Apple 2020 iPad Air 4 review: More pro than not

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Apple’s iPad Air 4 has a cult following, and for good cause. It occupies the very best spot within the lineup — it is not the most affordable pill Apple makes however nonetheless is available in at an affordable value level for what you get.

The fourth-generation noticed the primary actual large redesign — it is skinny, quick, and boasts a slick, flat again, actually incomes it the “air” monicker. With its well-earned placement because the go-to iPad that matches “excellent,” it’s no surprise people had been so excited that Apple had launched a brand new mannequin.

A much-needed, and colourful, redesign

We will not start this assessment with out speaking by way of the design adjustments. This freshly-updated iPad Air 4 has borrowed a lot from the iPad Professional line. It has the same squared-off design, serving to to modernize the design.

Liquid Retina display with tap-to-wake on iPad Air 4

Liquid Retina show with tap-to-wake on iPad Air 4

The display goes almost edge-to-edge with a Liquid Retina show, full with curved corners. It has smaller bezels than the iPad Air earlier than it. The earlier era had a ten.5-inch 2224-by-1668 show with 264 pixels per inch. The brand new iPad Air 4 measures up at 10.9 inches and a 2360-by-1640-pixel decision, nonetheless at 264 PPI.

Despite the fact that the display is bigger, the iPad Air 4 nonetheless maintains its compact really feel. The bezels do probably the most work with growing usable space as they’re much extra slim.

iPad Air 4 comes with a 20W USB-C power brick

iPad Air 4 comes with a 20W USB-C energy brick

One of the vital important adjustments this era is the migration from Lightning to USB-C. With USB-C, there may be an endless checklist of latest performance afforded by varied peripherals. Now you can connect with loads of units, akin to exterior USB-C 4K shows, printers, USB-C hubs with a number of SSDs, SD playing cards, and wired Ethernet. It is going to allow you to immediately join your digicam that makes use of USB Sort-C, akin to the newest mirrorless cameras or the brand new GoPro Hero9 Black.

Whereas exterior storage and cameras are in all probability a very powerful and continuously used of the bunch, USB-C opens the floodgate for a lot extra for iPad. We’re thrilled Apple has introduced this function from the iPad Professional to the iPad Air.

One other important enchancment is the swap to the second-generation Apple Pencil. The primary-gen Apple Pencil charged over Lightning, so with the transfer to USB-C, Apple had no alternative however to go to the second-gen Pencil on the similar time.

Apple Pencil 2 on iPad Air 4

Apple Pencil 2 on iPad Air 4

The Apple Pencil 2 has some advantages over the primary. It includes a matte end, wi-fi charging, and a extra comfy grip. You may faucet the aspect of the second-generation Apple Pencil as a shortcut to alternate between controls. For instance, should you’re utilizing the Apple Pencil as a paintbrush and also you make a mistake, you’ll be able to double-tap the aspect and it’ll swap to eraser mode. Some apps have totally different shortcuts you’ll be able to create, although Apple’s personal Notes app adjustments to the eraser and again.

Since Apple nixed the Lightning port, inductive charging is used as a substitute. Apple Pencil 2 snaps itself to the sting of the iPad Air and prices wirelessly. It is a rather more elegant answer than awkwardly protruding from the tip of the pill. Whereas it’s vulnerable to falling off if bumped or jostled by accident, we do choose this technique by far.

Because it tends to do, Apple additionally targeted on the small particulars and has beautiful animations each time the Apple Pencil is positioned on the charger to let you understand how a lot battery is remaining.

This pill doesn’t function Face ID however as a substitute depends on a revamped model of Contact ID. For the reason that Residence button has gone the best way of the dodo, Apple needed to relocate the biometric sensor to the sleep/wake button as a substitute. That is the primary time Contact ID has existed outdoors the Residence button on an iPad, and it took some effort to get used to it.

Touch ID setup

Contact ID setup

Throughout setup, iPad Air 4 guides you thru enrolling your finger with Contact ID. When held in portrait orientation, this might usually be your proper index finger. However iPad, in contrast to maybe an iPhone, is meant for use in virtually any path. That is why Apple actively encourages you throughout setup to rotate the iPad and enroll a second fingerprint. We might not have completed this immediately if not prompted, however when the iPad is in panorama mode, it turns into extra handy to unlock the display with a finger in your left hand.

Rest to open via Touch ID

Relaxation to open with Contact ID

Unlocking the iPad Air 4 with Contact ID is simple to do— click on the button to wake your iPad Air and it’ll routinely learn your fingerprint. In the event you then maintain your finger there for only a second, it’s going to “open” your iPad and take you to the Residence display. In the event you’re extra accustomed to Face ID units, akin to newer fashions of the iPhone or the iPad Professional, this will likely take some getting used to. We’d usually discover ourselves tapping the display however then have to maneuver our hand to the sting to unlock with Contact ID.

It is not an enormous adjustment, nevertheless it feels barely slower and clunkier than Face ID. It’s no cause to shell out further for the iPad Execs, however it’s the one time we felt considerably held up by the iPad Air 4.

Just a few different adjustments value mentioning, iPad Air now helps Wi-Fi 6, has an upgraded 12MP rear-facing digicam that may shoot 4K video, and improved audio system— although there are nonetheless solely two.


If we check out efficiency, we discover immediately how zippy this iPad Air is. It opens apps, multitasks, and bounds across the UI like nothing is holding it again. When performing primary duties, it seems like probably the most responsive iPad but. Not by a lot contemplating the iPad Professional was no slouch however is noticeable side-by-side.

For a extra standardized check, we turned to Geekbench. In model 5.2.5, our iPad Air scored a 1588 and a 4120 on the only and multi-core assessments. That compares very nicely to the 2020 iPad Professional, which scored 1117 and 4690 by itself single and multi-core benchmarks.

New speakers on iPad Air 4

New audio system on iPad Air 4

That may be a roughly 30 % larger single-core rating, and it solely lags within the multi-core check by round 12 %. The A14 Bionic processor is a six-core chip with a base clock pace of two.99GHz with 4GB of RAM. The present iPad Execs have the A12Z Bionic processor that sports activities eight cores at 2.49GHz and 6GB of RAM.

So the iPad Air 4 has much less practical cores than the iPad Professional, nevertheless it makes up for it with a quicker clock pace. Therefore the extra spectacular single-core outcomes and falling solely barely behind in multi-core.

Most duties are solely single-core operations, so this iPad Air ought to really feel quicker day-to-day. It is going to undergo barely on multi-core intensive duties, akin to enhancing large 40MP RAW images or exporting a Dolby Imaginative and prescient HDR film in iMovie.

For graphics, the iPad Air as soon as extra has the slight edge. On the Steel compute benchmark of Geekbench, the 2020 iPad Professional scored 12021, whereas the iPad Air scored 12518. Presently, for graphics, this new iPad Air is probably the most highly effective on the market.

Once we evaluate the brand new iPad Air to the outgoing iPad Air, we see how marked the improve is. The earlier iPad Air, with its A12 Bionic, scored 1112 and 2826 On Geekbench. Its Steel rating was 5285. That is a 30 % single-core acquire and a 32 % multi-core acquire.

For on a regular basis duties and sophisticated duties, this iPad surpasses our expectations. The iPad Air 4 is at present probably the most highly effective iPad Apple has created to this point, and we imagine that customers will respect the hassle that has gone into making it.


Deciding whether or not an iPad Air is or is not productive is all subjective, because it is determined by what you’re utilizing it for. What we love in regards to the iPad Air 4 is how well-rounded it’s. It seems like the very best pill out there proper now. After all, it nonetheless lags behind the 2020 iPad Professional line in a couple of locations however that does not take away from how nice the iPad Air is.

In case you are in search of a pill primarily for work and better grades of college or school, we might counsel this pill over every other. It is not as costly because the iPad Professional line, nevertheless it has a more moderen processor and helps the much-improved second-generation Apple Pencil. It additionally has USB-C. In the event you’re seeking to join flash drives or different exterior storage, that is the most affordable iPad with that function.

Because it has the quickest single-core scores round, it additionally makes virtually any activity tremendous fast. You get stellar efficiency for nonetheless lower than an iPad Professional.

The display measurement has elevated, making it a superb system to learn on. In the event you plan on multitasking, you’ll be able to join an exterior USB-C monitor for extra display actual property.

This era iPad Air helps Magic Keyboard. We love the Magic Keyboard, regardless of its somewhat excessive price. It’s unbelievable to kind on — the keys really feel nice and even function a backlight. The built-in glass trackpad makes textual content enhancing and a few navigation a lot better than earlier than.

In the event you think about “being productive” as taking part in the newest video games, solely probably the most die-hard avid gamers will cry foul. As a result of lack of further graphical energy, it has barely decrease max settings than the iPad Professional line. For instance, Genshin Affect will get marginally decrease body charges than the iPad Professional however nonetheless runs very nicely with no distinction in gameplay.

A greater various?

The most important elephant within the room in the case of the brand new iPad Air is the choice between it and the last-generation iPad Professional. The 2018 11-inch iPad Professional makes a superb case for itself regardless of the actual fact it has been discontinued.

Apple changed the 2018 iPad Professional in early 2020 with new fashions. Nonetheless, the 2018 11-inch iPad Professional can nonetheless be discovered by way of licensed resellers and is a tempting various to the iPad Air 4.

In the event you select the older iPad Professional, you get a barely bigger show, Face ID, and a 120Hz ProMotion show. Its A12X Bionic processor nonetheless wins in multi-core efficiency and graphics energy over the iPad Air 4. That A12X Bionic processor will get the identical Geekbench single and multi-core scores since it’s the similar processor. Nonetheless, it lags barely behind on the Steel graphics check as a result of further graphics core within the A12Z Bionic processor.

Updated camera of iPad Air 4

Up to date digicam of iPad Air 4

For the reason that A12Z and A12X Bionic processors are so related, it makes it rather more acceptable to purchase a two-year-old pill with an “previous” processor. The one time you’ll discover a wall is on graphics-heavy duties, which might not be a difficulty for some customers.

Whenever you evaluate immediately, the previous 11-inch iPad Professional with 256GB of storage runs $749 which is identical value because the upper-tier 128GB 2020 iPad Air.

By selecting the previous iPad Professional, you lose out on the colours of the iPad Air in addition to a little bit of further storage. Relying in your use-case, it could be extra value it to lose these options and a tiny little bit of efficiency for these further advantages.

Do you have to purchase the brand new iPad Air 4?

It’s inarguable that the brand new iPad Air 4 is a unbelievable system. It merely is. It has the very best efficiency ever on an iPad — which says one thing — and has borrowed a lot of the iPad Professional options that matter, such because the design, Apple Pencil assist, improved show, USB-C, and Magic Keyboard assist.

Apple TV app on iPad Air 4

Apple TV app on iPad Air 4

The few compromises there are not any Face ID, no LiDAR, no 120Hz show. What you aren’t getting versus what you do is simple to evaluate, and the losses and do not profoundly diminish the iPad Air’s unimaginable skills.

That stated, it does get sophisticated when attempting to resolve between the brand new iPad Air and the previous-generation iPad Execs — not to mention the brand new iPad Execs which can be awkwardly slower than the Air.

We will say with certainty that the iPad Air 4 is phenomenal, and lots of customers who wish to strike a steadiness between value and efficiency shall be pleased with this one. There’ll undoubtedly be new iPad Execs sooner somewhat than later, which suggests some energy customers might wish to wait to improve. In order for you an iPad with Face ID and do not thoughts a small hit to efficiency, it’s best to hunt down a 2018 iPad Professional.

  • Improbable new design and colours
  • Apple Pencil 2 assist
  • Magic Keyboard assist
  • Improbable category-leading efficiency
  • USB-C
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • New Contact ID
  • No 120Hz ProMotion show
  • Value has gone up
  • Troublesome choice between iPad Air 4, 2018 iPad Professional, and 2020 iPad Professional
  • 64GB base storage

Scoring a product just like the 2020 iPad Air is advanced. When in comparison with the 2018 iPad Professional, greenback for greenback, function for function, the iPad Air will get a 4 out of 5, due to that proximity. In comparison with the 2020 iPad Professional line, although, the iPad Air is hands-down the higher worth and sheer processing energy proposition and a 4.5 out of 5 in that situation.

Offers on Apple’s new iPad Air

Apple’s iPad Air begins at $599, however the lowest iPad Air costs are at your fingertips within the AppleInsider Value Information, with main retailers discounting the fashions even proper at launch.


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