During an online event from Apple Park in Cupertino, Apple introduced a new iPad Air that looks like it will compete with the iPad Pro in many ways. The company also took wraps of its 8th generation base model iPad, which has a faster SoC.
The previous generation iPad Air was introduced in March 2019 as a mid-range iPad between the base model and the iPad Pro. That model was actually a cheaper version of the discontinued 10.5 ”iPad Pro updated with new internals. The older model Air started at $ 499 and supported many of the same features as the iPad Pro with the notable exceptions of Apple’s ProMotion technology and the second generation Apple Pencil.
Weighing in at one pound, the new Air has the same weight as the model it replaces, but with a 10.9-inch screen thanks to its edge-to-edge design. Like the previous version of the Air, this model is also 6.1 mm thick. Air is available in 64 and 256 GB models, charges via USB-C, and comes with an upgraded sound system with a set of stereo speakers.
From an accessories point of view, the new Air graduates to support the second generation Apple Pencil and works with the Magic Keyboard made for the 11 ”iPad Pro. There is a new Smart Folio cover which is also available in five colors.
Like the Pro, the new Air screen Liquid Retina is curved in the corners. The screen is 2360 x 1640 pixels for a total of 3.8 million pixels packed with 264 pixels per inch. The screen also supports P3 colors and Apple’s True Tone technology, but not ProMotion, which is still limited to the Pro model and means that Apple Pencil latency is twice as large as Pro.
Other iPad Pro features not available on iPad Air include:
- Face ID
- Pro’s sound system with 4 speakers
The iPad Pro also has twice the CPU and GPU cores of the Air, which has four.
The camera on the back of the iPad Air is the same as on the iPad Pro at 12MP. The rear-facing camera also has f / 1.8 aperture, automatic image stabilization, support for Smart HDR, Focus Pixels, and can record 4K video at 24, 30 or 60 fps and 1080p video at 30 or 60 fps. On the front of the iPad Air is a 7MP camera with an f / 2.0 aperture that can record 1080p video at 60 fps. The air also has 4K video output via the USB-C port, but data transfer is limited to 5Gbps, half of the potential 10Gbps of the iPad Pro.
According to Apple, the new hardware for the iPad Air allows significantly improved performance. The A14 Bionic SoC that powers the iPad Air is built using a 5-nanometer process. This allows Apple to pack 11.8 billion transistors on a 6-core CPU and offer 30% better GPU performance. In practice, these numbers translate into better game textures and shading, faster machine learning processing for apps like Pixelmator Photo, which I covered earlier today, and new features in resource-intensive apps like Djay, all of which were demoed during Apple’s event.
The iPad Air will be available in October, from $ 599, $ 100 more than the previous model.
Apple’s base model iPad, which has a 10.2-inch screen, has also been updated. The new eighth generation model has been upgraded to an A12 Bionic SoC. Unlike the iPad Air, the eighth-generation iPad has not been redesigned. Still, the upgrade to the iPad internals promises to make a meaningful difference for users.
According to Apple, the A12 is 40% faster than the SoC used in the previous model. This results in graphics performance that is twice as fast as before, and which Apple emphasized significantly faster than a Windows laptop, Android tablet or Chromebook. There is a new Smart Cover for the device which is also available in eight colors.
The eighth generation iPad can be ordered today with availability on Friday 18. September. Rates start at $ 329.
What surprised me most about the iPad announcements today is how far Air has jumped in the future. Although there are still significant differences between it and the 11-inch iPad Pro, the gap looks much narrower than ever before. The extra cores on the A12Z, Face ID and ProMotion are all important features that make my 12.9 ”iPad Pro an important part of my work setup, but the power of the iPad Air should be more than enough to function as an even more portable device. for around the house or when traveling. It will be very interesting to see how these two devices compare when tested side by side.
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