iPad Air (2019) assessment
The Air is again! Apple unexpectedly revived its outdated iPad Air branding (formally discontinued in March 2017) in a shock announcement in March 2019, unveiling a robust, mid-priced, mid-sized pill with an A12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 assessment we put it by way of our rigorous velocity, graphics and battery checks, and consider design, specs and pricing, to seek out out if Apple has hit the candy spot.
For extra normal recommendation, see our iPad shopping for information.
Worth & availability
The iPad 9.7in (2018) continues to be on sale, beginning at £319/$329 – and that is still the benchmark for a funds iPad. The brand new iPad Air is pitched just a little larger, whereas remaining markedly extra inexpensive than the iPad Professional fashions additional up the dimensions.
- 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 in the stores now, direct from Apple and from the same old resellers (akin to Amazon and Greatest Purchase), however for its first month or two on sale you must anticipate excessive demand and restricted provide. For the bottom costs on the market, see our roundup of one of the best iPad offers.
Design & construct high quality
Persevering with the inbetweener theme, the Air options an improved design in comparison with the iPad 9.7in, with amongst different enhancements a bigger display screen and thinner physique, however stops wanting the novel modifications 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 House button stays – whereas the 2018 Professional fashions ditched the House button (and Contact ID, changed by Face ID), which made potential an nearly all-screen design. In different phrases, it is 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 screen the Air has been made taller and just a little wider than the 2018 iPad, though the far slimmer profile (6.1mm, down from 7.5mm) means it is truly 13-14g lighter. Be aware 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 9.7in (2018): 240 x 169.5 x 7.5mm; 469g/478g
- iPad Professional 11in: 247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9mm; 468g/468g
A much less instantly apparent change from the 9.7in iPad – however one we’re very comfortable to report – is the restoration of the laminated display screen. For price 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 difficulty right here.
The antenna unit on the mobile mannequin now matches the color of the remainder of the again, slightly than being a cheap-looking matt black as on the 2018 iPad. And Apple has included a Professional-style Good Connector for the Good Keyboard.
We discover the Good Keyboard fairly laborious 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 system is than the Professional fashions you beforehand had to purchase to get a Good 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 foul factor! It is a fantastic and sensible design that appears sensible and feels nice within the hand (and, since you get the curved under-edges slightly than the newer squared-off design, it is truly simpler to choose up than the Professional).
And also you get a headphone port, which is one thing Professional house owners need to handle with out.
As is commonplace for iPads at the moment, the Air is available in silver, gold and Area Gray. We examined a Area Gray unit, however would all the time vote for gold given the selection.
Specs & options
A lot for the iPad Air’s aesthetics. Let’s check out how nicely it performs.
Pace & graphics testing
Apple has geared up the Air with an A12 Bionic chip – the newest era of its cell processor line. As earlier than it is a compromise, for the reason that souped-up A12X model within the Professional iPads is even sooner, however it’s nonetheless a powerful inclusion at this worth and an enormous step up from the A10 Fusion within the iPad 9.7in.
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 take a look at, wasn’t far off doubling the efficiency of final yr’s 9.7in mannequin (6,056). It was in flip pretty simply overwhelmed by the iPad Professional 11in (18,381), however was noticeably sooner than the Professional from one era beforehand (9,300).
To guage graphical processing energy we use the GFXBench Steel app, and right here once more we 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 akin to the iPad Professional 11in, which was streets forward all through, however in a lot of the checks the Air was capable of beat the 2017 Professional convincingly.
In the event you’re a inventive skilled trying 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, then you definately is perhaps suggested to plump for an A12X system (and even anticipate the following spherical of iPad Execs, which can presumably get A13X chips). However for nearly all of us the iPad Air’s wonderful efficiency might be greater than sufficient, and provides 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 shopping. This was borne out in testing: it lasted 9 hours 24 minutes in Geekbench four’s battery benchmark, which is significantly extra demanding than real-world use.
That is nearly similar 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.
Our Air was bundled with a 10W charger, with which it went from empty to 13% energy in 30 minutes – fairly gradual going. We have heard that in some areas the Air is provided with a 12W charger, which can yield higher velocity.
Regardless of the persevering with presence of pretty massive bezels round edge, the iPad Air’s display screen 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 implausible: sharp, shiny, vibrant. Because of the brand new inclusion of True Tone it supplies a constant output in diversified circumstances, and the antireflective coating means you might have much less to concern from shiny overhead lighting.
Interacting with the display screen feels nice, due to the lamination already talked about and the nearly instantaneous response. It will be simple for Apple followers to take this with no consideration, however not all tablets give such a convincing phantasm that you’re bodily transferring across the onscreen components.
The Air has an 8Mp rear digital camera, identical as on the iPad 9.7in – a decent inclusion that gives reliably respectable photographs slightly than something spectacular. (We requested Apple if the A12’s neural engine would supply 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. Which is smart; few folks use a mid-size pill to take photos of good views, however most iPad house owners will get pleasure from 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 prices awkwardly by way of the Lightning port. We choose the Apple Pencil (2018), which attaches magnetically and prices wirelessly, however that is still unique to the 2018 iPad Professional fashions.
For a full rundown of what is suitable with what, learn Which iPads work with which Apple Pencils?
That is a lot of the specs & options price highlighting, however we’ll spare a couple of phrases for the storage allocation, which has been doubled at every tier from final yr: 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 yr we tended to advocate paying further 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 four.2 to five.zero, 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 iOS working system preinstalled: at time of writing, which means iOS 12.2. iOS is slick and quick – slicker and sooner than ever, due to optimisation within the model 12 replace – and recognized for its strong safety. iOS is just a little tougher to customize than Android, however the default setup is simpler and in our opinion extra satisfying to make use of.
Until you are prepared to jailbreak your system, you will solely be capable to obtain software program from the official App Retailer; nonetheless, there’s greater than 1,000,000 vetted, iPad-optimised apps on there. Premium and big-name apps are prone to come to iOS earlier than Android as a result of iPad house owners are extra prepared to spend cash.
In addition to the velocity increase (of curiosity primarily to house owners of older gadgets), iOS 12 added Display screen Time, a characteristic that will help you monitor and restrict app and system utilization. And group FaceTime calls had been added in iOS 12.1.
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 9.7in is cheaper, the iPad mini extra moveable, the iPad Professional 11in additional future-proofed for very demanding apps. However as an all-round bundle that is vastly interesting and fairly presumably one of the best (or not less than best-value) Apple has to supply.
It is a quick machine with a big and well-specced display screen, lengthy battery life and engaging (if old style) design – the outdated acquainted House button and significantly the headphone port might 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 it is a smart space for a mid-size pill to chop prices.
Speaking of which, £479/$499 (for the peerlessly sufficient base storage allocation) is sweet worth for all of the goodies simply talked about. These on a decent funds ought to select the iPad 9.7in, and a Professional mannequin might be higher for a inventive skilled, however for most individuals that is now the iPad to choose.
This assessment initially appeared on Macworld UK.