We absolutely love Apple’s iPad range, so a new iPad launch always gives us cause for excitement. March has delivered a double-whammy of excitement, though, as Apple has launched both the new iPad Air and the long-awaited update to the iPad Mini.
While the iPad Mini is undoubtedly the top pick for portable tablets, the iPad Air has caught our eye for an entirely different reason. Once thought defunct, the “Air” branding has come roaring back into relevance, with Apple promising powerful specs for regular people. With powerful specs and a huge Retina screen, here’s absolutely everything you need to know about the new iPad Air for 2019.
Design and display
At first glance, there’s little to differentiate the iPad Air from previous iterations of Apple’s tablet. Anyone hoping for an iPad Pro-like shrinking of bezels is going to be disappointed, as the iPad Air comes with fairly large bezels at the top and bottom, and to the sides of the screen. It’s less of a problem for tablets than for smartphones, as it provides more area to grip, but it’s hard not to compare it to the futuristic iPad Pro and feel slightly disappointed.
There is no Face ID, so you will find a Touch ID fingerprint scanner on the front, mounted under the 10.5-inch Retina display. You won’t find the same 120Hz refresh rate as you’ll find on the higher end iPad Pro, but it still comes with Apple’s TrueTone that shifts the white balance to match the surroundings, making the screen a little easier on your eyes.
There is no water-resistance, which isn’t as much of a sin for a device that’s likely to spend much of its time on the sofa. Still, you’ll want to be careful if it does accompany you to the pool for a spot of holiday reading or drawing.
Specs and battery
2019’s iPad Air comes equipped with Apple’s latest A12 Bionic processor. That’s the same processor you’ll find in the latest iPhones and the iPad Pro range, and it’s super powerful and capable of handling high-end games, advanced 3D modeling apps, and even video editing. You’ll find 64GB of onboard storage in the basic model, with the option for saving more on the Apple iCloud. If you need even more onboard storage, then there’s a 256GB model available too. LTE models for both are also available.
Apple hasn’t revealed the exact size of the battery in the iPad Air, but it claims the tablet will last for up to 10 hours, and provide a full day of use on a single charge.
Software and special features
You’ll find Apple’s iOS 12 here, and it comes with all of Apple’s usual additions for its tablet range. Split View and Slide Over offer an easy way to use that huge screen for multitasking, while all your usual iOS apps are available to make jumping between your tablet and phone a piece of cake. iCloud helps to keep your files in sync, so you’ll always be able to access your documents, images, or videos. As an iOS device, you can expect speedy updates from Apple, and long-lasting support as well.
If you pick up the cellular version of the new iPad Air, there are even more surprises under the hood. Apple has added support for eSIM cards, which makes switching between networks an absolute doddle. While this means swapping between carriers at the end of contracts is easier, it’s extremely useful for anyone who often travels to different countries, as eSIM support means being able to swap providers easily.
Best of all though, you’ll also be able to use the Apple Pencil with the new iPad Air. Apple has added full Pencil support to the iPad Air, so you can write naturally on the iPad Air’s screen, turning the large tablet into your own digital notepad, or using as an easel to create digital artwork.
While most people won’t be using their iPad Air as their go-to picture snapper, Apple’s included a decent set of lenses here regardless. There’s an 8-megapixel lens around the back of the device, and a 7-megapixel FaceTime HD camera around the front. While it’s unlikely to be the match of the best camera phones, the selfie camera is perfect for FaceTime video calls, while the rear-facing lens works extremely well for scanning documents or — when paired with the power of the A12 processor — for bringing AR content to life.
Release date and price
The iPad Air is now available both in-store and online. You can pick up the 64GB model without LTE for $499. Adding an LTE connection takes that price up to $629. If 64GB isn’t enough, then you can upgrade to 256GB of onboard storage for $649 — and adding LTE to that upgraded model takes the price up to a sizeable $779.
Updated on March 29, 2019: The new iPad Air is now available in stores.