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Review: iPad Air 2020 is a bundle of powerful joy


The all-new iPad Air is a beast. It has the power you need to get all but the highest-end tasks done. It’s also Apple’s most adaptable system, capable of doing almost everything you need, and it’s the iPad to get this season.

What’s inside?

The new iPad Air uses an A14X processor (Apple Silicon). It offers a 10.9-in. display, has a Touch ID sensor underneath the top and one of the side buttons, and offers a 12-megapixel rear camera. In contrast, the last generation iPad Air offered a 10.5-in. display, used an A12 Bionic chip, carried an 8-megapixel rear camera and had the familiar Touch ID Home button system.

The design echoes the squarer design of earlier iPhones, but the tablet is light and durable with its 100% recycled aluminium frame. It has slim bezels, flat edges that make it easy to hold, particularly as the tablet weighs just under one pound. That slight weight makes a real difference if you hold it for extensive periods.

How does it compare with last year’s iPad Air?

Last year’s iPad Air was a great little machine. Apple packed lots of improvements inside, which meant it finally began to assume its own identity as the iPad you need to get things done. This hasn’t changed in this year’s offering. For comparison:

iPad Air 2019

  • A12 chip
  • LED display with iPS
  • Screen: 2224×1668-pixel resolution
  • Memory: From 64GB
  • A 3.5mm stereo jack
  • Battery life: Up to 10-hours
  • Weight: 478g (cellular model).
  • Lightning cable.
  • From $499.

iPad Air 2020

  • A14 Bionic chip
  • LED display with iPS
  • Screen: 2360×1640-pixel resolution
  • Memory: From 64GB
  • No stereo jack.
  • Battery life: Up to 10 hours
  • Weight: 460g (cellular model
  • USB-C charging cable.
  • From $599.

TL;DR? A better processor, outstanding performance, new design, lighter, USB-C, excellent Apple Pencil support, slightly more expensive.

The camera improvements are welcome, but I’m not convinced it’s a sell for enterprise users who will likely prefer the LiDAR inside iPad Pro/iPhone if they need a camera for any sophisticated work. For consumers, educators and artists, it’s fantastic, of course.

Performance, enhanced

When Apple introduced the 2019 Air, it claimed the tablet’s A12 Bionic processor would deliver a 70% boost in performance and twice the graphics capability when compared to the 9.7-in. 2018 iPad that existed then. (For reference, that latter device used an A10 Fusion chip.)

With the 2020 iPad Air, the company promises a further 40% boost in processor performance and a 30% boost to graphics capability in comparison to the previous Air.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.


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