Apple iPad Air ReviewWhilst Apple has had to fight hard to fend off stiff competition in the smartphone market for several years now – it’s been the undisputed king of the tablet computer since the launch of the original iPad.
But things are starting to change…
Over the past 12 months, Apple’s competitors have all started to close the gap by releasing some fantastic Android and Windows-based devices. Enter the iPad Air, Apple’s 5th generation tablet designed to ensure that the company maintains it’s place at the top of the tablet tree.
If you’ve come here to find out whether the new iPad Air is any good, then you can stop reading now – it is! In fact, it’s one of the best 10-inch tablets on the market today.Enter the iPad Air, Apple’s 5th generation tablet designed to ensure that the company maintains it’s place at the top of the tablet treeHowever, when reviewing Apple products, the big question is never whether or not the product is “good” or “better than its predecessor”– it’s whether that new product is good enough to warrant upgrading from the previous version!
We get hands on with the iPad Air and find out…
Thinner, lighter and more attractive, the iPad Air is a triumph when it comes to design. It looks a lot like a larger iPad Mini, with the same thinner bezel, improved speakers and smooth backed case.
At just 7.5mm thick, the new model is more elegant and significantly more usable than the iPad 4. When combined with the reduction in weight of 28% (down to less than 500g/around 1lb), the iPad Air is easier to hold with one hand, and can be used for reading or watching media on the go without straining for extended periods.
Despite its thinner, lighter construction, the iPad Air still looks and feels every inch a premium product, with sturdy buttons and durable construction. The reduced size makes it more portable and comfortable to carry as well.
Performance and functionality
Whilst the iPad Air doesn’t reinvent the wheel, or revolutionise the tablet market in terms of functionality, it does do everything you’d expect from a premium, high-end tablet, and it does it better than the competition!
With the same A7 chip found in the iPhone 5S, it’s got enough power to handle the most power and graphic hungry apps and games, whilst multitasking is a breeze. Browsing is super fast, and much improved thanks to IOS7, and the browser is intuitive and uncluttered.
WIFI performance has also been improved, thanks to MIMO (Multiple-in, Multiple-out) technology. Whilst this doesn’t affect the speed, it does mean that you can travel further away from the router and still get a strong signal.
The stunning 9.7inch Retina display is fantastic, and the battery can provide around 9 hours of media or games, which is more than enough for regular users. Sound quality is good, and even the on-board speakers provide a decent output and fairly rich sound for a device that’s so thin.
As an added bonus, the iPad Air also comes supplied with several great free applications, including Pages, Numbers and Keynote, as well as the usual iPhoto and Garageband.
Whilst there’s a lot to like about the iPad Air, it’s not quite perfect.
Our biggest problem with the iPad Air is the omission of the TouchID fingerprint scanner found on the new iPhone 5S. TouchID was one of our favourite features of IOS7, and we can’t understand why the technology didn’t make it onto their latest tablet.
Then, there are the cameras. Whilst the rear facing 5 MP f2.4, illuminated sensor is really good, the front facing 720p, 1.2MP camera feels a bit lacklustre. It delivers adequate, rather than impressive video calling functionality, and we would have liked to see full HD, which is now fairly widespread amongst its competitors.
The 16GB entry level model just doesn’t have enough capacity to get the most out of the iPad Air’s features, and you’ll fill it up with free apps, along with games, books and media far too quickly.
Unfortunately, there’s no option to expand the capacity, so you’ll need to shell out £479 for the 32GB version, which seems very pricey, especially when compared to the Android alternatives.
Finally, there are a few little niggles – the reduction in weight means that the screen and chassis don’t feel quite as strong as the previous iPads, and the case and screen are both very prone to smudging, which ruins the premium feel.
If we were being hyper critical, we might also say that whilst the iPad Air is lighter than it’s predecessor, it’s not quite light enough to warrant the “Air” Moniker.
So, should you buy one?
Well, that depends.
The Apple iPad Air is undoubtedly one of the best 10-inch tablets around, and in our book, its only real competitor in terms of overall usability, capability and experience is the Nexus 10.
If you’ve already bought into the Apple product portfolio, and are looking to buy a new tablet that delivers great performance, and is capable of handling every game out there, then you should definitely consider the iPad Air.
It’s beautiful, powerful and functional, has a great OS, easy synching between devices, and an unmatched library of music, apps and games – delivering everything you might expect from a premium Apple product.
However, if you want all the functionality and performance, without being tied into Apple’s ecosystem, then the Nexus 10 will provide everything you need, at a significantly lower price.
Similarly, if you’re just looking for a tablet to read books, listen to music and watch films on, then there are much, much cheaper alternatives out there.
Your free iPad Air
At Xpango, you can now trade your credits for a Free iPad Air, along with a range of leading tablets from Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Samsung.