An old iPad won’t run the latest apps and games, but it can still be your remote control, digital photo frame, dedicated e-book reader, nightstand alarm clock, and more. If your iPad can’t run the latest version of iPadOS, it’s officially old.
An old iPad with an outdated operating system often won’t run modern apps anymore. But even if your iPad is new enough to run the latest version of iPadOS, you still might not benefit from all the new features. So what can you do with an iPad that is just too old?
Why Old iPads Don’t Support the Latest Features
Face ID, for instance, is unavailable on iPad models without the TrueDepth camera. Some capabilities, like Live Text, may only be partially supported on your tablet. Live Text requires an A12 Bionic chip and won’t work on the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, which uses the A10 Bionic chip.
An old iPad powered by the last-supported iOS version (before the switch to iPadOS) may be too slow to multitask efficiently. Take, for example, the iPad 2, powered by the A5 chip. Having launched in March 2011 with iOS 4 preinstalled, the iPad 2 was one of Apple’s longest-supported tablets—it supports OS versions up to iOS 9, which launched in July 2019.
But despite eight years of software support, the iPad 2 hardware struggled running iOS 9 and couldn’t handle the latest apps or games. What was once a zippy tablet became sluggish.
If you have an old iPad, you’re in the same boat. This isn’t a problem as long as you stick to a single app, but jumping between them or launching new ones can take what feels like an age. That doesn’t make your old iPad useless, it just means how you use it has to adapt.
Let’s explore a few ideas for how to breathe life into your old iPad and continue to make the most out of it.
8. An Old iPad Is Still a Fine Ebook Reader
Any old iPad is a capable ebook reader, especially models equipped with a Retina screen. If Apple’s Books and Amazon’s Kindle apps don’t work on your iPad, check out alternatives like Pocket, which lets you save web articles without ads.
With apps like Goodreads, Google Play Books, Scribd, and similar, you can browse and download electronic books or transfer PDF files from your computer. Be sure to check out some of the best websites where you can find lots of free ebooks.
Comics are one of the best reads on your iPad. Perfectly rendered on the iPad’s crisp Retina screen, they’re a joy to consume. Good thing there are plenty of iPad apps for reading comics as well.
7. Use It as a Hand-Me-Down Tablet for Kids
An old iPad makes a cool hand-me-down tablet for kids. As you know, toddlers and kids adore iPads. So, if your junior is too young or slobbery to be trusted with a newer device, your old iPad might be the perfect toy to give them. For some peace and quiet, just put on one of Netflix’s many kids shows or let them entertain themselves on YouTube Kids.
Educational apps make learning on tablets fun, especially visual programming software, apps that teach kids how to read and write, and similar. If your iPad supports the Apple Pencil, there are some pretty great apps for Apple Pencil for drawing, sketching, note-taking, and so on.
6. Control Your Media Center and Smart Home
The App Store is home to many controller apps for various accessories and smart home appliances. Everything from Sonos speakers and Roku boxes to a Plex media center or the Spotify app running on a Mac can be managed from a dedicated iOS or iPadOS app.
If you already own essential accessories for the connected home, your old iPad can work as a dedicated remote control with appropriate controller apps from the App Store. And why not? It’s far better to have a dusty, old tablet be your go-to remote control than juggle between seven different remotes that are nowhere to be found when you need them most.
Smart gadgets that support Apple’s HomeKit system can be controlled in the Home app. If your iPad is too old to run the Home app, try downloading manufacturer apps from the App Store to control your smart bulbs, doorbells, heaters, thermostats, security cameras, and more.
5. Use an Old iPad as a Beater Tablet
There’s a balance to be struck between keeping your iPad safe and being able to use it when you want. It’s a good idea to turn an old iPad into a beater tablet to use whenever you want to keep your newer devices away from danger. And even if you or your kids damage your old iPad beyond repair, you’ll still have your primary one.
4. Use an Old iPad in the Car
With its big multitouch screen, the iPad is perfectly suited to be an in-car entertainment dashboard, especially if you don’t already use CarPlay. Simply mount an iPad in your car, download some offline maps, and you’re good to go. Even better, connect the iPad to your iPhone’s hotspot and use apps like Pandora or Spotify as a way to stream music.
Like hiking? Load up that tablet with Ordnance Survey maps and bring it with you! And if you happen to sail, there are plenty of apps that provide helpful navigation charts. Folks who are into photography should also check out Triggertrap ($2.99). Combined with a cheap dongle, it puts powerful and rich control over the iPad camera at your fingertips.
3. Convert an Old iPad Into a Kitchen Tablet
Foodies, you can turn your old iPad into an all-around kitchen tablet. All you need to do is load the device with recipes and relevant how-to videos. Et voilà, suddenly you have a limitless digital recipe book. You may even decide to invest in an accessory like Twelve South’s HoverBar Duo, which has a flexible arm and a sturdy, adjustable shelf clamp.
With it, you can affix your iPad firmly to the table so that you can safely use it in the kitchen as a multipurpose tool to follow video recipes and even record your cooking tutorials.
2. Set Up an Old iPad as a Digital Picture Frame
The iPad shines at showcasing your favorite family photos. With Apple’s Photos app, you can quickly create nicely animated slideshows loaded with images, videos, and even song playlists for background music. Or, download a third-party app with more flashy features if you like.
Have an Apple TV? If so, use your tablet to control presentations using apps like Keynote Remote, show off business projects on a big-screen TV, and more. Whether you turn an old iPad into a dedicated family media album or business portfolio, it will double as another backup device to archive and display your precious memories.
1. Convert Your Old iPad Into Cash
If you can’t find compelling uses for your outdated iPad, selling it is your next best option. Used Apple products hold their value well over time and the iPad is no exception. You might be surprised at how much you can still get for an old iPad. Factors like the model, age, storage, and others determine what you should charge for your old iPad.
The Apple Trade-In service will give you credit toward a new device, depending on the device’s condition. But you’ll get more value by trading in your old iPad on websites like Mac of All Trades. While we’re at it, check out eBay InstantSale and Amazon Trade-In.
Getting Even More Mileage Out of an Old iPad
Is your iPad too slow to handle the above use cases? Don’t worry, there are still plenty of ways to get more mileage out of your old iPad by paring down its use to a few specific scenarios. With entertainment apps like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, and similar, your old iPad can still be a capable consumption device to enjoy your favorite shows.
And thanks to Apple’s Sidecar feature, you can use an iPad as a second monitor for your Mac. If your iPad is too old to support Sidecar, consider the USB-C dongle from Luna Display which turns any iPad or Mac into a wireless second display that works in macOS and Windows.
When used with a stand, an old iPad becomes a fun nightstand alarm clock that can display information such as the weather alongside the time. And with an app like Alarm Clock HD, you can also use your iPad to keep tabs on social media like Twitter and Facebook. Other apps like WiFi Touchpad HD allow you to use your iPad as a trackpad to control your Mac.
Don’t Let Your Old iPad Go to Waste
Just because your iPad is obsolete doesn’t necessarily mean it should be collecting dust in your drawer. Armed with our tips, you can upcycle and repurpose your iPad for some cool uses as long as there’s an app for that and it’s supported on your iPad.