My kid started his career two years ago at the Faculty of Philology. And it coincided precisely with the launch in September 2020 of the fourth generation of the iPad Air. I gave her one as a gift, and tried to convince her to ditch the classic note-taking pads and try doing it with the iPad and Apple Pencil 2.
Now in second grade, he only uses his iPad to take notes in college and his iMac to do homework. In a year and a half that he has been in college, he has not spent a single page. And that the race is letters!. I am going to explain why the current iPad Air is the most recommended model for university students of the entire range of Apple iPads.
Paula, my daughter, goes to college every day to study. He is in the second year of philology at the University of Barcelona. The heavy folders and notebooks with notes that we carried in our student days are now history. Now, in her bag, she only has her sandwich… and her iPad.
When the race started last year, she was the only one with an iPad to take notes in class. The rest of the classmates used a macbook or a laptop. Some of them looked at her out of the corner of their eyes. Especially those who were not very fast typing the teacher’s explanations on the keyboard. This course, there are already several who have gone to the iPad… and the Apple Pencil, of course.
The current range of Apple tablets is very wide, with many different models, screen sizes, features and prices. So a priori, it seems very complicated to choose which model of iPad to buy for use in college. If you are already an iPad user, from your experience you will surely already have it quite clear. Let’s see which iPad we recommend, and why.
The iPad is undoubtedly one of Apple’s flagship devices. And of the current tablet market, it is the undisputed leader. Both in features and in applications for iPadOS. And Apple has a very extensive range of iPads, for all types of users: ipad mini, iPad, iPad Air Y iPadPro.
iPad mini and iPad, discarded
If we start from the basis that we need our future iPad basically to take notes in class, the first two are already ruled out. The iPad mini for its small size. With a screen of 8.3 inches, it is not the most recommended option to use it as a notebook.
And I also advise against the iPad. If you have a very tight budget, the truth is that it can help you, but the drawback that I see is that it is only compatible with the first version of Apple Pencil. The truth is that the difference in use and performance of the Apple Pencil 2 compared to the first generation, it makes the combination of iPad plus Apple Pencil 1 not the most suitable for taking notes.
iPad Air and iPad Pro
So we only have the iPad Air and the iPad Pro left. The easiest thing in these cases is to recommend the most expensive model, with the highest features. It is a safe bet on a winning horse. But being honest, it is very likely that you do not need to spend 1,000 euros on an iPad Pro to take notes in class.
If money is not a problem, go for a iPadPro. When Apple baptizes a device with the surname “Pro”, it is because it is designed for intensive use at a professional level. It is a work tool with the maximum possible benefits. Available in two screen sizes, 11 and 12.9 inches, it is without a doubt the best iPad you can buy, and you will use it until you finish the race, even if you repeat several courses.
But honestly, the most balanced model in relation to performance/price and that perfectly meets the needs of a university student, is undoubtedly the current one. iPad Air fourth generation. With a good screen size, 10.9 inches, and an exterior design very similar to the iPad Pro, it is the most recommended option.
Especially for its compatibility with the Apple Pencil 2. The truth is that it is a delight to use the second generation of the Apple digital pencil. Turn iPad into a real notepad, drawing pad, design pad, painting canvas, and anything else you can think of to do with a pencil, pen, marker, or brush.
Aside from the display and Apple Pencil 2 compatibility, the iPad Air Air stands out for its good autonomy (you can spend seven hours at a time taking notes), fingerprint reader on the side power button, decent front and rear cameras, USB-C port, Wi-Fi 6 and the LTE data connection option.
Suppose you have decided to buy the iPad Air. You enter the Apple Store to place the order, choose the color, and arrive at the storage options. And here we find a blunder on the part of the company. Without a doubt, the ideal storage would be 128GB, but Apple does not give us that option. You have to choose between 64 GB, which seems quite fair to me, or 256 GB with which you will go more than enough.
It’s Apple’s way of clawing back profits. It launches a good device with a base price adjusted to attract attention, but it “almost” forces you to spend 170 euros more in a storage that you will hardly ever fill.
If you are basically going to use it to take notes and little else, with 64 GB and using iCloud you can have more than enough. (It’s the one my daughter has and she’s never filled it all the way). But if you also want to add some downloaded series or movies to be able to watch them without using a connection, for example, you are forced to choose the 256 GB option.
Once you have decided on storage, you are left with one more option: Wi-Fi only, or wifi+cellular. Here the decision is clear, and you must take the second option. You are going to buy a device to use it for a long time away from home, in the different classes of the faculty, in the library, and in the adjoining cafeterias. Many different locations without knowing if you will have a good Wi-Fi connection in all of them. So the data connection, even if it’s only at specific times when you don’t have Wi-Fi, is essential.
Apple Pencil 2 and keyboard
You already have all the clear options, but before finishing your order, do not forget to attach a Apple Pencil 2 As minimum. An external keyboard is a separate case, but the pen is a must. There’s no point in buying an iPad to take notes in college if you don’t use it with an Apple Pencil.
You might be tempted by the idea of the first generation Apple Pencil, since it’s cheaper. Forget. For the small price difference, the Apple Pencil 2 gives forty turns to the 1. For comfort of use and ease of loading, and for the tracing benefits.
And finally, the option of external keyboard. If you look in the Apple Store, you can have a heart attack. You have the Magic Keyboard, for 339 Euros, and the Smart Keyboard for 199 Euros. Luckily, you have many compatible third-party keyboards with covers on Amazon from 40 Euros, which work very well.
The truth is that if you have another computer at home, Apple or not, you won’t need the keyboard. I’m telling you watching how my daughter works. Use your iPad Air with just the Apple Pencil 2, to take notes in class (Good Notes is the perfect app for that). Then, for the rest of the work that needs to use a keyboard, like composing papers or emails, you do it with your iMac at home. Obviously, if you only have the iPad, the purchase of the keyboard and a mouse it is mandatory.
And that’s all. It is clear that in the end the iPad Air comes out for a peak. Between 649 euros the most basic model, and 959 euros the most expensive, plus 135 Euros for the Apple Pencil 2. But without a doubt, it is the most advisable tool for taking notes in college, better than a laptop, without a doubt. The experience of being able to take them with the Apple Pencil 2 on an iPad is worth its weight in gold. And if you have doubts, stop by a physical Apple Store and try writing in one of them. You will leave with a white bag with the silver apple dangling from your hand…