Detailed review of Apple iPad Air (2019)
Tablets have been a fantastic device for consuming content. However, with the increase in available power due to the significant improvement of the mobile chipsets, they are gradually creeping into the laptop area. We’ve seen devices like the Surface Pro† Surface Go† Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 and more are trying to give users a PC-like experience on a tablet. Apple dived into the laptop-like experience with the launch of the iPad Pro. Until the launch of iOS 13, the iPad wasn’t exactly a great option for those looking for a laptop-like experience. Unlike the other devices we mentioned above, they were also something to write home about when it came to giving users a pure computing experience on a laptop.
Fast forward to WWDC 2019 and Apple has shown iOS 13 which brings the iPad Pro closer to a PC-like experience. But what about the iPad Air? The iPad Air is aimed at those looking for a great device for consuming content. However, this time it has Apple’s flagship chip, supports the first generation Apple Pencil and Apple keyboard. It’s almost like the first-generation iPad Pro without the quad speaker setup. So who is this device for? What use is it? Is it the right iPad for you? Let’s figure it out.
IN THE BOX & KEY SPECIFICATIONS
In the box you get the tablet along with a lightning cable and a power adapter. Unfortunately, you don’t get the Apple Pencil or Smart Cover in the box. You have to buy them separately.
KEY SPECIFICATIONS AT A GLANCE
Display: 10.5-inch True Tone display with a resolution of 2224 x 1668 pixels
Platform: Apple A12 Bionic
Built-in storage: 64GB/256GB
Expandable Storage: NA
SIM Support: YES
3.5mm jack: YES
Operating System: iOS 12
Rear camera: 8MP
Front camera: 7 MP
CONSTRUCTION AND DESIGN
The primary design philosophy of the iPad hasn’t changed much since the launch of the original iPad Air. It’s slimmed down with slightly more rounded edges for better grip around the corners, but otherwise the basic design has remained the same. We get touch ID on the iPad Air and Apple’s Face ID is reserved for the iPad Pro.
The front of the device is clean with just the home button, Touch ID and the front camera. We’ve been given the Silver iPad Air for review, but it’s also available in Space Gray and Gold. On the back you have the Apple logo in the center and the camera without flash in the top left corner. At the top you have the headphone jack, on the right side the volume rocker and at the bottom you find the lightning port along with two speakers. On the left we have the connector for the Apple Keyboard and the smart cover. The iPad Air housing is made of solid aluminum and the build quality is top notch. This tablet can survive more than a few drops, although we don’t recommend it.
The last tablet we tested was the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4, which has a glass back that makes it look premium, but also vulnerable.
As for the design of the tablet, it is ergonomic and easy to hold for long hours. The iPad’s touchscreen is still the best surface to type on compared to other tablets, and if you’re comfortable typing on an iPad like me, you don’t really need to invest in a keyboard. The only downside is the smart cover. It fits the iPad snugly and protects the screen, but still only has one corner for the iPad Air to rest on. The “jugad” we use to slightly prop up the screen is to put our phone between the case and the iPad to change the angle. That’s the only downside in the design of an otherwise great product
DISPLAY AND AUDIO PERFORMANCE
The screen of the 10.5-inch iPad Pro is fantastic. The resolution makes the content look crisp, it supports Dolby Vision and if you’re one to binge your favorite TV shows on this device, you’re in for a treat. Needless to say, Apple has a large library of movies you can rent/purchase, many of which support Dolby Vision for a rich visual experience. The vibrancy in the colors is definitely something to look out for. From the vibrant, colorful city in Young Sheldon to the rugged look of the world in Wonder Woman or any of the Netflix Originals such as The Umbrella Academy, Daredevil, Polar and more, the color and visual fidelity of the content is unmatched. If a True Tone display with Dolby Vision was reserved only for the Pros, I’d be disappointed, but it’s a treat to see content on this screen. We registered a maximum of 550 lux on our brightness meter.
We have used the screen in direct sunlight and it works quite well. Although under the harsh heat of the Delhi sun we don’t recommend using it for watching movies. When it comes to mundane tasks like reading emails, reading a book, playing games or surfing the web, the screen worked without any complaints. It’s reflective at times, but nothing that can’t be fixed by moving it around a bit.
As for the audio, unlike its Pro siblings who get a quad set of speakers, the 10.5-inch iPad Air gets 2 speakers, both in the same direction. I understand the four-speaker setup is reserved for the Pro, but the speaker setup could have been on either side of the screen to give a stereo experience. I watch a lot of video content on the iPad and I miss the channel shift from left to right, especially during movies. Nevertheless, the speakers are loud, clear and perform well even for watching movies. Dialogs are clear and even if there’s a lot going on on the screen like background score, explosions and conversations, they’re all easy and good to hear, making the device suitable for content consumption. The speakers also work well for FaceTime calls and music.
Overall, the speakers are great for content consumption. They’re loud enough that you don’t have to crawl around with your friends to enjoy a trailer and be clear at high volumes too. The only problem is the lack of channel separation which is a bummer for me
When it comes to day-to-day performance such as checking email, browsing the web, watching videos, etc., the tablet performed impressively without any hitches. It even works really well when using split screen apps. iOS is designed for the iPad and can also be upgraded to the upcoming iPadOS 13. From the ability to run apps in split screen, watch a movie on Netflix and still navigate the rest of the device to just multitasking. If you are a Mac user, there are many convenient ways to move your content from one device to another, such as AirDrop. With iPad OS 13, you can use your iPad as a second screen without the need for a third-party app, which is great.
There is nothing I can do on the iPad to make it stutter, slow down or freeze. Run any game, literally any game from the App Store on the device and you won’t see a loading screen for too long, nor will you encounter any lags or stutters. From PUBG to Dead Trigger and more, every game we played on the device just worked.
If you’re looking for a portable device to play games, watch movies, get some work done, access thousands upon thousands of apps, read ebooks, read comics, the iPad can do it all. At the time of writing this review and running the device on iOS 12, we don’t think the device is a replacement for your PC yet. But that may change with iPadOS 13 and we’ll tell you how it works when we get our hands on the new OS. I still prefer the flexibility that Mac OS or Windows brings to a desktop work environment, and that experience can’t yet be replicated on the iPad. The iPad is a great device for what it can do. It’s just not a PC yet.
On paper, the 10.5-inch iPad Air has an 8134mAh battery. Playback from streaming services with the brightness set to max and headphones connected dropped 6 to 8 percent in one hour based on the streaming service. Local playback saw a drop of 5 to 7 percent per hour. Turn down the brightness a bit (trust me, you won’t always be using it at full brightness) and you’ve got a device that can play content for close to 15 hours, which is impressive. Battery life varies with usage and in some productivity scenarios, the battery may drain faster. Gaming also drained the battery faster, dropping nearly 15 percent in an hour.
SHOULD YOU BUY THE IPAD AIR 10.5?
Let’s rephrase that question: Which iPad is right for you? For starters, if this is your first iPad and you want a taste of the Apple ecosystem, there are cheaper options to choose from. You have the 9.7 inch iPad which starts at Rs 28,000, powered by the A10 fusion chip, 32 GB storage in the base variant and as the name suggests has a 9.7 inch screen that frankly still has a lot to offer. good screen. If you want to use the first-generation Apple Pencil, want the newer processor to future-proof the device, and have specific high-end apps that you want to run smoothly, you can choose between the new iPad Mini and the 10.5-inch iPad. Air. Frankly, your purchase decision will depend on the screen size that you are comfortable with. Personally, I love the compact form factor of the Mini, but if I’m watching videos in the morning, or need to enjoy a great TV show or game on a bigger screen, yes, I prefer the 10.5 -inch iPad Air and you have to take that into account. The nearly 8-inch iPad Mini (7.9 to be exact) is ideal for those who want a device with a screen slightly larger than their smartphone.
If you’re a Pro user and want to connect your flash drive and camera directly to the iPad and need an almost PC-like experience, then you might want to consider the iPad Pro family. We haven’t tested the new Pros, but if the current 10.5-inch iPad’s performance is anything to go by, we think the Pros will give it an extra boost.
The only downside to the new iPad Air is that it doesn’t support the second-generation Apple Pencil and there’s no stereo speaker setup. If you’re looking for a device to consume content on the go, do some productivity work, and access thousands of apps, the iPad is definitely worth considering. Unlike a smartphone, this is a gadget that will last you for almost 6 to 7 years before needing an upgrade.