A common question when purchasing iPads is, which one should I buy?  Here at ServiceMax, we not only focus on creating the best mobile field service app experience for technicians, but we also think a lot about the devices that run our apps. And the great new is that there is a plethora of data to help make an educated buying decision – especially for iPads.

Most buying strategies usually break down into two very simple scenarios: what’s the least I can spend on iOS devices and what’s the optimal product for device longevity?

The first thing to remember? Every device has a choice of hard drive memory. Hard drive memory determines the capacity for each device to store applications, photos, videos, email, or any other type of data. Unless your business plans on storing A LOT of data, it is best to choose the lowest hard drive memory options and instantly save at least $100 for every device you purchase.

Getting back to device selection, it’s easier to figure out the least amount of current investment for a device.  iPad mini 2 is a fully functioning capable retina display device that can be purchased for $299 (less in bulk or to businesses). Pick number one is done!

In case you are thinking about an iPad for screen size and you have found a supply of iPad 2s, be aware that this is not a viable business solution.  iOS 8 allows applications to run faster, but nothing is free. In this case, iOS 8 consumes more of the device RAM to improve performance – this is memory that every application requires to operate. iOS 8 consumes so much RAM that devices can slow down or even crash.

RAM is so important, that it may be the leading indicator as to how long a tablet will be supportable by your business or, more importantly, by Apple. Apple has a long history of ending support for devices that don’t have enough RAM to run the most recent version of iOS. The following chart for iPad illustrates this point:



Notice that iPad 1 with only 256 MB of RAM lasted two years.  iPad 2 with 512 MB of RAM realistically lasted four years.  And now that iPad Air 2 has 2GB of RAM, one has to wonder how long will every 1GB iPad be supported by Apple? The new operating system iOS 9, to be released in September 2015, is already out for testing and it supports the same devices as iOS 8. But how much longer will that support last?

Think carefully before selecting the iPad Air. It is the most recent device with 1GB of RAM and it has been around for two years. I give every iPad with 1GB 2-3 more years before they are obsolete. Buyer beware. The iPad Air 2 with 2 GB of RAM has been out for only one year and is the first device with 2 GB of RAM.  I anticipate 4-6 more years of support, or twice what one can get out of the 1 GB iPads.

Decision time! If you want the most out of your device, my second recommendation is to avoid the inherently expensive and disruptive process of rolling out new devices and pay the $499 for an iPad Air 2. That’s what I’m buying.

And for those that are data hungry, the chart for iPad mini is below. I’ll post separately about iPhones. Enjoy!r2b_visuals-ipad_blog-post