While the iPad Pro models were the star of last week's event, Apple also introduced a refreshed version of the iPad Air. The new ‌iPad Air‌ is set to come out on Wednesday, May 15, and prior to launch, members of the media have shared their first ‌iPad Air‌ impressions.

M2 iPad Air Hero Feature Green
For the most part, the ‌iPad Air‌ is the same as the prior-generation model, with one major exception: the screen size. Apple now has a 10.9-inch version and a 12.9-inch version, so the ‌iPad Air‌ lineup is similar to the ‌iPad Pro‌ lineup. Both versions are equipped with an M2 chip and lack the higher-quality display of the M4 ‌iPad Pro‌.

Larger Size

The 13-inch ‌iPad Air‌ weighs less than the prior-generation 12.9-inch ‌iPad Pro‌ at 1.36 pounds vs 1.5 pounds, but it's not as light as the M4 ‌iPad Pro‌. Engadget said that the 13-inch model offers a solid option for someone who "wants a big display" without spending ‌iPad Pro‌ money.

That doesn't sound like a major difference, but it's been just enough for me to feel more comfortable using the Air as a tablet rather than just docked in a keyboard case. It's still a little more unwieldy than I'd like, and it's still heavier and thicker than the new 13-inch iPad Pro. But, the iPad Air is $500 cheaper; at that price, I'm willing to accept a little trade-off.

While the 13-inch model is new, the 11-inch model is indistinguishable from the 10.9-inch model in terms of design. It is worth noting that Apple is just rounding differently for its size options, and there is no actual difference in screen size.

CNET pointed out that the "Air" name has lost its meaning because the Pro is the thinner and lighter tablet.

The first Apple "Air" device, the MacBook Air, was called Air because it was super thin. Don't apply this logic to the iPad Air, because the iPad Pro is actually thinner. The iPad Air is far from chunky, though; it's the same-looking tablet as previous iPad Pro or Air models. I'm just here to say maybe I agree that the term "Air" has lost its meaning (unless we're talking about it just being lighter in features and performance). I'd suggest getting rid of the "Air" name and call it the iPad Pro, and then change the iPad Pro to the iPad Ultra.

M2 Chip

The ‌M2‌ chip in the ‌iPad Air‌ is the same chip in the prior-generation ‌iPad Pro‌. The Verge said it's a "fast and reliable chip" and it runs the same in the ‌iPad Air‌ as it did in the ‌iPad Pro‌, according to benchmarking tests.

Ars Technica said that the ‌M2‌ chip is a "solid generational jump up from the M1," and that the ‌M1‌ was "already generally overkill" for most iPad apps. The ‌M2‌ is "unquestionably powerful enough to do everything people currently use iPads to do."

Display Quality

The ‌iPad Air‌ has an LCD display that is not as good as the OLED ‌iPad Pro‌ display or the prior-generation 12.9-inch mini-LED ‌iPad Pro‌ display, but it's "more than bright enough for indoor use," according to Engadget. The main downside is the lack of a higher frame rate and no support for ProMotion technology.

Mashable compared the ‌iPad Air‌ to the OLED ‌iPad Pro‌ and said that it can be difficult to tell the difference in good lighting, but in "challenging lighting situations" like a brightly lit office or outdoors, the ‌iPad Pro‌ display is much better.

Other Features

The relocated camera on the landscape edge is a solid quality of life improvement, and Engadget said that it's actually useful for video calling.

That camera is basically the same as the one in the last iPad Air, but now that it's on the landscape edge it's much better for video calling when you're using it with a keyboard. I'd actually consider taking work calls with the iPad now, something that wasn't the case before.

The Verge said that the relocated camera is about the only noticeable change to the ‌iPad Air‌.

Apple moved the front-facing camera to the middle of the landscape edge, which means I can use it for video calls without looking like I'm always staring up and away from the screen. This is a great change, and one Apple should have made a long time ago. If you do want to buy an Air, I'd recommend this one over the previous generation just to get the camera in the right place.

Another bonus is the 128GB starting storage space, up from 64GB in the prior-generation model, along with the option for 1TB of maximum storage.

Battery life is listed as 10 hours, but Mashable was able to get a full 13 hours from a single charge when watching TikTok videos.

Cost

Engadget said that the ‌iPad Air‌ offers 80 percent of the Pro experience at a more affordable price, and TechCrunch said that while the ‌iPad Pro‌ is the best tablet if money is no concern, the ‌iPad Air‌ is a good option when money matters and for non-creatives. More importantly, "paying MacBook prices for an ‌iPad‌ is a bridge too far."

The Verge said that the ‌iPad Air‌ is a "study in tradeoffs," describing it as a "Goldilocks" ‌iPad‌. The $250 cheaper standard ‌iPad‌ is "just about as good at every common ‌iPad‌ activity" and a better option for casual users. Exceptions include users who want a big screen or who use the Apple Pencil often, as the ‌iPad Air‌ supports the new ‌Apple Pencil‌ Pro.

If you're just looking for a way to send emails, browse the web, play games, and maybe make an iMovie or two, none of that will really change the way you use your iPad. An iPad is an iPad is an iPad, and until Apple either fixes a bunch of things or opens up the operating system -- and I wouldn't hold my breath on either one -- you just aren't going to get enough out of all that extra power to make it a must-have upgrade.

More Info

Pricing on the ‌iPad Air‌ starts at $599, and it can be ordered from Apple's website.

Related Roundup: iPad Air
Buyer's Guide: iPad Air (Buy Now)
Related Forum: iPad

Top Rated Comments

akfgpuppet Avatar
2 weeks ago
This is the one I got. Excited to start using it :cool:
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
roncron Avatar
2 weeks ago
I was chomping at the bit to upgrade from my trusty M1 iPad Air to the 11" M2 iPad Air. Especially for the correctly placed front-facing web cam on the new model.

The M2 iPad Air has no other improvements that matter to me. The M1 chip was already more than fast enough for my needs.

Still, I was considering the upgrade until I found out I'd have to spend another $129 for the new Apple Pencil Pro, because my $129 Apple Pencil 2nd gen that works great with the M1 iPad Air doesn't work at all with the M2 iPad Air. That plus the lack of other new features means I won't be upgrading anytime soon. :(
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Fuzzball84 Avatar
2 weeks ago
I agree with CNET regarding the loss of relevance for “Air” for iPad. Id go further and say its meaning across iPad and Mac has been lost. Especially when MacBook Retina came out, and then left ?

The iPad Air should just be iPad…and the cheaper iPad called the iPad SE. iPad Pro is fine as is, but don't call it ultra. If anything iPad Pro should be Air.

Also, it should be noted in above article that iPad Air is now the only ipad with official keyboard… that doesn't include function key row.

The iPad Air is really an awesome all round ipad for most people.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dominiongamma Avatar
2 weeks ago
Couldn’t go back to 60 hrz refresh rate
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Anonymous123 Avatar
2 weeks ago

While the 13-inch model is new, the 11-inch model is indistinguishable from the 10.9-inch model in terms of design. It is worth noting that Apple is just rounding differently for its size options, and there is no actual difference in screen size.
It is absolutely insane that Apple is getting away with calling the new iPad Air’s screen larger (even if it’s just 0.1”). The comparison page says 11” vs. 10.9” but then the footnote at the bottom of the page states “the 11-inch iPad Air, 10.9-inch iPad Air, and iPad (10th generation) are 10.86 inches.” This probably won’t get nearly enough attention but that’s incredibly deceptive.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MacAndMic Avatar
2 weeks ago
I can't wait for my 13" Air Wednesday. I am letting go my M1 MacBook Air to my wife, replacing a 2013 Air she currently uses. I know I will not need that M1 Air anymore, I just used it for couch stuff. I will however be happy to have an iPad to satisfy the couch stuff and some apps that are important to me that do not run on MacOS so I feel like I am getting the best of 3 worlds, couch-ability, apps and not having to spend Pro money to get a 13" screen.

I am sure I am not alone in my use demographic.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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