The iPad Air 3rd Generation (2019) has serious horsepower hidden behind its laminated screen and uses Apple’s excellent Smart Keyboard for correct 2-in-1 for productivity. Its design and first-gen Apple Pencil compatibility make it look dated, but it maximize the performance of the entry-level iPad 9.7. The ‘Air’ revival may be a potential Back to high school winner this year.
Brilliant-looking laminated screen
Cheapest Smart Keyboard iPad
Fast charges via Lightning-to-USB-C
Uses the first Gen Apple Pencil
Traditional design doesn’t wow
Two speakers rather than four
No, it’s not as cute because the baby, the 7.9-inch iPad mini, and its traditional looks make it a wallflower compared to the head-turning premium iPad Pro 11 and iPad Pro 12.9. It took us a couple of days of testing to understand why it’s still important in 2019.
That’s doubly the case given the iPad Air 4, launched a year after the Air 3, is far more like an iPad Pro in design and specifications. Apple is clearly trying to steer the Air line faraway from its ‘underrated middle child’ status, and therefore the iPad Air 3 is that the last relic of the old ways.
Over time, we found the iPad Air 3 is that the iPad for people that want ‘a little more’ than what the entry-level iPad 9.7 offers. it’s a superior 10.5-inch display with thinner bezels, a faster chipset that matches the facility within the iPhone XS, and a higher-resolution front-facing camera.
You have new options for an Air compared to its predecessor: it’s larger storage configurations, compatibility with the superb Apple Smart Keyboard cover, and performance numbers double those of the iPad 9.7. It’s an entirely better 2-in-1 productivity tool and a winner for Back to high school shoppers.
We’re still left with wanting more. once we tested the device it ran iOS 12, which remains fairly limiting for Apple’s post-PC ‘computer’ pitch. It also only works with the first-gen Apple Pencil, not the magnetic second-gen Pencil, which optional Smart Keyboard doesn’t illuminate sort of a MacBook keyboard. that creates it hard to type within the dark.
iPads have traditionally run on an equivalent iOS as iPhones, but after we tested the iPad Apple released its own offshoot OS, called iPadOS. we’ve not tested iPadOS on this iPad, but we’ve used it on other tablets, where it works a treat.
This new OS helps turn iPads from large iPhones into impressive mac-esque work stations, with functions like gesture controls and improved markups. inspect our iPadOS hub for everything you would like to understand about the new OS .
More than anything, the iPad Air 3 (2019) may be a repackaged version of the iPad Pro 2017 Apple has stopped selling. It is mostly identical in looks and solid 10-hour battery life. Only it’s a significant internal specs bump and addresses our main reservation of the otherwise likable Pro: it finally features a palatable price.
You can check out it because the awkward middle child of Apple’s iPad lineup, but it is also the most cost effective iPad with real power and 2-in-1 functionality. Meaning, come to high school season, it’s going to have the victory .
ipad air 3rd generation: PRICE ANALYSIS:
This iPad Air (2019) costs $499 (£479, AU$779)
iPad 9.7 is $329 (£319, AU$469)
iPad Pro starts at $799 (£779, AU$1,129)
Its price may be a complicated point . It costs but the iPad Pro 10.5 (2017) at launch, but priced an equivalent as this two-year-old Pro tablet if you think about current sales. Is there any difference between the two? quite . The Air has best internal specs and has eSIM support, but only two speakers in comparison with the old Pro’s four.
The iPad 9.7 (2018) is that the real competition – still on sale everywhere. It costs $329 (£319, AU$469), and that we saw it drop to $229 during Black Friday 2018. it had been such an honest deal, I bought two for my parents, though I find it to be more of a read, not write-focused tablet. an equivalent applies to the new pint-sized iPad mini (2019), starting at $399 (£399, AU$599).
The iPad Pro 11 and 12.9, on the opposite end of the spectrum, start at $799 (£779, AU$1,129) for the 11-inch size. They’re the sole Air alternative with reliable 2-in-1 productivity chops. The iPad Air (2019) finishes up being your cheapest answer to Apple Smart Keyboard cover support.
ipad air 3rd generation: DISPLAY:
10.5-inch display with thinner bezels may be a nice upgrade over 9.7-inch iPads
Laminated screen makes it unique when drawing with the Apple Pencil
This is the primary iPad Air with a ten .5-inch Retina display and thinner bezels, and that we found it to be an enormous upgrade over all of Apple’s 9.7-inch non-Pro tablets we’ve utilized in the past. this is often mostly right down to the fully laminated screen and wide color P3 palette.
Its laminated display means there’s almost got no gap between the thinner glass on top and LCD panel underneath. It’s hard to unsee the difference next to a less expensive iPad, and it’s an enormous deal when drawing directly on the screen with the Apple Pencil.
We noticed more yellow from this iPad Air screen, and that’s because it uses Apple’s True Tone display technology to raised adapt to our surroundings. Without this setting enabled, the screen looked very blue compared to TechRadar’s office lighting, for instance. Outside, we appreciated the screen’s anti-reflective coating that’s exclusive to the present new Air and every one Pro models.
The new iPad Air’s thinner bezels, laminated screen, wider color palette, True Tone display and anti-reflective coating could also be enough to convince people to select up this iPad over the iPad 9.7, which has none of those features.
ipad air 3rd generation: DESIGN:
It’s the thinnest non-Pro iPad sold today
Colors: silver, gold and Space Gray
“This is that the new iPad Air,” I exclaimed to my coworkers in the week . Their reaction? “Really? It doesn’t look any type of changed, I walked away in shame (but agreeing). Don’t enter this purchase expecting big changes from this traditional-looking iPad. It won’t wow anyone just like the all-screen iPad Pro 11 and iPad Pro 12.9.
But it does have fan-favorite features you won’t find on the new Pros: a 3.5mm headphone jack, and therefore the equally-reliable Touch ID button. and therefore the size, while subtly different from 9.7-inch iPads, allows for the fully-sized 10.5-inch Apple Smart Keyboard to be attached (the same one employed by the iPad Pro 10.5).
It’s Apple’s thinnest non-Pro iPad at 6.1mm (the Pro is 5.9mm and therefore the iPad 9.7 is 7.5mm), and also weighs just 1lb (456g). Its ‘Air’ moniker actually means something; only iPad mini is lighter at 0.66lbs among iPads currently on sale.
The bottom of this iPad frame sticks with the normal lightning port (newer Pros use USB-C). That’s an okay design choice for people with plenty of lightning cables already, but newer MacBook owners could also be ready for the USB-C future. We desire the larger omission is lack of the quad speakers found on the iPad Pro 10.5 (2017). There are just two speakers here at rock bottom of the tablet.
iPad Air 2019 colors contains silver, gold and Space Gray – the latter features a black front, while the others are white. Our gold review unit looks a touch like Rose Gold or copper. curiously enough, Rose Gold isn’t an option on this new iPad.
iPad air 3rd generation: SMART KEYBOARD:
Smart Keyboard easily connects without Bluetooth
One-piece fabric design is spill- and water-resistant
No backlit keys make it hard to type within the dark
Apple’s Smart Keyboard compatibility is that the reason to spring for the iPad Air over the temptingly priced iPad 9.7 that only works with Bluetooth keyboards. It’s one among the items you can’t pass up if you’re trying to find 2-in-1 productivity from an iPad.
This is the most cost effective iPad with Apple’s Smart Connector, which magnetically fastens the material tri-fold keyboard cover to rock bottom (in landscape) of the tablet. No got to fumble around with those often unreliable third-party Bluetooth keyboards.
You’re forced to use low-pile keys, which isn’t a drag if you’ve adjusted to recent MacBooks or Mac Magic Keyboards. What’s makes it unique that this keyboard features a one-piece custom-woven fabric design with 64 keys etched out using lasers. Laser-etched fabric keys sound cool, and that they have real-world benefits: they’re water- and stain-resistant, and impervious to mess . I carelessly ate a croissant over the iPad Air – for testing purposes – and easily wiped away the various pieces that didn’t make it into my mouth. Contrast that with various MacBooks I’ve taken to the Apple Store for repair when one crumb gets trapped underneath the fragile butterfly keyboard.
The Smart Keyboard comes at a high price: $159 (£159, AU$235), and there are a couple of compromises. I can’t modify keys or keyboard shortcuts; I’d like to swap command and control, like I can do on my Mac, as I find hitting the very intendant command+C very awkward here. iOS 12 has no option for this.
It’s a complaint I had in our iPad Pro 9.7 review, and some time past I used my iPhone 6S Plus to shine light on the keys in the dark. This iPad Air is supposed to be utilized in all kinds of situations.
iPad air 3rd generation: APPLE PENCIL:
Uses the first Gen Apple Pencil, rather than the Pro-exclusive 2nd Gen
Easy to lose thanks to its shape, and awkward to charge within the lightning port
Still an excellent pressure sensitivity for drawing and taking notes
Every iPad that Apple sells now supports an Apple Pencil, and this is often the primary iPad Air to be compatible with the pressure-sensitive stylus. But it only works with the first generation Apple Pencil & the Logitech Crayon.
You don’t get easy magnetic charging, the flat-sided design (Gen 1 is barrel-shaped and rolls away – constantly), automatic pairing, and gesture features like tap to wake the screen and double tap to modify tools.
Charging the Apple Pencil Gen 1 remains important, with its capped end containing a Lightning connector that plugs into the iPad Air. It can break off easily and therefore the entire thing is heavier than the Gen 2 version. It’s the only biggest letdown of the iPad Air, mostly because our Apple Pencil rolled off the table twice while scripting this.
The good news is that the first Apple Pencil is cheaper and contains an equivalent responsiveness as Gen 2 against an iPad screen. Drawing on the iPad Air, we experienced no lag, could create thicker lines by applying more pressure, and tilted the Pencil for shading. It’s also our favourite thanks to annotate screenshots.
iPad air 3rd generation: PERFORMANCE:
Powerful A12 chipset found in iPhone XS Max and XS.
Two times doubled the performance of the cheaper iPad 9.7 (2018)
64GB and 256GB internal storage configurations
The real reason to shop for this iPad Air is that the grunt hidden behind its colorful laminated display. It’s one among Apple’s most powerful iPads, rivaling the performance many today’s best laptops.
It doubles the performance of the entry-level iPad 9.7 (2018), consistent with our tests, offering another perk for anyone seeking serious productivity and searching for a long-term investment. It’s equipped with Apple’s custom A12 Bionic chipset, an equivalent powerful System-on-a-Chip inside the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max.
The chip scored an 11,575 within the all-important a multi-core benchmark test. As for tablets, it’s only bested by the iPad Pro 11 & iPad Pro 12.9, which contain the A12X Bionic chipset and a 17,845 score. The iPad 9.7 with its iPhone 7 era A10 Fusion chip, gave us a 5,786 score. it is also better than two-year-old iPad Pro 10.5 (9,326).
The performance bump translates into two important things that is better speed for current apps and multitasking, and future-proofing the performance of the iPad Air. the bottom iPad Air configuration is 64GB, which is okay, and therefore the top-line version may be a far more acceptable 256GB version for extra cash. Sadly, there’s no 128GB choice to meet everyone’s needs within the middle.
New markup tools and Screen Time monitoring
Multitasking is here, but it’s iPad’s biggest limitation
No true dock or mouse supports for easier app switching
The iPad Air runs iOS 12, and it does make navigating Apple’s ‘computer’ easier than iOS 11 and positively iOS 10, but we’re still here expecting iOS 13 to actually change things up.
App switching by pulling up the out-of-sight bottom dock does take a couple of gestures, but once you get the hang of it, it’s rather easy to pop two supported apps into Split View and drag text across. You’re just not getting to find a permanent dock at rock bottom or mouse support here.
Apple’s Smart Keyboard makes the iPad Air our favourite thanks to accomplish single tasks, like writing reviews. It’s also an excellent thanks to control lights and other HomeKit-compatible gadgets in our budding smart home via the Apple Home app. except for more complex research involving tabs (“What were the specs of the older iPad?”), we found ourselves seeking a Mac.
We really got use out of the Apple Pencil with the software’s new markup options, allowing you to require a screenshot and instantly start annotating on the captured moment. Changing up the pen thickness and color is simpler than ever, too.
iOS 12 also has other minor tablet perks worth mentioning: the redesigned Apple News app, deeper battery life stats, Screen Time (iPad usage numbers ideal for folks who let their kids borrow the iPad), and compatibility with third-party password managers.
10 hours of battery life – but lasts each day with on and off usage
Fast charges with the Lightning-to-USB-C cable and plug
Apple features a very diverse lineup of iPads now, but here’s something interesting: all of them have an equivalent battery life – 10 hours of surfing the online on Wi-Fi, watching videos or taking note of music.
That reflects what we saw when using the new iPad Air, however, it greatly depends on how you employ the iPad. Standby time are often incredible, so on and off usage throughout the day gave us quite 24 hours with the iPad. With infrequent use, it can likely last every week on standby.
No surprise, as we cranked out more tasks, played AR games, and treated this iPad more sort of a laptop, we noticed a dip. Mail and photo editing were where we saw the most important drains among any single apps, consistent with the deeper battery life menu. Likewise, since we had the WiFi + Cellular version of the iPad, we noticed a another dip solely counting on our SIM card. Low-power mode really helps save battery life.
The best news is that this is often the primary iPad Air with fast charging. That’s been exclusive to newer Pro models before today (every Pro except the iPad Pro 9.7), so you won’t find it on the cheaper iPad 9.7. The iPad Air 2019 was ready to charge to 17% in only quarter-hour and 32% in half-hour once we used a Lighting-to-USB-C cable and our 13-inch MacBook Pro USB-C plug (it happened to be nearby). It took a complete of two hours and 28 minutes to completely charge the iPad, which isn’t so bad.
Re-charge rate (via Fast Charging) from 0%
- 15 mins: 17%
- 30 mins: 32%
- 45 mins: 47%
- 60 mins: 63%
- 75 mins: 79%
- 90 mins: 86%
- 105 mins: 92%
- 120 mins: 96%
- 135 mins: 98%
- 100% at 2h 28m
It also didn’t take long for the iPad Air to show back on whenever we used this cable. While sold separately, the USB-C-to-Lightning cable and a USB-C plug are well worth the cost if you plan to use your iPad Air frequently.
Same rear camera as iPad 9.7, but better front camera
Won’t compare to your newer iPhone
The iPad Air takes respectable photos for a tablet, but it’ll never compare to your smartphone, and you furthermore may look rather foolish holding up a ten .5-inch display just to capture an attempt .
We get it, some people just need a very good reference shot for a faculty or work project, and old people like to use the large ol’ viewfinder of an iPad. it’s its niche place. For those few acceptable reasons, the iPad Air’s rear camera captures 8MP photos with an f/2.4 aperture, equivalent to the entry-level iPad 9.7.