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Which Apple iPad is Best for Bible Study?
The Apple iPad in whatever form factor destroys the Android competition for great Bible study on a tablet. Windows comes in a close second because you can install a desktop-class Bible study program on it if you have the storage.
Even if you assume I’m correct about the iPad, which is a big assumption, what iPad should Bible students choose and why?
To just get the conclusion, jump to the end for my Conclusion at the end of the page.
The 4 Apple iPad Form Factors
All four Apple iPads include a slab of glass housed in a rectangular case. They come with varying qualities of screens, speakers, and speed. However, users will not see a huge difference in running the most popular Bible study apps from Logos, Olive Tree, Accordance, and more on any of the four current-generation Apple iPad. Still, let’s take a look at each starting from smallest to largest.
The smallest iPad also gives users the most mobile experience. The iPad mini feels more like reading a book than the other iPads. It comes with an 8.3-inch liquid retina screen when measured diagonally. That’s 7.69-inches tall and 5.3-inches wide, about the same size as a small Bible but capable of carrying an entire theological library.
The iPad Air has Touch ID on the power button, a convenient security feature. You will also get some pretty decent speakers on the two shorter edges and USB-C for connecting chargers or accessories.
If you want to carry your whole theological library, then you’ll likely also want one with 256GB of storage. Unfortunately Apple stubbornly only offers two storage options. You can get a meager 64GB or too much for Bible students with the larger 256GB option. Most people need more than 64 and less than 256.
The two storage options cost $499 for the base model iPad mini 6 with Wi-Fi only. With 256GB you add $150. That’s ridiculous, but necessary because after you own the mini for a while, you’ll want to use it more and more because it’s so convenient to carry out. So plan to pay the extra coin.
I personally chose to add Cellular as well making it cost $$800. I like that I can just open the cover and start working no matter where I am, almost since there are some areas without coverage in my semi-rural community.
Throw in an Apple Pencil 2 and a cover and you’re over $900. That’s a lot of money, but you can get it on a 0% interest payment plan with your wireless carrier or with an Apple Card.
The newer Apple Pencil 2 connects and charges while connected to the side of the iPad. It’s a great stylus but costs. More on that below.
Some people call the basic model the iPad 9 or iPad nothing because it doesn’t include a descriptive name like the mini, Air, or Pro. It’s the cheapest option at only $329 for 64GB of storage and no Cellular.
It includes a larger screen at 10.2-inches diagonally or 9.8-inches by 6.8-inches when measuring the long and wide sizes of the entire device.
The iPad doesn’t support Face ID but you can unlock it by touching the Home button, which has Touch ID built-in. It uses older technology than the Air or even the mini. However, it’s a great starter iPad for most people. And if you only plan to study the Bible, strongly consider it since it costs less than any other device. Users can use the Smart Keyboard.
The iPad 9 comes with the same problems as the iPad mini with only two storage options – 64 and 256 GB. So you really want the larger storage option which brings the price to $479. If you want Cellular, then add $130 bringing your total to $609. Most looking for this budget model won’t want Cellular, but get the 256 because 64 isn’t enough.
The other problems with the regular iPad include…
Lightning connector is slower and makes accessories more expensive since creators have to pay Apple for the right to include Lightning.
Lower resolution screen that’s not as good as the mini and much worse than the Air or Pro models.
Slower A13 Bionic Chip compared to the A15 in the mini and the M1 Chips in the Air and Pro models
Uses the older first-generation Apple Pencil that charges by sticking it into the Lightning port making it easier to break off the connector or lose the cap.
Apple offers the iPad as the budget option and that makes it a great tool for people who want a device for basic needs, including Bible study, reading, and Bible app research. You can also pair it with a Bluetooth keyboard for writing. Just don’t expect the latest and greatest. Those tech specs aren’t included.
Some call this the best deal on an iPad today. You get the most bang for your buck. However, it will cost you more than the iPad and iPad mini. It has a much better screen and a super fast and efficient M1 chip. Plus it records 4K video with the back camera and has a front camera that follows you when you’re video conferencing. They call that Center Stage because it centers the camera on the subject.
The Air speakers sound great and the screen looks amazing. You can use the awesome iPad Magic Keyboard case or the awesome Smart Keyboard Folio with the trackpad. I love this keyboard. Also, the newer Apple Pencil 2 connects and charges while connected to the side of the iPad.
However, we still see the annoying storage issue with only 64GB or 256GB. Plus Cellular swells the price by another $150. That brings the total with 256GB and Cellular to $899. For Wi-Fi alone, you pay $749. Why does Cellular cost more on the Air than on the mini or the basic iPad?
The iPad Air is the prettiest coming in one of five colors including Space Gray, Pink, Purple, Blue, and Starlight.
The iPad Pro below comes in two sizes, 12.9 inches, and 11 inches. Don’t get the 11-inch iPad Pro. Instead, get the iPad Air.
The most expensive, powerful, and feature-rich iPad seems more like a mobile computer than a tablet. The iPad Pro which you can get in 11-inch or 12.9-inch screen sizes offers the most power of the four sizes. It costs $799 for the 11-inch and $1099 for the 12.9-inch.
Apple offers 128GB for the base price. That’s the sweet spot and should be the lowest storage offered on any device made by Apple. It’s the perfect storage for most buyers. However, you can get 256, 512, 1TB, or 2TB. You don’t need anything more than 128 for Bible study. However, you may want to choose higher storage if you plan to use this iPad for much more than Bible studies, like video and photo editing, gaming, and more complex uses.
Users may want the large 12.9-inch screen because they want more screen real estate for Bible study.
Other specs to excite buyers include:
Liquid Retina XDR Display
M1 Chip with more memory than the others
Face ID and Center Stage camera
5G Cellular optional along with Wi-Fi 6
LiDar support for things like 3D modeling
Thunderbolt USB-C port that’s fast and will connect to a Thunderbolt monitor or incredible docks with a lot of ports
Recommendation for Bible Study Only
If you only want to study the Bible then you have to ask yourself a few questions. Do you want something small and easy to carry around like a small Bible? Then get the iPad mini. If you need a bigger screen then get the iPad Air. It’s the most future-proof and with all the tech inside it will last for a long time. However, budget-conscious buyers should go with yesterday’s technology in the basic Apple iPad.
Just remember this. I’ve never met anyone who actually used a tablet only for Bible study. So, you can see yourself possibly needing a little more power, a good typing experience, or some screen real estate to edit your photos or make video masterpieces, then get the Apple iPad Air.
Recommendation for Bible Study and High-End Multimedia
If you just read the above paragraph, then you know I recommend the Apple iPad Air for people who want to study their Bible with Logos, Accordance, Olive Tree, or some other Bible app and work with multimedia. But which iPad Air should you get?
The 256 is, unfortunately, the best option until Apple gets its head out of the sand and starts offering a 128GB option.
Recommendation for Those Needing a Large Screen
Buy the Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch model with 128 GB if you only want to study the Bible or 256GB or more if you want to do high-end work like multimedia creation.
I bought the 12.9 Pro because I teach and preach from my iPad and due to my aging eyes the mini’s just not big enough. The iPad Pro 12.9 means typing on a keyboard that’s wide enough to enjoy. The Air was too narrow for my big hands. I spent more than I needed to. Until Apple offers a larger Air with 128GB, I’ll happily keep my Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch.
Recommendation for Buyers on a Budget
This one’s simple. Get the basic Apple iPad for $329 if you don’t own a large Bible library or pay more for the 256GB model. You won’t get all the power and specs and it may feel old in a shorter time since it’s not as fast, but for buyers on a budget, it’s the best way to go.
The only other budget option is to buy a used device or get an older one. Look at your budget and something that fits in your budget that also fits your preferred form factor.
You can check out Apple’s Refurbished store. For example, they offer the iPad mini 5 for the same price as the newest base model iPad. For slightly more than the base model you can get an Air with Wi-Fi for just $419.
When you buy an iPad, you also have to factor in buying accessories. Other tables like the Samsung Galaxy Tabs come with at least a writing device. You can use the tablet alone, but I wouldn’t. You’ll need the following accessories.
Cover or Case – you will want to protect your device.
Keyboard or Keyboard Cover – you can study the Bible on your iPad more efficiently with a keyboard connected.
Apple Pencil – you may want a Pencil to write or take handwritten notes in apps that you can use alongside your Bible apps.
Screen Protector – I used to not protect the screens on my tablets, but when you carry it around naked you should.
Headphones – many Bible apps include audiobooks or videos.
Let me offer my top recommendation for each category above.
The Apple covers or cases work best, but if you want to save money go with cases from Moko, Spigen, or Moshi.
Screen Protectors are a budget item. They shouldn’t cost a lot of money. Just get a glass screen protector. However, here’s one alternative that some people really like. Get a Paperlike screen protector, which does two things. It protects the screen and gives users a paper-like experience for drawing and writing.
Get the Apple Airpods or Beats to use for Headphones. They work best with Apple products and sound really good. However, not everyone wants to pay that much. Be careful which ones you buy, because sub-$100 Bluetooth earbuds usually sound like junk. To save money get Apple’s USB-C to stereo adapter and plug-in wired headphones.
To do only Bible study, then get the iPad mini. You’ll enjoy using it for hand-held study. If you want to put it on a table and need more screen real estate, then buy the iPad Air with an Apple Magic Keyboard. Add an Apple Pencil to either device if you plan to take notes in your own handwriting or want to write. Add a handwriting keyboard replacement app like Handwriting Keyboard ($3.99). Throw in a great note-taking app like Notability or Good Notes. This way you can have the Bible app on one side and the note-taking app on the other while holding the tablet.
Get Logos Legacy Library for 25% Off
If you need to buy a good Bible software package, consider using my affiliate link to get Logos Bible Software. You can get what they call “Legacy Libraries” for a nice discount of 25% off. A legacy library is a collection of books that they sold when they released previous versions of Logos from versions 5 through 8.
Dr. Kevin Purcell is pastor of High Peak Baptist Church, an author and writer at Church Tech Today (www.churchtechtoday.com). He used to write for a number of other Christian and secular technology and mobile tech sites. Now he's one of the hosts of the Theotek Podcast, which you can find by checking the menu above or over at www.facebook.com/theotekpodcast.