Which Is Better – A Laptop Or An iPad For Medical School Students?

The decision between choosing an iPad or a Laptop for studies at the end of the day comes down to what you feel more comfortable using.

Generally, an iPad can offer you better versatility, portability, and a better note-taking experience in classes.

On the other hand, laptops offer more features for app compatibility, more storage, faster and better multitasking features, and a solid battery.

The pricing of both tends to fall in the same window unless you go for a basic iPad which can save you a ton, comparatively.

However, as both options require a big amount of investment, and you’d want the gadget to last you a long time (at least through med school), it is important to dig deep and do extensive research on both options. 

Fortunately, you’re in the right place. If you’re preparing to get started with med school (Congratulations btw), or are a progressing student opting for a change, here’s all the information you’ll need.

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In this guide, we’ll cover the whole spectrum of what device you should go for medical studies. From comparisons between iOS vs. Windows or Android to medical applications compatibility and price, we’ll highlight everything.

Well, then. Let’s start with the first and foremost important question that will provide a base to your decision making:

What Will I Do On An iPad Or Laptop In Medical School?

Before making the decision on which gadget gets the better edge for you, it is important to set a baseline of what you’ll need to do in your 4 years of med school.

1. Note taking:

The most important and frequent task you’ll deal with in med school. From lectures in classes to prepare for exams, you’ll need a gadget for med school that you’re comfortable with.

Note-taking is important. However, if not surrounded by the right resources, people tend to slack off. If I don’t have my preferred note-taking software and my stylus pen, for example, no matter how important a lecture is I may slack off and not write notes. 

BIG MISTAKE.

2. PDFs and eBooks:


As we move forward in time to modernity, more and more things take a digital format. 

In today’s age, a massive portion of studying resources will be available in PDF formats. And almost every day, you’ll fall in need of a new PDF. 

Your preferred gadget should offer comfortable options for reading, editing, and creating PDFs.

3. Watching Multimedia:

When reading doesn’t do it, digital multimedia does. From watching lectures to streaming Youtube, you’ll need a device with a big and clear screen that makes watching multimedia enjoyable.

4. Creating and Editing Presentations:

Presentations are a big part of your early med studies. You will be required to create sharp presentations and present them in front of a crowd.
This is the point that convinces most people to go for laptops because using an iPad to create presentations can be- well, perplexing.

5. Using Applications:

There are now many applications that are more or less a need for med students to use for gathering resources. Some of the most popular are Anki, Micromedex, Eponyms, PEPID, Daily Rounds. Medscape, etc. 

It is important to choose a device that offers you compatibility, and in some cases affordability, for the apps, you’re going to use.

6. Sharing:

In a med school, you’ll be communicating with tons of fellow students and teachers. This will involve sharing stuff with them, whether it’s a group presentation amongst friends or an assignment to your professor. 

While most devices are compatible with most sharing-friendly options now, it is still an important factor to take into account.

7. Storage:

A device that runs out of storage is a BIG no when it comes to med school preparation. There will be times when you’ll deal with tens, if not hundreds, of documents including videos, audios, PDFs, etc. 

You need a reliable device that offers large storage. You can’t risk losing years of study resources in the final year just because you ran out of storage.

Now that you have an outline of what you will be doing in med school, let’s dig into each device in comparison and see how they meet that demand.

What Is The Best Option For Med Students?

If money isn’t the problem, there are two options that you can go for that will leave you equipped with everything you need.

If money is a problem, refer to the guide and choose the option that suits you the most.

There are two options that can have you prepared for anything that you need.

The first one is buying an iPad and a Laptop, both. This leaves you with all the pros of carrying around your iPad in classes and using it for note keeping while having a laptop at home to create projects and presentations.

The second costly option: Buy a convertible, aka 2 in one, laptop.

With a convertible laptop, you can detach its screen and use it as a tablet for ease in portability and access for note keeping. There are even stylus pens available for an enhanced tablet experience.

Using an iPad For Med School – Guide

iPads are popular amongst med students mainly because of their portability. It’s easy to carry it around the university and get work done wherever and whenever you want. 

With better models launched, the iPad comes extremely close to offering the same functions as a laptop, however, it is still closer to being just a BIG iPhone.

The latest add ons of connecting a keyboard and a mouse to your iPad has helped students make the iPad more useful for complex tasks such as editing spreadsheets or writing documents.

However, again, it still runs on a mobile operating system, which offers much less in comparison to MacOS or WindowsOS.

That being said, there are many aspects where the iPad does have an edge over laptops. These are the reason many students still pick out iPads as their preferred choice against laptops.

Pros Of Using An iPad As A Med Student

Portability: iPads are extremely portable. In fact, there have been many times I carried my iPad in my hoodie’s kangaroo pocket! With an extremely portable device, it is easy for you to take it around the campus, around different classes and labs, and make use of it whenever you want.

Handwriting Notes: Many students still prefer writing their notes using a pen. Sadly, writing notes on a piece of paper makes it hard to store, edit, or share, but the iPad proves as the best option for such fans.

A laptop requires you to type. iPad offers an Apple Pencil that is extremely easy to use and is an accurate traditional experience of handwriting notes.

Note: Notetaking is a major part of your med school journey. If you think a big laptop will make you less likely to type in notes whereas an iPad may be more accessible, you should lean more towards an iPad.

iOS Comfort: If you’re a fan of iOS, you may be reluctant to switch over to a different atmosphere. iOS assures ease of access and extremely rare bugs with their frequent updates. With an iPad, you stay in the comfort zone of using the iOS, knowing all its features making it easy to use your device.

Budget-Friendly: An iPad is a cheap option. If you’re short on budget, you can get a basic iPad that will do better than a laptop in the same range. At a sale price, you can still get an iPad for just $329.

Cons Of Using an iPad As A Med Student

Expensive: An iPad is an expensive device option if you compare it with other devices that you could use. You can get a new iPad for $300, however, you can also get a sick second-hand laptop at that price. 

If you compare it with other tablets, Android tablets offer everything, if not more, than an iPad, does at a cheaper price.

Lastly, if you’re going for a good iPad, it isn’t really cheap. The cheapest 128GB iPad (Pro) costs $799.

Efficiency: iPad can support multitasking with a good amount of RAM and modern processors in the latest models, however, being a mobile device, it is still not as practical as with a laptop.

A macOS or WindowsOS desktop environment offers comfort while multitasking i.e. switching between tabs or windows. 

Peripherals Compatibility: Can you easily connect your iPad to a projector? A printer? A USB to your iPad? Charge a device with it? No.

A laptop can…

Applications Support: iPad uses Apple’s App Store to get applications, which restricts your options for software as compared to a laptop. 

A Windows laptop, for example, can run any software in .exe format. This means you can choose amongst the billions of o0f applications right from the browser and choose anything.

Secondly, many of the App Store applications are Paid Apps. Many of these applications are free to use on laptops e.g. Anki.

iPad vs. Android Tablets

Another good option for tablets is going for an android tablet. 

If you’re on a tight budget, prefer a laptop between the choice of an iPad and a laptop, but still want a tablet for attending classes, go for a budget Android tablet.

If you’re accustomed to the iPad environment, it may take you some time to get used to the Android experience, but I think a month would be enough.

Choosing Android over iPad doesn’t limit you. Android almost always offers more options than iOS. You don’t need to be worried that an iPad is better than an Android.

The only cons of going for Android is: First, the Android experience isn’t as simple as an iPad, however, there are launchers and settings that can help you mimic it just like an iPad. Second, Androids are known for more bugs and more performance issues than iOS. However, no bug is threatening enough to delete your data or make the device inoperable.

To view some great Android tablet options, scroll below.

Is 64GB iPad Enough For Medical School?

iPads, unlike Android tablets or laptops, do not have expandable storage. This means if you’re going for a 64GB iPad, that’s all you get ever!

Personally speaking, I would never go for a 64GB iPad starting out a Med school. 64GB isn’t enough anymore. Applications offer more than ever at the price of more storage. Agreed, there are cloud options, but to make cloud storage options a smooth one, you need really good internet which could be expensive.

Even then, 64GB for the 4 years to spend in Med school isn’t a viable option if the iPad is going to stay as your primary device.

If, later on, you think you’ll consider secondary, then go for it.

Even as a primary device, you can work your way through med school without another device, however, it isn’t going to be as comfortable. You’ll need to store a lot of stuff on cloud storage.

Best iPad for Medical Students

Here are the best iPads medical students can choose from.

iPad64GB$329
iPad Air64GB$599
iPad Mini64GB$500
iPad Pro (11 inch)128 GB$799
iPad Pro (12.9 inch)128 GB$1099

If price isn’t the issue, go for the iPad Pro. Else, an iPad would be my best advice. Air and Mini don’t put much on the table in comparison to their high price. 

Best Android Tablets for Med Students

Here are the best android tablets med students can choose from:

Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus32-64GB4GB RAM$179
Microsoft Surface Go 264-128GB4-8GB RAM$399
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite64GB4GB RAM$349
Huawei MatePad Pro128-512GB6GB RAM$655

Netflix and Gaming On An iPad

Even though med students are known for having little to no leisure time, there are still many times in a day you will need to blow off steam doing some gaming or just sitting back and relaxing watching Netflix.

If you’re one of those people who need Netflix and Gaming in their primary device, the iPad is a good option.

With a big screen, the experience of watching Netflix is enjoyable on an iPad. There is also an option to hook your iPad to your Android TV using Chromecast for a better viewing experience.

Gaming on iPad has gotten better with more advanced devices. A big reason for iPads being expensive is because they use the latest processors and graphic cards that can support heavy gaming applications. 

Some of the heaviest games on the App Store e.g. Genshin Impact or Fortnite run smoothly on an iPad.

However, of course, the gaming pleasure of a tablet user can never be as good as with a laptop. If you’re going for an iPad, just know you’re compromising a lot on the gaming universe.

How To Make Use Of Google Lens For Note Taking – Med School

Google Lens is one of the most useful and powerful notetaking apps for students of medical schools. 

Basically, Google Lens helps isn’t a note storage application, but what it does is you can capture pictures that have text in them, use Google Lens to isolate the text from the picture, copy it on your clipboard, and paste it into a document, notes app, or wherever you want.

This helps students not waste time copying down what is written on the board in classes by simply taking a picture of the class board and storing the text digitally somewhere.

You can also capture notes written on a textbook by your friends and copy the text in a digital format.

The uses are unlimited! 

If you’re going for an iPad, their latest iOS 15 update offers you a similar application, but laptops can’t. 

How To Make Use Of iOS 15 Live Text For Note Taking – Med School

The latest iOS 15 update enables you to use the iPad’s camera to take pictures that involve texts and copy and paste them wherever you want to store them digitally.

Just like with Google Lens, you can take pictures of class boards, textbooks, handwritten notes, etc., and store them all digitally to use in presentations, documents, and more.

The difference is, Google Lens isn’t integrated into the default camera of Android Devices unless it’s a Google Pixel phone. You’ll use a separate application called Google Lens. 

With iOS, the Live Text feature is integrated into the iPad’s camera application.

Medical apps on iOS

iOS features a wide range of medical apps that can help you with your studies as a medical student. Some of the best-known applications among medical students are:

  • MedCalX
  • Prognosis
  • Muscle And Bone Anatomy 3D 
  • Anki
  • Todoist 
  • Epocrates
  • PEPID PEDS
  • UpToDate
  • AnxietyCoach
  • MindShift

Laptops for Medical Student – Is It Worth It?

Laptops are the most preferred option for medical students for the right reasons. A laptop can be a bit expensive and not offer the same accessibility and portability options that an iPad does, but then it is more reliable, supports more applications, supports more integrations, and offers a lot more than an iPad.

Repeating the point mentioned above, an iPad is just a big iPhone. A laptop is a completely different platform.

Here are all the Pros and Cons you’d need before buying a laptop as a medical student:

Pros Of Buying A Laptop As A Med Student

Efficient: Laptops have a good amount of RAM and a series of advanced processors to choose from. The user experience of macOS and Windows also allows running many applications at the same time and switching between them easily and smoothly.

External Peripherals:

Laptops have more connectivity options than mobile or tablet devices. A generic laptop always has the option to connect HDMI cables, Ethernet cables, USB, headphones, external mic, and disks. All of these are somewhat useful in a med student’s journey.

Application Support:

Whether you go for a Mac or a Windows, on laptops you’re offered many many more applications than on an Android or iOS phone. 

Typing Experience:

Working on projects and presentations requires a lot of typing. Contrary to note-taking, working on projects is easier on a laptop with a keyboard.
Touchpad: In comparison with the iPad and its pen, laptops have a touchpad that is a far superior tool for better multitasking.

Bigger Screen:

Laptops have a bigger screen. This means you can stream video study resources on a bigger screen and can also enjoy Netflix and gaming in a better way.

Price:

Laptops are expensive but there are many cheap options as well. Laptop releases, unlike phones and tablets, have many variants ranging in price. It is easier to get a powerful laptop under a budget than an iPad.

Storage:

Laptops have expandable storage. There is no need to rely on cloud services or clean your storage frequently. Most laptops have integrated HDD storage of at least 500GB. These have many expansion options as well including portable drives, SSDs, and HDDs. 

Easy Repair and Maintenance:

It’s easier and cheaper to find laptop repair parts and options than with tablets and phones. 

Cons Of Buying A Laptop As A Med Student

Expensive:

As mentioned above, getting a powerful new laptop with a good graphic card, a good amount of RAM, a powerful processor, and large storage can be expensive.

Less Portable:

Laptops aren’t as easy to carry as tablets. It will be harder for you to grab your laptop and take it to classes. Make sure you have an easy to carry and comfortable bag alongside it.

Camera:

Laptops don’t have a back camera. You can’t take pictures of study resources that you need with it. However, most people, if not all at this point, have a smartphone for that task.

Mac vs. Windows For Med Students

If you’re an iPhone user, go for Mac. If not, Windows would probably be better. 

There are 2 key things between choosing Mac and Windows: the price and the software.

If you’re an iPhone user and price is not an issue, the macOS environment would suit you best. It features similar default apps and functionality such as App Store and iTunes. 

Another reason to go for Mac would be to multitask between devices. Most functions can be switched between the two. You can start working on your iPhone, continue it on your Apple Watch, and finish it on your Mac. Simple.

The Windows environment is not preferred by iPhone users, however, it offers a lot more. 

If you’re gonna do gaming, Windows is the answer. You get access to thousands of more games on Windows in comparison to a Mac.

Windows also has more applications to offer in other categories than Macs.

The other factor is price. The cheapest Macbook, Macbook Air, would cost you $999. On the other hand, good Windows laptops can easily be under $500

Another thing to remember, Macbooks still don’t feature touch screen options. If you’re looking for a touch screen laptop or a 2in1, you need Windows.

You Can Earn With A Laptop

Med students, unlike other university students, don’t have much time to spare. This means you don’t have many options of employment to make money from.

With a laptop, that aspect is kind of taken care of. You can easily work on a skill of your interest, such as Content Writing or Graphic Designing, and remotely work on it using a laptop.

If done right, there are many platforms that can help you get clients to which you can offer your work and earn money. One of the most common platforms for finding remote freelance work is Fiverr and Upwork.

What Specifications Would I Need In A Laptop As A Med Student?

Here is a list of the most basic minimum specifications your laptop should have:

Screen: 1080p 60FPS

RAM: 4-6 GBs.

Storage: 250 GBs

Processor: i5 or i3 7th gen above. 

Windows: Windows 10

Best Laptops For Medical Students

Here is a quick list of best laptops for medical students available on amazon. We hand picked these for you so you don’t have to invest in the time.

HP Envy 13i5 11th Gen16 GB $675
MacBook AirM18-16 GB $999
Dell XPS 13 2in1i7 11th Gen 8-16 GB $1596
HP Envy x360 13 2in1AMD Ryzen 58 GB$1299
MacBook ProM18-16 GB$1299

Laptops Can Run Emulators!

Another interesting option to note for laptops is the use of emulators. If there’s anything a laptop can’t do naturally, you’re sure to find an emulator for it.

Emulators mimic the software environment of a device. A windows laptop is more than capable of running an Android or an iOS emulator in case you need that software environment.

Netflix and Gaming On A Laptop

With a bigger screen and advanced hardware, of course, laptops are the superior devices for gaming and Netflix.

A bigger screen makes Netflix more enjoyable. HDMI outputs also enable support to connect your laptop to a bigger output device.

Gaming is better on laptops. You can even plug up a VR setup on a laptop. Just make sure if gaming is your priority, go for a Windows laptop, not an iPad.

iPad vs. Android vs. Mac vs. Windows

iPadAndroidMacWindows
PriceStarting $329Starting $69Starting $999Starting $199
Storage64-128 GB64GB+ Expandable128-512128GB + Expandable
PDFsSupportedSupportedSupportedSupported
MultimediaSupportedSupportedSupported + Bigger ScreenSupported + Bigger Screen
PresentationsHarder To Create and EditHarder To Create and EditBest Option For Presentations + ConnectivityBest Option For Presentations + Connectivity
SharingCloud Sharing + USBsCloud Sharing + USBsCloud Sharing + USBs + Other DrivesCloud Sharing + USBs + Other Drives
ApplicationsLimitedMore than iPadMore than TabletsMost supported Applications
MultitaskingLimited + PenLimited + PenLimited + Pen + Other DevicesLimited + Pen + Other Devices