iPad Air review
Not 12 months after the iPad 4 hit the shelves, Apple is back with a new iPad and a new name, the Apple iPad Air (not the iPad 5, as we thought it might be). With it comes a thinner and lighter body and an improved processor, courtesy of the A7 chip. Is this Apple's best tablet yet? We went in for a closer look. Article continues after our hands-on video.
iPad Air: Size and build
Launched alongside the new iPad Mini Retina, the iPad Air is much thinner and lighter than it's predecessor at it's noticeable the first time you pick up the iPad Air. It certainly lives up to its moniker. At 7.5mm thin, 169.5mm wide and 240mm long and weighing just 469g, it's positively lightweight compared to the 662g heft of the iPad 4 and iPad 3 that both came with a thickness of 9.4mm.
iPad Air: Features
It's go big or go home when it comes to the new features packed into the iPad Air. Alas, there's no Touch ID fingerprint scanning, as on the iPhone 5s so no biometrics on the big screen but there's still plenty to talk about.
Although it doesn't add megapixels, remaining at five, the picture quality is better. The front-facing video cam has also been updated to the new HD FaceTime camera found on the new iPhone 5c and 5s.
iPad Air: Screen
We've come to expect pin-sharp images on Apple's Retina screen and the iPad Air doesn't disappoint. It's the same size as the iPad 4 at 9.7-inch and the same resolution (2048x1536, 264ppi) but what Apple has managed to do, this time round, is place a Retina screen in a thinner bezel. iOS 7 icons pop out of the screen and on the bigger screen that parallax-effect even gave us a touch of motion sickness.
iPad Air: Performance
The chip has been upgraded from the A6X to the A7 with the same 64-bit architecture of the iPhone 5s. The iPhone 5s was blisteringly fast and it's the same story with the new iPad Air. For those complaining of the iOS 7 slowing down their iPads, there was no sign of that here.
Apps open in an instant, scrubbing through videos is a breeze and multitasking is no-problem. Of course, the 64-bit is a future proofing exercise but we can't wait to get our hands on some apps that make the most of the iPad's super-power.
iPad Air: Battery
Apple is quoting a 10-battery life for the new iPad. That's upped from the 9 hours on the iPad 4 and beats both the Nexus 10 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. Of course, until we get our hands on a review unit we'll have to take Apple's word for it but it's usually near the mark.
iPad Air: Verdict
We called the iPad 4 Apple's best full-size tablet yet and the iPad Air is even better. The iPad 4 was a mild update from the iPad 3 with no design changes, the new iPad is all change. The main difference is its design. With a paper-thin chassis and weighing less than the original iPad Mini, it's a design marvel. The Retina screen remains one of the best screens on a tablet and this is now boosted by a blisteringly fast processor. If you're stuck with the iPad 3 then this is a no-brainer, even for those with an iPad 4 it's a tempting upgrade.
Wi-Fi + 4G: £499 (16GB), £579 (32GB), £659 (64GB) and £739 (128GB)
Hands-on review by Rhiain Morgan
iPad Air review
iPad Air reviewT3
With a svelte redesign and a full-on spec bump, is this Apple's best full-size tablet yet? Find out in our full iPad Air review
iPad Air review
- Size and weight reduction
- Faster 64-bit processor
- Better battery life
- No slo-mo video recording
- No 8MP rear camera upgrade
Update: The iPad Air 2 is no longer the shiny, new kid on the tablet block, as it's been outflanked by the cunningly-named iPad Air 2, which has squeezed 18% of the thinness and yet upped the power of Apple's best slate.
However, the iPad Air still has a lot of charm at a lower price of £319; read on to find out what makes it tick.
Apple's product upgrades can be a funny beast. On paper, they can appear incremental. Eyes-on, the products can look almost identical. Hands-on, you sometimes have to pry to find exactly where the improvements are. Some changes (iMac G3 to G4, iPhone 3GS to iPhone 4) are blatant, some are refinements (iPad to iPad 2). Many, you actually have to get the product in your mitts to see for yourself. And that's definitely the case with the iPad Air (not the iPad 5, as we were expecting it to be called).
The clearest difference lies with its name - a shock to all but Jony Ive who says he's been working on the concept for years - but start using this tablet and the improvements are instantly tangible. It's lighter, thinner and more debonair than ever (providing you don't use the new one, that is).
iPad Air: Size and build
At 6.9mm Apple managed to shave almost 1.5mm (a fifth) off the iPad 4's unibody aluminium girth and almost 2cm off its width. Boasting a one pound (or 469g) heft, at the time of the original review, the iPad Air took the title of the planet's lightest full-size tablet. It's since been bettered a number of times, including a few choice cuts from Asia, but with the Air 2 retains that crown. Article continues after the video.
With its new rounded and chamfered edges, it looks like a scaled-up iPad Mini – the reduced bezel centring your eyes on the screen and making the chassis almost slim enough to hold in one hand.
Colour-matching the iPad Mini 2 , the iPad Air comes in (our favourite) Space Gray and Silver shades. The nano-SIM slot moved to the bottom right-hand-side edge of the device, which continues in the newer model.
Picking up the Air for the first time last year and using it for prolonged periods is an improved experience if you're used to older iPads (which you probably are if you're checking out this review). Where before a case of numb-arm might happen after 20 minutes use, we found ourselves reading and web surfing for much longer.
iPad Air vs iPad 4: What's changed?
You'll notice the weight reduction immediately, especially if you use its release contemporaries: the Nokia Lumia 2520 and Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 which are 146g and 78g heavier respectively. The bigger 10-inch Xperia Tablet Z fares better, weighing just 26g more at 495g.
Width-wise, the 7.5mm iPad Air trumps the Nokia 2520 at 8.7mm, the Nexus 10 at 8.9mm and the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 at 8.6mm.
In short, it's simply a nicer tablet to use – taking all the best bits of the 2012 flagship iPad and refining the physical experience. it's less impressive than the Air 2, but at the price, it's still very, very effective. But, there's more than aesthetics that makes this upgrade so different.
The new iPad Air is a hugely slimmed down version of Apple's class-leading tablet and it also packs the A7 processor. T3 went hands-on
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