The "1-Minute" Review
VerdictStriking a balance between the designs of previous generations with the performance of the latest, the iPad Air (2019) offers top-notch performance, accessory support, and many of the perks of the iPad Pro at a more consumer-friendly price.
- Great display
- 1st generation Apple Pen support
- Smart Keyboard support
- Solid design
- Blazing performance
- Plenty of storage
- No microSD support
- So-so cameras
- Long recharge times
With Apple expanding its lineup -- and its prices -- there was a big hole in the middle of their selection. The iPad Mini is great for the budget-conscious and the iPad Pros are great for those who want the best -- and can afford to pay for it. But what about your “everyday carry” tablet?
Apple looks to address this question with the Apple iPad Air (2019). Reviewers have had time to put this new release through its paces. We’ve scoured the best reviews on the web to bring you this summary.
The iPad Air (2019) features the same design as the 10.5-inch iPad Pro. So much so that it’s compatible with the older model’s cases and accessories thanks to the smart connector on the left side of the tablet.
However, it is slightly thinner and weighs just a hair less -- coming in at right about one pound.
The aluminum chassis impressed reviewers as always with its premium feel and solid design.
But the overall design doesn’t bring the wow factor of the newer iPad Pros.
Digital Trends says, “The design here is safe and uninspiring. I don’t feel anything when I stare at the iPad Air, unlike the new iPad Pro, which prompts a feeling of awe.”
Around front, you’ll find a 10.5-inch display with a wider color gamut and TrueTone technology. Screen lamination helps make interacting with the screen feel more direct while an anti-reflective treatment keeps things easy-to-see in bright lighting or when using the tablet outdoors.
Engadget says, “... once you use an iPad with a laminated screen, you won't want to go back to a tablet without it -- that air gap is just about impossible to unsee. These display improvements alone are almost enough reason to justify choosing the Air over the standard iPad.”
There are sizeable bezels around the screen. But they’re still smaller than what you’ll find on the baseline iPad 9.7 (2018) and iPad Mini (2019). In the bottom chin, you’ll find a Touch ID sensor as the iPad Air (2019) does not support Face ID.
As with all Apple displays, reviewers loved the clarity and color accuracy on offer. They also found the larger screen great for multitasking, enjoying movies, and playing games.
While the tablet shares many features with its predecessor on the outside, it’s a different story on the inside. The iPad Air (2019) is powered by an A12 Bionic processor with M12 coprocessor and Neural Engine paired with 3GB of RAM. The iPad Pro 11 and 12.9 are the only tablets on the market with more power.
Apple claims improvements of 70% in performance and 200% in graphics capabilities over the previous iPad Air and reviews show the difference is very noticeable. We found zero complaints about performance, stability, or stuttering.
Apple Insider praised performance, saying, “The A12 Processor on the 2019 iPad Air is ridiculously fast. It pairs well with iOS 12 -- and soon iOS 13. For the past two weeks that we've had the device, we've never seen the iPad Air struggle one bit. Everything is so seamless and just works right out of the box.”
The tablet ships with iOS 12.2 and is likely to see updates for years to come. This means you can use gesture controls and other new features.
Depending on the model you choose, you’ll find either 64GB or 256GB of storage. Both are generous. But if you think you’ll ever need more space, be sure to opt for the larger option. There is no way to expand the storage on the iPad Air (2019).
Tablet photography is awkward. Trying to hold up a 10.5-inch display and snap a photo on the fly is less than ideal. Apple knows this and offers an 8MP rear camera with 7MP front-facing lens designed more for office use, taking quick snapshots as notes, and for use with AR apps.
Engadget says, “The eight-megapixel shooter takes decent photos, but it's likely that the phone in your pocket does a better job. So please, do that instead. The iPad's camera does the trick for document scanning and augmented reality, and if you really need to take a picture it'll get the job done if the lighting is good.”
As with the rest of the iPad lineup, battery life on the iPad Air (2019) is great. Apple estimates roughly 10 hours of use on a single charge and reviewers backed up the claim. Charging is slow using the Lightning port, however. So if you use your iPad often, you’ll want to plug it in before bed to ensure you’re not left hunting a charger the next day.
With the larger screen, the iPad Air (2019) is great for streaming video or gaming. Its dual bottom-firing speakers also offer plenty of volume. However, since they’re both on the same side of the tablet, don’t expect great stereo separation.
If you’re looking to improve the audio experience, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack available to plug in your favorite pair of cans and Bluetooth 5 if you prefer Bluetooth headphones.
Digital Trends notes, “Surprisingly, the stereo speakers sound impressive. They’re loud, well-balanced, and while they might not fill a whole room at a party, they will satisfy most people.”
The iPad Air (2019) is compatible with both the Smart Keyboard case and the 1st Generation Apple Pen. Reviewers found the keyboard case fit great, and the laminated display made the Apple Pen experience that much better.
The larger display is also ideal for more productivity- and creativity-focused tasks -- such as photo editing, writing, and digital art. The accessories accentuate this further still.
Overall, reviewers love the iPad Air (2019). It even made them question why the iPad 9.7 (2018) is still in Apple's lineup. It might not have the modern flair of the iPad Pro series, but it offers a large part of the iPad Pro experience at a significantly lower cost.
Computer World says, “In most cases, the iPad Air is the iPad Pro for the rest of us. It sets the scene for what an entry-level iPad should be, and it seems inevitable that all the iPads Apple sells will coalesce around this level of performance.”
Mac World loved their review unit, saying, “Absolutely nothing about this iPad Air is new. It’s an oddball collection of regular-iPad and Pro-iPad features that may not excite technophiles looking for the latest advancements, but delivers the right iPad at the right price for most users.”
What the Critics Are Saying...
- Matthew Bolton, T3
The iPad Air is a fantastic tablet. The screen and power make it feel like an iPad Pro, but for a seriously good price. The perfect do-anything device for most people.
- Matt Swider, TechRadar
The iPad Air 3 (2019) has serious horsepower hidden behind its laminated screen and uses Apple’s excellent Smart Keyboard for proper 2-in-1 for productivity. Its traditional design and first-gen Apple Pencil compatibility make it look dated, but it doubles the performance of the entry-level iPad 9.7...
- David Price, Tech Advisor
The iPad Air is a powerful and easy-to-use tablet with a large and well-specced screen, long battery life and attractive design, all at a sensible price. There are some compromises here, but as an all-round package this is vastly appealing.
- Jordan Carter, Gear Hungry
The Apple iPad Air is the lightest and slimmest iPad that you could ever buy. With just 456 grams and 6.1 millimeters thin, the iPad Air shows that you don’t have to compromise power and quality when you downsize. This iPad is equipped with an A12 Bionic chip, the chip that is found in iPhone XS and...
- What Hi-Fi
It might not instantly appear so, but the iPad Air is the pick of the current iPad range. It is more affordable than the Pros and only a little more expensive than the much smaller Mini, and while it does command a fair premium over the entry-level iPad, its better screen and potentially longer usef...
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