I’VE spent a week using Apple’s hottest (and feather-light) new iPad Air.
As far as great gadgets go, it certainly looks the part. But it’s what’s inside that counts – and there’s a lot going on inside.
Bear in mind, we’ve had the iPad for 12 years now.
And in that time it’s gone from effectively a gadget novelty to what many would see as an essential tool for work, play and…well, showing off.
The iPad Air ($599/£569) is at the mid-point in the line-up: it’s pricier than the iPad, cheaper than the iPad Pro, and far bigger than the iPad mini.
From the outside, not much has changed for the 2022 iPad Air. That’s good – the previous iPad Air (2020’s 4th-gen model) was very pretty.
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This model has a large 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display, and a wide P3 colour gamut so visuals are colourful and accurate.
The resolution is a pin-sharp 2360 x 1640, or 264 pixels-per-inch.
And it goes up to 500 nits brightness, so you’ll get decent viewing outside.
Touch ID is built into the top-button, letting you use your fingerprint to unlock the iPad Air, download apps and use Apple Pay.
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Visually, it’s the same iPad Air that we know and love.
But there are two big changes this time around.
The first is that Apple has seriously supercharged the power of this tablet.
Typically Apple has fitted iPads with iPhone chips, ultimately limiting their performance.
But the iPad Pro was recently upgraded with Apple’s PC-grade M1 chip.
Now the iPad Air has been given the same speedy M1 treatment.
Official figures suggest that the new iPad Air is 60% faster than the old one.
That’s hard to quantify in normal usage. What’s clear is that it’s very fast.
Editing videos, building heavy files on Procreate, and playing games – it’s all a breeze.
Nothing seems to burden the iPad Air, and it brings the tablet closer to the iPad Pro than ever before.
It’s a real joy to use, and could easily (with the Magic Keyboard accessory) serve as a laptop replacement for casual users, students and plenty of professionals too.
The other major change for the new iPad Air is 5G.
You have to pay extra for the 5G model, but it means access to the fastest mobile speeds available right now.
Of course, you’ll also need to fork out for a 5G SIM.
And you’ll also need to make sure there’s 5G network coverage in your area.
If you’re using the iPad Air on the go a lot, it’s definitely worth considering.
You’ll be able to stream hi-res video very easily with a good 5G connection, too.
5G is increasingly common (and often inexpensive, or even included in your regular tariff), so now’s a good a time as any to upgrade.
The rear camera is decent enough. It’s not as impressive as the iPad Pro shooter, but it takes great snaps nonetheless.
And it can also shoot very smooth 4K video at 60 frames per second to boot.
A neat trick on the front camera this time around is Centre Stage.
This keeps you front and centre when you’re on a FaceTime call.
So if you move around – or even when multiple people join the scene – you stay in the centre of the frame.
It’s a great trick and it almost always works extremely well.
There are two storage options: 64GB and 256GB. If this is a device for both work and personal use, perhaps consider the latter.
It’s a lightweight bit of kit at just over a pound, but this creeps up if you add a Magic Keyboard and (marginally) an Apple Pencil.
The speakers are impressive for the tablet’s size, so you could easily use it to watch TV or a movie at home.
And battery life is decent enough too.
Apple’s official figures suggest 10 hours of web usage on WiFi or watching video, and nine hours on a cellular connection.
You could use it comfortably for a good day of work, studying or a long plane flight.
It runs on Apple’s iPadOS 15, which is improving at a blistering pace.
Some professionals will still prefer using macOS on a Mac, but the iPad treads the line between an iPhone and a laptop in a brilliant way.
Better yet, we’re almost certainly getting iPadOS 16 later this year, which will likely bring new iPad wonders to enjoy.
There are five colours in total: Space Grey, Starlight, Pink, Purple, Blue.
It’s a nice selection that should suit everyone – and they all look fantastic.
The Purple and Blue are particularly nice, but it’s totally down to user preference.
The iPad Air is now significantly more tempting – especially versus the iPad Pro.
There’s no question that the Pro is the more superior device.
But you can make significant cash savings with the iPad Air, and the compromises are few.
The regular iPad is still the best option for cash-strapped buyers or very casual users.
But anyone looking to get more from their tablet should definitely consider the iPad Air. It leaves Android rivals dead in the water.
The Sun says: For its looks and value for money, the new iPad Air is probably Apple’s most attractive iPad. A true powerhouse with a lightweight body and 5G support, without breaking the bank. 5/5
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The new iPad Air costs $599/£569 for the WiFi model, or $749/£719 for the 5G cellular version. Upgrading storage to 256GB costs an extra $150/£150, and the Magic Keyboard costs $299/£279. The new iPad Air is available to pre-order now, and is out on Friday, March 18.
All prices in this article were correct at the time of writing, but may have since changed. Always do your own research before making any purchase.
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