What Is the Difference Between the 16GB and 32GB IPads?

by Aaron Parson

Although Apple has a history of producing differing hardware for 16GB and 32GB models of its devices -- for example, the 16GB fifth-generation iPod Touch lacked a rear camera, among other features -- all iPads of the same generation work the same, regardless of drive space. The drive space on your future iPad affects two things: how many files the tablet can store, and how much the device costs.

IPad Models and Prices

As of the date of publication, Apple sells 16GB iPads in every tablet series it manufactures. The iPad Air 2 model costs $499, while the iPad Mini 3 costs $399. Move back a generation to the original iPad Air or iPad Mini 2 and these prices drop by $100. The newest generation iPads, however, do not come in 32GB models, and instead jump to 64GB for $599 for the full-size Air, or $499 for the Mini. If you specifically want a 32GB model, you need to buy one of last generation's models at either $449 for the Air or $349 for the Mini. All prices assume a Wi-Fi only tablet. Regardless of model, cellular data capabilities increase the cost by $130.

Effects of Drive Space

To decide how much space you need on your iPad, consider how you plan to use the tablet. If you're into running lots of apps or playing games, you'll want ample space on your drive, as each program can take tens or even hundreds of megabytes. Movies and TV shows also take up a lot of drive space, but only if you download them to the tablet -- watching on Netflix or Hulu won't use up your free space. Other activities such as emailing, Web browsing and listening to music use relatively little space: 16GB can hold around 2,000 four-minute songs, if you devoted the device entirely to music.

Generational Differences

The 32GB iPad models provide a lower price point than the newer 64GB models, but moving back a generation means you'll miss out on a few features. The iPad Air 2 is thinner and lighter than the previous generation and has a new anti-reflective coating. It has a more powerful processor, which means more responsive apps. The Air 2 also includes burst mode and slow motion video in the Camera app. The iPad Mini 3, on the other hand, has only one major addition compared to the Mini 2: the addition of a fingerprint sensor for unlocking and entering passwords.

Work Around Space Limitations

Unlike many other devices, you can't simply plug an SD card into an iPad to increase its storage capacity. Instead, if you run out of space, you'll need to move files off the tablet. Music and videos are easy to handle in iTunes, which supports syncing specific media or playlists without ever losing your play counts, ratings or other metadata. Apps pose more of a challenge. ITunes doesn't save an app's settings or saved games on your computer if you uninstall the app from your iPad. Some apps and games, however, can export their data to email, to your computer or to iCloud to assist with deleting and reinstalling an app without losing progress.

About the Author

Aaron Parson has been writing about electronics, software and games since 2006, contributing to several technology websites and working with NewsHour Productions. Parson holds a Bachelor of Arts from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images