This is the brand new iPad Air! It’s just called the iPad Air but essentially this is the 3rd generation iPad Air.
It has been almost 5 years since the iPad Air 2 was released so we should see a pretty big upgrade in every single way!
It stands in between the entry-level iPad which hasn’t been updated since 2018, which starts at $329, and the iPad Pro 2018 which starts at $800. The iPad Air starts at $500, more than half the price of the iPad Pro. But is it more than half as good?
The entire iPad Air design is based of the iPad Pro 2nd gen design from 2017. This means that, when compared to the iPad Air 2, there is a noticeable design upgrade. We get a 10.5” display compared to 9.7”, and we also get significantly thinner bezels overall in a form factor that’s just a tiny bit larger.
It’s not as good as the 2018 iPad Pro’s design, with those really thin bezels and no home button and FaceID, but it’s still not bad. It is still one of the best looking tablets on the market and it now comes in an even darker shade of space grey than before, which I really like.
The display is surprisingly good. It’s almost as good as on the iPad Pro 2nd generation. We get the same DCI-P3 color gamut, so everything is incredibly vibrant, and a True-Tone display that automatically adjusts its color temperature based on the lighting conditions around it. In addition we also get the same 1.8% reflectivity, so watching videos on this looks incredible. The Air is also really easy to read outdoors as it goes up to 500 nits, the same as a MacBook Pro. It’s not as bright as the iPad Pro 2nd or 3rd gen that can go up to 600 nits, but it’s still more than enough. Overall though, I do feel that this is indeed one of the best displays on a tablet at the moment.
Now the Pro does have that Pro-Motion technology which makes everything twice as fluid, up to 120Hz fluid, but this is missing from the Air. It is a pretty big downgrade if you’re coming from a 2nd gen iPad Pro or newer, since only those have Pro-Motion, but if you’re not then this display is as fluid as any other Apple device out there.
It’s speakers are also great. They’re not quad speakers like on the iPad Pros, but they still sound great nonetheless.
The front camera has been upgraded so it’s the same 7MP one found in the iPad Pros, meaning your selfies and facetime calls would look better. The back camera isn’t that bad either. Unfortunately it’s not a 4K sensor like on the iPad Pros, but for 1080p 30fps videos, scanning documents and occasional shots it’s more than good enough.
Also, I do love the fact that even though we do have a home-button on this iPad, which is the same clickable one as on the iPad Air 2 from 2014, you can still use the same gestures as on the iPad Pro 2018. Swiping up to go home and opening the multitasking makes you forget that this iPad even has a home button.
When it comes to performance this thing is just incredible! Games run great on this. Fortnite for example runs in native resolution at 60fps and you can even pair a controller with this thing and turn it into a portable gaming console, thanks to its 3GB of RAM.
You can also edit full 4K video on this thing if you want to. It’s not as fast as exporting video as the iPad Pro is 2nd gen or 3rd gen, but let’s be honest, even the majority of people who get an iPad Pro, don’t use it for video editing anyways. The Air isn’t even considered by Apple to be a Pro device, yet it does offer even better CPU performance than the 2017 2nd generation iPad Pro. It’s got the Apple A12 processor inside of it, the same one found in the iPhone XS so it’s even more powerful than most PC laptops out there.
But definitely the biggest advantage of the iPad Air is support for both the Apple Smart-Keyboard and the Apple Pencil, which were previously exclusive to the iPad Pro. It is the same Smart-Keyboard as on the 2017 iPad Pro 2nd gen so it’s a decent keyboard, but there are better ones out there like the ones by Brydge.
Now the Apple Pencil we get with this is not the 2nd generation that we got with the 2018 iPad Pro. We actually get the 1st gen one that was released in 2016, which isn’t bad. However, it does charge quite weirdly and since the display refreshes at 60Hz vs 120Hz like on the Pro, it doesn’t feel as fluid as drawing on an iPad Pro. But for taking notes and even occasional drawing this is an amazing tool to have, so much better than the iPad Mini 5, since you have a much larger display.
I just wish that the display had a bit more resistance to it since it honestly feels like drawing on a glass window.
So in the end the iPad Air is pretty good! It costs significantly less than an iPad Pro and it offers significantly more than the entry-level iPad!
However, my Pro tip would be to get the iPad Pro 2nd gen instead. You can actually find it really cheap now, even cheaper than the iPad Air. While the CPU performance is weaker than the iPad Air, the GPU is better so it’s faster at exporting videos, the camera is better on the Pro and you get a flash as well. You also get the Pro-Motion display so everything is twice as fluid, and the Apple Pencil is also a much better experience on the iPad Pro. It also offers quad speakers, so watching and listening to content is a much more enjoyable experience on the Pro.