Did the new iPad Air 4 just make the iPad Pro irrelevant?

If you were holding your breath for Apple to reveal the iPhone 12 during last night's 'Time Flies' online event, you were no doubt a touch disappointed. Indeed, thanks to Covid-19, it seems we'll have to wait a little longer for Apple's latest smartphone to drop. What the company did reveal were two new Apple Watches and iPads – and it's one of the latter that left us seriously impressed.

While the new base-level iPad is basically an updated chip inside the same old design (yawn), the 4th generation iPad Air is looking like a truly exciting update for creatives. With a similar all-screen design to the 2020 iPad Pro, and internals that sound potentially even better, could the new Air actually out-pro the Pro? If so, it could be heading straight for our list of the best drawing tablets.

iPad Air 4

Is the new iPad Air more than a match for the iPad Pro? (Image credit: Apple)

The most obvious change to the iPad Air is the brand new design, which does away with the previous model's large bezels and home button in favour of a 10.9" edge-to-edge display. By bringing the design language of the iPad Pro to the more affordable iPad Air line-up, Apple just made the Air a much more tantalising proposition for creatives looking for a larger and more immersive digital canvas.

But while the new design will no doubt grab the headlines, the internals are also impressive. This year's iPad Pro only packs an A12Z chip, but the new iPad Air features the A14 – Apple's most advanced chip ever. According to the Apple Newsroom, the new iPad Air uses "breakthrough 5-nanometer process technology," allowing for a 40% performance boost. It almost seems odd that the mid-range Air features a newer chip than the Pro model released just a few months ago. In terms of raw performance and multitasking, should creatives actually opt for the cheaper model? Still, this is 2020 – a strange year by all accounts.

iPad Air

The new iPad Air features Touch ID within the power button (Image credit: Apple)

The new iPad Air is also the first to gain compatibility with the Apple Pencil 2. With magnetic charging and tap controls, this is a much more versatile tool for digital artists than the original Pencil. The new Air also works with 2020's Magic Keyboard (which features a trackpad, backlit keys and a not-so-magic price). There are also a bunch of new colours available – as well as the standard silver and space grey, the new air comes in blue, green and rose gold (aka pink).

Of course, there are a few Pro features missing. Perhaps the biggest omission is the 120hz ProMotion Display – if you're after a super-smooth frame-rate, you'll have to go for the iPad Pro. Same goes for Face ID, which has been replaced by the older Touch ID technology inside the iPad Air's power button. And graphic designers who prefer the larger 12.9-inch display will also have to go Pro – the new Air is only available with a 10.9-inch screen.

iPad Air

The iPad Pro's design language finally hits the iPad Air range (Image credit: Apple)

Aside from these missing features, the new iPad Air certainly sounds like an exciting proposition for creatives. With its super-fast chip (did we mention that it's faster than the iPad Pro's?), all-screen design and Apple Pencil 2 support, it sounds like it'll be difficult not to recommend Apple's new, supposedly mid-range tablet.

The new iPad Air will be available to order from Apple.com in October, starting at $599/£579. If you can't wait until October, you can grab the incredible iPad Pro right now. Check out today's best deals below. And if you're looking for deals direct from Apple, don't forget to check out the Apple Back to School sale.

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Daniel John
Senior News Editor

Daniel John is Senior News Editor at Creative Bloq. He reports on the worlds of art, design, branding and lifestyle tech (which often translates to tech made by Apple). He joined in 2020 after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more.