iPad Air Overview Updated August 28, 2021

iPad Air

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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.

History

iPad Air colors

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

How to get the most out of your iPad Air, Apple Pencil, and iPadOS 14

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.

The Magic Keyboard costs $299 but you can find it at a lower price at the Amazon store here. The Apple Pencil (2nd gen) costs $129 but you can find it at a lower price at the Amazon store here.

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

Apple releases iPadOS 14 for iPad

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.

Pricing

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.

Deals

Over at 9to5Toys, you can find the best deals on the iPad Air and other Apple products. Download the 9to5Toys iPhone app to receive push notifications for new deals as well.

Rumors

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.

iPad Air Stories September 15

The new iPad mini introduced yesterday has several key improvements over the 4th generation iPad Air that the company introduced last year. Unfortunately, Apple did not refresh the iPad Air with these updates and instead opted to keep selling the existing model alongside the new iPad mini. We’ve put all of the differences between the two devices together, so keep reading to learn more about why the new iPad mini is technically better than the iPad Air.

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After a two and a half year wait since the last update, a totally redesigned iPad mini has officially arrived alongside the iPhone 13. The exciting overhaul for Apple’s compact tablet comes with a larger all-screen design, USB-C, the A15 Bionic chip, camera upgrades, 5G, Apple Pencil gen 2 support, and much more. Read on for a detailed look at the new iPad mini vs the iPad mini 5 and iPad Air.

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iPad Air Stories August 18

We recently learned that Samsung is gearing up to make OLED screens for the 2022 iPad Air using a new advanced manufacturing technique, and a fresh report says that LG is doing the same.

Apple is expected to upgrade the iPad Air to an OLED screen next year…

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iPad Air Stories August 10

Samsung is preparing to adopt a new process likely to be used in the production of OLED iPad screens next year, according to a new supply chain report.

The report says the company is expecting orders from Apple for a process specifically designed for OLED screens 10 inches and larger …

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iPad Air Stories July 28

Satechi launched its Aluminum Stand and Hub for iPad Pro/Air last month with a foldable design that brings 6 ports, integrated USB-C cable connector, and features like 4K output at 60Hz and 60W power. We’ve been testing out this handy iPad accessory that also works with MacBooks for a few weeks, read on for our full review.

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The 2020 iPad Air is a compelling tablet and will be the top pick for a lot of users. However, while it matches and even surpasses the 2020 11-inch iPad Pro in a variety of aspects, the latter still holds the upper hand when it comes to certain use cases. And now the 2021 iPad Pro with M1 chip outperforms both. Let’s break down the similarities and differences to help you decide if you should buy the iPad Air or the 11-inch iPad Pro.

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iPad Air Stories July 27

Japanese blog MacOtakara published a roundup of features that could be coming to the iPad Air 5, iPad mini 6, and even the base-model iPad 9th generation.

According to a Chinese supplier, the next iPad Air is likely to be based on the third-generation 11-inch iPad Pro, which means that more than the 10.9-inch display, this iPad could feature a dual-lens camera system with a wide-angle camera and an ultra-wide-angle camera.

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iPad Air Stories July 12

Apple is teaming up with California State University to provide iPad Air devices to up to 35,000 first-year and new transfer students. The announcement was made by California State University today, saying that students will receive an iPad Air, an Apple Pencil, and a Smart Keyboard Folio.

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iPad Air Stories May 31

After introducing the mini-LED technology on the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro, Apple is now planning to adopt OLED displays for some other iPads starting next year, according to Korea’s ETNews.

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iPad Air Stories May 27

Today, the University of Nevada, Reno announced that the iPad Air would power its Digital Wolf Pack initiative for its incoming freshman for the Fall of 2021 as students return to campus.

The iPad Air, launched during a pandemic-filled 2020, has quickly become a favorite of education and enterprise customers. Although slightly more expensive than the low-end iPad, the iPad Air is a powerful way to use iPadOS with support for almost all of Apple’s smart accessories.

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iPad Air Stories May 11

Following its announcement last month of the new Brydge 12.9 MAX+ for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, Brydge today announced its latest keyboard/trackpad combo, this time for the iPad Air. The new Brydge Air MAX+ features an expansive keyboard and multi-touch trackpad with a magnetic design, backlit keys, and more.

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iPad Air Stories April 21

How to trade in your old iPad and upgrade to the 2021 iPad Pro

The big day for the new iPad Pros has arrived, and the new tablets are big upgrades in more ways than one. If you’re coming from an older iPad but want to update to the latest iPad Pro (or even another recently-launched iPad) we’ll walk you through exactly how to trade in and recycle your old iPad (or other devices) for the latest-and-greatest…

iPad Air Stories February 3

At CES this week, Kensington has unveiled what looks like one of the most compelling Apple accessories we’ve seen so far – the StudioDock for iPad Air and iPad Pro. The product aims to bring together a whole lot of functionality with the aesthetic from Apple’s Pro Display XDR stand.

Update 2/3: Pre-orders now open.

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iPad Air Stories December 25, 2020

If you’re looking to add a new iPad Air to your household this Christmas, you should take a look at Amazon’s highest rated case made by ZUGU called the Alpha case. This company focuses all its energy on one thing, iPad Cases. It strikes the right balance between durability, lack of bulk, aesthetics and maximizing the iPad’s full usability potential. Let’s take a look:

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iPad Air Stories November 6, 2020

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Whether you’ve recently picked up the 2020 iPad Air or will be getting one soon, there are a number of great new capabilities and features to enhance your experience between the new hardware, iPadOS 14, and Apple Pencil. And even if you’re keeping your existing iPad, follow along for how to get the most out of iPadOS 14 and Apple Pencil.

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iPad Air Stories October 23, 2020

Alongside the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro, today also marks the first day of availability for the new iPad Air. To celebrate the latest iPad Air, Apple has shared a new video on YouTube promoting the device’s features and color selection. The video first premiered during the iPad Air’s announcement event.

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We’ve already seen customers tweet photos as their pre-ordered iPhone 12 arrives, as well as photos of people waiting in line at Apple Stores.

Apple has now shared some official photos, not just in-store, but also of the shipping and distribution process used to get devices to stores and to customers …

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iPad Air Stories October 21, 2020

Early iPad Air reviews have now landed, and they are so consistent they come close to being word-for-word in their conclusions. You can also watch some view reviews below.

Ahead of the reviews, I voiced my view that ‘the 4th-gen iPad Air is probably the model most people should be buying’ – and the reviews universally agree …

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iPad Air Stories October 16, 2020

If you’ve been waiting impatiently to buy the new iPad Air, preorders for the 4th-gen device are now open, alongside those for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. You can place your order today, and receive your iPad a week later, on October 23. Apple first announced the new model a month ago.

The 4th-gen iPad Air is probably the model most people should be buying …

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iPad Air Stories October 15, 2020

Apple unveiled the all-new iPad Air 4 at its September event alongside the Apple Watch Series 6 and entry-level iPad, but the redesign iPad Air hasn’t actually launched yet. Apple has only promised availability sometime in October, and as of today the colorful tablet has been legally cleared for release.

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More evidence has emerged of the 4th-gen iPad Air release date being Friday October 23, thanks to a listing on Best Buy’s Canadian website (spotted by MacRumors). The same date is shown on the John Lewis site in the UK.

This aligns with the date previously suggested by Jon Prosser. The suggested date would also make sense …

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iPad Air Stories September 18, 2020

9to5Mac is brought to you by Concepts App. Sketch and design your ideas on an infinite canvas with flexible vector ink. Available on iPad and iPhone. Try it for free.

Apple announced the new iPad Air at its September event alongside Apple Watch Series 6. It’s set to arrive in October and comes with a new all-screen design like the iPad Pro and ditches the home button. And with a more affordable price plus the latest super-fast A14 processor and more, the 2020 iPad Air looks like it will deliver a lot of bang for your buck. Follow along as we dive into a detailed 2020 iPad Air comparison with the 2020 iPad Pro, as well as the 2019 iPad Air.

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iPad Air Stories September 16, 2020

Some might argue that the most notable aspect of yesterday’s Apple event was the fact that the company didn’t announce the iPhone 12, or even make any reference to the new phones it will launch next month.

That, however, wasn’t a surprise: all the signs had pointed to that. Instead, what we got was a pretty solid event. What it lacked in excitement (except for developers), it made up for in good news for consumers …

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iPad Air Stories September 15, 2020

Apple has officially unveiled its latest iPad Air, bringing an all-new design with an edge-to-edge display. The new iPad Air features a 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display with P3 wide color, True Tone, and a laminate coating. Touch ID is located in the power button.

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