Gadget Enthusiast

Like iPad Pro, But Cheaper: Why The iPad Air Is Apple's Best iPad In Years

It sure is a good time to be an Apple fan, isn’t it? In the past two months they’ve unveiled two new Apple Watches, two new iPads and four new iPhone 12s.

And while we have to wait till mid-November for the iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max to drop, it looks like Apple is keeping the momentum going with a rather low-key release of the 4th-generation iPad Air.

Featuring an attractive, iPad Pro-esque aesthetic at an equally attractive price, Apple’s mid-range iPad is without a doubt one of the more exciting products from this release — but does it live up to the hype?

An iPad Pro Mood

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It looks like Apple is going back to edges, and we’re all for it. / Image Credit: Vulcan Post

As we’ve already mentioned, the new iPad Air takes a lot of design cues from the iPad Pro.

From the flat-edged design to the removal of the home button to the USB-C port for charging, it basically looks a slightly smaller version of the Pro (10.9 inches to 12 inches).

Aesthetics aren’t the only thing that the iPad Air has inherited from the iPad Pro. It’s also compatible with the 2nd-generation Apple Pencil (S$189), Smart Keyboard Folio (S$269) and Magic Keyboard (S$439).

These accessories are essential if you’re intending to use the iPad as a replacement for your laptop (heck, I’m writing this very article on the Magic Keyboard), and being the only non-Pro model to be compatible with them really sets the iPad Air apart from the lower-tier iPad and iPad Mini.

Everything You’d Need

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The iPad Air handles Apple Arcade games like South of the Circle with ease / Image Credit: Vulcan Post

On the performance side of things, the iPad Air is equipped with Apple’s new A14 Bionic processor, which in our experience so far, has been able to handle everything we’ve thrown at it (multiple tabs in Safari, multitasking between two apps, even exporting videos in Adobe Premiere Rush).

The iPad Air’s versatility makes it one of our most-used devices, so it’s a good thing that it has an exceptional battery life.

The Apple website claims that you’ll get 10 hours of web browsing and video playback from a single charge, but we actually managed to get more than that with 20 per cent still left after a full day of moderate use.

And considering how much you’ll be using it, special mention should be given to the iPad Air’s stereo speakers.

Previous versions of the iPad Air only had speakers on one side, making for a rather unbalanced soundscape. Apple have rectified this, and everything from watching videos to listening to music is a much more enjoyable experience now.

iphone 12 photo
A photo taken with the iPhone 12… / Image Credit: Vulcan Post
ipad air photo
…and a photo taken with the iPad Air. Not much of a difference / Image Credit: Vulcan Post

When it comes to photography, the iPad Air comes with a single 12mp wide camera at the rear that’s also capable of recording 4K video at 60fps.

The iPad lineup as a whole is playing catch up to the iPhone (no Portrait or Night Mode to be found here), but it’ll suffice if you need to take the occasional snap.

What’s (Not) In The Box?

At this point, you might be wondering: ‘is there anything the iPad Pro has that the iPad Air doesn’t?’

It’s not a long list, but it’s there.

For starters, the iPad Pro is still the only iPad to rock a 120hz screen, which makes everything from general use to mobile gaming smoother.

The Pro also uses Face ID to unlock, while the Air sticks with Touch ID (now located on the lock button).

The iPad Pro also comes with an extra ultra-wide camera at the back, which allows for more options when it comes to photography.

These features are good to have, but are their absence a deal breaker? If you ask us, no.

Touch ID is still great (especially when COVID-19 has us all masked up), and how often are you going to take photos with your iPad? And sure, a 120hz screen would be good to have, but for the price difference we’d say it’s a fair trade.

The Best Choice For Most

ipad air
Image Credit: Vulcan Post

Like we mentioned in our Apple Watch and iPad buyer’s guide, the iPad Air is going to be the best choice for most people — from its modern, flat-edged design to its future-proofed specs that’ll last you for more than a few years, you’re not going to need much more than this in an iPad.

And when it comes to the main deciding factor for most — price — well, that’s just the cherry on top.

Coming in at a fair S$879 and S$1,099 for the 64GB and 256GB versions respectively, the iPad Air is pretty much the iPad Pro (S$1,199 for 128GB) for people who aren’t willing to pay for an iPad Pro.

Just like the iPhone, there are years when the iPad makes a more-significant-than-usual leap forward, and 2020 is definitely one of those years.

Featured Image Credit: Vulcan Post


VP Verdict is a series where we personally try and test out products, services, fads, and apps. Want to suggest something else for us to try? Leave a comment here or send the suggestion into our Facebook page.

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