When the original iPad Air was introduced back in 2013, it was a way to get the iPad experience but in a thinner form factor. Now since then, the iPad Air has become more of an iPad Pro Lite, meaning it has almost all the features of the main Pro model but without the high price tag.
Design & Hardware
From the outside, the 4th Gen iPad Air takes cues from the most recent iPad Pro with it’s rounded squarish design and protruding camera bump. The iPad Air feels like a premium device because of its aluminum body.
Continuing with Apple’s environmental initiatives, the new iPad Air is made from a 100% recyclable aluminum enclosure, recycled tin in the solder of the main logic board and uses recycled rare earth elements in the speaker magnets.
The new iPad Air features a 10.9 Liquid Retina display with True Tone, P3 wide colour gamut and 2360 x 1640 resolution. The Retina display looks great and gets fairly bright thanks to the 500-nits of Max Brightness.
While there’s no Face ID, the iPad Air does have Touch ID built-into the power button. Touch ID works quick for the most part but still needs a bit of work because occasionally it doesn’t work.
Powering the iPad Air is the A14 Bionic chip, as featured in the iPhone 12 series. Using the device was fairly quick and there were no real issues navigating through iPadOS.
Just like the iPad Pro, the new iPad Air supports the 2nd Gen Apple Pencil which brings “Pixel-perfect precision” and low-latency. Unlike the previous Apple Pencil, this new one magnetically attaches to the iPad Air and charges it. The magnet is fairly strong, so you won’t have to work about it falling off.
The Apple Pencil is great and easy to use and works well with the new features in iPadOS 14. The 2nd Gen Apple Pencil does come at a cost, $169 CAD, which is $40 more than the previous version.
On the back of the iPad Air is the Smart Connector which allows you to connect accessories like the new Magic Keyboard. With my review unit, I was able to test out the keyboard. It magnetically attaches to the back of the iPad Air and uses the iPad’s battery to power it.
The Magic Keyboard is comfortable to type on but slightly cramped. On the keyboard, you’ll find the usual keys you would find on a MacBook keyboard along with a small trackpad. The keyboard is backlit but there’s no keyboard shortcut to adjust it, you need to go into the iPad settings under General > Keyboards > Hardware Keyboard.
Since the Magic Keyboard attaches via the Smart Connector, you don’t lose your iPad’s USB-C port, and the keyboard has another USB-C port on the left side for you to charge the iPad to connect accessories.
The biggest downside to the Magic Keyboard is its price. It costs $399 CAD for the model that works with the iPad Air. For that price, you could get yourself another iPad. There are cheaper options like the Logitech Folio Touch, which retails for $209 CAD or the Zagg Pro Keys for $109 USD or even the Brydge Pro+ which goes for $139-199 USD.
While the iPad Air (2020) doesn’t feature a headphone jack, there are stereo speakers that sound great. Apple has also switched the iPad Air to USB-C. Having USB-C on the new iPad Air makes it much more versatile, you can plug in a USB-C adapter or even USB-C drives directly to the device.
With the switch to USB-C, the iPad Air now comes with a 20W USB-C charger and cable. If you want a faster charger, then check out our USB-C accessories guide. The iPad Air also has Wi-Fi 6 support.
Battery life is around 10 hours or so when surfing the web and that does hold true. What’s great about the iPad is that they have great standby time, so you can leave it for a few days and the battery won’t drain that much.
The cameras on the iPad Air (2020) include a 12MP wide-angle lens on the back that can shoot 4K video at up to 60 fps and a 7MP front-facing camera.
The new iPad Air comes in a number of colours including Space Grey, Silver, Rose Gold, Green and Sky Blue.
Pricing is as follows:
- 64GB Wi-Fi – $779 CAD
- 256GB Wi-Fi – $979 CAD
- 64GB Wi-Fi & Cellular – $949 CAD
- 256GB Wi-Fi & Cellular – $1,149 CAD*
* The model I tested
The new iPad Air is available now from Apple’s website.
The iPad Air (2020) is running iPadOS 14 and while it’s not as big of a change as the switch from iOS to iPadOS last year, the latest update does bring a number of new features.
Some of the new features of iOS 14 didn’t make their way to iPadOS 14 like the App Library or proper widgets on the homescreen. Technically you can add widgets on the home screen in iPadOS 14 but they’re restricted to the main homescreen page.
If you have an Apple Pencil, you can take advantage of Scribble which allows you to write by hand in any text field and it’ll automatically convert your words to text. You will need to write in the text box area that you are filling out which can sometimes be on the small side.
In addition to Scribble, iPadOS 14 has Smart Selection allowing you to select handwritten text in notes and copy them or convert them to text. This is especially helpful when writing notes with Apple Pencil. There are also shape recognition and data detectors to recognize addresses, phone numbers etc.
iPadOS 14 and iOS 14 introduced more compact designs for Siri and Search. So when you bring up Siri, the voice assistant will just be an ominous circle that appears on the screen rather than taking up the entire screen.
Augmented Reality has been improved in iPadOS 14 thanks to ARKit 4 which brings Location Anchors that can help enhance location-based AR experiences.
The new iPad Air is a great device that is quick, supports the latest Apple Pencil, has USB-C and gives the same functionality as the iPad Pro just at a lower price.
- iPad Pro features in a more affordable package
- Great looking screen
- Slim design with thin bezels
- A14 Bionic offers fast performance
- Good battery life
- USB-C makes it more versatile
- Apple Pencil (2nd Gen) works great
- Limited storage options (64GB and 256GB)
- Can get pricey with accessories
- No high refresh screen