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The Newzik buying guide: which iPad should you choose?

Friday, November 6, 2020

Congratulations! Because if you are reading this, it is probably because you are thinking of finally taking the plunge and switching from paper to digital scores. We are very excited for you and we are confident that you will not regret it!

Now is the time to get the equipment that is going to transform the way you organize, read and mark up your sheet music. You are probably going to entrust your new device with your whole music library and the result of hours of hard work, and if you take it on stage you will have to place your whole confidence in it. For these reasons, it is crucial to make the right choice and get the best equipment for your needs.

In this article, we will help you make your decision by presenting the main iPad models and their characteristics, showing why some are better than others for reading digital sheet music.

What are the main factors to consider when choosing an iPad for sheet music?

It will come as no surprise that the main characteristic to consider is the screen size. To be able to read music comfortably, the larger the screen the better. This is of course even more important for piano and organ players, for conductors and for anyone who uses scores with more than one staff per system.

Another important factor to consider is screen resolution, which will affect how comfortable the screen is to read from. If you travel around a lot, or if you are a singer needing to hold your music when performing, the weight of the device should matter too. Depending on the size of your digital sheet music library, storage space can also be a deal breaker, and if you also plan on using your iPad for other apps such as music production software, overall performance needs to be taken into account.

Choosing a device with a long battery life is of course crucial for performing artists, and so is the compatibility with digital styluses such as the Apple Pencil for musicians, music librarians and stage managers who need to mark up their sheet music.

Price will of course also be a factor - more important for some than for others, such is the way of the world. The price range of iPads is quite wide, with the 12.9’ iPads Pro, the biggest screen size available, being the most expensive.

1. iPad Pro 12.9” (4th Generation) – From $999 to $1649

Technical characteristics

  • Screen Size: 12.9 inches (280.6 x 214.9 x 5.9mm)
  • Resolution: 2 732 x 2 048 pixels to 264 pixels per inch
  • Weight: 1.41 lbs (641g)
  • Storage: 128GB to 1TB
  • Battery Life: Up to 10 hours
  • Apple Pencil Compatibility: 2nd Gen Apple Pencil
  • A12Z Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture

The 12.9’ iPad Pro is the best tablet for sheet music, period. Sitting at the very top of Apple’s iPad range, it is a very powerful machine designed for professionals, and since their launch in 2015 we at Newzik have been using a countless number of them in our work with music ensembles. For anyone who uses sheet music regularly, using a 12.9’ iPad Pro will truly change your life as you’ll have all the advantages of paper without any of its drawbacks, on top of all the advantages of digital sheet music.

The only problem with this one is the price that can be a bit scary. However, if you’re willing to make that investment, we assure you that you will not regret it: as a musician using sheet music, it’s the best you can get.

2. iPad Pro 11” (2nd Generation) - From $799 to $1449

Technical characteristics

  • Screen size: 11 inches (247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9mm)
  • Resolution: 2 388 x 1 668 pixels to 264 pixels per inch
  • Weight: 1.04 lbs (471g)
  • Storage: 128GB to 1TB
  • Battery Life: Up to 10 hours
  • Apple Pencil Compatibility: 2nd Gen Apple Pencil
  • A12Z Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture

The 11” iPad Pro is more or less the same as the 12.9”. The chip is the same so the device is just as powerful. The only difference, you guessed it, is the size (and the weight, obviously). It remains a very good investment, because even though it is smaller than the A4 format, you will still feel comfortable reading and working on this iPad. The real advantage is that this version is more affordable than the 12.9” iPad Pro while still being a highly powerful device that’s big enough to read sheet music.

If you want to invest in a device and switch to digital parts but the 12.9” version is too expensive for you, this is a great investment to make as well.

3. iPad Air (4th Generation) - From $669 to $979

Technical characteristics

  • Screen size: 10.9 inches (247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1mm)
  • Resolution: 2 360 x 1 640 pixels to 264 pixels per inch
  • Weight: 1.01 lbs (460g)
  • Storage: 64GB to 256GB
  • Battery life: Up to 10 hours
  • Apple Pencil compatibility: 2nd Gen Apple Pencil
  • A14 Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture

This year, the amazing news we had during Apple’s conference was the release of the new generation of the iPad Air. The iPad Air 4th Generation is basically a mix of the iPad Pro and the former iPad Air : it is as powerful as the iPad Pro but much cheaper.

Its A14 Bionic chip is not so different from the iPad Pro’s A12Z Bionic chip. It is incredibly performant and compared to the previous versions, the A14 chip improves graphical performances by 30% and calculation capacities by 40%. It basically means that the new iPad Air is one of the most powerful devices on the market. It is also compatible with the Apple Pencil 2nd Generation, which will truly be your best friend when marking up your parts.

It is a very good device but still has some disadvantages compared to the 12.9” iPad Pro. Firstly, it is smaller. However, just like the 11’ iPad Pro, even though it is smaller than the A4 format, you can still easily read and work on your parts on this device. On the other hand, an advantage is that the device is a little lighter and easier to carry. The other difference is the storage capacity that is smaller than the iPad Pro’s. This is not really an issue since you can save your files on iCloud to avoid using your device’s storage capacity. Besides, digital sheet music generally doesn’t use up too much storage capacity: with 64GB, you can store around two million PDF pages! The resolution is also a bit lower than the iPad Pro’s but that will not prevent you from reading your music. We have to admit that this brand new iPad Air is quite amazing. The only thing that makes it not as good as the 12.9” iPad Pro is its size. However, the great thing about it is the price: the device is practically as great as the iPad Pro, but cheaper! The greater thing about this is that with the release of this powerful and cheaper device, the prices of the other iPads will drop when you buy them second hand!

In a nutshell, it is the best compromise if you want a powerful device but don’t have $1,000 on hand.

4. iPad (8th Generation) - From $389 to $629

Technical characteristics

  • Screen size: 10.2 inches (250,6 x 174,1 x 7.5mm)
  • Resolution: 2 160 x 1 620 pixels to 264 pixels per inch
  • Weight: 1.09 lbs (490g)
  • Storage: 32GB to 128GB
  • Battery Life: Up to 10 hours
  • Apple Pencil Compatibility: 1st Gen Apple Pencil
  • A12 Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture

This last device is not in the same league as the three others. It is not as powerful: the A12 Bionic chip is the same chip that is in the latest iPhone. Its performances remain really high for a portable device but it doesn’t compare to the iPad Air or the iPad Pro.

More importantly, it is quite small. At this point, it begins to be hard to read sheet music on it. The true advantage of this device is the price. If you have a low budget it can still be a relevant investment because with a digital sheet music manager such as Newzik you’ll still be able to centralize, organize and annotate your parts but you will probably need to export your parts and print them in order to be comfortable when reading music on stage. However, if you are a jazz musician, you can absolutely read and work on your grids on this device since they are easier to read on a smaller device.

Nevertheless, if you’re willing to invest a little more in a device, we advise that you go for a better one that you can buy second hand for a lower price than if you buy it new.

Lifespan of an Apple Device

Usually, Apple provides a 6-year assistance to their devices. This means that in most cases, your device’s operating system won’t be updated after six years, but this does not mean that you won’t be able to use your device after six years! iPads are commonly known to be tough nuts to crack.

It is important to underline this because it is amazing news for you: it means that you don’t need to buy new in order to have a functioning device. Buy second hand, or even better, buy refurbished devices! Besides, with the release of new devices, we can expect the price of second hand and refurbished iPads to drop, even more knowing that the new iPad Air is almost as powerful as the iPad Pro.

Below you will find the average price of the four iPads we’ve spoken about on eBay or Backmarket.


  • iPad Pro : between $500 and $800 depending on the version
  • iPad Air (before 2020): Between $400 and 600$ depending on the version
  • iPad (before 2020): Between $150 and $400 depending on the version


  • iPad Pro: between $700 and $1000 depending on the version
  • iPad Air (before 2020): between $200 and $500 depending on the version
  • iPad (before 2020): between $200 and $500 depending on the version

What are you waiting for to turn the page on paper scores? Try Newzik for free

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Aurel Beaumann

Marketing manager

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