The iPad Air 4 represents a big step forward for Apple. For a start that new, all-screen design is better than ever but it’s what’s inside that’s really exciting. The amount of power and compatibility in this iPad make it an affordable iPad Pro alternative – in fact it’s hard to think about buying any tablet other than this. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
The iPad Air 4 essentially bridges the pricing gap between the iPad 10.2 and the iPad Pro. The fact this offers Apple Pencil (2nd gen) and Magic Keyboard support means it has the potential to replace your laptop, making that price impressive.
The new frame is great looking and fits with the iPhone 12 design, plus you have the same color selection. It also has the same A14 Bionic chip and now features USB-C charging meaning lots of processing power and speedy charging even of that large battery. So is this the best iPad yet? It’s certainly made it onto our best tablets guide, but here’s the full run-down.
iPad Air 4: Design
The iPad Air 4 is definitely a design win as Apple moves it’s new iPhone 12, iPad Pro and iPad Air all into the same flat framed outer shells. Similar to the iPad Pro, this measures 9.7 x 7 x 0.2 inches and weighs one pound. This comes in green, blue, rose gold, silver and space gray. And very attractive they are too.
But it’s the screen that really jumps out as Apple has done away with the large bezel edge and front button in favor of a more edge-to-edge display, only leaving enough bezel to let you hold this comfortably without smudging the screen.
The screen is a 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display with a 2360 x 1640 resolution, which equates to 264 pixels per inch. While that might not sound that high res, the display is a stunner with great peak brightness, rich colours and smooth video playback. Over the regular iPad, this model offers full lamination and an anti-reflective coating, making it more resistant to glare and fingerprints.
Touch ID remains, now working on the side mounted power button, but Apple hasn’t given the option for Face ID unfortunately. Another loss is the headphone jack, which Apple is clearly phasing out totally, so you’ll need Bluetooth headphones for this tablet, or cabled USB-C.
The upgrade to a USB-C port is a big jump forward. This not only means you can charge very quickly and transfer data at speed but should mean you already have a cable in use or lying around that does the job.
iPad Air 4: Performance
The A14 Bionic chip is another win for Apple, representing a lot more power with far more efficiency thanks to that hexa-core CPU and quad-core GPU.
That equates to a stutter free and seamless experience even with lots of tabs open, video playing, social media apps running and image editing going on. Yup, we put this through its paces.
The Geekbench 5 general benchmark, had the iPad Air 4 come in at 4,262 which beats its main competitor, the Galaxy Tab S7 which hit 3,074, plus it topped the iPad 2020 (A12 Bionic) at 2,685. The iPad Pro 2020 (A12Z Bionic) did better, at 4,720.
The cameras on the iPad Air 4 are impressive with a rear facing 12MP wide angle camera and a 7MP front-facing camera. That rear camera with f/1.8 aperture is great for augmented reality as well as photography, if tablet photography is your thing. But it’s the front-facing selfie camera that really impressed, offering quality to match a dedicated webcam – ideal for Zoom video calls and beyond.
Of course the snappers are never going to beat the best smartphones or even the best DSLR camera , but it’s good to know you have that quality should you need it.
iPad Air 4: Battery Life
The iPad Air 4 is built by Apple to last ten hours of real world use. In testing it either managed that or actually lasted even longer – and that’s a constant ten hours of online use. Decent then and enough for all day use in most cases. It beats the more powerful iPad Pro, but isn’t as long lasting as the iPad 10.2 or Samsung Galaxy Tab S7.
While Apple has stopped including a charger block with its iPhones, you do get one with the iPad Air 4. And it’s a good one at 20W. That means fast charging which gets you more juice more quickly than the previous model.
You can expect to get, on a half hour charge, near 30% of battery. But that’s from zero to 30, so keep in mind the more full it gets the slower it charges.
iPad Air 4: Price and value for money
The iPad Air 4 isn’t cheap at $599 for the 64GB model, $749 for 256GB, or go for that max capacity with LTE cellular connectivity and it’ll be $879, or at 64GB with LTE it’s $729.
A big jump up from the $499 price of the iPad Air 3, then. But considerably cheaper than the iPad Pro which starts at $799 for the 11-inch model.
In terms of raw value, that price is actually not bad. When you consider this is pretty much an iPad Pro, in many ways – including Apple Pencil (2nd gen) and Magic Keyboard compatibility – that means it can replace a laptop, so the price does seem decent.
But if you just want a tablet then you might want to consider the more affordable iPad 10.2 instead.
Should you buy the iPad Air 4?
The iPad Air 4 is a superb tablet, there’s no denying that. The price is higher than last year but then this does offer a lot more. When you consider it as a laptop replacement then it becomes well worth the price. But if you just want a tablet and don’t need the powerful cameras, processing grunt and large screen, then a more affordable model might be better suited.
Or if, reading this, you realize a tablet isn’t going to replace your favorite computer then check out our best laptops instead.