Let’s kick off with what’s new with the iPad Air, which we thought was effectively replaced with the 10.5-inch iPad Pro in 2017. In essence, this is the iPad Air 3, but much as with the iPad mini, Apple’s dropping the numerals. It’s now just the iPad Air.
The price sees a welcome change, as Apple now sells it for a starting price of $499 instead of the $649 we saw with the iPad Air 2. There’s also a change in storage options, as Apple only sells the new iPad Air in 64GB and 256GB. Before, you could buy the iPad Air 2 with 16, 32, 64, and 128GB options. It’s a smart move for a more data-hungry age.
The tablet is also bigger—insomuch it has the same 9.8 by 6.8-inch frame as the 2017 10.5-inch iPad Pro. For comparison, the iPad Air 2 measured 9.4 by 6.67 inches. And much like the old iPad Pro, the new iPad Air supports the first-generation Apple Pencil. That could be a big deal if you don’t want to pay iPad Pro prices but don’t like the smaller screen of the 9.7-inch iPad—or the new 7.9-inch iPad mini.
I especially like that the new iPad Air sports the A12 Bionic processor found in the iPhone XS and XR, which marks a massive jump from the A8X chip in the iPad Air 2. Keep in mind, though, that it’s not quite as fast as the A12X chips that we find in the 2018 iPad Pros.
The display has changed, too, as the resolution is now 2224 by 1668, up from 2048 by 1536. It’s also packed with Apple’s TrueTone technology that adapts to ambient light in order to deliver a more natural viewing experience. That display is also laminated, which effectively means the glass sits on top of the display. When you use an Apple Pencil, it makes for an experience that feels slightly more like writing on paper than what you’ll get with an unlaminated display. Unfortunately, the iPad Air didn't inherit the iPad Pro's ProMotion 120Hz refresh rate, which makes everything from Apple Pencil strokes to scrolling through webpages a bit smoother.
The iPad Air is also brighter, as it delivers 500 nits of brightness versus the 415 in the older model. That’s great if you often have to use your iPad in the sunlight. And last but certainly not least, the front-facing FaceTime camera got a big boost from 1MP to 7MP.