air-1

All tech companies love to hype their shiny new gadgets. Nothing is ever a slightly better version of the last model, everything is a ‘breakthrough’, changes are always ‘dramatic’, performance is always ‘ground-breaking’.

Apple is of course the acknowledged master of the marketing arts, so if I’m honest I mentally toned-down all the claims in the keynote about it being “dramatically thinner and lighter,” and I responded to Phil Schiller’s claim that “once you hold one in your hand you will understand what a tremendous advancement this is” with a wry smile.

But having owned and used one extensively for a week now, I actually think Apple’s hype didn’t go far enough. This is not just a bit thinner and lighter, it’s virtually a third category of iPad … 

Ever since I bought the original iPad, it’s been my go-to mobile device. My iPhone gets used mostly as a phone (how unusual is that?), and my MacBooks – even my lovely MBA 11 – only get carried when I know I’m going to need them. The portability, instant on/off, decent screen-size and phenomenal battery-life made the iPad my constant mobile companion.

I was never interested in the iPad Mini: the screen size was just too much of a compromise for me. I upgraded to the iPad 2, but with 4G just a twinkle in the eye of UK carriers at the time, the third and fourth generation models didn’t offer enough differentiation to tempt me. Indeed, my real motivation for buying the iPad Air was 4G finally taking off in the UK.

air-3

My first surprise on seeing the iPad Air in the flesh was that it looked so much smaller than the dimensions and photos had suggested. That reduction in bezel size may have seemed modest on paper, but it really made an incredible difference to the perceived size. This thing looked like a cross between a full-size iPad and a Mini.

air-2

That thinness too. I’d never thought of any of the earlier iPads as thick, but viewed against this, they suddenly looked like a previous generation of technology.

But it was picking it up that made me go ‘wow.’ Phil Schiller was right. If anything, he didn’t go far enough. This isn’t just a smaller, lighter iPad, it’s an iPad with the screen-size of the original and the portability of the Mini.

air-4

A week in, that difference is all too apparent in the way I use the iPad. Previous iPads had always been two-handed devices; the combination of slimness and weight means the Air feels perfectly comfortable held in one hand.

air-6

Performance has also proved impressive. All of the iOS 7 animations are silky-smooth, and the video comparison of webpage rendering speeds has indeed been experienced in day-to-day use. Twice as fast? I can’t say that shows up in my usage, but then I’m not a gamer: X-Plane is my only real iPad gaming weakness.

air-5

But battery-life? That has shown up for sure. Apple is still only saying ten hours – the more efficient power usage of the A7 and M7 chips making up for the smaller battery – but the company is wrong: it delivers significantly more than this.

I’d always liked the 10-hour battery-life, not just because it can get me through pretty much any day out-and-about, but also because it makes the math simple: one hour for every 10 percent battery-life showing. But what I started noticing with the Air is that I could use it for two hours and still have 85 percent or more showing.

Eventually, I had to test it by running it flat. I have a home office, so picking a day when I wasn’t out in the evening meant I could just leave it on all day. Granted it wasn’t doing anything active for most of the daytime (I just refreshed a webpage every now and then), but I had everything on – wifi, Bluetooth and GPS – and the screen was on at a comfortable reading level all day. In the evening, I used it as my sofa browsing device. I didn’t notice when it finally switched off, but the last time I’d made a note, it was at 12 hours 7 minutes and still showing 6 percent remaining.

So long as you’re able to charge it overnight, for all practical purposes the iPad Air has infinite battery-life.

Conclusions? If you can afford one, buy one. If you can’t afford one, don’t try one: you’ll end up in debt.

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105 Responses to “A week with the iPad Air in three words: Believe. The. Hype.”

  1. Pretty much sums up my impressions after picking up one at launch. I had the 3d generation one previously, and had planned on getting a mini until the air announcement. couldn’t be happier with my decision – all the upside of the larger screen, plus increased portability and beefier innards. To sum it up, it’s better in every way. Love it!

    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      Yep, I’m wondering why anyone would buy the Mini rather than the Air now

      • tallestskil says:

        Morons, still clinging to the “Apple NEEDS a smaller, unusably-sized tablet to stay relevant” train, perhaps?

      • Daniel Hana says:

        If I had to guess In NY it’s much easier to manage a device the size of a iPad mini in a Train or Buss :-)

      • Ben Lovejoy says:

        Believe me, London’s tubes are just as crowded, and the Air seems to cope

      • I think its purely down to ones perception. I would still like an ipad mini than an ipad air. I have an ipad mini and i love it because of its size. Given that its getting a performance boost and display boost, i wonder why would i even think about an ipad air. I will be very much happy to trade in my ipad mini for a retina ipad mini. I like the form of ipad mini more than the regular ipad.

      • Ben Lovejoy says:

        Can’t argue with that, but I’d recommend trying an Air in-store before you make your decision :-)

      • Tony Bowens says:

        I actually dislike the larger size. I’ve used both and prefer the mini.
        Just a personal preference.

      • Erik L says:

        I’m in the same boat as Tony. I can fit my Mini in my pocket and hold easily with one hand, while my previous full sized iPad you have to carry around like a notepad.

        It’s all personal preference to the screen size. Hopefully Apple takes note of this and makes 2 sizes of iPhones in the next few years. (not counting the still offered iPhone 4s)

      • Ben Lovejoy says:

        Yes, if you can fit a Mini in your pocket, I can see that as a reason.

      • I would say, if you are a hardcore iOS gamer, the iPad mini is the way to go.

      • Ben Lovejoy says:

        Why so, as a matter of interest?

      • Some people don’t trust 7 yr olds with a $500-$800 device, plus it’s easier for little hands on a mini.

        My kid uses my mini just as much as me.

      • Ken Scott says:

        I wondered if I could replace my Mini with the Air and it’s still too big to be as portable / convenient as the Mini. So in my world I still need both. I can’t wait until the new Mini is release because the current model is such a dog when compared to 5S and Air.

      • acslater017 says:

        I tried the Air at my local store. It is indeed amazingly thin and light, but I still find the Mini to be more discreet and easy for one-handed use. The Air’s surface area makes it a bit too conspicuous to whip out on the train. I’m holding out for the Retina Mini.

      • I started out wanting the Mini and I was going to wait until I went into the Apple store and played around with the air. I am sold on the air. This is my first iPad and it is an incredible device.

      • Ben Lovejoy says:

        I think you will be far from alone in walking into an Apple Store to buy a Mini and walking out with an Air

      • Despite the portability between Air and Mini, iPad mini actually delivers more pixels, better screen intensity which would be the main reason for me getting the mini. Couldn’t wait!

      • The main reason to buy a mini over an Air is because it’s the only device that you can comfortably thumb-type on.

        The iPad (*all* iPads), is a device meant primarily to be used in portrait mode and the only comfortable, reasonable way to type on it in portrait mode is thumb-typing. Otherwise you’re hunting and pecking and basically one-finger typing.

        IMO the iPad mini is thus still the “core” iPad experience because it’s the only iPad you can use the way it’s intended to be used, which is as a mobile computer that doesn’t need to be put on a desktop so it can imitate a laptop, or embedded in a case or other accessory to make it function. It’s the only iPad that you can buy and use comfortably, as a single, accessory-less, mobile computer.

        I’ve never understood the whole idea of the bigger iPad being better because you “need” a bigger screen either. It’s a mobile device, hold it literally two or three inches closer to your face, and the screen of the mini becomes magically the same size as that of the regular iPad.

      • Ben Lovejoy says:

        Interesting to hear a very different viewpoint to mine. I always use mine in landscape mode, and I love the fact that it’s a light, all-in-one device for media consumption and browsing but a pretty capable laptop substitute when you add a keyboard case for creation.

      • The iPad is just too large and I have great eyes is why I would not get a large iPad. I have both and do NOT use the large one. All I need now is a retina display on a small iPad.

      • i speak for mysefl, i have both models, the mini and the normal size (plus a couple of model outside Apple’s ecosystem) and just got the iPad Air here in Oz and mark my words when i tell you is true, iPad Air is probably the best tablet i have ever had

    • I completely agree with MaRico NoHands Spikes. The mini is just better for children all around, it’s smaller and lighter, not to mention cheaper. Honestly, I wouldn’t trust a child with any of my iDevices, so a $299 last generation Mini is the perfect option. I get the perfect babysitter I’ve always wanted without worrying if my device will be lost or broken.

  2. shareef777 says:

    To each their own. I’ve owned the Air since launch and don’t find anything special about it. No different then the last generation (even the 3rd). Biggest issue is the lack of memory increase. I find opening 3 or more tabs will require them all to refresh when switching back and forth.

    • rogifan says:

      Why did you get one then? What special thing were you expecting to find that you didn’t after you purchased it?

      • shareef777 says:

        Because I gave my old one to my daughter. I never said it sucked, just that this upgrade is not as significant as some have made it out to be. It’s like any of their other prior upgrades. The most significant upgrade, IMHO, was going from the original iPad to the iPad 2 (retina). After that, the thinner, lighter, faster has been routine.

      • Ben Lovejoy says:

        The iPad 2 wasn’t Retina – that came with the iPad 3

    • I’ve noticed that is a *huge* problem on the iPad 3, but I have not used the iPad 4 or the iPad Air yet…I’m not doubting you at all (I have seen EXACTLY the same problem with the iPad 3 like I said), but can you post a YT video of the same problem happening on the iPad Air?

      • shareef777 says:

        Admittedly, I have a few apps open while doing this (pages, numbers, mail, and a few others). If I close them all out and use Safari I don’t run into that issue. Though I’d of rather they added another gig of memory and not have me worry about keep track of opened apps.

      • Ben Lovejoy says:

        I haven’t been able to replicate this in Safari even with other apps open

      • Ben, I find that hard to believe. Even Anand over at AnandTech reported on the Safari tab refreshing issue when loading more than 4 tabs. And it isn’t like the issue is NEW…it has been around since the iPad debuted. This is a KNOWN issue. It mostly stems from the fact that Apple doesn’t use swap on iOS, so loaded pages have no where to go when memory runs low, Safari HAS to dump them. And typical web pages consume anywhere from 50-80MB of RAM each.

        What I find interesting is that I have YET to see (in over three years) an article that discusses the side effect of this issue. Forget the wasted time that users endure waiting for content to reload OVER AND OVER AND OVER. What about the data cost? On cellular data-enabled iPhones and iPads this behavior has to be costly. From what I can tell Safari is re-pulling the page content redundantly on each refresh (and it is difficult to test and verify because it isn’t particularly easy to watch what happens on a cell connection). It would be interesting to put an iPad on Wi-Fi through a sniffer and see how many times and at what data cost a multi-tab browsing session causes refreshing. I can sit and watch Safari load content on background tabs (both the spinwheel going in the statusbar and the tab title changes); you can even get the thing into a hilarious game of “nothing but white” for minutes at a time by flipping back and forth between tabs quickly enough that they all start refreshing and flushing each other’s progress.

        It makes it perfectly clear why Apple implemented the Reading List feature…it is the right way (if, albeit, the wrong way) of solving this problem. Safari should be downloading and caching content to FlashRAM. Better yet, Apple should be putting more RAM in these units.

      • starkruzr says:

        and it is difficult to test and verify because it isn’t particularly easy to watch what happens on a cell connection

        You might be able to do this with a jailbroken device after the holidays (I suspect the evad3rs team will wait until then to release). Would be an interesting exercise, to be sure.

    • I have seen that happening in my ipad 4 and mini, but only in the chrome app. Not in the safari. Safari works like a charm to me.. As NQZ says please post a youtube video

      • Ken Scott says:

        Happens on my Mini all of the time…to the point where it’s frustrating to use, especially since I have been using the Air. I for one can’t wait for the Mini 2. I will be in heaven

    • THIS, right here…the only review THUS far that I’ve seen mention the RAM issue is Anand’s. (And he was highly critical of Apple.) It is THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE facing the iPad Air.

      I was an original iPad purchaser, Day 1. I love my iPad, but the dearth of RAM cost the experience greatly. It is only for my sheer love of what it represents that it hasn’t gone out a window. Safari crashes CONSTANTLY. Multiple tabs refreshed from Day 1. It is a painful experience browsing on it compared to an actual computer. “But!” you say, “it is a gen 1 iPad, what do you expect?” I expect Apple to make better design decisions. It clearly needed and should have had 512MB of RAM. (Too little RAM is a problem Apple has suffered with since THEIR Day 1. Every platform they have EVER released, they did so with too little RAM. EVERY. ONE.) The iPad Air with 1GB of RAM has less available RAM after boot than the iPad 2/iPad mini. Let that sink in. It has less available RAM than the iPad 3/4 even though they all have 1GB because of the move to 64-bit. And every iOS release has used MORE RAM than the previous. This does NOT bode well for the longevity for this model of the iPad Air. My $600 1st gen iPad is stuck on iOS 5 NOT because it can’t run iOS 7 (it could, since the iPhone 4 does) and is a lousy experience NOT because it is too slow (not significantly slower than the iPad 2), but simply because it was starved from birth with 256MB of RAM. Apps like Numbers and GarageBand are going to run pathetically on the Air by the next iteration, simply because apps get bigger, coupled with the 64-bit overhead (which wasn’t even necessary to begin with at this point, nothing more than a marketing gimmick), leading to even more Low Memory issues. Anand documented Low Memory reports being generated on the Air in the review, right from Day 1. This isn’t going to improve. Google has stated that they made a concerted effort in KitKat to get it to run better down as far as 512MB of RAM; iOS 7 uses MORE RAM that iOS 6. Think Apple will work diligently on iOS 8 to get it to run better in 512MB? Don’t hold your breath on that one. (In fact, for all of Apple’s bluster about 10.9 Mavericks’ memory compression, blah blah blah, 10.9 leaves LESS ‘Available Memory’ than 10.8…they NEEDED the compression tech to fit the damn thing on all the 4GB models they’ve shipped the past 3 years! Even better, Apple removed the ‘Available Memory’ stat from 10.9’s Activity Monitor. Classy move, Apple.)

      Since the iSuppli teardown, we know how much greed Apple is showing here: the 1GB of RAM costs $10.50. It would be less than double that to go to 2GB. So for a lousy $10 on a $500 product with 45% gross margins, Apple permanently screwed the iPad Air. It gets WORSE for the 32/64/128 models, since, thanks to FLASH pricing, the gross margins on those models climb to 62%! It makes absolutely NO sense; at the very least the 32GB and higher models should have had 2GB of RAM.

      Newegg has the 2nd gen ASUS-built Google Nexus 7 32GB on sale right now for $269…with 2GB of RAM.

      It is insanity. Moreso, is the Apple press giving them a pass on it.

      • More on Apple’s Greed:
        http://www.businessweek.com/printer/articles/166250-an-iphone-tester-caught-in-apples-supply-chain

        There is no reason to give this company a pass anymore, it is NOT the principled company we had grown to love. It doesn’t treat its supply chain workers good; it doesn’t treat its customers good, building high-margin, high-price products with serious longevity limitations; it doesn’t even treat the vast majority of its own employees very good, paying wages and options that are consistently average in the industry; and all the while it sits perched up on a mountain of cash, rewarding its leadership elite with astronomical bonuses.

      • Ben Lovejoy says:

        I agree that Apple skimps on RAM (same with MacBooks in their base configurations), but right now I have four tabs open and can switch between them with no visible refresh.

      • Ben, it is worse than merely “Apple skimps on RAM”. The press (sorry, includes you, I suppose) is fawning over Apple on these models. But they’ve effectively eschewed less than $10 in cost for an additional 1GB of RAM, on a product that is selling with 45-62% gross margins! That extra expense would drop their gross margins on a 32GB Air to 51% from 52%. I’m sure Wall Street would have just KILLED them for that. Sarcasm. The bigger issue however is that this habitual “skimping” smacks of naked greed. They surely aren’t doing what is best for their customers, because the negative side effect is poor user experience and shortened device lifespan. Both WILL result in reduced market share, as customers WILL go elsewhere after being frustrated with crashing and 2 year obsoleted hardware. Apple from Day 1 with the iPad took this “we don’t talk specs” path. That would have been FINE, if they’d erred on the side of caution and made that talk unnecessary by over spec’ing the RAM. They didn’t. So, instead, the “we don’t talk specs” looks in hindsight like a dodge; they didn’t want to discuss it because it would have been a reason for consumers to maybe not buy. Read about the experiences first gen iPad owners have had. They aren’t good. Slow is one thing, stuck on iOS 5/constant app crashing because of a failure to spend another $8 on RAM is another. The press needed to really push Apple on it. They remedied the issue, somewhat, on the iPad 2. But by the time the iPad 4 shipped with 1GB of RAM (again, since the iPad 3 had 1GB but less avail mem than the 2), the press should have HAMMERED them. Not a peep was said. Anand is the only reviewer I’ve seen even ADDRESS the problem this time around. But do a Google search on ‘iPad Air Safari crashing’…it is an issue all over again. And it will NOT get better, just as it didn’t on the original iPad. The press NEEDS to put Apple on notice that this kind of greedy skimping will not be tolerated. Once their products start getting bad reviews, you’ll see mid-cycle upgrades.
        I was flabbergasted that the 64GB and 128GB iPad Airs didn’t ship with 2GB of RAM. But yet the reviews don’t take Apple to task for trading SKY HIGH margins for user satisfaction/market competitiveness. Apple is sitting on $150BILLION DOLLARS and watching shrinking market share. $10, 1% gross margin.

      • Ben Lovejoy says:

        No argument that more would be good. But Apple has learned from car manufacturers – a few cents here and a few cents there add up to a lot of money in volume. That’s one of the reasons it makes so much money.

        I guess a lot depends on usage. If you use an iPad as a primary browsing device, you might have lots of tabs open and get frustrated. For me, it’s mostly a mobile device and it’s rare I have more then 3-4 tabs open, often just one.

      • starkruzr says:

        I’m glad someone else is taking note of this. I actually understand the move to 64-bit; IMO it’s a platform leveler between iOS and OS X. Makes sense to me. What doesn’t make sense to me is the skimping on RAM after ensuring that every. single. instruction. and variable. is going to be twice as big from here on out on this generation of equipment.

        It’s classic Apple, though. Half-measures that ensure that the experience for some classes of user under certain conditions is great, but is pretty terrible for many others — maybe even most others! But as long as you have a group of consumers trumpeting the glories of the experience under their particular conditions, the marketing holds and the product sells.

    • starkruzr says:

      Going to a 64 bit architecture and having a very high-res screen but barely any room to store all those bits in working memory seemed like a mistake to me. That tab problem is a deal-breaker, unfortunately — it sounds like the available RAM problem has indeed gotten worse even since the switch to Retina with the iPad 3. I was all ready to switch back to iOS with my tablet purchase but it looks like I’m going to go with the new Nexus 10 after all. Unfortunate; it would have been nice to have an iOS device again.

  3. Haven´t tried one yet – and now i know I was right not to do so ;)

  4. Damn you, you’re making me want to buy one even though I’m more of a Mac guy than an iOS guy and i Just bought a 5S…god damn you Ben!!!

  5. Yep, I’d love to get one now, but it will have to wait until tax time in the spring.

  6. I’m thinking about replacing my iPad 2 with an iPad Air (or Mini) so I’m curious to see how the two compare in size. With that being one of the main points of this article it would have been nice to see some side by side photos.

  7. I was a little tempted to upgrade because my biggest issues with my 3rd generation iPad are its weight and, to a lesser extent performance with iOS 7. But overall the the Air just didn’t impress me with what it has to offer me over my current iPad for the asking price.

    The improvements in form factor and weight are indeed nice, but besides the relative comfort in my hand, it still mostly feels like the same device I already have (the performance issues with my iPad are not so great that they are always noticeable nor do they make the device unusable by any means) so I couldn’t justify the money spent.

    So i’m happy with the advancements made but I’m waiting for something more, perhaps at the very least an integrated Touch ID (and I’m hoping by that point the use of Touch ID will be expanded and even better with a developer API).

  8. I have to agree that this new generation is extraordinary. It’s just easy and light and you want to almost wear it around your neck so you’re never without it.

    But you bring up an interesting side point I think regarding “Phil Schiller not going far enough…”

    My gut feeling is the reason you even commented on that was that the keynotes have taken on a canned feel. The format and the language has a predictability about it. When Mr. Jobs was the key presenter, regardless of how rehearsed it might have been, to a viewer or observer, you had a sense that anything could have happened. You didn’t quite know what was coming…just that it was important and meaningful.

    Of course he was an incredible presence on stage and a one-in-a-kind marketing mind.

    That being said, I think digging a little deeper and creating a little less predictability would be a fantastic thing.

    Nothing wrong with showing a video of real people reacting to seeing a product for the first time. Delight, Feeling the weight, playing with it. Talking about all the things they can now do with it that they couldn’t do before.

    Excitement, unpredictability…and a sense that it’s Christmas morning.

    Steve Dworman

    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      Well, Steve was no stranger to hyperbole. He managed to give the impression that Apple had invented the whole smartphone category rather than actually being rather late to the party! The man was a marketing genius, and I suspect Apple is loathe to mess with the formula.

  9. This makes us curious to get ipad air in our hands.Waiting for the Indian launch

  10. Erik L says:

    We have had 1st generation iPads and just recently switched to refurbished 32gb Mini’s a few months ago. I prefer the smaller, lighter form factor and the Mini is so much more portable – I take mine everywhere.

    I have never picked up or used a Retina iPad (for this specific reason). For what I use my iPad Mini for (browsing, casual gaming, work support when I’m out of the house, etc) I don’t need anything more than this for now. 163ppi is noticeably better than the 132ppi we had on the 1st gen iPad.

    Would I like a retina iPad or retina Mini? Of course. However, it’s just not worth the upgrade cost to me to replace what we already have.

  11. Erik L says:

    Last day to trade in your iPad at Target to get $200 off a new iPad, FYI.

    We traded in our two 1st gen iPads toward a couple Mini’s. Cost me $233 out of pocket. – Return credit is $274 a piece + tax.

  12. A Patel says:

    I love mine, the only thing I want now is the finger-print scanner. I’ve gotten so used to it on the iPhone 5s, but that’s just a minor issue for me.

  13. Joe Tee says:

    I also upgraded from an iPad 2 and the Air is a superb device, I’m very happy with the upgrade.

    Also the battery is incredible. Only charged it once since last Friday. I got about 14 hours out of that and at the moment it’s shoing 11 hours 6 minutes since last charge but WITH 39% BATTERY STILL REMAINING! Awesome :)

  14. so I just realized that apple called its lower cost Macbook the Macbook air could they be working on a larger iPad called the iPad Pro with a larger screen and other performance enhancements?

    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      Apple has certainly tested larger screen sizes, and if one of them ever comes to market it would be a logical enough name (rather more likely than Max, as has been suggested in some quarters).

      • I think you’re onto something there. Ever since releasing the “The New iPad” they have been trying to get consumers to align the iPad more closely to their MacBook lineup rather than iPhone. I really think they want people to look at the iPad as a computing device rather than an extension of the iPhone. However, I don’t think they’ll name it Pro necessarily, as it is geared towards consumers and not professionals. Currently, we’re still a few years away from making an iPad powerful enough to perform the functions of professional would need. They could go ahead and call the larger iPad the new iPad. I think Apple would want people to think of the iPad air as a new product category and view the screen size increase as A evolution of that current category. I don’t think the next iPad will be any thicker than the last generation and with the new batteries I don’t see it being any heavier – albeit with a larger screen. I do think them next mini will also get lighter and thinner. I would like to see apple offer larger storage options with the larger screens, and possibly more ram. I wouldn’t hate to see them get rid of the 16gb option or cut the price increase between storage options in half, either.

      • Ben Lovejoy says:

        The 16GB option will go in the next generation, I’m sure. I went for the 64GB last time and there were times when I bumped up against that (mostly when adding a lot of movies for a trip) so went for the 128GB this time.

  15. You’re making it really hard for me to wait for the next one! I know I’m going to have to though as I just bought a 15″ Macbook Pro – so I’m a little maxed out at the moment.

  16. PMZanetti says:

    Couldn’t agree more. It is drastically different than the previous full size iPad. Unbelievable experience, way more than I expected.

  17. Im sorry to be negative but I bought the iPad air on November 1st and brought it back on Monday November 4 as it was laggy with translation and some scrolling. I bought back iPad mini 32gb and bought surface 2 32gb and that pair is the same price is the same as the iPad air 128gb with 7.03 I return. It is the perfect pair of tablets plus an htc one phone. I have all 3 best mobile os and it is nice to have all of them to compare as all have their force and weakness. And by the way I have own and try all android tablets, iPad, surface tablets so I would say I’m expert at it.

  18. I had an Air and returned it 2 days ago. I got the white 32 GB. I was blown away by the weight at first. After awhile I didn’t think of it as an air. The MacBook Air vs pro non retina… Now that is a true air comparison. I think I got spoiled by the iPad mini. I loved reading the Steve jobs biography on my mini in between college classes. I agree the air is a drastic difference but not light as air there is significant weight in my opinion but not like it was before with previous generation iPads. The performance blew me away though and I just hope apple can produce the same results with the mini retina. The battery life was amazing! If apple doesn’t replicate that with the iPad mini retina. I will gladly go get an air.

  19. akufu says:

    Couldn’t agree more with your review.

    What I got was; more a big iPad Mini than a smaller iPad.

    Agree?

  20. …”animations are silky smooth” really? My iOS 6 iPad 2 is 10 times smoother, iOS 7 has lot of lags, and bugs.
    Safari often refreshes tabs due to lack of memory…when it doesn’t crash (three times on this page, with four tabs open)…
    I find the chamfered edges around the screen too sharp, they make the air unconfortable to hold.

  21. I tried the Air in an Apple store two days ago, and only played with it for ten minutes. I was slightly disappointed. The hype train had me expecting the second coming of Jesus. Found it more evolution than revolution though.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s great, but I felt that iOS 7 still lacks the absolute buttery-creamy-smooth feeling of iOS 6, and the weight was far better than the iPad 3/4 (after using an iPad 2 extensively those felt heavy!)

    I definitely like the Air, it’s a brilliant tablet, and I think I need some more time with it to appreciate the speed improvements fully. But it didn’t leap out at me, grab me by the nuts and squeeze them hard. More a gentle fondling.

  22. I can’t believe you said that iPad 3 didn’t offer enough variation from iPad 2. For me, Retina display on iPad 3 was the main reason I got my first iPad. So maybe you wouldn’t be as impressed coming from iPad 4?

    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      I came from the iPad 2, and Retina displays have always felt a little over-blown to me – not because they aren’t good – they are – but because the non-Retina ones were also good. Sure, if you look really closely the difference is dramatic, but not so much at normal viewing distances.

  23. jak24 says:

    The iPad Air is a half-baked product. Next year Apple will increase the pixel density of the iPad Air by 30-40% because the PPI really lag behind iPhone 5, iPad Mini Retina and various Android devices. 2014 is the time to buy a new 9,7 inch iPad again, the 6th generation with up-to-date pixel density.

    I tried the iPad Air but I don’d see any substantial improvement to my iPad 3 (which I don’t consider too heavy).

    Until a higher-resolution iPad Air is announced I think I’ll try the new iPad Mini Retina, which is much more future-proof than it’s bigger brother.

    • tallestskil says:

      >>The iPad Air is a half-baked product.

      Shut up and go away.

      >>Next year Apple will increase the pixel density

      No, they won’t, you idiot. What’s wrong with you? How stupid can you possibly be?

      >>I tried the iPad Air but I don’d see any substantial improvement to my iPad 3

      I refuse to believe you tried it, then.

    • You are one of these persons who judges product from benchmark tables. With Apple this type of comparison do not apply.
      Apple will keep the right resolution, they are not like these asian companies who copy everything and pump pixels to just sell you smoke. I compared the displays of these super pixellated tablets with Apple ones and I am not impressed at all.
      And for sure you do not own an iPad and you never will.

  24. I have both a ipad 4 wifi only and use for home , I also have a mini with a data package on it for when I’m out and love both of them. I never really notice the size of my ipad 4 until I saw the air. Yes it is a want and I’m thinking about trading in the 4 for air ipad. As for my mini I have another year on my contract so I will be keeping that one for another year. If I had to pick only one I just don’t know which one I would pick. I love having both.

  25. The optimum size is subjective, depending on personal preference and environment.
    In my perspective, I have had only choice of Air since I routinely do handwriting memo, and documents.
    Last year, iPad 2 beat mini in my case, although small one fits in my pants pocket.

  26. I’m usually a Mac user and I bought an iPad Mini to my wife, one year ago, she did even know she need one, now she cannot make without it. It is the right size for her, it gets in any purse big or small and ideal for her hand size. I just bought an iPad Air. Earlier I wanted to buy an iPad ( needed a larger display than the mini, i’m not young anymore and need reading glasses, small fonts are always trouble for me ) but the previous iPad 4 was too big and heavy, ideally I wanted a Mini with larger display and I had it with the Air. I bought it on Nov. 2 ( the 1st of November being a holiday here in Austria !!!!). Both sizes are are perfect iPads but the choice is really personal and has nothing to do with technical reason. The iPad Air is amazing, smooth and reliable like any Apple product. But I’m sure that the new Mini will be a real jewel and anyone who has no vision problem ( or have a good vision ) this will be the ideal choice.

  27. I’ve had my iPad Air since the 1st and I love it. I’ve owned every iPad so far and the Air is a huge step ahead of the rest. I cannot see the design getting any better than this. It’s really something amazing when holding one and surfing the web or playing games. I always hold my iPad in landscape mode but with the Air, I’m starting to like portrait mode more. It feels so slim in portrait mode. If anyone is thinking of getting an iPad or upgrading from your current iPad, don’t hesitate. You will be very happy with your purchase. I know I am. I even stepped it up this time and finally got the 32Gb. Couldn’t be happier.

  28. I have to disagree on one part: Its not snappy, at all. Rotating apps (especially when the keyboard is up), switching apps or using the multitouch gestures feels so un-Apple. The original iPad with the now ridiculously outdated A4 chip did a better job at being smooth in most cases, let alone the iPad 2 (running iOS 6 or older).

    The lag in iOS7 really bugs me and prevented me from buying the iPad Air although I’ve been waiting for it a long time (the lower weight really does make it that much more usable than before). Yes the lag is iOS7’s fault not the Air at all, it isn’t even that much noticeably worse on the iPad 2. (Its much more bearable on the iPhone 5.) Add to that the bummer of not including Touch ID, and sadly I decided to wait yet another generation (hoping for iOS 8 to smooth things out a bit and iPad Air 2 to have Touch ID and some of the camera features of the iPhone 5s).

    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      Very odd. I saw definite animation lag on my iPad 2 with iOS 7, but nothing on the Air. Not sure why you would be seeing it on yours.

      • Just in case you’re still wandering. As mentioned, the lag is experienced in app rotation (especially with keyboard), the app switcher and the multitouch gestures (especially the pinch to close gesture). After some weeks of using iOS 7 on an iPad Air, you might be familiar with the snappiness issues. Which is, why I can now quote the following from one of 9to5’s latest posts about iOS 7.1:

        “iOS 7.1 beta 1 includes a number of bug fixes and (seriously needed) performance enhancements. iPad includes a tweaked closing animation in the pinch-to-close gesture.”

  29. It should be prefaced, “If you can’t afford one, don’t read this article.”

    After reading this, I am tempted to upgrade from my 4th-gen. I hope I can resist temptation.

  30. Hello Ben, did you test this website (your own article) in landscape mode with your iPad Air ?
    Scroll fast down and up and you will find out the huge problem of the current Ipad Air, constantly APP crashes or shut downs due to low memory. See you error report on your iPad Air.
    Test it and you will see it.
    Regard. JuanMi

    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      I have experienced some Safari crashes, but very occasional and haven’t spotted any pattern. I always browse in landscape mode and this article scrolls fine for me.

      • Then you have big luck, because I want to answer you using my ipad Air and it crashed 4 times and I have to go to my Macbook Air to answer you. By the way it´s the second unit because the first unit was exchanged due to the same error. Furthermore I made two tests with my iPhone 4s and 3GS and the same happened, safari crashed immediately. Both 4S and Air are updated on the last iOS version 7.0.6.
        Only today I have 8 low memory reports and the same amount of crashes.
        Finally I think that´s not an isolated issue, there are an apple post open on their support page with 103 entries, all related to the crashes of safari on the ipad air due to low memory.
        https://discussions.apple.com/thread/5532206?start=1500&tstart=0

  31. wpmember7 says:

    So Ben, you work for Apple, right? I think Apple is going the way of Windows now. Totally backwards. The ‘device’ might be nice, but without good iOS you’ve got nothing. I can’t understand why Apple would take away all the handy features we had with the previous iOS…took away our Icon bar at the bottom of the screen (now we just have Icons there like those above it). No way scroll the bar to close the Apps. No way to dim the brightness so easily at the bar. And that’s not to mention Apple’s “minimizing” all the good looks of the iPad screen in the past. Now everything is just thin lines and no color. Nothing bold about it. And what was Apple thinking to get rid of the easy swipe/delete an email and burden us with “go to the top of the page and click “Edit”…now click on the dot next the to email you want to delete…next go to the bottom of the page and click on ‘Trash’. Really?

    I thought I’d discovered heaven when I got my iPad 3 years ago…and a Macbook. Now I’m going to do my homework on the Windows machines again, much as it nauseates me to even think about it. But Apple simply disappoints me….trying to ‘fix’ perfectly good things and turning them into big dissapointments. I don’t trust Apple any more.

    I’m keeping my iPad 2 and not updating it to 7.1 because I just don’t want to go the way of Windows unless I have to. We need Steve Jobs back!