Surprise: the iPad Air is the best iPad we've reviewed. In addition, though, it's also the most comfortable 10-inch tablet we've ever tested. Not every manufacturer can produce a thin and light device without also making it feel cheap or flimsy, but Apple nailed it. Factor in a sizable boost in performance and battery life, and the Air is even more compelling. The last two iPads served up relatively few improvements, but the Air provides people with more of a reason to upgrade or even buy a tablet for the first time.
The iPad Air is the most significant upgrade to the 9.7-inch iPad in its history. It’s lighter, more portable, more usable and faster than any previous iPad. It doesn’t fundamentally change what you can do with a tablet, but if you’re in the market for one the iPad Air really is the best iPad to date. Competition is definitely more stiff among the smaller tablets thanks to the Nexus 7, but in the nearly 10-inch tablet space it seems like Apple is going to continue to enjoy a great position there.
This smaller size is great. If you have decent sized hands you can type with two thumbs on the iPad in portrait, something I wasn’t really able to do with the last generation iPad without a lot of stretching. Clearly a full-size iPad is not something you will be thumb typing with all the time1, but it does give you an idea of how much smaller the iPad Air is.
When Apple introduced the iPad mini, I feel in love and felt that I’d never be swayed back to the other side. The iPad Air makes the argument anew that there’s still room for big tablets in people’s lives, and it might just help usher in an era of computing where households own more than one kind of iPad, and PCs are harder and harder to find.
The good: The iPad Air delivers more performance and comparable battery life in an attractive and impossibly thin-and-light package. An improved front-facing camera makes FaceTiming look better, and the Retina Display still looks great.
The bad: The Touch ID fingerprint scanner, introduced on the iPhone 5S, is sadly absent here, meaning you’ll still have to type in a passcode with every unlock and a password with every purchase. Starting at $499 for 16GB, it’s still expensive compared with the competition.
The bottom line: Functionally, the iPad Air is nearly identical to last year’s model, offering only faster performance and better video chatting. But factor in design and aesthetics, and the iPad Air is on another planet. It’s the best full-size consumer tablet on the market.
One thing that’s not here that should be is Touch ID, the fingerprint sensor on the latest iPhone. Apple won’t say why it was left out, but it’s arguably even more important on a larger device, which may be used to access more sensitive personal information. I expect to see it on future iPads, and will be glad when it shows up. Not that long ago, the iPad so dominated the tablet market that it would have been unthinkable to buy something else. With the rise of quality tablets from Google, Amazon and others, it’s no longer the only choice. But it’s still the best choice.
But is it worth upgrading from an older iPad? For those without a Retina screen, yes – you won't believe how you coped without it. For those who do a heavy chunk of tablet-based FaceTime, then the HD upgrade makes a real difference. For those who carry theirs around all day, then yes – you'll really notice the slimmed-down size and weight. As ever, the model you go for will depend on the price. Paying £739 for the top-end Wi-Fi + 4G version seems mad, considering you can buy a 128Gb 11-inch MacBook Air for £110 more. However, focussing specifically on the tablet sector, it’s not just our favourite Apple tablet. It's our favourite tablet ever. Until we get our hands on the Retina Mini...
So that’s the iPad Air for you: No longer alone in the marketplace, no longer the only right choice, no breakthrough new features. But it’s smaller, lighter, and faster than ever, with a much bigger catalog of apps—and much better ones—than the competition. If you want a big tablet, this is the one that will make you happiest.
The battery performance of the iPad Air simply blew me away. In my tough tablet battery test, where I disable automatic screen dimming and other power-saving features, and combine video playback from the device’s memory with leaving Wi-Fi on and email working at normal settings, the iPad has almost always met its claims and beat competitors by a wide margin. But this new iPad Air just kept going, clocking a battery life of 12 hours and 13 minutes, which exceeded Apple’s claim by more than 20%.
Its light weight and thin form mean it gets out of the way – you don’t notice it, but you notice what you’re doing on it. That, potentially, unleashes a new generation of tablet-based productivity. The fact that Apple is now giving away even more software means that perhaps the rebranding is, therefore, more than simply a marketing exercise. Air may yet be the oxygen for a new wave of uses for the iPad.
New York Times
I am not sure making the iPad Air lighter will be enough to persuade people who have never felt the need to buy one to race to the Apple store. But I bet that even without a beach-reading, dream-catching upgrade, many do.
Yes, it’s true, the iPad Air is essentially a larger iPad Mini Retina. For some, that’s a disappointment. For me, the new iPad Air is close to everything a consumer tablet should be: Light, fast, fun, beautiful and a little bit like the future.
Apple has done it again: the iPad Air is a tablet better than the last iPad. Simply put the iPad Air is the best iPad the company has ever made. It's light, it's thin, it's fast, it's amazing. For die-hard Apple fans we can see how you would be disappointed in terms of wow factor, there is no stand out feature here that you will want to show your friends the moment they walk through the door in the same way you can with the iPhone 5S and Touch ID, however this is Apple creating the ultimate experience rather than focusing on specs for specs sake.
Should you upgrade? Well that depends on which iPad you’ve got. Existing iPad owners can upgrade to iOS 7, the latest mobile operating system that the iPad Air runs. And this is a great operating system! It makes older iPads and iPhones seem new. But if you’ve been itching for a Retina display or find your older iPad really breaking your back, this is the upgrade for you. Should you choose the Air or the Mini? Once again, it all boils down to size. They have the same storage capacity, the same speed processor, the same operating system. So do you like 'em big? That’s a personal question I really can’t help you with.