A few months ago I switched to my iPad Pro 12.9” on a permanent basis. I use the iPad Pro as my primary device. No laptop in my life anymore. Since the launch of the iPad Pro along with iPad OS, I’ve felt that iPads took a leap far ahead of any competition on the road to becoming laptop-replacements (at least based on my needs). That being said, the cost of this setup isn’t an easy one and it’s the biggest reason I don’t suggest this setup for everyone. In comes the iPad Air in 2020 with the A14 Bionic 5nm chipset and a new design which solves that problem…well almost. The new iPad Air, starting at Dh2499, is most definitely a strong contender for the best tablet in the market right now.
Apple iPad Air 2020
Body and Design
Following in it’s elder sibling’s footsteps the new iPad Air comes with a gorgeous larger 10.9” Liquid Retina display with a resolution of 2360×1640 (264 ppi). Gone are the large bezels and Touch ID on the bottom. The Touch ID in fact makes its way into the power button for the first time but more on that later.
The display is great to consume content on and extremely easy to use the Apple Pencil 2 on. It’s not the 120Hz ProMotion display off the iPad Pro but it’s still a great display. It gets pretty bright with up to 500 nits of brightness and is easy to use even in bright sunlight. Coming from the iPad Pro I did miss the ProMotion high-refresh rate a lot but it’s not something you’ll notice if you’re upgrading from an older iPad. In this scenario, you’ll love the new display you’re looking at.
While the iPad Air looks just like the smaller iPad Pro from the front, it’s on the back where all the differences lie. The most noticeable one being the 12MP single wide-angle camera on the back. The iPad Air also has a lot more colours to offer. While we’ve enjoyed the Sky Blue one, you can choose between other colours including Green, Rose Gold, Space Gray and Silver too.
Power and Daily-Use
The most interesting thing about the new iPad Air has to be the A14 Bionic chipset on it. An extremely powerful chipset which has handled everything I have thrown it’s way over the past weeks I’ve been using it.
The iPad Air was the first product to get their new 5nm A14 Bionic chipsets. The new chips are more powerful, more power-efficient and frankly just give the user much more value for their money. In my usage I put the iPad Air through everything from writing articles on Word to editing 4K videos on LumaFusion. The iPad Air churned through it all.
Supporting this power are very vague storage options. The base model of the iPad Air starts at 64GB and goes up to 256GB. There’s no 128GB model in between creating a big pricing gap between the two models.
A huge part of the power of the iPad has always been the unbelievable unison between hardware and software. While updates such as Scribble (where you can use the Pencil 2 to write in any text field on the tablet) changed the way I used the iPad completely, updates such as customizable widgets disappointed. On iOS14 on the iPhones, widgets can make their way to anywhere on your home screens. On the iPad they are still limited to the silly sidebar on your main home screen. Other features such as a redesigned Siri and Search UX, made life easier and were definitely welcome additions.
But like I mentioned earlier, software and hardware integration is the iPad Air’s biggest strength. Apps such as LumaFusion and Adobe Lightroom really use the power provided to their maximum capabilities. LumaFusion is the most power-hungry app I use on the iPad and thanks to it’s unique touch-based UX, you’d expect a glitch here and there but there aren’t any. Scrub through a 4K video as you edit multiple layers and the iPad won’t give you as much as a hiccup. Other apps such as Word or Excel too have great optimisations which make using it on a smaller display much easier.
Unlocking with the Power button
Now ideally I wouldn’t have a whole category for a button with an embedded fingerprint sensor, but this is the first time Apple has it, so it’s worth a bit off a discussion. The power button, or the ‘Top button’ as Apple calls it, now has Touch ID in it.
The button works just like any other power button with fingerprint recognition but is a bit finickier. For example, just like the old Touch ID system, you click on the button and hold a bit longer to unlock. But if you stay too long you get Siri. I know it might sound a bit silly to say but I feel like the gap between unlocking and Siri is a bit too close and invariably needs you to do the process all over again.
Thanks to the positioning of the button on the top right corner I also think it took a bit to get used to. Coming from Face ID or older Touch ID devices, it take a bit of getting used to but isn’t such a big issue that you won’t ever get used to it.
Should you buy the iPad Air 2020?
If we’re talking about the just iPad Air 2020, starting at Dh2499, it’s a definite yes. The tablet is a beautiful piece of technology and really serves it’s purpose specially if it’s complimentary to a laptop such as a MacBook. If you want a larger screen to edit video on the go or attend to emails or even just consume content, it’s the way to go.
If we got into the conversation about the added expense of the accessories (Over Dh1000, assuming you’re going to buy original Apple accessories), you’re creeping into a category where there are decent slim and light laptops to consider too. But here too (in most scenarios) the iPad wins thanks to it’s sheer power and expansive app ecosystem. The versatility the iPad offers is most the reason you’ll consider it over any laptop in the same price range.
Most importantly of all, if you’re considering an iPad, you probably want a device to last you a few years and the iPad will do that better than almost anything in it’s price range. From kids studying at home to content creators and professionals on the move, the iPad Air (2020) will serve anyone who gets their hands on it.