Our Score


User Score


  • Very light
  • Robust and premium design
  • Excellent screen
  • Solid battery life
  • Consummate all-rounder


  • Storage comes at a premium
  • No Touch ID

Review Price £399.00

Key Features: 9.7-inch Retina screen; A7 64-bit processor; 469g; 5MP rear camera; Free iWork and iLife apps

Manufacturer: Apple

What is the iPad Air?

The iPad Air is a totally redesigned tablet. Apple has decided to rebuild the world's most famous tablet to try to keep it well ahead of the competition. In many ways it has succeeded. The iPad Air is slim, light and superbly crafted. A turbo-charged version of the the brilliant 64-bit Apple A7 processor found on the iPhone 5S provides the grunt and, even though the screen is the same resolution as on previous models it is better than ever before. It's the weight and lack thereof that's the real star here, though.

iPad Air - Video Review

Check out the iPad Air video review

iPad Air Design – The Power Of Lightness

Lame as Apple's "Power of lightness is" tagline is it does seem apt. The iPad Air is much lighter than the iPad 4, in fact it’s lighter than most other tablets in its class at 469g. It has shed almost 200g, or 29%, of the weight that the iPad 4 carried. That's a massive generational leap.

iPad 3 on the left next to the iPad Air

Unsuprisingly the weight is the first thing you’ll notice when picking it up. It really makes a big difference when using the iPad Air for long periods of time. The iPad Air is perfectly balanced which means you can hold it to read or watch a movie for hours simply by cupping a corner in your palm. Attempt the same with an iPad 4 and you’ll quickly succumb to shaky arm fatigue.

The look and design are taken straight from the iPad mini 2’s drawer. A tough aluminium shell encases the entire back and sides of the iPad Air, unless you opt for a 4G model which has a small plastic panel at the top to house the antennas. The edges where the screen meets the aluminium are diamond cut, providing a sleek, shiny surface.

While the iPad 4 also has an aluminium shell, the iPad Air’s is grippier and the sides rounder – both useful for keeping a comfortable hold of it.

The plastic buttons on the previous iPads were slightly at odds with the otherwise high-quality design aesthetic. Thankfully, Apple has replaced them with the metal equivalents found on the iPad mini 2. It’s a small touch, but the metal buttons add to the premium feel of the Air.

SEE ALSO: 10 best tablets you can buy

The metal buttons on the iPad Air are well positioned and feel premium

It’s not just the weight that has been reduced. The iPad Air is also much thinner and narrower than the iPad 4, while keeping the same screen size. At just 7.5mm thin it really shouldn’t feel as solid as it does, only the Sony Xperia Tablet Z is thinner at this screen size, but that tablet suffers from it by feeling a little flexible.

The screen bezels have also slimmed down significantly, which makes the iPad Air 16mm narrower than before. Slim bezels are sometimes a mixed blessing. Yes, they make the tablet more compact, but an accidental thumb on a corner of the screen can hit a link or cause the screen to be inoperable. We’ve experienced it plenty of times on other tablets and phones, but the iPad Air’s screen is designed to ignore an errant thumb and we haven't experienced a single issue with it.

SEE ALSO: 10 best Windows 8 laptops and tablets

The iPad Air's bezels are much thinner than the iPads before it

iPad Air Screen – Retina display

The iPad Air is one of the most comfortable and premium 10-inch tablets we’ve ever used, but a great screen is just as important for a good user experience.

On paper the iPad Air’s Retina screen is the same as the one on the iPad 4. It has a 2,048 x 1,536 IPS panel offering 264 PPI (pixels per inch) with scratch-proof and oleophobic protective glass that's resistant, though not impervious, to greasy fingerprints.

If there was one thing the iPad Air could take from the previous versions without getting too much stick it’s the screen, but Apple has made some subtle improvements to it nonetheless.

Look at the screen straight on and the colours on the iPad 4 and iPad Air match almost exactly. Tilt the screen, however, and you’ll notice that the Air maintains its excellent colour accuracy at impressive angles. Text is also more legible from acute angles.

The screen on the iPad 4 is good, but we did find that it have a slight pinkish tinge to white backgrounds, particularly noticeable when browsing the net. The iPad Air has clearly been given a dose of Vanish and manages to provide cleaner whites. Turn the brightness up to eleven and the screen is noticeably brighter, too.

The 4:3 aspect ratio on the iPad Air is one we prefer on a tablet this size. It makes it easier to browse the internet, but you do get bigger black bars when watching a film than you would on a 16:9 or 16:10 tablet like the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5. It's one of those trade-offs you just have to live with, but we can't think of a good reason for Apple to change this aspect.

It’s the best screen on a 10-inch tablet, only the Nexus 10 even comes close, but if there’s one thing we’d like Apple to improve it is the reflectiveness. Use it outdoors on a sunny day and you’ll find yourself looking for the best angle to minimise the mirror effect. The brightness means you can still see what’s happening on-screen but an anti-reflective coating would improve matters.

SEE ALSO: 10 best Android tablets you can buy

iPad Air: Sound Quality

Stereo speakers come as standard on the iPad Air. It’s a step up from the mono speaker on the iPad 4 and brings it in line with the iPad mini. Unfortunately the stereo effect isn’t that impressive, primarily because both drivers are located next to each other at the bottom of the tablet, something the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 avoid by placing speakers at either end when held in landscape.

The compact size of the iPad Air means we shouldn’t expect greatness from the speakers, but they are very good for a tablet. Audio is crisp and clear and doesn’t suffer from the tinny treble that affected dialogue on previous iPads. The speakers also offer a mite more bass, which means voices are deeper and more accurately portrayed.

They're acceptably loud too, enough so that you can happily watch a film in quiet company, although, as with any tablet, you’ll want a separate speaker set-up to listen to music. One issue is the fact that the speakers face backwards, directing sound away from your ears. Cup a palm behind the speakers and the sound bouces back loud and clear. We're sure the speakers face backwards for aesthetic reasons but HTC managed to integrate good-looking forward facing speakers onto the HTC One M8 and we'd like to see a similar set up on the iPad Air.

So it looks great, sounds good and the display is solid, but how does it perform day to day?

Next page


October 23, 2013, 12:00 am

So for the third year running it's another new device that does the same old things. Boring

Prem Desai

October 23, 2013, 6:28 am

I think the only think left for Apple to do now is to start taking things away from the spec and calling it a whole new device.

Maybe the next ipad will be the same as this one but without the screen - ipad shuffle !!


October 23, 2013, 7:16 am

Maybe we should slap on a Apple logo onto all the 4K TVs to make all the Apple fanboys blindly upgrade all their 1080 TVs to help bring 4K to the masses ! And yeah, another new (revised ?) device that does the same things as the old one. Boring.


October 23, 2013, 8:08 am

It's a bit thinner. Is that is?


October 23, 2013, 8:36 am

No, it's a lot lighter and a lot faster too. Which makes it quite appealing as an upgrade from an older model, such as the iPad 2 or 3. Much the same with any product update really.

Tim Sutton

October 23, 2013, 9:17 am

It's all very meh.

And my word, even for Apple the Mini is ridiculously over priced.

I'm just confused about the iPad naming structure now. Wasn't there an iPad 2 already? That's going to lead to a lot of eBay shenanigans.

I know that I'm not Apples market, in that I'm not American and I'm technologically literate, but there's a slowly increasing feel of stagnation and staleness hanging around Apple.


October 23, 2013, 10:50 am

I think you will find that most of the people in the UK that are in Apple's market are not American. And that the UK market is quite substantial. Your point about being an American to be in Apple's market would appear to not hold much merit and as such seems fairly offensive.

Tim Sutton

October 23, 2013, 11:36 am

Apple's largest market by FAR is the US, ( ) and they target their advertising and products almost exclusively at lifestyle and fashion rather than technology.

If you're not American, and you have a broad knowledge of the technological landscape, chances are you don't buy Apple.

If you're offended by simple figures then I really can't help you.


October 23, 2013, 12:38 pm

The chart you have linked to shows *worldwide* market share for mobile phones. I don't see how it corroborates your argument.

Perhaps a chart showing Apple's tablet market share in the US and that in the UK, would be more relevant?

Tim Sutton

October 23, 2013, 1:01 pm

Its a chart showing how Apple are a minority player in every market except the US.

It tells you where they focus both their products and their image, which tells you that people in England like myself are not their primary target market, which is the point you've been missing since my first post.

I'm not replying anymore because you either are being wilfully dense or you're genuinely not that smart.

Either way, good job being the typical Apple fan.


October 23, 2013, 1:37 pm

You are referring to this chart?

Or are you just extrapolating from the first sentence of that article which says "For all of its success in the United States, the iPhone accounts for only a small fraction of worldwide mobile phone sales", without any quantification whatsoever?

And please could you avoid the temptation to make insults.

Mark Longley

October 23, 2013, 4:00 pm

Hey guys, shouldn't you be recommending everyone to go and get "a 'proper' laptop"??


October 23, 2013, 4:15 pm

Well, most yearly product upgrades are pretty incremental -- so who cares if it's a bit 'meh', or w/e.

One thing I object to is that the tag line of this article is something about 'changing the game'(??). The other is the amount of regurgitated marketing guff.


October 23, 2013, 4:17 pm

For the record I'm an Android user who thinks Apple products are grossly overpriced. However on the basis that competition forces technological improvement I have always wanted them to deliver, particularly on their reputation for inovation (I also want WinPhone to succeed as well)..
From this point of view, the new products are really disappointing. The improvements are nice, of course and clearly represent an improvement over previous models - but to me, both the new iPad and Mini are just what the previous versions should have been.
However, I don't think the issue is Apple - I think it's a problem all of the smartphone/tablet manufacturers are facing. Whilst we criticise them for a lack of genuine inovation, there is another question in response - what would you add to your tablet/phone that it can't currently do?
I use my phone (Galaxy S3 with extended battery since you ask) as an email client, MP3 player, sat-nav, camera, exercise monitor, web browser, for casual gaming and occasionally for watching TV/Netflix (and as a phone, of course). It matches or exceeeds my expectations for all of them and lasts more than a full day with my typical usage. Great!. I have a tablet at home too, but it's only really used for Netflix at home.
My point is thatI can't think of anything else that I want my phone to do. Sure there is room for iterative improvements such as a better low-light camera, improved battery etc, but I can't think of a new function that would persuade me to spend big money on a new phone.
It's not just me either - I work in an office full of Apple fanboi's, yet only one or two have an iPhone 5, with the majority happy with their 4/4S, despite the fact that many of them are out of contract and could get the new model if they wanted to.
It seems the manufacturers are largely banking on connected watches to be their saviour, but I reckon the market for these will be relatively niche when compared against the success of smartphones & tablets.
So whilst I tend to agree with those whingeing about a lack of inovation, I can't think of anything I want them to create (iterative improvements aside). So what new function would you add to your phone or tablet if you could?


October 23, 2013, 8:34 pm

It's exactly the same as every other manufacturer. People only complain because Apple is expensive, but other manufacturers are getting more and more expensive. Personally, I think this is great improvement over the old iPad.

Nate Ebner

October 24, 2013, 1:31 pm

Well put. I think Apple's reputation of being constantly innovating (which is unfairly bestowed on them by their fanboys, and overly criticised by their detractors) is over done, but then most generational upgrades, offer small levels of improvement. And being thinner, and lighter, while more powerful, and with apparently equal battery life, sounds quite impressive. But probably not enough to tempt me over an equal option with a different badge, and without a 40% mark up.


October 24, 2013, 3:16 pm

wow. Really game changing moves that...
My iPad 2 will meet my needs for quite a while it seems.


October 25, 2013, 10:58 am

Interesting. I think it is reasonable to expect an Ipad Pro range in the near future.

Considering their progression with moving productivity applications to iOS, which does not quite make sense at the moment, we could be seeing a major shift; the beginning of porting and merging of iOS and Mac OS X to ARM v8.

Performance of the A7 CPU is already good enough for most ordinary users. I expect the Ipad Pro range to exclusively use the expected A7x CPU, this might even be quad core. We might finally be seeing an SD Card slot, and rumours about a keyboard or monitor dock could hold some truth.

I am expecting the performance of the A7x to be similar to Intel Baytrail, which is expected to appear in entry level laptops, so now the customer can choose which platform they want to use... the consumer could finally be king, and competition be restored.

Bill Hide

October 25, 2013, 11:13 am

You're technologically literate so you don't use a Mac, how patronizing of you. So all us Mac users, by inference, are technologically illiterate, thanks mate.

Terry Byford

October 25, 2013, 11:24 am

AndyB makes some very sane comments. I, too, am an Android user both for my phone, an ageing Galaxy SII, and my two tablets, the 2012 Nexus 7 and an older Asus T101 Transformer.

I believe Apple products are overpriced but then I'm not obliged to buy one. I value my money too much to waste it on the latest "must have" gadget, be it Apple or Android, and which widely is touted as better than I presently have. There has to be a point where technical improvements don't add a commensurate reward in overall functionality, and until I can see a worthwhile improvement over what I currently have, my money stays in my pocket.

I am eyeing the 2013 Nexus 7, though! But the 3G version. Oh, no, I'm on that roundabout again. Will someone please save me from myself?


October 25, 2013, 12:29 pm

Childish and unnecessary comments in general....

I fail to see why people need to express their hate against Apple? I don't think Apple is a "bad" company compared to others - are they really?

It's the same old story - VHS against BetaMax, Unix vs Windows, Mac vs Windows, etc etc

Can't you stay openminded against things that happen on the marketplace?
Does one thing HAVE to be more supreme than other things?

You also state that their products are overpriced - well - companies tend to be glad for making money; is that a bad thing? If they don't they will soon be out of business, and how should that help markets/technologies forward?

I guess you cannot argue against the fact that Apple "invented" the iPad, iPhone etc - or is Samsung or the Android business the ones that were responsible for this?

Kind regards form Sweden,


Tim Sutton

October 25, 2013, 1:37 pm

I'm sure there are many technologically literate people who use Macs, but I'm equally sure they aren't Apples target market.
It's hard not to generalise Apple owners as precious and shallow when so many of them seem to look for reasons to be offended.

Hubert Pereira

October 25, 2013, 3:27 pm

It's absolutely amazing to see how the Druids land up on every Apple review site or blog to spray venom on everything that's coming out of Cupertino. Likewise I do not see flame-skewers between Range Rover fans slam dunking owners of BMW X5 or the Merc G class! They simply go about enjoying their ride on the vehicle of their choice. Likewise GMC, FORD & JEEP fans continue to enjoy every bit of their own respective ride, sticks to their own forums and avoids flaming others, but instead respects each other's choice.

I wonder why people can't get fully immersed on the product that suits their pockets and that gives them the gratification from the product of their choice. Some of the posts definitely shows hues of plain green jealousy, either they cannot afford the recently launched product or they are simply that way (read as hiding behind their screen and spewing venom on everything around). Yes, I am aware of constructive criticism and it's benefit.

I haven't seen so many GNUfella or Linux guys posting crap on the blogosphere, instead they invest all their time making their cocoon of comfort better by the day. Yes, time and again they would poke some fun on the Windows clan, but that I deem fit as pure fun. Try Ubuntu 13.04, it's simply awesome and has come a long way. Also please note that within the Linux environment, gone are the days where everything is FREE, quite a few things need to be bought.

I know the day will never come when this crap between the Druids and the fruityloops will ever stop, and we have the choice to ignore both of them, and go about enjoying the technical reviews for the merit is based on. No review is straight forward and without any bias, however it is for us the readers to make the call or delete the bookmark when an excessive dose of bias is observed.

Not everybody can afford the fruit of the loom, since they do not manufacture models for the wide bandwidth of household income, whereas the competition is a bunch or manufacturers with an assortment of models to fit every budget.

Isn't it amazing that the whole chapter is all about one small town called Cupertino challenging the entire planet of smartphone manufacturers. That's absolutely stunning.

Andy Race

October 25, 2013, 4:09 pm

I own an iPhone 5 personal phone and a Galaxy S4 work phone. Both great phones but I just prefer the iPhone. That's my choice. It doesn't mean I'm a "Fanboy" (which by the way has to be the Worlds most annoying word" and it doesn't mean I'm a sheep. I do agree that Apple is overpriced and has its faults but I'm happy with the phone and that's all that matters. The whole Apple vs Android argument really is truly pathetic.

Bill Hide

October 25, 2013, 4:09 pm


comments powered by Disqus