iPad Air Overview Updated May 24, 2021

iPad Air

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293 'iPad Air' stories

October 2013 - May 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 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 14.5 features

Apple releases iPadOS 14 for iPad

The fourth-generation iPad Air comes with 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.

As for now, iPad Air runs iPadOS 14.5. 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 is currently testing iPadOS 14.7 beta 1 and iPadOS 14.6 RC 2.

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.

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 14

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.

Update 5/14: We’ve updated the full comparison to include the 2021 iPad Pro.

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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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