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iPad Air (2020) review

The iPad Air (2020) means Apple's best iPad is now even better.

5 Star Rating
iPad Air (2020) review
(Image: © Apple)

Our Verdict

This is the iPad for the rest of us – it's fast, powerful and remarkably fully featured. It feels like the future.

For

  • Incredible new design
  • All-screen display
  • Fast performance
  • All-day battery – still!

Welcome to our comprehensive review of the iPad Air (2020), Apple's latest iPad Air. If you're in the market for a new iPad, but aren't sure which one to go for, you'll find key information about the design, performance and capabilities of the newest iPad Air right here.

Ever since it made its debut in 2013, the iPad Air has been in Apple's tablet sweet spot – delivering both great performance and features, while remaining affordable. The 2020 model on test here is no different. And yet it's dramatically different – in every way. Not sure which iPad to get? Our iPad model list tells all. And if you're in need of a new pen, see this roundup of the best iPad stylus around.

iPad Air (2020): Design

iPad Air (2020) review

A radical new case design with flat edges just like the iPhone 12 (Image credit: Future)

Now more akin to the all-screen iPad Pro, the 2020 iPad Air boasts a 10.9in edge-to-edge display (up from last year's 10.2in) and has been given a radical new case design with flat edges just like the iPhone 12. That all-screen design also means that Apple has ditched the Home button, shifting its Touch ID sensor from the front to the top of the device, where it now resides as part of the power button.

Another big outward change is that Apple has dropped Lightning from the 2020 iPad Air and gifted it a USB-C port, just like the iPad Pro. It also comes with two sets
of speakers – top and bottom – enabling you to enjoy glorious stereo sound whichever way around you hold the device, and that 100 per cent recycled aluminium case now comes in five striking colours – Silver, Space Grey, Rose Gold, Green and Sky Blue.

iPad Air (2020): Performance

iPad Air (2020) review

Machine Learning accelerators in the A14 Bionic make the iPad Air better than ever at performing demanding, complex tasks (Image credit: Future)

Inside, the 2020 iPad Air is all-new too. The A12 Bionic processor from the third-gen model has been replaced with a 2.99GHz A14 Bionic with six processor cores and four graphics cores, dramatically increasing its performance over the previous model by 40 per cent and 30 per cent respectively. Like other Apple devices, the A14 Bionic is also equipped with the company's Neural Engine, as well as ML accelerators that makes it two-times faster at performing machine learning tasks like recognising voice commands or performing colour corrections in your photos.

The iPad Air also gets 4GB of memory, is available in two storage options – 64GB (£579/$599 Wi-Fi only or £709/$729 Wi-Fi + Cellular) and 256GB (£729/$749 Wi-Fi-only or £859/$879 Wi-Fi + Cellular) – and also sports Wi-Fi 6 (aka 802.11ax) and Bluetooth 5.0. Unlike the entry-level iPad, there's no 3.5mm jack for you to plug your headphones into, however it does now support two other Apple accessories – the Magic Keyboard (£299/$299) and the second-gen Apple Pencil (£119/$129), both of which can be attached to the iPad Air magnetically.

Apple has also improved the iPad Air's cameras – the rear camera is now a 12MP model (the same as the iPad Pro). Taking photos and shooting 4K video on a camera this, erm, big always seems slightly silly, but it's a good option to have in a pinch and the FaceTime HD front camera is great for all those video conferences we seem to do now.

iPad Air (2020) review

The fourth-gen iPad Air now includes a 12MP main camera, with a wider f/1.8 aperture and 4K video recording (Image credit: Future)

Like we said at the beginning, the iPad Air hits the sweet spot in terms of power and performance – its more expensive than the entry-level iPad by some margin, but faster, better equipped and is more future-proof thanks to Wi-Fi 6, 2nd-gen Apple Pencil support and so on. It's also cheaper than the 11in iPad Pro, which starts at £769/$799 for the Wi-Fi-only model with 128GB of storage on board.

iPad Air (2020): Conclusion

iPad Air (2020) review

The iPad Air supports the Magic Keyboard and the second-gen Apple Pencil (Image credit: Future)

The 2020 iPad Air has more than enough power and performance on tap to enable you to breeze through everyday tasks like web surfing, photo and video editing and playing the latest Apple Arcade games, while also watching HDR movies on-device or streaming them to your Apple TV 4K. We love that it works with the new Magic Keyboard with its built-in trackpad – it's the closest we're ever likely to get to a 10in Apple portable, a Mac Air mini if you will, and its Apple Pencil support is second-to-none too.

Is there anything we can criticise the 2020 iPad Air for? The starting price increase over the previous generation is unfortunate, but completely understandable given the dramatic changes and improvements Apple has made here. If you're still in any doubt, don't be – go buy one.

This review originally appeared in MacFormat; subscribe to MacFormat here.

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The Verdict
10

out of 10

Apple iPad Air (2020)

This is the iPad for the rest of us – it's fast, powerful and remarkably fully featured. It feels like the future.