I haven't had my hands on the new iPad Air, and I don't plan to. However, that doesn't mean that I haven't been consuming all the reviews out there. To no one's surprise I have watched Christopher Lawley's review. He managed to get a review unit from Apple, and he has done his due diligence with this 21-minute review. Here's a few quick thoughts I have on what Christopher had to say.
I was very shocked to hear that the iPad Air could handle LumaFusion without any hiccups. I thought this would be the tell between the iPad Air and the iPad Pro. Apparently, the new A14 chip has some serious kick in its performance. Sure the screen is smaller than the 12.9" Pro but that isn't a big deal to me as I have edited video on the 11" iPad Pro without issue. Clearly Apple is wanting to make their mid-tier iPads to still be able to do the high-end tasks like video editing without issue.
I am surprised that the iPad Air cellular is not 5G supported. It was such a huge selling point for the iPhone 12 and yet an iPad they release concurrently doesn't offer that. My best guess is that the first iPad to get 5G support will be the next iteration of the iPad Pro and will be a Pro-only selling point for a short while until Apple decides 5G is no longer "Pro" and deserves to be on all of their iOS and iPadOS devices. My rough guess is by 2022 all of their devices will be 5G supported. Hell, with Apple Silicon I wouldn't be overly shocked to see a new Mac offer 5G as well.
Bring Back Whimsey
This wasn’t in the video, but I really wish Apple would allow Pro models to get more color options. Silver, Black, and Gold just aren't fun like the Sky Blue, Green, and Rose Gold the iPad Air comes in. Sure the iPhone 11 Pro had a green and this year the iPhone 12 Pro comes in Pacific Blue but honestly, I feel they are exceptions to the rule rather than being standard options. I want Apple to stop punishing Pro users into bland color options and allow some whimsey in the higher-end models.
The Worry I Have with the Air
The new iPad Air is now strongly considered to be the best iPad for most people. I plan to go into the iPad lineup and share my thoughts on that soon, but for this post I will just say that the iPad Air is indeed where the majority of people wanting an iPad should go to.
Here's my big concern: the iPad Air and the iPad Pro 11" are more similar than they are different.
They both offer the same accessories, support the 2nd generation Apple Pencil, have the same size body, nearly identical screen size, and more. The chipset does have some differences in core count for both CPU and GPU but the look, feel, and overall performance are so similar that I worry that the iPad Pro 11" will be phased out due to redundancy. As someone that doesn't want a 12.9" iPad Pro but wants the power of the iPad Pro I worry I will be one of the few people to fall between the cracks down the line.
Don't get me wrong, if I had to get the iPad Air over the iPad Pro 11" I would survive, but I wouldn't be completely happy with it. Honestly, if I had to choose between the iPad Air or the 12.9" iPad Pro it would be a tough call for me. I love the size of the 11" body but I think that the power the 12.9" offers would make me gravitate to that. That said, there is the price difference to account for.
If we were to remove the iPad Pro 11” from the lineup today I could get and iPad Air 256gb for $749 whereas an iPad Pro 12.9” at 256gb is $1099. The price difference is so huge between these two models that I could get the iPad Air, Apple Pencil, and the Smart Folio keyboard case for $1120. Add just north of a hundred bucks to that and I could get the Magic Keyboard instead of the Folio for $1247.
Thankfully, we aren't at this point yet in the lineup. There is an 11" iPad Pro still available for purchase, but I am left worried that I will later be stuck between a less powerful iPad at the perfect size or a well-performing iPad Pro that is too cumbersome. Time will tell once the next line of the iPad Pros comes out.
To me, I think that the iPad Air offers the most bang for your buck than any iPad has offered in a long time. So, when people ask me what iPad they should get you better bet that I will say the iPad Air 9 time out of 10.