It might not look it, but the latest iPad Air has had quite the update with new features, even faster performance and now 5G connectivity that make it the ideal companion to work, play and to enjoy your content.
We see the iPad Air as “the middle iPad” because it offers a lot more power than the entry level iPad but is far more affordable than the iPad Pro.
Since its upgrade last year, with the new all screen design, the iPad Air has a lot more in common now with the iPad Pro than the entry level iPad.
And with the addition of Apple’s M1 processor, the iPad Air has gone from the middle iPad to an upper iPad that’s closer to the iPad Pro than ever before.
Sure, it doesn’t have Face ID, a larger Liquid Retina XDR display and mini-LED backlight of the iPad Pro.
But the iPad Air still has an impressive set of credentials that will make it attractive to customers looking for an iPad that delivers plenty of bang for your buck.
The device has a 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display with True Tone, P3 wide colour, 3.8 million pixels, 500 nits of brightness and an anti-reflective screen coating.
The M1 chip includes an 8-core CPU and an 8-core GPU for 2X faster graphics performance.
The 16-core Neural Engine also lays the platform for advanced machine learning functionality which allows users to do things like editing multiple streams of 4K video, playing graphics intensive games and using 3D and augmented reality applications.
Design-wise, the iPad Air looks virtually identical to the previous model except for some new colours including starlight and blue.
And it is just 6.1 millimetres thick and why is just 462g.
It still has the all-screen design with Touch ID built into the power button on top of the device so it can be unlocked instantly. There were some occasions where our finger didn’t quite line up with the thin button but most of the time it was flawless.
We’ve always loved this Touch ID placement with the iPad Air and wondered whether it would have a place on the iPhone as an alternative to Face ID – but that’s a story for another day.
For our review, we were using the new blue iPad Air and we were suitably impressed with its stunning design, speedy performance and easy connectivity.
One of the first things we noticed was the improvement in performance thanks to the new M1 chip which comes to the iPad Air for the first time and makes it up to 60 per cent faster than the previous model with two times faster graphics performance.
This is evident when using even the most demanding apps including 3D design apps like SketchUp, action-packed games like Apex Legends Mobile and rendering app uMake.
SketchUp Is a 3D design tool which allows users to design and communicate ideas in 3D.
On the iPad Air, a version we saw was smooth and responsive with the user able to scale and move objects quickly and easily.
If you’re into your gaming, the new iPad air has got your back and allows you to play the latest graphic intensive games smoothly and without buffering.
With first person shooter Apex Legends Mobile the graphics are rendered precisely right down to the shadows and skin tone and frenetic gameplay.
uMake introduces ray-tracing rendering to allow users to achieve a realistic presentation of their 3D scene.
Thanks to the M1 chip, the iPad Air was able to render faster using a single tap.
When using the Apple Pencil (it supports Apple Pencil second generation) with the iPad Air, we enjoyed impressive responsiveness when we were writing and sketching on the screen.
The new M1 chip is responsible for many of the new features and capabilities including bringing advanced machine learning to improve the photography and augmented reality performance.
On the camera side, the iPad Air has a 12-megapixel ultra-wide front facing camera which now includes Centre Stage, so you are kept in the middle of the frame during your video calls automatically.
There is another 12-megapixel camera on the back that allows you to take stunning images and shoot 4K video.
Connectivity is not an issue with the iPad Air and includes the USB-C port which offers data speeds twice as fast as the previous model so you can easily connect cameras, hard drives and external displays.
The iPad Air is also compatible with the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard so you can enjoy a faster connection across your entire home.
And if you’re out and about away from wi-fi, the iPad Air now has 5G support so you can tap into the faster cellular networks which are increasing in size every week.
When connected to 5G, users can enjoy faster downloads and uploads so they can easily stay productive or stream the latest content wherever they are.
The iPad Air is running iPadOS 15.4 which opens up new features like Universal Display which, if you already own a MacBook Pro or an iMac.
The turns the iPad Air into another display so you can increase your screen real estate and even move your mouse to the iPad Air screen and drag and drop images and files with ease.
The new iPad Air also works with Magic Keyboard for a smooth typing experience with its floating design and built-in trackpad.
And the iPad Air can run all day with 10 hours of battery life. This power efficiency is yet another benefit of the M1 processor.
If you want to do a little bit more on the move without the need to reach for a laptop, the iPad Air is more than capable of doing the job.
It’s aimed at the customer who requires a little more power and capability than the entry level iPad to complete tasks, be creative and get their work done anywhere.
And while it’s not quite in the same class as the iPad Pro in terms of screen size, power and features, the iPad Air most definitely holds its own and provides tremendous value to the user.
iPad Air will be available from March 18 in Space Grey, Starlight, Pink, Purple and Blue.
It will be priced at $929 (64GB, Wi-Fi), $1,159 (64GB, Wi-Fi + Cellular), $1,159 (256GB, Wi-Fi) and $1,389 (256GB, Wi-Fi + Cellular).
The iPad Air, now with the M1 processor, really punches above its weight to offer excellent performance to stay productive, connected and entertained anywhere.