300 'iPad Air' stories
October 2013 - September 2021
The iPad Air is “the default iPad” – the one you should buy if you’re not sure which model you need. When compared to all other iPads, this one has the Pro’s power while costing much less and keeping Touch ID.
Table of contents
The iPad Air was first introduced in 2013. With a 9.7-inch display, it was really thin and light, weighing only 469 grams – over 25% lighter than its respective predecessor, the iPad 4.
When the iPad Air 2 was announced, a year later in 2014, Apple could deliver a thinner and faster tablet than its predecessor, weighing only 437 grams. The second-generation iPad was sold until March of 2017. Although it was a great tablet, Apple was focusing on the regular model and the Pro one by the time.
Surprisingly in 2019, the company introduced the third-generation iPad Air, this time with a 10.5-inch Retina display, support for the first-generation Apple Pencil, and an upgraded Apple A12 Bionic chip.
With the fourth-generation iPad Air being introduced in October of 2020, Apple finally gave this iPad a fresh look, with a bezel-less design, five color option, while being the first product with the A14 chip and integrating the Touch ID sensor on the Side Button. This iPad generation also lacks the headphone jack and supports the second-generation Apple Pencil and the Magic Keyboard, previously exclusives to the iPad Pro line.
iPad Air Specs
The fourth-generation iPad Air has a 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display, with a bezel-less design. This iPad comes in five different colors: Space Grey, Silver, Rose Gold, Green, and Sky Blue. With the A14 Bionic chip, this was the first Apple product to introduce an A-series processor before the iPhone. The A14 chip on this iPad is 40% faster than the chip in its predecessor.
For the first time, Apple moved the Touch ID from the Home Button to the Side Button. With that change, the Air looks like the iPad Pro, although it doesn’t have the ProMotion display and no camera flash as well.
Talking about the camera, it has a 12MP sensor, with ƒ/1.8 aperture, Smart HDR support, 1080p 30fps video recording, video stabilization, and more. The front camera has a 7MP sensor with ƒ/2.0 aperture and a 1080p video recording feature.
This iPad comes with 64GB or 256GB storage options and Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + Cellular versions. The fourth-generation iPad Air also has support for the second-generation Apple Pencil and the Magic Keyboard.
Accessories: Magic Keyboard and second-generation Apple Pencil
This is the first iPad, aside from the third-generation iPad Pro (or newer) to receive Magic Keyboard and second-generation Apple Pencil support. These two accessories help this tablet feel more “Pro” than the iPad mini or even the base model iPad.
The Magic Keyboard is available in black and white and features a great typing experience, a trackpad that opens up new ways to work with iPadOS, a USB‑C port for pass-through charging, and front and back protection. The Magic Keyboard has a floating cantilever design, allowing you to attach the iPad Air magnetically and smoothly adjust it to the perfect viewing angle for you.
- Comfortable backlit keys and a scissor mechanism with 1 mm travel for quiet, responsive typing.
- Designed for Multi‑Touch gestures and the cursor in iPadOS.
- Smooth angle adjustability delivers the perfect viewing angle.
- USB-C port for charging iPad Pro and iPad Air, freeing up the port on the iPad for other accessories.
- Folds into a case to provide front and back protection.
The second-generation Apple Pencil delivers pixel-perfect precision and industry-leading low latency, making it great for drawing, sketching, coloring, taking notes, marking up PDFs, and more. It features a flat edge that attaches magnetically for automatic charging and pairing on the iPad Air.
iPadOS 15 features
The fourth-generation iPad Air will feature iPadOS 15. Previewed during the WWDC21 keynote, the upcoming operating system will bring a redesigned Home Screen with widgets and App Library support.
On iPadOS 15, FaceTime group calls can finally appear in a grid, so it’s easier to see everyone. It’s also possible to share your screen, listen to Apple Music songs together, or watch Apple TV+, HBO Max, Disney+, and others while in a call.
In the productivity section, Apple unfortunately didn’t bring all features pro users wanted to take full advantage of their new M1 iPad Pro, even though Apple made it easier to rely on multitasking features.
There’s a new multitasking menu on the top of the screen. When you click there, it’s possible to see what configurations you can use on Split View or just go to Slide Over with just a tap.
The experience with an external keyboard allows users to get more done with all-new keyboard shortcuts and a redesign of the menu bar.
With Universal Control, which will be also available on the Mac, it’ll be possible to arrange the devices together and use the same mouse and keyboard in multiple Apple devices.
With the Quick Note feature, users can use the Apple Pencil to add a quick note. They just need to slide the pencil through the bottom right corner to the center of the screen and start writing.
iPadOS 15 is currently on beta 6Learn more about it here.
iPadOS 14 features
The fourth-generation iPad Air currently runs iPadOS 14, which has redesigned widgets for the Home Screen, a new enhanced sidebar, compact calls function, and Scribble. With this function, you don’t have to put Apple Pencil away to do other things. You can write by hand in any text field across iPadOS, and your words automatically convert to text.
Messages received pinned conversations, group photos, and inline replies. It’s possible to mention people in iMessage now and give your Memoji a more personalized look.
With iPadOS 14.5, Apple introduced a lot of features. Here are some of the most important updates in this version:
- App Tracking Transparency: iPadOS 14.5 includes the new App Tracking Transparency feature. This requires that applications ask permission from users before tracking them across other apps and websites. For example, when you open the Facebook app, you’ll see a prompt that says the app would like to track you across other apps and services. There will be two options from which to choose: “Ask App Not to Track” or “Allow.”
- Siri: There is a new Siri intelligence feature that helps the virtual assistant adapt to your preferring music application. Apple also added two additional Siri voice options from which to choose. The company has said that these changes are part of its ongoing commitment to diversity.
- Emoji: iPadOS 14.5 adds over 200 new emojis.
- Podcasts: Podcasts Show Pages are redesigned to make it easier to start listening to a podcast. Option to save and download episodes, automatically adding them to your library for quick access. Top Charts and popular categories in Search help discover new shows.
- Horizontal boot screen on the iPad
- Updates to the Music app, including swipe gestures, a lyrics sharing feature, and more.
Apple recently released iPadOS 14.7, which could be the last iPadOS 14 update for now.
iPad Air (2020) pricing starts at $599 for the 64GB storage option with Wi-Fi only. The prices can go up to $879 with the 256GB storage option and Wi-Fi + Cellular. Here are the full prices of the fourth-generation AIr Apple sells:
- 64GB with Wi-Fi: $599
- 64GB with Wi-Fi + Cellular: $729
- 256GB with Wi-Fi: $749
- 256GB with Wi-Fi + Cellular: $879
Lower prices may be available from Apple’s official Amazon store.
iPad Air Review
In our video review of the fourth-generation iPad Air, we described it as the “default iPad to buy:”
Overall the iPad Air is a great tablet on its own. I still think anyone looking to get a new iPad for school and productivity would probably be better off with an iPad Pro, especially if you’re going to get the pencil and the keyboard. An Air 4 with a keyboard and pencil is about $200 less than what it would be for a Pro with the keyboard and pencil. And so you must decide whether the extra features you get with the iPad Pro are worth the extra $200. If not, then the Air 4 is a great steal.
The next iPad Air is rumored to have an OLED display. In March, Ming-Chi Kuo said some iPad models would switch to OLED displays, beginning with the Air model next year. According to the analyst, Apple has no plans to bring OLED to its productivity devices because of burn-in concerns, which could be more noticeable by users who work with the same software for hours.
Last month, the Elec corroborated with this rumor saying Apple will launch an OLED iPad with a 10.86-inch screen in 2022, most likely branded as an iPad Air as the current model already features the exact same screen size, although the website predicts the Pro version will also receive an OLED display next year.
While reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and the Elec predict that Apple will launch an OLED iPad starting next year, a new report from Display Supply Chain Consultants says Apple will launch this iPad in 2023.
“In tablets, Apple’s entry into the OLED tablet market expected in 2023 will boost the tablet market to over $1B in 2024. (…)
In the note, DSCC says the company will launch an OLED iPad with a 10.9-inch display, which is the same size as the current iPad Air.