Apple iPad Air (2020) assessment: The pill for everybody – Android Authority

Apple’s “Air” branding has morphed through the years. As an alternative of representing the thinnest and lightest potential model of Apple’s product line, the Air moniker is now a extra nebulous time period — used as each an affix and suffix — throughout quite a lot of gadgets, from laptops, to earbuds, and, after all, Apple’s legendary pill collection, the iPad.

The iPad Air is now in its fourth era and, no less than right here, the Air model has held agency to its authentic that means. Not counting the diminutive iPad Mini, the iPad Air (2020) is the thinnest and lightest iPad you should buy. Nonetheless, the iPad Air additionally serves one other vital goal: to bridge the hole between the ultra-premium iPad Professional and the usual iPad.

Does the most recent iPad Air strike the correct stability of worth, specs, and options to compete with the perfect tablets you should buy? Discover out in Android Authority’s iPad Air (2020) assessment.

About this iPad Air (2020) assessment: I used the iPad Air for 12 days working software program model iPadOS 14.5.1. It was upgraded to iPadOS 14.6 in the course of the testing interval. The iPad Air (2020) unit was bought by Android Authority for this assessment.

What it’s worthwhile to know concerning the iPad Air (2020)

Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

  • iPad Air (Wi-Fi solely, 64GB): $599/£579/€649
  • iPad Air (Wi-Fi solely, 256GB): $749/£729/€819
  • iPad Air (Wi-Fi + Mobile, 64GB): $729/£709/€789
  • iPad Air (Wi-Fi + Mobile, 256GB): $879/£859/€959

The iPad Air (2020) launched on September 15, 2020, a full yr and a half after the earlier mannequin. Apple started promoting the pill ranging from October 23 through its personal retailer and main third-party retailers within the US, throughout Europe, and in quite a lot of different markets.

This newest iteration of the iPad Air is the least iterative so far, that includes an all-new design influenced by its extra premium sibling, the iPad Professional. Nonetheless, the fourth-generation iPad Air retains its predecessor’s litheness. Each measure in at simply 6.1mm thick. Different notable modifications embody an anticipated processor improve, a bigger show with thinner bezels, and a USB-C port which replaces the outgoing, much-maligned Lightning port.

See additionally: The perfect iPad offers

These modifications additionally got here with a rise in worth. Within the US, the bottom “iPad Air 4” is priced at $599 in comparison with the earlier mannequin’s entry value of $499. This $100 premium additionally applies to fashions with extra storage and the mobile variants. Nonetheless, the usual iPad Air remains to be $200 cheaper than the entry-level iPad Professional and a whopping $500 cheaper than the 12.9-inch iPad Professional mannequin with all of the fanciest show tech.

The iPad Air is available in Area Gray, Silver, Rose Gold, Inexperienced, and Sky Blue. It’s also appropriate with a wider array of non-obligatory (and costly) equipment than another iPad Air mannequin, together with the Magic Keyboard and the second-generation Apple Pencil. As a result of new design of the pill and the introduction of USB-C, earlier circumstances and the unique Apple Pencil will not be appropriate with the brand new iPad Air. That’s how Apple will get you!

How is the brand new design?

apple ipad air 2020 review smart connector usb c

Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

That is maybe an odd factor to say a couple of 10.9-inch pill, however the iPad Air feels loads like an iPad Professional Mini. Not a lot by way of stature; it’s nonetheless a sizeable slate and it’s truly a fraction thicker than the 11-inch iPad Professional. However the acquainted, virtually brutalist design of the refreshed iPad Professional collection has transitioned so effortlessly into the Air’s design blueprint that it comes off as its child sibling.

Like with each iPad Air so far, this mannequin effortlessly balances the need for display actual property with portability and it does so efficiently. The bezels aren’t gone, however they’ve been diminished to the purpose the place there’s simply sufficient room to grip the pill in any orientation.

Due to the brand new colorways, that is the funkiest iPad so far.

The newly adopted flatter design marks the largest change for the iPad Air’s ergonomics since its inception. The squared-off edges, curved corners, and flush entrance and rear — glass and recycled aluminum, respectively — mesh properly with the design language of Apple’s wider ecosystem and, extra importantly, lend a extra premium look to the Air line. The exact weight distribution additionally means it by no means feels too gentle or delicate within the hand.

Regardless of its harsher look, the iPad Air is among the funkiest iPads so far due to the array of colorways on supply. We opted for the good-looking Rose Gold model, which makes its iPad Air debut alongside pastel-like Inexperienced and Sky Blue finishes.

One casualty of the thinner bezels on the iPad Air is the normal round house/Contact ID button. As an alternative, the fingerprint reader has been relocated to the ability button on the highest fringe of the pill. It’s rather less constant and the unlocking perform requires you to push down on the button and never simply relaxation your finger on it. In the meantime, holding on for too lengthy summons Siri. It’s all a bit awkward, but it surely’s fast when it registers your inputs accurately. For now, Face ID stays an iPad Professional-only characteristic on Apple’s tablets.

apple ipad air 2020 review display

Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

One other characteristic that doesn’t transition down from the iPad Professional is the adaptive ProMotion show tech. As an alternative, the iPad Air sports activities a daily ol’ static 60Hz panel. When you’ll solely actually know the distinction in case you’ve acquired a sooner refresh charge show available, that is nonetheless a notable compromise, particularly when the equally priced Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 can push to 120Hz.

In any other case, the ten.9-inch Liquid Retina display is a stunner. Colours are vivid, the decision is lots excessive sufficient for a pill, and the anti-reflective coating helps with glare. Nonetheless, this isn’t the brightest panel round and it struggles in brilliant situations. That is solely actually an issue if you wish to work outdoors on a sunny day with a keyboard case connected; indoors it’s completely satisfactory.

In very Apple vogue, the glass protecting the display is barely described in unfastened phrases. The Cupertino firm says it’s scratch-resistant and oleophobic, with the latter designed to guard towards smudgy fingerprints. I didn’t discover any scratches showing in my time with it, however there have been plentiful fingerprint smudges.

apple ipad air 2020 review pencil

Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

Lastly, we have now to speak about equipment. The iPad Air (2020) brings a complete new armada of devices to play with, offered you’re completely happy to stump up some hefty further premiums.

The obvious is the Apple Pencil 2 ($119), which fees magnetically when pinned towards the correct fringe of the iPad Air. The Air additionally has a Sensible Connector on the rear which allows use with Apple’s princely Magic Keyboard ($279), identical to the iPad Professional. Alternatively, there’s the Sensible Keyboard Folio case ($179). They’re all costly, however the possibility of closely augmenting your iPad Air is there in case you’re keen to spend the money.

Learn extra: The perfect equipment you may get for the iPad

The most important addition is completely free, although, and it’s perhaps the least thrilling factor you might put in a gross sales pitch: the USB-C port. The swap from the proprietary Lightning port to the common USB-C normal opens a non-Professional iPad to a world of exterior gadgets for the primary time. Wish to switch information immediately from a conveyable HDD? Now you’ll be able to. Whereas it doesn’t supply the extra layer of Thunderbolt connectivity discovered on the most recent iPad Professional collection, even the usual USB-C port discovered here’s a long-overdue improve for Apple’s tablets.

There was a sufferer within the transition, although. There’s no headphone jack on the fourth-generation iPad Air. I suppose you’ll be able to’t win all of them.

What’s it like to make use of the iPad Air (2020)?

apple ipad air 2020 review front 2

Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

The iPad Air runs like a dream. It’s no M1 chip, however the A14 Bionic is not any slouch. Animations aren’t as fluid because of the lack of ProMotion show tech, however the precise transition speeds between apps and processes are fast.

Alongside Apple’s customized silicon there’s 4GB of RAM (one thing Apple doesn’t formally disclose), which is lots for primary multitasking, although you’ll begin to see apps drop out of reminiscence in case you push it too onerous for too lengthy. Likewise, the GPU isn’t as highly effective as even the 2020 iPad Professional. What meaning in follow is that the iPad Air is completely able to working pro-grade apps like Procreate and LumaFusion, however it is going to start to really feel the pressure in case you begin introducing huge file sizes and a number of workflows directly.

Additionally learn: Which iPhone is best for you?

As nice as all that’s, the bottom storage scenario is inexcusable. No cell gadget at this worth ought to include non-expandable 64GB inside storage, particularly when simply over 10GB of it’s taken up by mandatory system information. This ridiculous scenario is compounded by the sharp bounce in worth for the 256GB max storage variant. Why is there no 128GB mannequin?

The completely app-centric expertise of utilizing a pill means the ~54GB of storage the bottom mannequin is left with after updates will quickly replenish — extra so if you wish to seize video games from the App Retailer. It’s workable, particularly for those who solely need to use the pill for streaming films, looking the online, and taking part in the odd recreation. Nonetheless, for anybody juggling a number of demanding customers or working inventive apps, you’ll should be keen to often delete some apps to make room for brand new ones and/or usually plug in an exterior drive (although it’ll should be APFS-encrypted) for information. iCloud is there as a possible backup too, which is infinitely extra helpful these days due to iPadOS’ Information app as you’ll be able to entry the iCloud Drive’s contents with just a few faucets. Plus, you’ll be able to simply swap to Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, or different supported third-party suppliers.

How good is the iPad Air (2020)’s battery life?

For those who’ve ever used an iPad earlier than you’ll know what to anticipate right here: round a day’s medium-to-heavy use. Extra particularly, that interprets to about 10 hours of net browsing on a single cost based on Apple.

In actuality, your expertise with battery life on the iPad Air (2020) will rely in your utilization patterns. For those who’re solely utilizing it casually as a media streaming gadget or for infrequent note-taking, the iPad Air (2020) can fairly simply see out two days. Conversely, in case you begin utilizing it extensively for gaming, utilizing pro-level apps, or hooking it as much as a keyboard for work, you’ll have to cost it up every night. It doesn’t matter what, although, the iPad Air (2020) is a full-day pill.

It’s price noting that I examined the Wi-Fi mannequin. Anticipate a small hit to battery life in case you’re working the pill on LTE networks. As for charging, the iPad Air (2020) goes from zero to 100% in round two and a half hours — not the quickest, however a tolerable wait time for a sub-premium pill.

What’s iPadOS like on the iPad Air (2020)?

apple ipad air 2020 review files

Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

Let’s discuss iPadOS. Launched because the second iteration of iPadOS in late 2020, iPadOS 14 moved the platform additional away from its roots in cell and extra in the direction of a center floor between Apple’s iOS and macOS. The iPad Air (2020) is ready to be up to date to iPadOS 15 later this yr, however till then, it’s model 14 that runs out of the field.

Of the core additions, Information pairs properly with USB-C help, and you’ll lastly set a unique default browser (and electronic mail app) as an alternative of Safari. Siri is a little bit smarter than earlier than (however nonetheless not on the identical stage as Google Assistant), and the common search perform has been refined. Total, it’s a modest however vital step for iPadOS.

Additionally learn: Chromebook vs iPad — which is greatest for you?

iPadOS 14 is much from excellent, although. Regardless of being so fondly obtained on iOS, the lengthy, lengthy overdue addition of widgets is a profound disappointment right here. Fairly than making use of all the additional display actual property, the entire widgets are constrained to a pull-out menu that replaces the At present View of previous. Whereas iPadOS 15 will repair the scenario later this yr with desktop-style widget management (and an App Library like iOS), it’s baffling it wasn’t there from launch.

Fortunately, the broader app expertise is a superb as ever. The App Retailer is rigorously curated to focus on the litany of iPad-optimized apps out there and cell avid gamers get the perfect the business can supply with the intensive Apple Arcade library (for a $4.99 month-to-month price).

apple ipad air 2020 review control center

Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

Whereas apps are nonetheless a boon for Apple’s pill line, there are many pro-grade apps that professionals don’t get entry to — most notably first-party Apple functions you’d discover on macOS like Last Minimize Professional, Logic Professional, and Xcode. These omissions are extra of a problem for the iPad Professional (particularly the souped-up M1 variant), but it surely’s a disgrace that would-be iPad Air energy customers additionally miss out.

Finally, the iPad expertise remains to be locked down in a method that will alienate Android and Home windows traditionalists. If it’s not within the App Retailer, you’ll be able to’t use it. Nonetheless, there’s security and safety within the walled backyard, to not point out long-term software program help that can outlive any Android pill.

iPadOS remains to be maturing, however Apple’s App Retailer comprises a wealth of well-optimized apps and video games.

There’s additionally the ecosystem issue. The iPad Air not solely has entry to equipment just like the Apple Pencil 2 and Magic Keyboard — two issues that elevate it past the vanilla iPad’s performance — however there are additionally cross-software options like Handoff, AirPlay, AirDrop, Common Clipboard, and Sidecar. The latter is particularly nice on a display this measurement in case you’re working out of desk house for a second monitor.

It must be famous that for these coming from older iPads, there’s a little bit of adjustment wanted for the navigation gestures made mandatory by the brand new iPad Air’s lacking house button. That stated, anybody with a lately launched smartphone will really feel proper at house because the de facto swipe instructions discovered on iOS and Android apply right here.

Anything?

apple ipad air 2020 review camera touch id

Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

Entrance digital camera: The 7MP front-facing digital camera is completely appropriate for the occasional selfie and might seize video at as much as 1080p at 60fps. Sadly, the location (throughout the facet bezel when positioned horizontally) means it’ll seem like you’re staring off into the space on vital convention calls.

Rear digital camera: If you’d like a pill with an amazing rear digital camera, the iPad Air (2020) isn’t it. That stated, the 12MP, f/1.8 lens is serviceable in good lighting. You additionally don’t get LiDAR for augmented actuality enjoyable — that’s an iPad Professional-only characteristic. It does help 4K video at 60fps, although, up from 1080p on the final era.

Connectivity: No 5G, however the iPad Air (2020) does help Wi-Fi 6. The shortage of 5G shouldn’t be a dealbreaker for anybody, but it surely does imply the mobile model isn’t fairly as futureproofed because it could possibly be.

Audio: Whereas it has 4 grilles, the iPad Air (2020) solely has two audio system for stereo audio. The sound is evident and will get lots loud, but it surely lacks depth at larger volumes.

iPad Air (2020) specs

Apple iPad Air (2020)
Show

Apple iPad Air (2020):

10.9-inch Liquid Retina LCD
2,360 x 1,640 pixels
264ppi
500nits

Processor

Apple iPad Air (2020):

Apple A14 Bionic

RAM

Apple iPad Air (2020):

4GB

Storage

Apple iPad Air (2020):

64GB
256GB

Digital camera

Apple iPad Air (2020):

Major:
12MP digital camera
ƒ/1.8 aperture
Entrance:
7MP
ƒ/2.0 aperture

Battery

Apple iPad Air (2020):

28.9Wh
Rated for 10 hours

Headphone jack

Apple iPad Air (2020):

No

Dimensions

Apple iPad Air (2020):

247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1mm

Weight

Apple iPad Air (2020):

Wi-Fi: 458g
LTE: 460g

Ports

Apple iPad Air (2020):

Sensible Connector
USB-C

Colours

Apple iPad Air (2020):

Silver, Area Grey, Rose Gold, Inexperienced, Sky Blue

Worth and competitors

ipad air 4th gen

Apple iPad Air

The Apple iPad Air (2020) strikes an amazing stability between worth and options with a refreshed, premium design, vibrant show, loads of accent choices, and fast efficiency.

The pill market is in a bleak spot in terms of choices. That leaves the iPad Air in a particularly tight spot on the prime of the meals chain throughout the sub-premium section. Nonetheless, there are options to think about.

The iPad Air’s strongest competitor is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 (the Tab S7 Plus goals a little bit larger), which has an MSRP of $579. With the bottom Tab S7, you’re getting probably the greatest Android tablets ever made, and one which scores some punches towards Apple’s illustrious slate. The most important examples are the bundled S Pen (no $119 premium right here), fashions with 5G help, a 120Hz refresh charge show, and even longer battery life. The front-facing digital camera is even in the correct place!

Associated: The perfect Android tablets | The perfect low-cost Android tablets

What you don’t get with the Galaxy Tab S7 is a mature app ecosystem. Google’s efforts to nurture Android as a platform for bigger screens have been woeful through the years, resulting in a library of apps which might be typically under-optimized and even outright unusable. Likewise, whereas Samsung has promised three years of software program upgrades, that’ll pale compared to the long-term help you’ll get with the iPad Air. Working example, the seven-year-old iPad Air 2 is upgradable to the most recent model of iPadOS.

An alternative choice is the Microsoft Floor Go 2 — a diminutive tablet-laptop hybrid that’s solely actually price contemplating in case you completely want Home windows in your life. In typical Floor vogue, it’s a well-designed piece of {hardware} — with a kickstand besides — however even the highest mannequin has a woefully underpowered chipset, that means something however primary duties (suppose: looking and phrase processing) are a no-go. Plus the non-obligatory Sort Cowl keyboard is a necessity, which provides to the $629 price ticket for the higher Core M3 model.

apple ipad air 2020 review vs ipad pro 2021

Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

In any other case, Apple’s ecosystem presents its personal rivals. The hardest competitors comes from the massive daddy of the iPad household: the iPad Professional. Are the upgrades definitely worth the worth hike to the $799 11-inch model, and even the super-sized 12.9-inch mannequin for an eye-watering base worth of $1,099?

Properly, in case you’ve skilled that 120Hz refresh charge, it’s onerous to return to 60Hz. Likewise, the M1 chip has the potential to be a game-changer if future variations of iPadOS start to push into MacBook territory with help for extra processor-intensive apps.

The iPad Air sits in a cushty place between the usual iPad and the Professional.

For those who’re already satisfied that you simply’ll be shopping for the total iPad accent package with the Magic Keyboard, Pencil 2, and extra, I’d recommend you go for the Professional. At that time, you’re already dedicated to turning into an iPad energy consumer and certain have the money to burn. That is much more of a no brainer if you would like extra storage than 64GB. At $749 for the 256GB model, there’s completely no world by which you shouldn’t as an alternative go for the $799 11-inch iPad Professional with the M1 chip and 128GB storage, and double the RAM. That additional $50 is properly price spending.

On the flip facet, in case you don’t have that type of price range, you is likely to be contemplating the iPad Air vs the usual iPad (or iPad Mini). If you realize you solely need an iPad for streaming some films and dipping into Apple Arcade, the common iPad is totally price it for $329. Nonetheless, for these in search of extra flexibility and sophistication, the refined design, USB-C help, and accent compatibility of the iPad Air may show to be a clever funding in case you suppose you might begin to see your iPad as one thing past a media slate sooner or later.

iPad Air (2020) assessment: The decision

apple logo ipad air 2020 review

Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

As soon as envisioned because the leaner product line, the Air household has since sought to straddle the skinny line between Professional and primary Apple gadgets. The iPad Air (2020) arguably does this higher than any Air-branded gadget so far.

That is the all-purpose iPad — a pill that’s able to have enjoyable (simply have a look at these colours), however could be critical when it must be. There are compromises right here for these casting a side-eye on the Professional vary, but it surely’s solely the paltry base storage that basically stings. Hopefully, the fifth-generation iPad Air fixes this legacy problem. A better refresh charge additionally wouldn’t go amiss.

That is the iPad that anybody may purchase and discover one thing to like.

The positives crush the negatives, nevertheless. The iPad Air (2020) is the pill you need to purchase in case you’re unsure precisely what you’ll need to use it for. Maybe it’ll turn into your media slate, your informal gaming companion, a conveyable laptop computer substitute, a second display to your Mac, a canvas for artwork, or all this stuff and extra. It gained’t excel at any of those in isolation, however it could actually fill each position with competence and confidence.

Fairly than being an ungainly center baby, the iPad Air (2020) is the iPad that anybody may purchase and discover one thing to like.

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