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iPad Air: Battery Life and Verdict

evan kypreos

By Evan Kypreos

Updated:

Summary

Our Score:

10

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iPad Air: Battery Life

To make the iPad Air so thin and light Apple has reduced the size of the battery, but still claims 10 hours of constant use. We’ve already mentioned how the M7 processor helps improve battery life, but the A7 SoC is also more efficient.

The 10-hour battery life bears out in real world tests. At around 70% screen brightness we managed to get just over 9 hours of mixed use including 30 minutes of gaming, two hours of streaming video, word processing, Skype video chatting and browsing the internet (over Wi-Fi and for an hour on 4G).

In our standard benchmark tests the iPad Air lost just 2% battery life for a 30-minute 720p movie streamed over Wi-Fi. Over 4G the same video took 6% of the battery. The Air also managed to gain a respectable 0 to 15% (or about two hours worth) of battery life from a 30-minute charge.

SEE ALSO: 10 best Android tablets you can buy

Space grey on the left and silver on the right. The screen bezels are black and white respectively

Should I buy the iPad Air?

The iPad Air is the best jack-of-all 10-inch tablets, but at £400 for the most basic version it is a little pricey. If you primarily want a tablet as a productivity tool, or as a laptop replacement, then you could opt for the weightier Microsoft Surface Pro 2. However, prices start at £719 and you’ll need to fork out extra for Office and the keyboard cover. The Surface 2 starts at £359 and you get Office RT bundled, but the Microsoft Store is very limited by comparison, and the tablet is 50% heavier than the iPad, with a less impressive screen.

Only the Nexus 10 comes close to matching the iPad Air’s screen on a 10-inch tablet, but the app experience on large Android tablets leaves a lot to be desired and

There is a variety of options when picking which iPad Air to buy. It comes in two colours – space grey and silver. You then have the option of Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi with 4G/LTE. For an extra £100 the latter lets you add mobile internet to your iPad and it’s one of the features that most iPad buyers most regret not opting for.

If you’re going to keep the iPad Air at home then Wi-Fi will be adequate, but if you want to use it on the go then you should consider 4G. Remember, though, that you will need a subscription with a mobile network. EE charges £15.99 a month for 2GB of 4G internet. A third option is to tether to a 4G phone, though that adds a few compilations: you need a tethering compatible phone and contract and it will drain your phone's battery faster.

The Air also comes in four storage sizes 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB. If you opt for 4G you can afford to go for less storage options and use iCloud and other cloud platforms to store and stream your files, but if you like to keep a decent selection of music, video and games on-board you should consider the 32GB model, at the very least.

Apple sells two types of covers for the iPad Air: the Smart Case for £65 and Smart Cover for £35. Both are leather and fold around to provide a perch for the iPad to stand upright, but we found the Smart Case to be a little unsteady and prone to flattening. We recommend the cheaper Smart Cover that protects your screen but leaves the tough back exposed, or that buyers opt for a keyboard case, which transforms the iPad into a great productivity tool for its diminutive size. We'll be looking at the cases, and possible iPad keyboards, in more depth in a separate feature.

Verdict

The iPad Air is the best overall 10-inch tablet you can buy by quite a margin. The huge weight reduction makes the larger of the two iPads a far more attractive option again, while retaining all the iPads traditional strengths such as its unrivalled collection of tablet optimised apps. A revolution it isn't, but we find it very hard to see how Apple can top this version now.

Next, read our guide to the best iOS 7 tips and tricks

Overall Score

10

Scores In Detail

  • Battery Life 9
  • Build Quality 10
  • Design 10
  • Performance 10
  • Screen Quality 10
  • Software & Apps 9
  • Sound Quality 8
  • Value 8

Best Deals for Apple iPad Air

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Appleyti

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 !!

RichGtB

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.

lw

October 23, 2013, 8:08 am

It's a bit thinner. Is that is?
Stagnant...

MikkaMakkaMoo

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.

MikkaMakkaMoo

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, (http://www.washingtonpost.com/... ) 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.

MikkaMakkaMoo

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.

MikkaMakkaMoo

October 23, 2013, 1:37 pm

You are referring to this chart?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

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"??

Falcomomo

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.

AndyB

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?

SnakeSkinSoup

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.

lw

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.

pikachu

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?

Tommy

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,

Tommy

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

Sad

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