Final spring, Apple revived the iPad Air branding after letting it lie dormant for a number of years. The 2019 iPad Air was an awesome compromise between the affordability of the usual iPad and the efficiency and options of the far dearer iPad Professional.
The brand new 2020 mannequin continues in that custom. It’s dearer than the 2019 model, however incorporates extra of the Professional’s options and design and provides a considerable leap in efficiency.
With a beginning worth of $599, it’s not fairly the cut price the 2019 Air was at $499, particularly whenever you begin tacking on equipment just like the Apple Pencil or Magic Keyboard. Nonetheless, it’s a greater purchase than the iPad Professional for most individuals and a giant step up from the usual iPad.
Taking cues from iPad Professional
As with the iPad Air from 2019, the 2020 mannequin takes some cues from the iPad Professional, together with a large colour show with True Tone help, however this yr’s Air borrows much more.
Apple has shifted the iPad Air to the iPad Professional’s flat-edged design, ditching the house button in favor of a much bigger show with smaller bezels throughout. It’s precisely the identical dimension because the 11-inch iPad Professional, and even helps the Magic Keyboard made for that mannequin.
Like with the iPad Professional, the iPad Air now has a USB-C port as a substitute of a Lightning connector, which implies simpler entry to exterior storage units and cameras. Final yr’s iPad Air supported the first-generation Apple Pencil, whereas this yr’s mannequin helps the second-generation Pencil. It prices $30 extra, however the magnetic attachment and charging is a a lot better design.
The 8-megapixel f/2.4 digital camera has been swapped out for an upgraded 12-megapixel f/1.8 digital camera that takes a lot better pictures and movies. The entrance digital camera is properly improved, too, and likewise helps 1080p FaceTime calls.
However you don’t get all the things you get in an iPad Professional. That improved entrance digital camera shouldn’t be accompanied by the TrueDepth module for Face ID and Animoji. As a substitute, Apple has included a Contact ID sensor into the highest button (as there isn’t a extra room across the bezel for a house button).
It’s a superb resolution that works very properly, and is less complicated to have interaction when your iPad is propped up on a keyboard or stand, nevertheless it’s nonetheless inferior to Face ID. It additionally means no Portrait mode selfies.
You additionally don’t get the extra ultrawide digital camera on the again, nor the LiDAR scanner. These are actually of much less use to an iPad than an iPhone, so that you’re not lacking an excessive amount of.
The iPad Professional begins at 128GB of storage with choices as much as 1TB, whereas the iPad Air begins at 64GB with solely a single 256GB improve possibility (for an additional $150).
Maybe essentially the most easy-to-miss characteristic of the iPad Professional that’s lacking from the Air is the ProMotion 120Hz show, which is barely brighter, too.
All instructed, the iPad Air has most of what you’d need out of the iPad Professional at a beginning worth $200 decrease. For many customers, it’s a no brainer. The bottom iPad mannequin is just $329, however inferior to the Air in nearly each method.
Maybe essentially the most attention-grabbing side of the brand new iPad Air is that it’s powered by Apple’s A14 processor, the identical because the just-released iPhone 12 Professional. That places the Air in kind of an odd place, because it’s truly quicker in some significant methods than the iPad Professional with its A12z.
In our exams, single-core CPU efficiency is healthier on the A14, as is GPU compute. And whereas we don’t have a benchmark for it, the Neural Engine used for machine studying and AI code needs to be a lot quicker on the A14 as properly.
Then again, 3D graphics efficiency is considerably larger on the A12z, and multi-core efficiency continues to be a little bit bit higher. When you’re fascinated about an iPad Professional, you would possibly need to look ahead to Apple to launch one with an A14X processor in it, at which level it’ll as soon as once more symbolize an enormous efficiency leap over the iPad Air.
In any case, the iPad Air launched this fall runs circles across the iPad Air launched within the spring of 2019 with its A12 processor.
The one exception is battery life. In our exams, which contain setting the show to a set 200 nits and working the Geekbench 4 battery benchmark till the battery dies, we discovered the outdated iPad Air lasted roughly half an hour longer. It’s solely about an 8 % distinction and never price stressing over, although we all the time need extra battery life in newer merchandise, not much less.
Higher bang to your buck
With this yr’s revision of the iPad Air, Apple elevated the beginning worth from $499 to $599 whereas nonetheless supplying you with 64GB of storage.
Regardless of the value hike, the 2020 iPad Air provides you extra bang to your buck. It’s so much quicker—we anticipate that with the pure development of chip design and manufacture—nevertheless it’s received numerous different advantages, too.
It now copies the superior iPad Professional design, with flat edges, a USB-C port, second-gen Apple Pencil help, and compatibility with the superb Magic Keyboard. It’s received higher cameras on back and front, and slim, symmetrical bezels across the show.
The brand new iPad Air is an apparent leap over the common iPad, one that you just’ll recognize even for those who don’t want quicker efficiency. Much less apparent is the necessity to spend $200 extra for an iPad Professional. Solely those that actually need “professional” efficiency and plenty of storage will actually need to pay that premium, after which solely after Apple releases an iPad Professional with one thing quicker than the A12z processor.