The Air is again! Apple unexpectedly revived its previous iPad Air branding (formally discontinued in March 2017) in a shock announcement in March 2019, unveiling a robust, mid-priced, mid-sized pill with an A12 processor and assist for the Apple Pencil.
However will the Air float your boat? In this overview we put it via our rigorous pace, graphics and battery checks, and consider design, specs and pricing, to search out out if Apple has hit the candy spot.
For extra normal recommendation, see our iPad shopping for information.
Design & construct high quality
The Air options an improved design in comparison with the 2018 iPad 9.7in, with amongst different enhancements a bigger display and thinner physique, however stops in need of the unconventional modifications seen within the Professional fashions.
So the bezels across the edge have shrunk barely, enabling a better screen-to-body ratio and permitting Apple to squeeze in a noticeably bigger show with out bulking out the chassis an excessive amount of. However the Residence button stays – whereas the 2018 Professional fashions ditched the Residence button (and Contact ID, changed by Face ID), which made potential an nearly all-screen design. In different phrases, this can be a compromise between the triple beliefs of low worth, familiarity, and optimum design.
A bezel tweak can solely obtain a lot, and to accommodate the larger display the Air has been made taller and somewhat wider than the prior 2018 iPad, though the far slimmer profile (6.1mm, down from 7.5mm) means it is really 13-14g lighter. Observe that the 11in iPad Professional is 5.9mm, so this is not the slimmest mid-size pill on Apple’s books – though it’s the lightest.
iPad Air (2019): 250.6 x 174.1 x 6.1mm; 456g/464g (Wi-Fi/mobile)
iPad 10.2in (2019): 250.6 x 174.1 x 7.5mm; 483g/493g
iPad Professional 11in (2020): 247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9mm; 471g/473g
A much less instantly apparent change – however one I am very completely happy to report – is the restoration of the laminated display. For value causes the 2017 and 2018 iPad 9.7in fashions each have unlaminated screens, which bend inwards very barely when pressed and really feel a bit low-cost. That is not a problem right here.
The antenna unit on the mobile mannequin now matches the color of the remainder of the again, reasonably than being a cheap-looking matt black as on the 2018 iPad. And Apple has included a Professional-style Sensible Connector for the Sensible Keyboard.
I discover the Sensible Keyboard fairly exhausting to kind on at this dimension (the 12.9in model is far more snug) however it’s nonetheless a quantum leap ahead from onscreen typing and an enormous profit for enterprise varieties on the go – particularly contemplating how less expensive this gadget is than the Professional fashions you beforehand had to purchase to get a Sensible Connector.
However aside from the modifications outlined above, and a few seemingly inconsequential tweaks to the place of ports and buttons, the Air follows the identical design because the iPad 9.7in. To be clear, that is not a nasty factor! It is a lovely and sensible design that appears good and feels nice within the hand (and, since you get the curved under-edges reasonably than the newer squared-off design, it is really simpler to choose up than the Professional).
And also you get a headphone port, which is one thing Professional homeowners must handle with out.
As is customary for iPads presently, the Air is available in silver, gold and Area Gray. I examined a Area Gray unit, however would at all times vote for gold given the selection.
Specs & options
A lot for the iPad Air’s aesthetics. Let’s check out how properly it performs.
Velocity & graphics testing
Apple has geared up the Air with an A12 Bionic chip – the newest technology of its cell processor line. As earlier than this can be a compromise, for the reason that souped-up A12Z model within the Professional iPads is even quicker, however it’s nonetheless a powerful inclusion at this worth and an enormous step up from the A10 Fusion within the iPad 9.7in, and nonetheless discovered within the more moderen iPad 10.2in.
The A12 is complemented by 3GB of RAM, a rise from 2GB in 2018. (The Execs can be found with both 4GB or 6GB.)
The Air, which scored 11,369 within the multi-core part of the Geekbench Four CPU check, wasn’t far off doubling the efficiency of the earlier 12 months’s 9.7in mannequin (6,056). It was in flip pretty simply overwhelmed by the iPad Professional 11in (18,381), however was noticeably quicker than the Professional from one technology beforehand (9,300).
To judge graphical processing energy we use the GFXBench Steel app, and right here once more I noticed an enormous step up in efficiency from the iPad 9.7in and playable body charges proper as much as the toughest benchmarks. Efficiency was admittedly not similar to the iPad Professional 11in, which was streets forward all through, however in many of the checks the Air was capable of beat the 2017 Professional convincingly.
If you happen to’re a artistic skilled wanting to make use of probably the most demanding video and picture processing apps, or a gamer with an eye fixed on probably the most graphically superior titles, you then is perhaps suggested to plump for an A12Z gadget. However for nearly all of us the iPad Air’s wonderful efficiency will probably be greater than sufficient, and gives loads of future-proofing.
The Air has a 30.2Wh rechargeable battery, and Apple reckons that is good for round 10 hours of Wi-Fi searching. This was borne out in testing: it lasted 9 hours 24 minutes in Geekbench 4’s battery benchmark, which is significantly extra demanding than real-world use.
That is nearly an identical efficiency to the iPad Professional 11in (9 hours 32 minutes), and a lot better than the iPad 9.7in, which lasted 6 hours 1 min.
My Air was bundled with a 10W charger, with which it went from empty to 13% energy in 30 minutes – fairly gradual going. I’ve heard that in some areas the Air is equipped with a 12W charger, which is able to yield barely higher speeds.
Regardless of the persevering with presence of pretty massive bezels across the edge, the iPad Air’s display is a pleasure and a triumph, with quite a few enhancements from the iPad 9.7in.
Decision is up, albeit solely by sufficient to take care of Retina-standard pixel density (264ppi) throughout a bigger space. It appears to be like unbelievable: sharp, shiny, vibrant. Due to the brand new inclusion of True Tone it supplies a constant output in various situations, and the anti-reflective coating means you could have much less to worry from shiny overhead lighting.
Interacting with the display feels nice, because of the lamination already talked about and the nearly immediate response. It might be simple for Apple followers to take this as a right, however not all tablets give such a convincing phantasm that you’re bodily shifting across the onscreen parts.
The Air has an 8Mp rear digital camera, similar as on the iPad 9.7in – a good inclusion that gives reliably first rate photographs reasonably than something spectacular. (I requested Apple if the A12’s neural engine would offer any of the identical algorithmic photographic advantages as on the iPhone XS, however the firm performed this down.)
The entrance digital camera, however, is vastly improved: 7Mp and 1080p video, up from 1.2Mp and 720p video within the iPad 9.7in. This is smart; few folks use a mid-size pill to take footage of good views, however most iPad homeowners will take pleasure in the good thing about an improved entrance digital camera for FaceTime and selfies.
Apple Pencil assist
Excellent news/dangerous information: the Air is Pencil-compatible, however solely with the much less good first-gen mannequin, which expenses awkwardly by way of the Lightning port. I favor the Apple Pencil (2018), which attaches magnetically and expenses wirelessly, however that continues to be unique to the iPad Professional fashions.
That is many of the specs & options price highlighting, however I will spare a couple of phrases for the storage allocation, which has been doubled at every tier from the earlier 12 months: 64GB and 256GB, up from 32GB and 128GB. That is maybe extra important than it sounds, as a result of it means the entry-level mannequin has loads of storage for the common person, whereas final 12 months we tended to advocate paying additional for the higher tier.
Contact ID is now second-gen, which is quicker and extra dependable than the first-gen model used beforehand; eSIM is supported; Bluetooth has been bumped from 4.2 to five.0; and also you now get gigabit LTE. All of those modifications are from the iPad 9.7in (2018), and are matched by the iPad Professional 11in.
Software program & apps
The iPad Air comes with the newest model of Apple’s iPadOS working system preinstalled: at time of writing, which means iPadOS 13. iPadOS is slick and quick and recognized for its strong safety, now with much more optimisations for the pill kind issue. It’s a little tougher to customize than Android, however the default setup is simpler and in our opinion extra pleasant to make use of.
Except you are keen to jailbreak your gadget, you will solely have the ability to obtain software program from the official App Retailer; nonetheless, there’s greater than one million vetted, iPad-optimised apps on there. Premium and big-name apps are prone to come to iPadOS earlier than Android as a result of iPad homeowners are extra keen to spend cash.
Worth & availability
The iPad Air is pitched somewhat greater than the common iPad, whereas remaining markedly extra inexpensive than the iPad Professional fashions additional up the size.
iPad Air (2019, 64GB, Wi-Fi): £479/$499
iPad Air (2019, 256GB, Wi-Fi): £629/$649
iPad Air (2019, 64GB, mobile): £599/$629
iPad Air (2019, 256GB, mobile): £749/$779
The iPad Air is that can be purchased now, direct from Apple and from the standard resellers (reminiscent of Amazon and Greatest Purchase). For the bottom costs on the market, see our roundup of the most effective pill offers.
The iPad Air is a group of compromises, and in nearly each space there’s one other pill on the market that is higher: the iPad 10.2in is cheaper, the iPad mini extra moveable, the iPad Professional extra future-proofed for very demanding apps. However as an all-round bundle that is vastly interesting and fairly probably the most effective (or no less than best-value) Apple has to supply.
It is a quick machine with a big and well-specced display, lengthy battery life and engaging (if old style) design – the previous acquainted Residence button and significantly the headphone port will probably be seen as plus factors by many. The front-facing digital camera supplies high-quality FaceTime video and selfies, and whereas the rear digital camera is much less spectacular this can be a smart space for a mid-size pill to chop prices.
Speaking of which, £479/$499 (for the superbly enough base storage allocation) is nice worth for all of the goodies simply talked about. These on a good funds ought to select the iPad 10.2in, and a Professional mannequin might be higher for a artistic skilled, however for most individuals that is the iPad to choose.
This overview initially appeared on Macworld UK.
Apple iPad Air (2019): Specs
A12 Bionic chip with Neural Engine and M12 coprocessor
10.5in laminated ‘Retina’ display, 2224 x 1668 decision at 264ppi, 500 nits brightness, True Tone, helps Apple Pencil
8Mp rear digital camera, f/2.4, 1080p HD video, Slo-mo (120 fps), Reside Photographs
7Mp entrance digital camera, f/2.2, 1080p HD video at 30 fps, Retina Flash
30.2Wh rechargeable battery: claimed battery life 10 hours on Wi-Fi
Stereo audio system, twin microphones, 3.5mm headphone jack, Lightning port
Wi?Fi (802.11a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 5.0, Gigabit-class LTE, Nano-Sim and eSIM
250.6 x 174.1 x 6.1mm