64GB iPads need to go extinct

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 3 min read

Well, I recently got an iPad Air. It turns out I really did miss having an iPad, and having one back in my life is wonderful.

I ended up getting the 64GB M1 model on a steep discount ($200 off)…clearly Best Buy was clearing out their inventory for the upcoming iPad line, and apparently the pink Air is the least popular one because that one was even more discounted than the rest. And while I used to have an 11” iPad Pro with 256GB of storage, I figured the 64GB model would be fine for me since I was under no delusions that this would become my new video editing device or anything like that.

Micro-review time

Without getting to into it, the M1 iPad Air is a very good iPad, and it’s a notable step up from the baseline 10th generation iPad which my wife uses. It feels great in the hand and the laminated screen looks good, especially compared to the 10th gen iPad. The M1 processor gives it plenty of oomph so all tasks are nice and zippy. The fact it works with the Magic Keyboard is a nice bonus that I like having for those times I want to write something on the iPad.

My only real complaint with it is that it lacks ProMotion so iPadOS’s swooping animations look choppy compared to what I’m used to on every other device out there.

Given new models are just over one week away, this review isn’t worth much, but if you’re looking for a cheap iPad and are debating between the normal iPad and the Air, I would suggest the Air is worth the price difference, especially if it’s on sale.

The base storage is a crime

The one issue I’ve had with this iPad is the 64GB storage, which I’d say is brutal. Like I said at the top, I’m not using this thing as a power user anymore, I just loaded a few games, video streaming apps, and very light normal apps (Reeder, Ivory, Fantastical); you know, the things I’m told “normal people” use their iPads for.

So just a few hours into using the iPad I got a notification that there was a software update available. Makes sense as this iPad had probably been sitting in a box for a few months at least, so I said to install it now, and I was promptly shown an error telling me I didn’t have enough space on the iPad to install the update.

Yes, a brand new iPad that only had a few games and video apps on it, and I was already getting warned that I’d run out of space. As a power user, I knew that I wanted to have this update, so I went into my storage settings and deleted some things I didn’t need but came pre-installed (GarageBand, etc.) and then installed the update. But if I was a “normal person”, I would have likely not known what to do and let the update just not install. As far as I can tell, iCloud is the biggest issue here, as even though I “optimize storage” everywhere, the local content adds up and occupies more space than you might think. In order for me to really optimize this device to never run out of space, I would need to turn off things like photo syncing which seems to be the main space suck, which is really not at all a good experience.

Apple is always criticized for having too little storage and too little RAM in their base devices, and I think rightfully so. I think on a $2,000+ MacBook Pro, 8GB RAM is a rough sell, but I think 8GB on a consumer laptop is easier to justify, even if it’s still too low. But after using a 64GB iPad for a couple weeks, I’m actually more upset at this base storage option. iPhones start at 128GB and I think that’s a much more reasonable option in today’s world, so I hope and expect Apple to bring up the base storage on their new iPads to 128GB in the coming weeks, but we’ll have to wait and see.