Apple has officially announced its latest iPad Air. The iPad Air 4 is a big update to Apple's mid-range tablet, and there are a lot of exciting changes and features to go through. Here's everything you need to know.
The short list
- Release date: October
- Price: $599 and up
- New features: 10.9-inch Edge-to-edge display, Apple Pencil 2 support, Touch ID in the sleep/wake button, USB-C
- Colors: Space Gray, Silver, Rose Gold, Green, Sky Blue
What are the basics of the iPad Air 4?
The iPad Air 4 is Apple's latest mid-range tablet. It's an impressive piece of hardware, sporting an all-new design (for the iPad Air, anyway), Apple Pencil 2 support, and USB-C. In a lot of ways, it's an iPad not-quite-as-Pro.
So what's up with this new design?
The iPad Air has ditched the design that it's been using since 2013, instead adopting the design language of the 2018 (and 2020) iPad Pro. It's a design defined by flat sides and a display with rounded corners, and slightly bigger than the last iPad Air.
It's a more industrial look that many have been hoping would come to the entire iPad line sooner or later. Well, it appears that it's sooner.
What size is the display?
The iPad Air 4 sports a new 10.9-inch display, just .2 inches smaller than the 11-inch iPad Pro, with a resolution of 2360 x 1640. It features rounded corners, like the Pro, and is, as can be expected for the iPad Air line nowadays, full laminated. This means that the touchscreen and LCD layers of the display are fused into a single unit. This makes the display thinner and more colorful.
What chip does the iPad Air 4 use?
The iPad Air 4 sees the debut of the A14 Bionic system-on-a-chip. It's Apple's first 5-nanometer (nm) process, meaning that the transistors are 5nm wide. This allows increased power efficiency and better performance overall, and Apple claims that it can see as much as a 40% boost to CPU performance over the previous iPad Air.
It has a six-core CPU, with four high-efficiency cores and two high-performance cores. There's a new four-core GPU, too, that's up to 30% faster than the previous generation GPU.
The neural engine has seen an update, too. It now features 16 cores, and is up to twice as fast as the previous neural engine. The updated machine learning acceleration hardware is 10 times as powerful as the previous system-on-a-chip.
Does the iPad Air 4 have a ProMotion display?
ProMotion, Apple's technology for variable refresh iPad displays that allows the screen of an iPad to operate between 24Hz and 120Hz, sadly remains the province of the iPad Pro. Hopefully, one day we'll see the feature trickle down to other iPads, and maybe even the iPhone, but for now, it remains a more niche feature in Apple's tablet line.
Does the iPad Air 4 support Apple Pencil 2?
Thanks to its new design, iPad Air 4 can accommodate Apple Pencil 2, and only has support for the second-generation Apple stylus, with no support for the first-generation model.
Like on the iPad Pro, the Apple Pencil attaches magnetically to a spot on the side of the iPad Air 4, where is also inductively charges. This way, you can always have the Pencil with you, and it can always be ready to go when you need to jot something down, draw, or sketch.
Does the iPad Air 4 have a Lightning port?
No. The Lightning port has disappeared in a flash from the iPad Air. In its place, again, like the iPad Pro, is a USB-C port. This opens the iPad Air up to the same range of accessories that work with the iPad Pro models from 2018 or later, and allows it to better connect to accessories without special adapters. USB-C supports data transfer speeds of up to 5Gbps.
Does the iPad Air 4 have a Home button?
There is no longer a Home button on the iPad Air, meaning that you'll need to swipe up from the bottom of the screen to exit an app, just like you do on iPhones with Face ID or the iPad Pro. You could also swipe up with three fingers on a trackpad that you have connected to your iPad Air.
Does the iPad Air 4 have Face ID?
You'd think that because there's no Home button, the iPad Air 4 would have Face ID, right? But it doesn't. The iPad Air 4 still uses Touch ID.
How is there Touch ID if there's no Home button?
Apple has taken the step of creating its first new type of Touch ID sensor since it introduced Touch ID to its Mac laptops a few years ago. No longer on a Home button, Touch ID is now found in the sleep/wake button on the iPad Air 4. While thinner, Apple claims that it's just as secure as the older sensor.
What about the cameras?
Of course, the iPad Air still has its front and rear camera setups. The front-facing FaceTime camera is a 7MP sensor and an f/2.2 aperture. It supports Smart HDR, video capture up to 1080p at 60 frames-per-second, and improved low-light performance.
As for the rear camera, it's the same 12MP wide-angle camera that you'll find on the iPad Pro, with an f/1.8 aperture, 4K/60fps video recording, 240fps slow motion video recording, and improved stabilization for video.
What colors does the iPad Air 4 come in?
You'll get the usual complement of Space Gray and Silver, but there are three new colors: Rose Gold, Green, and Sky Blue. It's great to see Apple's devices get more colorful outside of the iPhone lineup for once, but I'd have loved a Product(Red) model, myself.
How much does the iPad Air 4 cost?
The iPad Air 4 starts at $599, which gets you 64GB of storage and is Wi-Fi-only. It's also available in 256GB model for $150 more at $749. For an additional $130 on top of the base price, you can get an iPad Air with cellular networking.
When does the iPad Air 4 come out?
You can order the iPad Air 4 starting in October.