Has Apple undercut its 11-inch iPad Pro with its new iPad Air?
n the face of it, this would seem to be the case for anyone considering a ‘good’ iPad to use as a laptop replacement for work, college or school.
Consider the iPad Air’s immediate attractions.
It has almost the exact same size (10.9 inches) screen, dons the same premium shape (flattened edges that lets you charge the newer Apple Pencil magnetically) and has a new A14 chip that the company calls its “most advanced” yet.
It’s also available in lots more colours (if that’s important) and it has a new TouchID fingerprint sensor built into the power button, the first iPad to have this feature, which lets it save a lot of space on the bezels.
It even uses the same USB-C port connection as the iPad Pro instead of the Lightning port we’re used to seeing on basic iPads. USB-C is touted by Apple as a ‘pro’ feature because it lets you connect to more devices (such as USB keys and cameras and external drives) natively and transfers data much more quickly.
Finally, you can use the same main keyboard cases as the iPad Pro, including the amazing (if pricey) Magic Keyboard. This is a considerable upgrade on the previous Air model and is hugely important when considering a device as a work or study companion.
In other words, the iPad Air is a very powerful, capable, attractive ‘pro’ tablet that is clearly capable of serious work.
Yet it starts at over €200 cheaper than the iPad Pro 11 (€667 vs €894).
So what’s the potential downside? What are you giving up if you opt to save a few quid on this model compared to the Pro?
There are some things you might miss and others you probably won’t.
1. There’s no FaceID with the iPad Air.
This means you can’t just open it and start working with a glance — you’ll need to use either the TouchID button or a pin code.
FaceID is undeniably handy for those who have it on their iPhones and iPad Pro devices, but it costs Apple a bit to put in due to the extra sensors and cameras that necessitate it. So Apple probably saved some cash on that.
2. The iPad Air’s screen isn’t as responsive as the iPad Pro screen.
While it’s nice and bright and sports a relatively high resolution, it doesn’t have the 120hz refresh rate of the iPad Pro, which you might notice if you’re leaning on the iPad a lot for artistic or creative work. (You’ll barely notice it for Microsoft Office.)
3. The iPad Air doesn’t have all the cameras of the iPad Pro.
While it does use the same main rear 12-megapixel wide-angle camera, it doesn’t have a second ultra wide lens. It also omits the extra Lidar camera of the iPad Pro. This is one that some people may not miss at all. The Lidar cameras on the iPad Pro are there mainly to spark interest and usage of applications such as augmented reality. Of all the new innovations that Apple has brought in, this may be the slowest yet to take off. There is definitely some activity in the area, but it hasn’t quite caught the public’s imagination yet.