point.

You are going to be using the iPad a lot, and no doubt for many years, so it makes no sense to get an older model that is certainly going to be useless sooner rather than later as it becomes an unsupported platform.

Just a thought, but it is rumored that new iPads will be released in October. It may or may not be worth the wait, depending on your willingness to go without it for a bit.

Good point! Supposition here.

I just read that the launch date will be October 16th. New features are expected to be a new A8 processor, a new body shell, TouchID, 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC and Apple Pay support.