Apple iPad Air (2021) evaluation: The pill for everybody

Apple’s “Air” branding has morphed through the years. As a substitute of representing the thinnest and lightest conceivable model of Apple’s product line, the Air moniker is now a extra nebulous time period — used as each an affix and suffix — throughout plenty of gadgets, from laptops, to earbuds, and, after all, Apple’s mythical pill collection, the iPad.

The iPad Air is now in its fourth technology and, no less than right here, the Air logo has held company to its unique that means. Now not counting the diminutive iPad Mini, the iPad Air (2021) is the thinnest and lightest iPad you’ll purchase. On the other hand, the iPad Air additionally serves every other vital objective: to bridge the space between the ultra-premium iPad Professional and the usual iPad.

Does the most recent iPad Air strike the proper stability of value, specifications, and lines to compete with the absolute best pills you’ll purchase? In finding out in’s iPad Air (2021) evaluation.

About this iPad Air (2021) evaluation: I used the iPad Air for 12 days working utility model iPadOS 14.5.1. It used to be upgraded to iPadOS 14.6 all the way through the trying out duration. The iPad Air (2021) unit used to be bought through for this evaluation.

What you wish to have to grasp in regards to the iPad Air (2021)


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  • iPad Air (Wi-Fi solely, 64GB): $599/£579/€649
  • iPad Air (Wi-Fi solely, 256GB): $749/£729/€819
  • iPad Air (Wi-Fi + Cell, 64GB): $729/£709/€789
  • iPad Air (Wi-Fi + Cell, 256GB): $879/£859/€959

The iPad Air (2021) introduced on September 15, 2021, a complete yr and a part after the former fashion. Apple started promoting the pill ranging from October 23 by means of its personal retailer and primary third-party shops in the United States, throughout Europe, and in plenty of different markets.

This newest iteration of the iPad Air is the least iterative thus far, that includes an all-new design influenced through its extra top class sibling, the iPad Professional. Nonetheless, the fourth-generation iPad Air keeps its predecessor’s litheness. Each measure in at simply 6.1mm thick. Different notable adjustments come with an anticipated processor improve, a bigger show with thinner bezels, and a USB-C port which replaces the outgoing, much-maligned Lightning port.

See additionally: The most efficient iPad offers

Those adjustments additionally got here with an building up in value. In the United States, the bottom “iPad Air 4” is priced at $599 in comparison to the former fashion’s access price of $499. This $100 top class additionally applies to fashions with extra garage and the cell variants. On the other hand, the usual iPad Air continues to be $200 less expensive than the entry-level iPad Professional and a whopping $500 less expensive than the 12.9-inch iPad Professional fashion with all of the fanciest show tech.

The iPad Air is available in House Gray, Silver, Rose Gold, Inexperienced, and Sky Blue. It’s also suitable with a much broader array of non-compulsory (and dear) equipment than every other iPad Air fashion, together with the Magic Keyboard and the second-generation Apple Pencil. Because of the brand new design of the pill and the advent of USB-C, earlier circumstances and the unique Apple Pencil don’t seem to be suitable with the brand new iPad Air. That’s how Apple will get you!

How is the brand new design?


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That is in all probability a peculiar factor to mention a few 10.9-inch pill, however the iPad Air feels so much like an iPad Professional Mini. Now not such a lot relating to stature; it’s nonetheless a sizeable slate and it’s in truth a fragment thicker than the 11-inch iPad Professional. However the acquainted, virtually brutalist design of the refreshed iPad Professional collection has transitioned so without difficulty into the Air’s design blueprint that it comes off as its child sibling.

Like with each and every iPad Air thus far, this fashion without difficulty balances the will for display actual property with portability and it does so effectively. The bezels aren’t long past, however they have got been decreased to the purpose the place there’s simply enough space to grip the pill in any orientation.

Due to the brand new colorways, that is the funkiest iPad thus far.

The newly followed flatter design marks the most important trade for the iPad Air’s ergonomics since its inception. The squared-off edges, curved corners, and flush entrance and rear — glass and recycled aluminum, respectively — mesh properly with the design language of Apple’s wider ecosystem and, extra importantly, lend a extra top class glance to the Air line. The best weight distribution additionally approach it by no means feels too gentle or refined within the hand.

In spite of its harsher look, the iPad Air is one of the funkiest iPads thus far because of the array of colorways on be offering. We opted for the good-looking Rose Gold model, which makes its iPad Air debut along pastel-like Inexperienced and Sky Blue finishes.

One casualty of the thinner bezels at the iPad Air is the normal round house/Contact ID button. As a substitute, the fingerprint reader has been relocated to the ability button at the most sensible fringe of the pill. It’s rather less constant and the unlocking serve as calls for you to push down at the button and no longer simply leisure your finger on it. In the meantime, keeping on for too lengthy summons Siri. It’s all somewhat awkward, nevertheless it’s speedy when it registers your inputs appropriately. For now, Face ID stays an iPad Professional-only characteristic on Apple’s pills.


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Some other characteristic that doesn’t transition down from the iPad Professional is the adaptive ProMotion show tech. As a substitute, the iPad Air sports activities a typical ol’ static 60Hz panel. When you’ll solely truly know the variation when you’ve were given a quicker refresh fee show available, that is nonetheless a notable compromise, particularly when the in a similar fashion priced Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 can push to 120Hz.

Another way, the 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display is a stunner. Colours are shiny, the solution is masses top sufficient for a pill, and the anti-reflective coating is helping with glare. On the other hand, this isn’t the brightest panel round and it struggles in vivid stipulations. That is solely truly an issue if you wish to paintings out of doors on a sunny day with a keyboard case connected; indoors it’s completely good enough.

In very Apple style, the glass masking the display is solely described in free phrases. The Cupertino corporate says it’s scratch-resistant and oleophobic, with the latter designed to give protection to in opposition to smudgy fingerprints. I didn’t realize any scratches showing in my time with it, however there have been ample fingerprint smudges.

apple ipad air 2021 review pencil

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After all, we need to discuss equipment. The iPad Air (2021) brings a complete new armada of devices to play with, equipped you’re glad to stump up some hefty further premiums.

The obvious is the Apple Pencil 2 ($119), which fees magnetically when pinned in opposition to the proper fringe of the iPad Air. The Air additionally has a Good Connector at the rear which permits use with Apple’s princely Magic Keyboard ($279), identical to the iPad Professional. Then again, there’s the Good Keyboard Folio case ($179). They’re all pricey, however the choice of closely augmenting your iPad Air is there when you’re prepared to spend the money.

Learn extra: The most efficient equipment you’ll get for the iPad

The most important addition is without cost, although, and it’s perhaps the least thrilling factor you must installed a gross sales pitch: the USB-C port. The transfer from the proprietary Lightning port to the common USB-C usual opens a non-Professional iPad to an international of exterior gadgets for the primary time. Wish to switch recordsdata without delay from a transportable HDD? Now you’ll. Whilst it doesn’t be offering the extra layer of Thunderbolt connectivity discovered on the most recent iPad Professional collection, even the usual USB-C port discovered here’s a long-overdue improve for Apple’s pills.

There used to be a sufferer within the transition, although. There’s no headphone jack at the fourth-generation iPad Air. I suppose you’ll’t win all of them.

What’s it like to make use of the iPad Air (2021)?


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The iPad Air runs like a dream. It’s no (*15*)M1 chip, however the A14 Bionic is not any slouch. Animations aren’t as fluid because of the loss of ProMotion show tech, however the true transition speeds between apps and processes are speedy.

Along Apple’s customized silicon there’s 4GB of RAM (one thing Apple doesn’t formally divulge), which is masses for fundamental multitasking, although you’ll begin to see apps drop out of reminiscence when you push it too onerous for too lengthy. Likewise, the GPU isn’t as tough as even the 2021 iPad Professional. What that suggests in follow is that the iPad Air is completely able to working pro-grade apps like Procreate and LumaFusion, however it is going to start to really feel the stress when you get started introducing monumental record sizes and more than one workflows without delay.

Additionally learn: Which iPhone is best for you?

As nice as all this is, the bottom garage scenario is inexcusable. No cell instrument at this value must include non-expandable 64GB interior garage, particularly when simply over 10GB of it’s taken up through essential machine recordsdata. This ridiculous scenario is compounded through the pointy leap in value for the 256GB max garage variant. Why is there no 128GB fashion?

The solely app-centric revel in of the use of a pill approach the ~54GB of garage the bottom fashion is left with after updates will unexpectedly replenish — extra so if you wish to take hold of video games from the App Retailer. It’s workable, particularly for those who solely need to use the pill for streaming films, surfing the internet, and taking part in the ordinary sport. On the other hand, for somebody juggling more than one hard customers or working ingenious apps, you’ll must be prepared to every now and then delete some apps to make room for brand new ones and/or incessantly plug in an exterior pressure (although it’ll must be APFS-encrypted) for recordsdata. iCloud is there as a possible backup too, which is infinitely extra helpful at the present time because of iPadOS’ Recordsdata app as you’ll get admission to the iCloud Force’s contents with a couple of faucets. Plus, you’ll simply transfer to Google Force, OneDrive, Dropbox, or different supported third-party suppliers.


How just right is the iPad Air (2021)’s battery existence?

If you happen to’ve ever used an iPad prior to you’ll know what to anticipate right here: round an afternoon’s medium-to-heavy use. Extra in particular, that interprets to about 10 hours of internet browsing on a unmarried price in line with Apple.

Actually, your revel in with battery existence at the iPad Air (2021) is determined by your utilization patterns. If you happen to’re solely the use of it casually as a media streaming instrument or for infrequent note-taking, the iPad Air (2021) can slightly simply see out two days. Conversely, when you get started the use of it broadly for gaming, the use of pro-level apps, or hooking it as much as a keyboard for paintings, you’ll wish to price it up every night time. It doesn’t matter what, although, the iPad Air (2021) is a full-day pill.

It’s value noting that I examined the Wi-Fi fashion. Be expecting a small hit to battery existence when you’re working the pill on LTE networks. As for charging, the iPad Air (2021) is going from 0 to 100% in round two and a part hours — no longer the quickest, however a tolerable wait time for a sub-premium pill.

What’s iPadOS like at the iPad Air (2021)?


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Let’s communicate iPadOS. Introduced as the second one iteration of iPadOS in overdue 2021, iPadOS 14 moved the platform additional clear of its roots in cell and extra in opposition to a center floor between Apple’s iOS and macOS. The iPad Air (2021) is ready to be up to date to iPadOS 15 later this yr, however till then, it’s model 14 that runs out of the field.

Of the core additions, Recordsdata pairs effectively with USB-C reinforce, and you’ll in any case set a unique default browser (and e-mail app) as an alternative of Safari. Siri is a bit of smarter than prior to (however nonetheless no longer at the similar point as Google Assistant), and the common seek serve as has been delicate. Total, it’s a modest however vital step for iPadOS.

Additionally learn: Chromebook vs iPad — which is right for you?

iPadOS 14 is a ways from absolute best, although. In spite of being so fondly gained on iOS, the lengthy, lengthy past due addition of widgets is a profound unhappiness right here. Fairly than applying all of the additional display actual property, all the widgets are constrained to a pull-out menu that replaces the These days View of previous. Whilst iPadOS 15 will repair the placement later this yr with desktop-style widget keep an eye on (and an App Library like iOS), it’s baffling it wasn’t there from release.

Fortunately, the broader app revel in is a brilliant as ever. The App Retailer is thoroughly curated to spotlight the litany of iPad-optimized apps to be had and cell avid gamers get the easiest the business can be offering with the intensive Apple Arcade library (for a $4.99 per month charge).


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Whilst apps are nonetheless a boon for Apple’s pill line, there are many pro-grade apps that execs don’t get get admission to to — maximum particularly first-party Apple packages you’d in finding on macOS like Ultimate Minimize Professional, Common sense Professional, and Xcode. Those omissions are extra of a topic for the iPad Professional (particularly the souped-up M1 variant), nevertheless it’s a disgrace that would-be iPad Air energy customers additionally leave out out.

In the long run, the iPad revel in continues to be locked down in some way that can alienate Android and Home windows traditionalists. If it’s no longer within the App Retailer, you’ll’t use it. On the other hand, there’s security and safety within the walled lawn, to not point out long-term utility reinforce that can outlive any Android pill.

iPadOS continues to be maturing, however Apple’s App Retailer comprises a wealth of well-optimized apps and video games.

There’s additionally the ecosystem issue. The iPad Air no longer solely has get admission to to equipment just like the Apple Pencil 2 and Magic Keyboard — two issues that carry it past the vanilla iPad’s capability — however there also are cross-software options like Handoff, AirPlay, AirDrop, Common Clipboard, and Sidecar. The latter is particularly nice on a display this dimension when you’re working out of table house for a moment observe.

It must be famous that for the ones coming from older iPads, there’s somewhat of adjustment wanted for the navigation gestures made essential through the brand new iPad Air’s lacking house button. That mentioned, somebody with a lately launched smartphone will really feel proper at house because the de facto swipe instructions discovered on iOS and Android practice right here.


apple ipad air 2021 review camera touch id

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Entrance digicam: The 7MP front-facing digicam is completely appropriate for the occasional selfie and will seize video at as much as 1080p at 60fps. Unfortunately, the position (throughout the aspect bezel when positioned horizontally) approach it’ll seem like you’re staring off into the space on vital convention calls.

Rear digicam: If you need a pill with an ideal rear digicam, the iPad Air (2021) isn’t it. That mentioned, the 12MP, f/1.8 lens is serviceable in just right lighting fixtures. You additionally don’t get LiDAR for augmented truth a laugh — that’s an iPad Professional-only characteristic. It does reinforce 4K video at 60fps, although, up from 1080p at the closing technology.

Connectivity: No 5G, however the iPad Air (2021) does reinforce Wi-Fi 6. The loss of 5G shouldn’t be a dealbreaker for somebody, nevertheless it does imply the cell model isn’t slightly as futureproofed because it may well be.

Audio: Whilst it has four grilles, the iPad Air (2021) solely has two audio system for stereo audio. The sound is apparent and will get masses loud, nevertheless it lacks intensity at upper volumes.

iPad Air (2021) specifications

Apple iPad Air (2021)

Apple iPad Air (2021):

10.9-inch Liquid Retina LCD
2,360 x 1,640 pixels


Apple iPad Air (2021):

Apple A14 Bionic


Apple iPad Air (2021):



Apple iPad Air (2021):


Digital camera

Apple iPad Air (2021):

12MP digicam
ƒ/1.8 aperture
ƒ/2.0 aperture


Apple iPad Air (2021):

Rated for 10 hours

Headphone jack

Apple iPad Air (2021):



Apple iPad Air (2021):

247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1mm


Apple iPad Air (2021):

Wi-Fi: 458g
LTE: 460g


Apple iPad Air (2021):

Good Connector


Apple iPad Air (2021):

Silver, House Grey, Rose Gold, Inexperienced, Sky Blue

Worth and pageant


Apple iPad Air

The Apple iPad Air (2021) moves an ideal stability between value and lines with a refreshed, top class design, colourful show, a lot of accent choices, and speedy efficiency.