During the Time Flies event on September 15, Apple announced the completely new Apple iPad Air (2020). In addition to the expected upgrades, the tablet also comes with a completely new design. As a result, the tablet has finally been renewed for years. But how good is it in practice?
In this review I provide the answer to that question. We look at the hardware, discuss the camera system and compare the price with the quality.
The renewed Apple iPad Air (2020)
The iPad Air has been the choice for people who cannot choose between a regular iPad and the iPad Pro for years. The Air is positioned in such a way that it falls exactly in between. More powerful and impressive than some, but less impressive than others.
Despite the fact that the iPad Air was between the two models, it always looked like the regular iPad in terms of design. A design that was successful for years, but has recently been seen as a bit outdated with thick screen edges and a physical home button. Something that Apple is changing with the arrival of the iPad Air (2020). The Cupertino company has given the popular tablet a completely new look. The question is: is this iPad Air (2020) more than just an upgrade for the eyes? Yes, it is.
The iPad Air (2020) therefore has a brand new design. A design that is clearly based on the iPad Pro and now also the new iPhone 12 series. It means that the tablet has flat sides, thinner screen edges and says goodbye to the physical home button. Thanks to these decisions, it is possible to make the screen of the iPad Air (2020) larger, without making the tablet physically larger. Something that, with a thickness of only 6.1mm, has worked very well. Together with the weight of 458 grams, it ensures that it fits perfectly in the hand.
The camera system is based on the single system of the iPhone 8 in appearance and also looks very good. Especially in combination with the color options that are available. The iPad Air (2020) is available in the following colors:
- Space Gray
- Rose gold
- Sky blue
Apple has provided me with the latter option, which I personally like very much. Where Apple can sometimes surprise you with a color option, Sky Blue brings you exactly what you expect.
As mentioned, the fingerprint scanner on the iPad Air (2020) is in a different place. Where it used to be found as a physical button at the bottom of the screen, it is incorporated in the power button in this model. An excellent location for TouchID if you ask me. I cannot deny that, after years of using the previous TouchID button, it takes some getting used to. But when it succeeds, it works great. Although it is useful not to put one finger, but two fingers in the system. It is of course just what you like, but for me the index fingers worked the best.
The only caveat I have to make is again the location of the selfie camera. As far as I’m concerned, this is in a very awkward place, just like the iPad Pro (2020). But more on that later.
Apple iPad Air (2020): The display
The new iPad Air is equipped with a 10.9-inch Retina display. The screen has a resolution of 1640 x 2360 pixels and has a high pixel density of 224ppi. Both contribute to the quality of the screen. Just like True Tone, P3 Wide Color and the higher brightness. The iPad Air (2020) has a brightness of 500 nits, where the iPad Pro does with 600 nits. A step back that probably won’t disturb you too much. The screen just manages to perform well.
Especially when watching movies, series or YouTube videos, you will notice that the iPad Air (2020) does its job well. Something that is certainly due to the high screen-to-body ration of the tablet. Given the thinner screen edges, this is around 81%, which is a big improvement over the previous model. The only lack that I have at the moment is the possibility to watch content in 4K. The iPad Air (2020) seems to be able to display a maximum of 1080P. Still excellent quality, but I had hoped for something more in that regard.
What I am really disappointed with is the refresh rate. Where the iPad Pro (2020) has a 120Hz screen, the iPad Air (2020) still has to make do with a 60Hz screen. Something that is really a shame in my opinion. Of course I understand that 120Hz is a premium functionality that the iPad Pro offers, but a middle ground would have been nice. The iPad Air (2020) is in between the eighth generation iPad and the Pro, so in that respect 90Hz would have been an excellent addition. A difference that is very noticeable in daily use.
Specifications and performance
Unlike the iPad Pro (2020), the new iPad Air (2020) is equipped with Apple’s A14 Bionic chip. There has been a lot of talk about it in the past few weeks, so I’ll keep it short on this. The processor is equipped with a 6-core CPU, a 4-core GPU and a renewed 16-core Neural Engine. This makes Machine Learning twice as fast and 11 trillion jobs per second can be executed.
You would expect the iPad Air (2020) to be faster and more powerful than the iPad Pro, but that is not the case. Luckily not. The iPad Air is equipped with only 4GB of RAM. It ensures that you don’t get the most powerful iPad, but the combination is good enough not to run into problems. Just not at all.
It doesn’t matter if I played games or used streaming services in the past few days, everything worked flawlessly. The iPad Air (2020) is also certainly capable of multitasking and can even help you render videos. It is a really powerful device.
Apple iPad Air (2020): The software
It is always difficult to look at the software with these kinds of reviews. The advantages and disadvantages often have little to do with the device. Especially in the case of Apple. iPadOS 14 is what you get and what is available on all models. It ensures that you get access to a lot of functionalities with this iPad Air (2020).
It is possible to use Scribble, as there is also support for the Apple Pencil 2. You use toolbars and the compact design. Siri, notifications and the search bar are a lot more compact than before.
But it also ensures that the new Widget style of iOS 14 cannot be used, for example, and that you cannot access the app library.
The camera system
The camera system of the iPad Air (2020) consists of only one camera. It is a 12-megapixel camera that generally does just fine. With your iPad you get access to various functionalities such as Slow-Mo, Panorama and you have the opportunity to make a time lapse. They just work properly, as you are used to. Just as we like to see with an iPad.
People who expect that camera system will make an impression, they will come home from a rude awakening. With only one camera, the system is really not very special. So you quickly see a lot of noise in photos with a lower exposure and the system certainly has trouble with depth. In general, the photos are also just good, but he does not make crystal clear images. It’s a tablet, so don’t expect too much from it.
The problem in this area is incidentally in the selfie camera. A problem that I also encountered with the iPad Pro (2020). The 7-megapixel selfie camera meets expectations and films, for example, in a resolution of 1080p and 60 frames per second. There is nothing wrong with that at all, but the location of that camera is. Certainly in the time when many people work from home and are regularly in a video call, the placement of the camera is to say the least remarkable. I do not understand that it was not decided to place this camera on the right side of the tablet, so that it is at the very top in horizontal mode. At this point you are constantly being filmed from an uncharming and awkward position.
Apple iPad Air (2020): The battery
There is little to criticize about the battery of the iPad Air (2020). Thanks to the lack of, for example, the 120Hz functionality, the battery holds up very well. Again, Apple knows how to respond to the battery consumption in the software field in such a way that you can easily reach the 8 hours of screen time. Apple itself claims that 10 hours should be achievable, but for that you have to be really frugal. But with “normal” use, the battery is able to take you in tow for a long time.
I also found the standby time of the tablet impressive. I let him rest for several days. On Friday the iPad Air (2020) had a percentage of 100% and when I took it off the table on Wednesday I had 26% left. An excellent result if you ask me.
A big plus is of course that the iPad Air (2020) comes with a USB-C adapter of 20W. In addition to the fact that we are already happy that an adapter is included at all, it also delivers 2W more power than the adapter of the iPad Pro.
Apple iPad Air (2020): Apple launches a delicious tablet
The story of the iPad Air (2020) is actually quite simple. I think we can easily say that the iPad Pro is the very best tablet on the entire market right now. Since the high-end device has been on the market, there have been companies trying to bring a real iPad Pro killer to the market. But the biggest competition comes from Apple itself.
Not everyone needs an iPad Pro, especially for the minimum retail price of $ 899. The functionalities that the average consumer is looking for in a tablet can now also be found in the iPad Air (2020). And that for the minimum sales price of € 669.
The choice is actually made quickly for you as a consumer. If you need an extensive camera system, a larger tablet and a screen with a refresh rate of 120Hz: then the iPad Pro is the tablet for you. Do you not need those three things and just want an excellent tablet? Then you should definitely choose the iPad Air (2020)!