The 2020 iPad Air is a major jump from previous iterations but instead of getting lighter, Apple’s slightly increased the physical specs to fit in Pro-level features. Before the iPad Air was simply a slimmed down regular iPad, for those looking for a slimmer travel tablet. Once the iPad Pro was announced, there was a massive gap in Apple’s line up between iPads you could type, draw, and actually work on.
Refreshing iPad Air
The 2020 iPad Air sports the same boxy look as the iPhone 12 with flattened edges 6.1 millimeters thick. The bezels – 17.8 centimeter by 24.7 cm (9.74 x 7 inches) – are also smaller and even around the 10.9 inch (27.7 cm) display. The screen can get bright at a maximum 500 nits and this iPad Air works with the 2nd generation Apple Pencil, a feature it shares with the iPad Pro.
The A14 Bionic chip is snappy as you’d expect but the iPad Air doesn’t have a 120 hertz (Hz) refresh as some might expect. (I did.) Still, this iPad Air creeps on iPad Pro territory while weighing only 458 grams (460g for the cellular version). Another nice touch – the iPad Air also charges over USB-C.
Working With The iPad Air
With all of these Pro-like features, the iPad Air is more of a mobile workstation than a stopgap between your phone and laptop. In other words, the iPad Air can be used as an effective working machine while you’re on the go. It’s powerful enough to handle light photo and video editing, works with the Pencil for sketching, and is compatible with the Smart Keyboard Folio… just like the iPad Pro.
Those additions – being able to type, draw, and edit mean you can use the iPad Air’s 10 hours of battery life for much more than you could with previous generations. It also means the iPad Air is pricier this time around too.
Added Costs, Gravitational Pull In The Lineup
The iPad Air starts at $599 for the 64GB variant ($749 for 256GB), a jump up in price for the line. In a way, you can look at the iPad Air as a smaller iPad Pro that’s come down in price – minus a few niche features (high refresh rate and LiDAR, most notably). Or an iPad that’s gone up in price from the regular iPad, priced at $329.
The differences here are in power and portability. Want more screen, LiDAR, and the fastest processor available in an iPad: the Pro might be for you. But you’re probably not in that category. Only use your iPad for a screen to watch stuff on or keep your kids distracted: the 8th gen iPad might be for you. But you’re probably not in that category. For a majority of you reading this, the iPad Air is the iPad that makes the most sense for the most people. Especially if you’re going to frequently be throwing it into a backpack on your way to anywhere.