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iPad Air 13-inch (2024): You no longer need to go Pro
3:37 am | May 8, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets iPad iPad Air Tablets | Comments: Off

If you’re in the market for a larger-screened iPad, you’re no longer locked to spending the extra cash and going Pro. Apple’s iPad Air 6 now comes in two sizes — 11-inch or 13-inch, both with punchy Liquid Retina displays and a speedy Apple M2 chip under the hood. 

I had the chance to spend a bit of time with the smaller 11-inch iPad Air and more time with the larger 13-inch iPad Air, and while these tablets are not ultra-thin like the iPad Pro (2024) — and they got less screen time in the keynote — the new iPad Air ushers in a bevy of new features for everyone to get excited about.

Apple iPad Air (2024): Pricing and availability

Apple’s 11-inch iPad Air and 13-inch iPad Air are up for order now starting at $599 / £599 / AUS$999 and $799 / £799 / AUS$1,299 starting, respectively. Both iPad Air options start with 128GB of storage but can be configured up to 1TB with 256GB and 512GB options. 

The iPad Air (2024) is available in Blue, Purple, Starlight, or Space Gray, and can be configured with just Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi and Cellular.

Apple iPad Air (2024): Design

Apple iPad Air 2024

(Image credit: Apple)

For starters, the cost of opting for a larger screen is drastically reduced. The 13-inch iPad Air is $500 cheaper than the same-sized iPad Pro, with a starting price of $799. That’s more room for myriad tasks, but it’s all housed in an iPad that has some heft but is easily maneuvered. 

The new iPad Air 13 (2024) is actually pretty similar in size to the previous-generation iPad Pro 12.9, minus a Face ID sensor. It weighs in at 1.36-pounds and is 6.1-millimeters thick, with a USB-C port for charging and data transfers as well as Touch ID baked into the power button. 

For colors, Apple is expanding beyond starlight and space gray this year with blue and purple. Storage now starts at 128GB for the 11-inch and 13-inch iPad Air, up from 64GB in the past, but you can expand it to 1TB with 256GB and 512GB options in between.

Apple iPad Air (2024): Display

Apple iPad Air 11- and 13-inch models with keyboard attached

(Image credit: Jake Krol / Future)

Apple is calling this the 13-inch iPad Air, but it’s actually a 12.9-inch Liquid Retina display, so for consumers’ sake they’re rounding up. The screen performed well in a brightly lit hands-on space, with vibrant colors and the ability to craft immersive visuals, especially when viewing photos in the app Photomator. In outdoor usage conditions it can hit a peak brightness of 600-nits as well — though brightness is slightly lower at 500-nits peak for the 11-inch Air.

Where the larger iPad Air shines is with the sheer expansiveness of that 13-inch display. Using GoodNotes 6 or Freeform, you have a lot more room to write and create. Similarly, apps like iMovie, Adobe Fresco, or even Mail can let you access a bit more and go deeper. That’s the real benefit here — more room to blaze through various tasks, and now it’s considerably cheaper. 

The 11-inch iPad Air, on the other hand, feels very familiar — it’s basically the same as the previous-generation with a faster processor under the hood and support for the new Apple Pencil Pro. The teams designing these iPads actually re-engineered how the Apple Pencil Pro wirelessly charges, so that’s why it only works on the new iPad Air or iPad Pro models.

Apple iPad Air (2024): Performance

Apple Pencil Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

During my brief hands-on time, I drew in Freeform, moved blocks of handwritten material in GoodNotes 6, painted in Adobe Fresco, and even made some edits to a photo in Photomator — all of these pretty much flew on the iPad Air without hesitation. 

That’s thanks to the Apple M2 chip inside; it has a very large runway for performance and will likely be harder to slow down. As we noted in our 12.9-inch iPad Pro (2022) review (also powered by the Apple M2), the chip provides a ridiculous amount of power. That’s likely still the case here and it’s a level playing field for either the 11-inch or 13-inch iPad Air. 

The Apple M2 processor also supports more advanced iPadOS features like Stage Manager, and it will take full advantage of the new suite of features coming with Logic Pro 2 and Final Cut Pro 2 for iPad. Regardless of whether you work or play on the 11-inch and 13-inch, I wouldn’t be worried about performance here.

Apple iPad Air (2024): Selfie camera

Apple iPad Air 11- and 13-inch models with keyboard attached

(Image credit: Jake Krol / Future)

Tucked into the bezels around the 11-inch and 13-inch iPad Air is a front-facing camera, but like the 10th Gen iPad, it’s oriented in a landscape fashion. For video calls on FaceTime, Zoom, or Google Meet, you won’t be sitting off to the side, and will appear more natural. 

I didn’t formally test a call, but the relocation makes a ton of sense and will make it much more usable when the iPad is docked into a Magic Keyboard, a Smart Folio, or sitting in landscape mode. 

This is also an “about time” update, as the 10th Gen had it and countless other tablets from Amazon, Samsung, and even Google have offered layout for quite some time. 

Apple iPad Air (2024): Accessories

The other big appeal is support for the Apple Pencil Pro. The flagship Apple Pencil Pro with the iPad Air supports hover — a feature previously exclusive to the iPad Pro — to let you see a stroke or an effect without laying the stylus to the screen. Plus, it will give haptic feedback for alerts or to confirm you triggered an action. It even supports barrel role functionality, and will evolve

Similarly, you can squeeze the Apple Pencil Pro to unlock a palette of tools to easily change the thickness of a pen, the color, or even scrub to undo. This is a standout feature, and while there isn’t a physical eraser, it comes close.

Of course, the 11-inch and 13-inch iPad Air also support the Magic Keyboard, which lets you effectively use the iPad as a laptop, complete with a keyboard and responsive trackpad. It’s the original Magic Keyboard with a single USB-C port for charging and data, backlight keys, but no function keys. 

The aluminium Magic Keyboard with a more advanced haptic trackpad is only available for the ultra-thin new iPad Pro (2024). 

Apple iPad Air (2024): Early Verdict

Apple iPad Air 2024

(Image credit: Apple)

While Apple didn’t usher in a complete redesign or a crazy new feature set, the iPad Air still feels like the Pro model for the masses. It gets a whole new size that finally brings the cost of the largest size iPad to well under $1,000, offers plenty of power for a bevy of tasks — even future AI ones — from the M2 chip, and mixes things up with a new spot for the front camera. 

That’s all out of the box at $599 or $799 starting, and it’s easier to sell if you want a larger screen iPad Air. The smaller 11-inch model is pretty similar to the previous M1-powered generation, and likely won’t be an immediate upgrade.

However, if you have an older iPad and like the 11-inch size, or want a larger 13-inch iPad for less, there is a clear case to be made for the iPad Air. It will perform faster than the 10th Gen iPad or iPad Mini, and supports the Apple Pencil Pro.

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