16 reasons NOT to buy a new iPad (including 7 that haven't changed from earlier iPads)

16 reasons NOT to buy a new iPad (including 7 that haven't changed from earlier iPads)

Summary: I'm on your side, kids. It's time for some truth. Let's shut down that reality distortion field and save you some money. Let's get started.


I was brought up with a few basic lessons. Don't touch the hot stove. Look both ways before crossing the street. And just because all your friends want to jump off a cliff, that doesn't mean you should, too.

To be fair, most of the lessons my mom tried to teach me didn't stick. To her credit, she tried, oh, did she try. But I was something of a problem child. All these years later, I can simply respect and honor her effort. It's not my mom's fault I turned out the way I did. Mama tried.

I tell you this because about 55 million of your fellow tech consumers have been lining up like lemmings, getting ready to jump off the iPad cliff, once again. Don't get me wrong. I acknowledge that there is some value to an iPad. But just because all your friends are buying the latest and greatest "new" iPad (what we previously thought would be the iPad 3), that doesn't mean you have to, as well.

See also: Unboxing the new iPad

Every other tech pundit and reviewer in the business will be out there trying to tell you why you should buy an iPad. They figure that if they suck up to Apple enough, perhaps, some day, a 20-something, wet-behind-the-ears Apple PR droid will bless them with a returned call or email. At that point, that lucky reviewer will be able to check off the most elusive of bucket list items.

Not me. I've had my fill of Apple PR reps, back when I headed up some Apple projects and later as a member of the press. I went through the foggy-late-night-outside-the-garage-Foster-City-swap-of-useless-press-materials-with-cute-PR-women phase, and I'm long over it. I'm here to speak truth to you. If that means I get yelled at again by yet another Apple enforcer, so be it.

I'm on your side, kids. It's time for some truth. Let's get started.

Reason 1: You already have an iPad

Let's face the elephant in the room first. The odds are, you already have an iPad. And, if you're reading this, you're either an iPad phanboi just looking for something to get steamed about, or you're an iPad user who already upgraded once from the first iPad to the iPad 2. Either way, you have an iPad.

The new iPad adds a few interesting features: a higher-resolution display (we'll get to that in a minute) and 4G/LTE wireless (we'll get to that in a minute, too). The bottom line is that you really can't do very much more with the new iPad than you can with the iPad 2, so save your shekels and just use an iPad 2.

Reason 2: The retina display is mostly marketing hype

If you want to see the phanbois erupt, it'll be over this. But hear me out. Yes, I know there are more pixels on this beast than on HDTVs. And yes, I know there are more pixels on this display than most 24" computer displays.

But. The. Screen. Is. Still. Only. Nine. Inches.

Just how many photographs are you really going to look at and ooh and ah about? Is it really worth dumping your older iPad just so you can show off the exciting new display? You're probably not doing advanced scientific work, where the high resolution will be important. And sure, you might find text slightly crisper, but is that worth throwing out your existing iPad?

Even worse, many applications won't support the higher-resolution display, so you're likely to actually see images that look worse on the retina display than they did on the iPad 2.

So, yes, the iPad's retina display is an amazing technological achievement. But so is being able chunk punkins 5,545.43 feet across a field. Not everyone needs to do that, either.

Reason 3: High-res apps will take more memory

Fine, if you're still not convinced, make sure you buy the bigger, more expensive iPad, because all those high-res images in apps (and magazines and books) are going to take a boatload more storage. And sure, some of that storage will be in iCloud, but a lot of it will need to be stored right on the device.

If you bought a 16GB machine back in the day, you're probably now going to want a 64GB machine. That starts to get quite expensive, quite quickly.

Reason 4: 4G/LTE is expensive

Speaking of expensive, wait until you get a-load of those 4G/LTE bills. Sure, you can stream 1080p Netflix over the 4G/LTE networks, but you do know you're paying for your data, right? When you wake up at the end of the month with a ginormous data bill because you decided to use the 4G/LTE on your new iPad, you'll wonder why you didn't listen to my recommendation to stay away.

Keep in mind that if you have 4G/LTE on your non-Apple smartphone, you're moving a lot less data than you would on a new iPad. Because the screen resolution is so much higher on the new iPad, if you want to take full advantage of it, you'll be eating 4-8 times the data load each month than you would have on a 4G/LTE phone -- if not a lot more than that, especially if you get it into your head that the iPad is a laptop replacement.

Wall Street Journal: Video Speed Trap Lurks in New iPad

Next: Reasons 5-9 »

« Previous: Reasons 1-4

Reason 5: 4G/LTE doesn't work in a lot of places

For those living in a major metropolitan area, 4G/LTE is all the rage. But if you happen to stray outside these districts, you're in a wireless wasteland. All that money you spent on a 4G/LTE iPad won't do you a lick of good. You'd be just as successful stringing twine between two iPads and shouting into the microphone icon.

Reason 6: The porn issue

Look, someone had to say this, so it might as well be me. Apple has a major thing against porn, wanting its devices to be family friendly. What does that mean for you pervs out there?

Well, if you thought that oh-so-wonderful retina display could be used to render naughty images in super-duper-pervo-vision, you're wrong. Apple is blocking all the potential apps that would take advantage of the retina display, so go on back down to your Mom's basement and wait until Samsung brings out a high-res display for one of their Android tablets.


Reason 7: The size

There's another factor here, and that's size. The iPad isn't necessarily the optimum size for reading books or consuming content. It's far bigger than most pocket books and considerably smaller than most magazines. Further, the new iPad is 7% thicker than the iPad 2 and 8% heavier.

There is a reason that Amazon brought out the Kindle Fire in a 7-inch form-factor. It's a lot easier to read books using a smaller, lighter display.

Reason 8: iPad 2 accessories won't necessarily work

Because the new iPad is just slightly bigger than the iPad 2, you'll need to be very careful when selecting accessories to buy with it, in particular sleek cases and sleeves. Not everything you get will fit -- and beware unscrupulous vendors trying to dump old inventory by simply relabeling it as "new iPad compatible".

Reason 9: It's still not 16x9

Amazingly, the new iPad, with it's oh-so-revolutionary retina display, still presents information in an obsolete 4x3 format. Virtually no TV, and no monitor (and certainly no movie) is presented in 4x3 format anymore. That stuff went out years ago.

That means that if you want to use the super-sexy retina display to watch a 1080p movie, you're either going to be forced to watch the movie in letterbox form, using the incredible capability of the retina display to display black bars -- or you'll have to crop off the sides of the movie to see the detail in full screen.

Either way, the 4x3 format of the iPad's display is disturbingly anachronistic.

Next: Reasons 10-16 »

« Previous: Reasons 5-9

Reasons 10-16: Still limited after all these years

Many of the iPad's limitations still exist, even three revisions into what's clearly a highly successful design. As much mainstream adoption of the iPad as there's been, the device is still spectacularly limited in some important areas:

  • Reason 10: There’s still no USB port
  • Reason 11: You still have to use iTunes too often
  • Reason 12: There's still no removable storage
  • Reason 13: Kindles are still much less expensive
  • Reason 14: You can still only run software approved by Apple
  • Reason 15: It still can’t be used as a standalone computer
  • Reason 16: Apple still won't let you write or run programs that execute programs

Although the new iPad does open more doors for content creators than ever before, it's still very limited, both in terms of execution and in terms of Apple's still-draconian Big Brother user policies.

Yes, I've ordered one

We're big on disclosures here at ZDNet, so I'll disclose that I did order a new iPad. I didn't buy the iPad 2 and although I have very little use for my old iPad 1 (I use it in the teleprompter, and that's all), I bought the new model because I felt that if I'm going to write about it, I need to have one here.

But I'll be honest. If I didn't have an editorial need to cover the thing, I never would have bought one. I much prefer real computers that can be used to do real work.

See also:

Topics: Apple, iPad, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software, Windows


David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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  • Congrats, David!

    Thanks for a very insightful, thought-provoking article.
    • It will be too late

      At that time, millions will have purchased the new iPad. Millions that didn't have the chance to listen to what David preaches. Millions, that could have instead brought themselves an Android personal spying device. Millions, that will ruin the dreams of the Google and Samsung alike..
      • There is still time

        I have the Oldest iPad and stick to it ; but I don't use it much, and I manage it as a stand alone. Biggest problem : I cannot read a book from my Google Books Library on it ; the bottom of every page is missing, because it was lost at downloading, despite the use of the free dedicated program taken from iTunes... But I can navigate the net and read some other books while lying on my bed, and that's all folks; so why buy Numbrs 2 & 3 or 4 ??? Daniel
      • personal spying device?

        You mean just like Apple does?
      • Do you have Dreams of a world populated by Smsung and Android?

        I don't understand the crux of your last sentence. Is your conclusion is that the world better off populated with Android tablets branded from Samsung? Remember, Samsung Galaxy Tabs did not feature USB either, and the new Nexus 10 does not have expandable memory either. You need to state your case, but based on the checklist above, there are similar disadvantages with Android and Samsung too.
        I don't care to seenthe world is dominated by one brand and one OS. Apple and Google are here to stay and I like parity between the two to drive innovation, choice and differentiation.
        If Apple's marketing machine is strong enough to get consumers to pay more for less, then hooray for Capitalism. That being said, they make great products and Google and its artners chases and trumps them in many areas too.
        The press treats Apple with more respect and, based on web traffic and search relevancy, the press writes more about Apple with articles like this one. Samsung too, reaped the Pr benefits as being the Anti-Apple Clone. I doubt Samsung would have as much prominence today without Apple.
    • David is a dweeb

      Only looking for the anti-Apple trolls to praise him. I am Apples market. I don't own a single iPad or tablet. I purposely waited for an iPad that would justify the $599 price (32GB model). This iPad is the one. FYI: I also own an iPhone 4S. My first iPhone was the 3G model. I waited until the 4S to get a new model, by-passing 2 other iPhone models. Seems to me that I fit the real Apple target. David is just trolling for hits with his anti-Apple rants.
      The Danger is Microsoft
      • An anti-MS troll

        commenting on anti-Apple trolls. Circus seals are clapping around the world.
      • I am not sure

        Why may I ask is one not allowed to be critical of Apple. It is such a strange phenomenon. I am also Apples market however I do not own any Apple products. Am I right and you wrong or visa versa, I would argue it is a matter of taste.
        • Religion

          Haven't you noticed the Android and Windows fans?
          pk de cville
      • @hassia

        That's about an accurate statement as you can get, but here in the blagotechisphere, rational is not as fun as fanboy drivel.
      • David made very valid points

        I own an iPad2, it's a nice little gadget but leaves me wanting more. For reading books I much prefer my Kindle Touch, mostly for screen clarity even in bright sunlight. I also own the iPhone 4s. Nice phone but mostly I just use it as a phone. I don't have a need to entertain myself every second of every day playing with a phone.

        I'll pass on the new iPad. Maybe Apple will get the next version right. Just because someone points out flaws in an Apple product doesn't mean they're anti-Apple or pro-Microsoft.
      • ..

        That takes guts to openly admit your apples target market you know the wealthy with money to nburn with care about the value of your dollar, not into good looking device but prefer sterile no personality device while being happy to have such a limited device.
      • Errrr.....

        You sound like a fanboi virgin. :-)
        Of course judging from your "alias" you are just plainly biased. Conspiracy theory nut? Maybe even childish?
      • and...

        [i]David is just trolling for hits with his anti-Apple rants.[/i]

        You troll for hits with your posts as well. Are you any better than him? Are any of us?

        Please, continue to condemn what you are. The irony is not lost on us.
      • @eternal-cynic

        [i]"Just because someone points out flaws in an Apple product doesn't mean they're anti-Apple or pro-Microsoft."[/i]
        Give David half a chance and he will do one of his "lists" why not to purchase an Apple product every single time as it is good link bait for him. I wouldn't go out and say he is anti Apple but without a doubt he will use them as link bait at any opportunity presented to him, it's become a given. While he has a couple of good points of why not to upgrade if you have an iPad 2 and nothing to do with it if you get the new iPad, most of his points are opinion, hyperbole or really stretching to pad his list as normal. I had an iPad 2 and upgraded but that only to give the iPad 2 to my wife. If we both had 2s I wouldn't have upgraded either but as usual David's "list" is mostly BS link baiting which any "journalist" should be ashamed of doing.
    • Exactly!

      Besides dredging up totally irrelevant reasons that have never been a concern, some of his reasons are factually incorrect.

      For example: "Reason 2: The retina display is mostly marketing hype"


      David Gewirtz says this proving that he hasn't actually seen a 3rd generation iPad, or compared the amazing display to any other tablet display. Once you see it for yourself David, if you stick to reason #2, you will be just be dishonest.

      Actually David Gewirtz should have titled this piece "1 reason NOT to buy a new iPad"... "Reason 1: You have an irrational fear of Apple and the iPad, and will say anything to slag it (no matter how ridiculous your reasons may be ;-)"
      Harvey Lubin
      • Correct

        By David's reasoning I shouldn't look at a photo that's a 5"x7". What's the point when its that small? I guess the resolution won't WOW me with its detail, so I should just view it 1024x768.
      • David is correct about the display

        First of all the term "Retina Display" is not a standard of any kind. Apple's marketing team made up that term. And what does that term really mean? Because if the screen on the iPhone 4S is Retina "classification" then the new iPad isn't because the PPI is less on the new iPad than it is on the iPhone 4.

        The fact that Apple touts that it has 1 million more pixels than an HDTV is meaningless. It's another marketing trick. Really? 1 million more? Prove it? And so what? How does that "fact" mean anything on a 9" screen as he says? And as David says, it's not all good to have such a high resolution screen on such a small screen on a device that will store and run software and pictures and videos due to the much larger files that will result from it. BTW, that's not the case with a HDTV. It's just a monitor, it's not storing anything.

        And, you realize that once software vendors optimize their software to take advantage of the screen, iUsers who then use those same new iPad optimized app will need to deal with much bigger files themselves as well. No one is talking about how this will affect current iPad users who end up using these "new" apps. They're screwed. Or, you'll start seeing new iPad ONLY apps on the appstore.

        BTW, the marketing trick that Apple has pulled on the screen they are also doing with the "iSight" camera of the new iPad. Again, "iSight" term doesn't mean squat. There is no "iSight" standard. Again, the iPhone 4S "iSight" camera is 8MP, but the "iSight" camera of the new iPad is only 5MP. Several people have been confused about this arguing that the new iPad had the same camera as the iPhone 4S, it doesn't. But Apple wants you to think it does.
      • Spreading the ignorance

        mrxxxman - Congratulations! You have written the most incorrect post on the whole Internet today! The new iPad does have 1+ million more pixels than an HDTV. Prove it? Are you so mentally challenged? HDTV = 1920x1080 = 2073600 pixels. New iPad = 2048x1536 = 3145728. It's math! Really!

        The term "Retina display" does actually mean something, and your ignorance as to the definition should not be shared with others. The term refers to the maximum pixel density that the human retina can distinguish at a particular distance. Apple has clearly stated the distance - which varies by the device type - in using the term. At 10 inches, your retina cannot distinguish individual pixels beyond the PPI of the new iPad.
      • retina display IS marketing hype...

        The latest iPad has a pixel density of 264, my HTC rezound has a ppi of 342 and it came out well over a year ago...not to mention the high end mobile displays nowadays have 440 ppi. Two of which are already on the market.