iPad / iPhone: What to get my son?

Hey there,

My son really wants an Apple product for Christmas. We normally don’t buy stuff like that because it seems so over priced compared to competitive products, but Coronavirus has been tough on him. He’s getting angry easily. We’ve been getting angry at him and losing our patience. I think it will help him feel special to receive an iPad / iPhone.

He likes making and viewing Tik Toks. I think one of the reasons he wants an Apple product is that one of the popular video editors for making Tik Toks is Apple-only. He plays some simple games now on his Android phone, I think they’re called like Papa’s Pizzeria and Cupcakeria, etc… He likes streaming shows.

For a budget conscious buyer, what Apple product would fit the bill? I’m guessing that I can get more for my money getting an iPad over an iPhone? What is the lowest model I should consider?


I’d go with the new iPad, personally. The phones have better cameras, but for TikTok content, I suspect (suggest researching this more deeply!) that the differences won’t be significant enough to matter to him. Editing video is going to take advantage of the larger screen real estate very effectively. Likewise, for content consumption watching shows and playing games, the iPad is generally a better form factor.

As for model, I’d suggest staying with the most recent generation of HW, but for the usage you describe, I wouldn’t say you need the iPad Pro over the iPad or anything like that. Also suggest having a look at refurb models. Those are very thoroughly vetted and are effectively new. The downside is that availability of specific configurations can be hit or miss.

edit: this changes if he’s looking to record video out and about more often. On-the-go and/or extemporaneous videos benefit more from whatever fits in your pocket, and that means iPhone. In which case the iPhone 12 is AMAZING. Older iPhones are also very, very good (I still use a X personally), but the 12 is really on a whole 'nother level.

I’d get the new iPad Air. It’s just a really nice model. The bottom of the barrell iPad is meh. The $150 difference gets you a much better device, in some fun colors and more storage. Plus, it works with all the new Pencil, Smart Keyboards, etc.

How about wrapping up an apple too?

From the grocery store. A couple friends did this and it was so worth it.

The lowest end 2020 iPad, the $329 10.2 inch model (8th gen with A12 processor), is still the best value and great for a kid.

If you want to get something smaller with a better camera you might go with a regular iPhone 11 (I wouldn’t buy a phone model older than that) but it’s twice the price. As is the iPad Air. They are both great but in totally different pricing brackets being over $600.

Even if you were willing to spend $600 in total, I’d still recommend the $300 iPad + adding an Oculus Quest 2 or a Nintendo Switch.

Recording tik toks would be easier on the iphone. But editing tik-toks would be vastly easier on an ipad, unless kids have some secret sauce that means tiny screens don’t impede them. Gaming would be more fun on an iPad too, but a phone would be more utilitarian.

From a parental perspective, it would be easier to catch a glimpse of what he’s doing on an iPad vs. an iPhone.

I would also say the bottom of the line iPad. The Air if you want to splurge, but I think the lesser model would be great for kids. When I first brought an iPad over to my sisters kids when they were all age 10-13, they went nuts for the thing. They still love iPads and they are all adults now. It doesn’t have to be fancy, and he won’t know any better with the difference from the better models. Even the lowest level machines are very capable.

iPhones and iPads are practically the same thing, with the phone being more mobile (and cellular). Pretty much all the same features. The phone’s OS is slightly more advanced, but not enough to worry about for a first Apple device.

One thing though, don’t skimp on storage. If he likes taking pictures, recording movies, or downloading movies etc, he will want the space. The more the better in this area.

OK, I think the iPad is the way to go. Thanks for the answers everyone.

I was looking at the specs for the iPad and noticed that the front camera is only 720p HD video recording, while on the iPad Mini it is 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps. I was wondering since he does Tik Toks would he be better off with the 1080p video on the Mini’s front camera?

I don’t think he would mind the smaller screen size. When he talks about wanting one of these he seems to favor the phone, but that’s too pricey for my blood, plus the phone he would bring to school and on the bus and I’m not sure I want him carrying around a $700 item (he’s 13).

So, any advice on the iPad vs the Mini? If it were me I’d want the bigger screen, but I don’t know if he would care. The extra $200-$230 for the Air is too much.

Do these go on sale over the holidays anywhere or should I just grab one now?

@Gigglemoo, maybe we’ll do the apple thing :-)

The iPad mini is fine. Apple kind of ignores it and only update it every once in awhile. They did update it this year, but it’s still kind of behind on tech. That said, it’s still a great tablet, just not cutting edge. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.

With iPad apps, they are universal, so anything that works on a full size iPad will scale to fit the Mini, so no issues there. Not all iPhone apps have an iPad version though. You can still run them, they just look ugly.

Sales are kind of rare in Apple world. Best Buy occasionally does, and Costco is always a bit cheaper, but you don’t see big sales often.

I know some podcasters who buy everything through the refurbished store, so you can find some stuff cheaper there.

I think you can also buy a locked iPhone 2020 SE for about $150 dollars. It’s got a 7MP front facing camera. And then don’t unlock it, never sign up for a wireless plan, just use it on wireless as a tiny little tablet, like an iPod Touch.

I’ll check that out, thanks! I didn’t know that was a thing.

That’s a fantastic deal, definitely get the locked SE.

What about the latest iPod? They’re cheaper than an iPad and iPhone and I think the recently updated them.

So if I never activated it, it would work over wi-fi fine, right? I never had a phone that I didn’t activate. Other than the obvious of not making calls or having mobile data, is it limited in any way?

Yes, they work fine Wifi only.

Edit: I have used old phones this way. I have never bought a new phone, not activated it and then used it. So I shouldn’t say yes, in theory you should be able to.

I can only confirm that’s how it used to work as well. From the comments people in the linked thread seem to think it still works that way, but I can’t say for 100% sure.

I’ve got it in my cart ready to check out…

Is the 3 GB of RAM going to be an issue? His current Android phone (Moto G5 Plus) has 4 GB and he complains it isn’t always responsive. I have no idea what processor is better between the two.

No, 3GB is fine. That iphone will be blindingly fast. Faster than the most expensive android flagship you can buy for $1200.

Thanks! How about battery life? Some people are complaining about the small battery.

Standard phone battery life, a couple hours of screen time. It isn’t a large phone.