The iPad series has been something of a puzzle in recent years. At the top end are the thin frames of the iPad Pro models, which have USB-C and are aimed at replacing laptops (see “Hell Freezes Over: Apple’s New iPad Pro Supports TouchPads”, March 18, 2020). The base model iPad comfortably sat at the bottom with its price of $ 329, and in recent years it received support for the first generation Apple Pencil and other accessories. In the middle, the iPad Air, with its old school design, support for only the first generation Apple Pencil and higher price tag was a bit of a mystery. And of course, it’s the popular, if often ignored, iPad mini that Apple finally revised last year (see “Apple quietly launches new iPad mini and iPad Air”
Now, Apple has redesigned the fourth-generation iPad Air to look like the 11-inch iPad Pro, and the lineup suddenly makes more sense. If you want more screen and less Home button, either a new iPad Air or an iPad Pro will satisfy your needs. This is also the case if you want a second generation Apple Pencil that does not roll off your desktop in a few minutes. The key is that for many people, the new iPad Air will give them everything they like about the iPad Pro for $ 200 less.
Apple also updated the base iPad with a new processor. There’s nothing to write home about, but it’s still an affordable and capable iPad that gets the job done.
You can buy a new iPad Air sometime in October. Apple says that the eighth generation iPad is available for order now and will be in stores September 18, 2020. Both models come with iPadOS 14.
Fourth generation iPad Air
Much of what’s new about the iPad Air is old news in the iPad Pro world, including the switch to a squared industrial design. There is a feature that is completely new to Apple devices: a sapphire crystal Touch ID sensor in the top button. Apple has traditionally built the Touch ID into the Home button, and later iPhones and iPads were switched to Face ID, except for a handful of budget models. But in the COVID-19 era, where many people wear face masks on a regular basis, Face ID has quickly become a significant responsibility. The addition of Touch ID to the top button is an interesting shift, and it may give an idea of what Apple has in store for the iPhone 12.
The new iPad Air has a 10.9-inch fully laminated Liquid Retina display with a resolution of 2360-by-1640. It’s up from the 10.5-inch screen in the previous model, which had a resolution of 2224-by-1668. The pixel density remains at 264 pixels per inch, as do the other P3 widescreen displays, True Tone support, full lamination and an anti-reflective coating.
The new iPad Air is 247.6 mm high, 178.5 mm wide and 6.1 mm thick. It is only a few millimeters shorter and wider than the previous model. The Wi-Fi model weighs exactly one pound (458 grams) while the mobile model weighs 1.01 pounds (460 grams), just a few grams heavier than before. It is extremely comparable to the 11-inch iPad Pro.
The iPad Air is powered by Apple’s new 6-core A14 Bionic chip, which is interesting because iPad models usually get either the remaining iPhone chips or updated versions such as the A12X. We’ll probably see the A14 Bionic in some of Apple’s next series of iPhones. Apple claims a 40% increase in overall performance and energy efficiency compared to the previous iPad Air. It also includes a 4-core graphics processor that Apple claims provides 30% graphics improvement over the previous model. The A14 Bionic also incorporates a 16-core Neural Engine for enhanced artificial intelligence processing.
The rear camera is a 12 megapixel wide-angle lens with f / 1.8 aperture that can record 4K video at 60 frames per second. The forward-facing camera has a 7-megapixel lens with an f / 2.0 aperture that can record 1080p video at up to 60 frames per second.
The fourth generation iPad Air has a 28.6-watt-hour battery that offers up to 10 hours of web browsing or video recording. Like the iPad Pro models, the new iPad Air Lightning switches to USB-C for both charging and peripherals.
Like the previous model, the new iPad Air produces stereo sound, with speakers at the top and bottom. It also continues to offer dual microphones for noise reduction and greater call clarity.
The fourth generation iPad Air comes in five colors: space gray, silver, pink gold, green and sky blue. It starts at $ 599 for the 64GB Wi-Fi model. A 256 GB Wi-Fi model is available for $ 749. Mobile models cost $ 729 for 64 GB of storage or $ 879 for 256 GB. A USB-C charging cable and 20 watt USB-C power adapter are included. AppleCare + for iPad Air is $ 69 for 2 years coverage or $ 3.49 per month indefinitely.
Eighth generation iPad
Apple has also updated the base model iPad, with the only change being the transition to the 6-core A12 Bionic from last year’s 4-core A10 Fusion processor. Otherwise, it is identical to the seventh generation model, with the same 10.2-inch Retina display and Smart Connector. The new model is still compatible with only the first generation Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard, and does not work with the second generation Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard.
The eighth-generation iPad starts at $ 329 for the 32GB Wi-Fi model, though teachers can buy it for $ 299. The 128GB Wi-Fi model costs $ 429. Add $ 130 for mobile capacity. It comes in space gray, silver and gold.