As a student, note taking is a big part of your day. If you’ve decided to splurge on a new iPad Pro to make your note taking that much more powerful, good for you! An iPad is a great choice for note-taking, and you’ll love all the apps that are available to help you take the best voice, text, and pencil-drawn notes. (Quick hint: Notability is a great app)
But which is the best iPad Pro for note taking? Do you want a 12.9 inch iPad, secure from accident in the best iPad Pro 12.9 case? Or would an 11 inch iPad be better—-with a smaller form factor and a weight light enough to hold in one hand?
For most students, the 11 inch iPad is a better buy. An eleven inch diagonal screen is large enough to take all your notes, but this iPad is still small enough to fit on almost any desk and in every decent sized bag. You’ll even feel comfortable pulling it out to jot a few quick notes, standing; or if you’ve got it in a ZuguCase, you might be sticking it on your refrigerator as you practice your organic chem formulas.
The iPad Pro 11 inch has better battery life than the 12.9 inch— about 30 minutes longer, according to battery tests. It’s not that the battery is bigger, it’s just that it takes less power to light up that smaller screen. In fact, the battery is smaller, and it takes less time to charge—- you should be able to get a full charge in 2 hours and 20 minutes, vs 3 hours for the larger iPad.
A note taking tablet should be portable, and that’s what the 11 inch iPad is. It’s a fairly standard size for tablets, so it doesn’t look overly flashy and eye catching when you pull it out in the middle of a busy class. It’s easy to stuff back in your backpack among your class folders, notebooks or textbooks. It can be used as a ebook reader, and it’s comfortable enough to hold that you can take it to bed and review your notes lying down. And it still allows you to multi-task if that’s your thing.
There’s one more reason you might want the iPad Pro 11 inch instead of the 12.9: the cost. The difference between the base models is about $300, and all the accessories are more expensive too. There’s a $50 difference between the 12.9 an 11 inch magic keyboards, and the folio case for 11 inch is $20 cheaper. The cash in your pocket can go a lot further if you’re buying 11 inch.
The iPad 12.9 inch is a great size for media consumption— watching movies, for instance, especially if you’ve got an iPad 12.9 case with a multi-angled kickstand. It also provides you with a nice big canvas for your note taking: this iPad is almost the size of a piece of printer paper.
Carrying around an enormous glass screen is a little intimidating to most students, and users report that the 12.9 inch version is ‘not good at being a tablet’. Toting that heavy glass might be risky, but one category of users tell us the benefits outweigh the risks. If you want to take extensive notes from complex online textbooks, with the pdf open on one side of your screen and your note taking app on the other, the 12.9 inch is a good choice. Sure, the 11 inch can multitask, but it’s not as full-featured an experience, and you won’t have all that much room to write in— or all that much room to read.
Another reason you might want a 12.9 inch is the full size keyboard, either on-screen or as an add on. The 11 inch keyboard is much more compact— fine for punching a few keys, not as ideal for hours of typing.
So if you plan to take extensive notes from on-screen textbooks, or if you intend to do large amounts of typing, go with the 12.9. It’s a little unwieldy, though, so make sure you get a shock proof case with it— the iPad Pro 12.9 4th generation case, if that’s your model, or another case that fits your generation if you’ve got a different one.
There is no obvious winner when you compare the 12.9 and 11 inch iPad Pro; instead, it comes down to a matter of preference. For most students, the 11 inch iPad will be a better buy. Highschool, college level and grad students appreciate the form factor, and the way it fits between books in a backpack and on tiny desks in lecture halls. They gush about the weight, too, and the way it can easily be held in one hand for reading, movies, or messaging.
But the 12.9 is a great tablet too, and the larger size makes it a great productivity machine and laptop substitute. You can keep track of your twitter feed while reading a textbook and doodling on the side, and if you’re into drawing, you’ve got an expansive sketchpad at your beck and call. Pair it with a magic keyboard, and you’ll hardly know you don’t have a laptop.
Think about your daily routine and how your new iPad will fit into it. Then, if you’ve got a chance, head down to your nearest Apple Store and try out both tablets. There’s a big difference between them, but either of them could be perfect for your note taking and student lifestyle. Either of them will enable you to take great notes, and both options are great for your everyday messaging, social media, and any artistic endeavors you might make on the side.