The best smartphone in the market is often debated and Apple is often criticized for not really innovating. I myself get bored of the iPhone regardless of its simple yet elegant design, and having the largest app library of any mobile device so I often switch back and forth between the latest iOS device and an Android phone. The iPad however is a different story. Apple has nailed it time and time again with every iteration of it’s full-sized tablet and the competition doesn’t even come close to the 9.7-inch iPad. So is it worth it to ditch your current 4th-Gen iPad for the new iPad Air? Let’s take a quick look…
I’m on the go a lot and would usually take the iPad with me when I’m traveling or walking about. I usually get the cellular version because you never know when you’re going to need an internet connection and sometimes it’s hard to find reliable WiFi. A few years ago, I would take my iPad 2/3/4 along with the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard instead of a laptop when it made sense for a lighter load. So yeah my history of iPads and tablets go pretty far back.
My first tablet was the Toshiba M205 which I think was way ahead of it’s time powered by a GeForce FX5200! I actually reviewed it in 2005 which is still online here: http://www.the-nextlevel.com/feature/tech-toshiba-m205-tablet-pc-review/
I’ve gone through a variety of tablets such as the Surface Pro, Dell XPS 12, you name it, I’ve tried it but I decided to stick with the iPad Mini with LTE because it’s form factor. It’s a really awesome grab and go device but the lack of a retina display was tolerable, but unsatisfying. Apple, however should be releasing the iPad Mini with Retina Display sometime this month but anyway… that’s not what this review is about! Let’s get back on track on the iPad Air!
So here we go! The iPad Air with the Smart Cover. Apple had to make a new Smart Cover because the iPad Air takes up less footprint than the 2/3/4 with trimmed down bezels.
Time to unbox this thing!
And here we go!
The Air feels much lighter than the previous gen iPads weighing only 1lb which is about .5lbs lighter bringing the weight much closer to the iPad Mini which weighs about .68lbs. However, with the way the weight is distributed on the larger device, it makes it pretty difficult to tell the difference in weight between the iPad Air and Mini. The Air is only 7.5mm thick making it one of the thinnest tablets out there. One of the issues I had with the previous full sized iPads was that it does get tiring carrying the tablet for long periods of time while reading in bed or doing some couch surfing. Now I don’t even notice this thing when I toss it into my laptop bag or backup, which is the same feeling I got with the Mini, except now I have a FULL SIZED Retina Display!
Space Gray looks great!
From top to bottom: iPhone 5S, Galaxy Note 3, iPad Mini, iPad Air
The iPad Air has the same 64-bit A7 processor and 1GB of RAM found on the iPhone 5s which in benchmarks, is a huge leap from the previous A6 processor. I’m not going to go too into detail about benchmarks but it scores 14,361 on 3DMark Ice Storm vs the 10,613 found on the iPad 4. To me benchmarks don’t really mean anything in regards to real world experience but in using the Air in general, there is definitely an obvious improvement in speed. Just navigating through iOS7 feels a lot quicker and apps also load in shorter periods of time. Games like Infinity Blade 3 have no lag whatsoever and look fantastic on the retina display. Videos also look amazing throughout all the media apps I use such as Crunchy Roll, Netflix, Stream to Me, etc and there is no stuttering even when I’m outputting the video through AirPlay onto my Apple TV.
Apple maintains the same 10-hour battery life even with the new updated A7 processor. 10 hours seems to be their magic number with most of their devices. Just like I did in my previous testings, I’ve used the device to write this review, watch movies on Netflix, anime on Crunchy Roll and did quite a bit of video chatting throughout the week and the battery does run as advertised.
As mentioned earlier I usually get the cellular version iPads mainly for convenience. This year, T-Mobile (USA) introduced free 200MB of data per month, contract free, no credit card required for their iPads which to me is a no-brainer on which iPad to get if you want to spend the extra $130. I am quite pleased with the LTE performance here in the Southern California / LA Metro area and connectivity has been quite reliable but YMMV depending on where you are and what you are going to use your iPad for.
If you are looking for a full sized tablet, look no further. Apple continues to perfect the iPad with every generation. Sure there’s no Touch ID on this year’s tablet but it’s not that big of a deal yet and it won’t kill you to type out your pin code or password to make purchases or unlock your tablet. With improvements in all general areas such as weight, design, performance, and a rapidly growing App Store, this is a no brainer. Now if you are in the market for a smaller tablet, the iPad Mini with Retina display is just around the corner with the exact same processor and performance. There’s also the Nexus tablets from Google if you need to find a good Android Tablet (I’m a huge fan of the Nexus 7).
- Fast overall performance and excellent battery life
- Thinner, lighter design without any sacrifices
- Backed by a very strong App Store
- Limitations of iOS7
- Some may cry foul over the lack of Touch ID
- It doesn’t print money
Overall Rating: 4.5/5