New vs old - iPad Air and iPad 4The iPad Air, once called the iPad 5, is the new full-size Apple tablet for 2013 as opposed to the smaller iPad mini 2. It takes over from the iPad 4 as the top dog in Apple’s tablet line-up, but is it worth the upgrade?
We'll be updating this comparison with more hands-on thoughts when we have, but for now here’s what’s new in the iPad Air.
iPad Air video previewGet a first-hand look at the iPad Air in our video preview below.
An all-new design, and coloursEasily the most important change in the iPad Air is its new design. Taking inspiration from the iPad mini, the screen surround is much smaller than ever before, and the tablet is much lighter and thinner.
If the iPad mini won you around in the last generation, the full-size one is seriously worth considering this time.
It’s less than 7.5mm thick and weighs under just 469g. That’s a good millimetre and change thinner, and more than 100g lighter than the iPad 4. Just as important, it’s significantly less wide and less tall than the last one. This makes the iPad Air much more portable and much more compact.
Faster A7 processorLike the iPhone 5S, the iPad Air has made the jump to 64-bit with its processor. The tablet uses a new Apple A7 chip, designed to give it roughly the same power as the iPhone 5S, once you take into account the masses of extra pixels the tablet needs to account for. We believe it may be clocked faster iPhone 5S's CPU - as the more pixels a device needs to render, the more power it’ll need.
The benefits of the A7’s ’64-bit’-ness won’t become truly apparent for a while, but that doesn’t mean it’s not significantly more powerful than the 32-bit Apple A6X chip of the iPad 4 in its own right. You’ll get better graphics, and better gaming performance (and support) a year or two down the line with an iPad Air. And it already lets you use more tracks in the Garageband music maker.
The same screen, more-or-less (in terms of looks)It’s
all change for the iPad Air in several respects, but the appearance of
the screen hasn’t changed a great deal. The iPad Air has a 9.7-inch
‘Retina’ display of 2,048 x 1,536 pixels.
Contrast, colour reproduction and sharpness were all pretty great in the iPad 4 – and they’re just as good in the new one. Both tablets use IPS-type screens, which offer great angled viewing, making them perfect for sharing a movie on (aside from that they’re still pretty small).
The iPad screen used to be a king of displays, but in the last year or so rivals have started to catch up. The Google Nexus 7 2 is a great example – its 7-inch Full HD screen makes the tablet a real bargain. Apple's iPad may be among the best, but it no longer leads the pack in the way it used to.
IGZO display tech?The iPad Air is purported to be one of a handful of devices to use an IGZO-type display, although this is yet to be confirmed by Apple. This Sharp technology is something that lets screens gets super thin and super high-resolution without costing the earth.
It’s also great for power consumption. IGZO is designed to use less power than the ‘standard’ IPS screen of the iPad 4, and that’s likely one of the reasons why the iPad Air is able to be significantly thinner and lighter than the previous model without losing out on battery life. We're looking for confirmation on the use of this feature from Apple at present, though.
iOS 7 software, just like the iPad 4The iPad Air is cleverer, faster and slimmer than the iPad 4, but will it feel completely different to use? Not a chance.
Both tablets use iOS 7, the software it shares with the iPhone 5C, iPhone 5S and iPad mini 2. All you’ll miss out on with an iPad 4 are the games twelve months or so down the line that choose to drop support for ‘older’ tablets like the fourth-gen iPad.
An improved cameraLike the iPad mini 2, the iPad 5 has a camera improved over that of the last generation’s one. The iPad 4 has a 5-megapixel sensor, the iPad 5 still has a 5-megapixel sensor, but the sensor itself has been improved along with the processing engine to offer better image quality.
There’s no flash still, though, so it’s a fairly minor change in terms of how much people will notice it.
Early verdictThe iPad Air is, tech-wise, a simple and sensible upgrade. However, what we think is most important is the change in design. Being thinner, lighter and altogether smaller than its predecessor makes us think those with an iPad 4 who want to take their tablet around with them day-to-day should think about slinging their tablet onto an auction site.
Coming soon, our iPad mini 2 vs iPad mini comparison (Update Coming)