The iPad Air 4 is here, and it’s pretty Pro-level given its relatively affordable price. Celebrating 10 years of iPads, this new tablet delivers a modern design and the most speed ever in an iPad for under $ 600.
These updates appear to push the iPad Air as Apple’s mid-range tablet – pricier and more fully-featured than the regular new iPad 8, but without all of the bells and whistles of the iPad Pro.
iPad Air 4 specs
BONE: iPadOS 14
CPU: A14 Bionic
Storage: 64GB, 256GB
Display: 10.9-inch (2360 x 1640 pixels) Liquid Retina
Rear cameras: 12MP wide (f / 1.8)
Video: Up to 4K at up to 60 fps
Front camera: 7MP TrueDepth
Wireless: Wi-Fi 6, optional 4G LTE
Battery: 28.6 watt-hour
Battery life (claimed): Up to 10 hours of web surfing and video
Size: 9.7 x 7 x 0.24 inches
Weight: 1 pound
Price: $ 599
The iPad Air 4 sports a slightly larger 10.9-inch display with slimmer bezels, a faster A14 Bionic chip and support for a Magic Keyboard. Here’s everything you need to know about the new iPad Air.
iPad Air 4 release date and price
The iPad Air 4 has a release date of October 2020. iPad Air 4 pre-orders have yet to begin, but you can look at pricing and specs on Apple.com.
The new iPad Air has a starting price of $ 599, and will be sold by all the traditional vendors, including Apple itself. This is a $ 100 price jump, from the $ 499 iPad Air 3.
That model comes with 64GB of storage, and you can upgrade that storage to 256GB, for an extra $ 150, which bumps its price to $ 749. Adding cellular LTE connectivity costs $ 130 extra.
iPad Air 4 design
The iPad Air 4 looks a lot like an iPad Pro, to the point where many could be fooled at first glance. It’s got the same nearly all-screen display and the flat-edge design that the iPad Pro has (which we also expect to see in the iPhone 12).
Apple’s selling it in Green, Rose Gold, Sky Blue, Silver and Space Gray.
The Touch ID fingerprint sensor has moved from the home button (which has disappeared), to a biometric security sensor that’s now inside the top button. This should make it easy to unlock the device.
iPad Air 4 ports
The iPad Air 4 ditches Apple’s Lightning port for USB-C, so you can charge it with the same cable you charge your MacBook.
Apple is including a 20W USB-C charging brick (a slight upgrade from the 18W charger in the iPad Pro’s box). USB-C, Apple said, will allow for 10x faster data transfer than Lightning afforded.
The iPad Air 4 also has Apple’s Smart Connector, which it uses to connect to the Magic Keyboard accessory.
iPad Air 4 display
The iPad Air 4’s screen is pretty neat, but it’s not exactly the same screen you get with the iPad Pro. Its 2360 by 1640-pixel Liquid Retina display measures 10.9 inches diagonally, and uses LED backlighting.
For color output, it pumps out hues at the P3 wide color band, and its True Tone tech will automatically adjust your screen’s white balance based on ambient lighting.
Apple says the iPad Air 4 gets as bright as 500 nits of brightness, and that it’s got an antireflective coating for 1.8% reflectivity – so glare doesn’t get you down.
This is all great, but the iPad Pro stays above the iPad Air 4 because of its 120Hz ProMotion display refresh rate, for smoother animations.
iPad Air 4 performance
Most notably, the new iPad Air 4 is the first of Apple’s devices to get a 5nm processor, the A14 Bionic chip. It’s got a 64-bit architecture and includes the Neural Engine, and its 11.8 trillion transistors and 6-core architecture enable significant leaps in performance.
Apple noted that the iPad Air 4 will have Air 4 will have a 40% improvement in CPU performance from the 6-core design, and a 30% jump in graphics from its new 4-core graphics architecture.
In demos that took place during the Time Flies event, Apple let the developer of the djay Pro AI app show off how the iPad Air 4’s intelligence allows for more unique interactivity, so you can control the tunes you’re spinning with your hands, floating in the air (to stop fingerprint smudging or getting crumbs on your screen).
A second app demo let one of the folks behind the Pixelmator Photo editing app show how powerful their application is with the A14 chip. Just like in TV shows and movies, you can now zoom and enhance shots, for better crops, with the ML Super Resolution feature.
These smarter apps are benefitting from the 16-core Neural Engine, which is rated to perform up to 11 trillion operations per second. One wonders how the iPad Pro will compare.
Another developer showed off how the A14 enables better gaming, with a 6v6 mech-fighting game, War Robots. They noted that the chip allows for dynamic shadows and better real-time online gaming.
Oh, and if you’re counting chip generations along at home, this is the first time in 9 years that an iPad beat an iPhone to the new generation of Apple chips. The iPhone 12 should be the second device in Apple’s lineup to get A14 Bionic power.
iPad Air 4 Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard
Maybe my favorite part of the iPad Air 4 is that it supports the best of Apple’s accessories: the 2nd Gen Apple Pencil – which magnetically docks to the side to charge – and the Magic Keyboard (no longer exclusive to the iPad Pro).
Simply put, the Apple Pencil 2nd Gen offers a much more pleasant user experience, so you don’t wind up losing the cap that hides its Lightning port connector. Every iPad needs this stylus, as the Scribble handwriting to text is such a great feature of iPadOS 14. That port connector never felt exactly comfortable or right when you plugged it into the iPad’s bottom side.
iPad Air 4 audio
The iPad Air 4 has a pair of stereo speakers, which should sound great – just not as great as the iPad Pro’s quad speaker setup. That being said, the sound in Apple’s iPads has never really disappointed us in the past, and we don’t think that would start today.
iPad Air 4 cameras
Cameras in a tablet never seemed that important, but users continue to take photos with them, and the front-facing selfie camera is as important as ever in the age of Zoom.
The rear 12MP camera is a wide-angle lens that’s also seen in the iPad Pro, where it’s used for 4K video and high-res photos. Your shots should look great, thanks to Apple’s Focus Pixels for autofocus and tap to focus. Video capture is available at 4K (from 24 to 60 fps), 1080p (at 30 and 60 fps) and in slo-mo, at 1080p and 120 & 240 fps.
The 7MP FaceTime HD camera in the front of the iPad Air 4 offers auto image stabilization for smoother calls and selfies, as well as Wide color capture for both photos and Apple’s own Live Photos.
iPad Air 4 battery life
The iPad Air 4 looks to go all day long. Apple quotes the iPad Air 4’s 28.6-watt-hour battery as capable of lasting up to 10 hours when you’re watching video or surfing the web on Wi-Fi, and 9 hours if you’re on cellular.
We can’t wait to put that to the test with our web-surfing-based battery test.
iPad Air 4 outlook
At $ 599, the iPad Air 4 is a notable $ 100 more than its predecessor, but Apple seems to have made it more than worth it. The much-faster A14 Bionic chip and super-bright Liquid Retina display should make for much improved performance in demanding apps and even better Netflix binge-watching.
Even better, though, is the iPad Air 4’s support for the optional Apple Pencil 2 and Magic Keyboard are big boons for folks not looking to spend all the money it takes to get the iPad Pro. This mid-range iPad may be the Goldilocks’ pick, for offering just enough for a great experience while not costing too much.
We can’t wait to test it, so stay tuned to Tom’s Guide for our full iPad Air 4 review.