There are few surprises in the tech world today, but we got a small one today. Apple’s online store went down in the early AM, and low and behold, we have new iPads ahead of Apple’s event one week from today! Apple threw us another change-up by going back to the name it seemingly left behind a few years ago, releasing a new iPad Air.
That’s where the surprises end for this device. It has the smaller bezels and larger screen that people were expecting. It makes sense that the 10″ rumors were a little off and that the more recent 10.5″ screen rumors were more accurate, as that is the size of Apple’s last expanded screen from the iPad Pro released in 2017.
The new Air also gets a bump to the A12 processor, but the real upgrade comes with the screen. It has a laminated 2224 X 1668 high resolution screen and True Tone, both of which are upgrades over the previous gen iPad. True to the name, the new device also slims down to the Pro size, which is another improvement over the iPad. The new Air also adds Smart Keyboard support, which was noticeably absent from the iPad. I will be interested to see if 10.5″ iPad Pro accessories will be compatible, as there should be good deals on a couple of older keyboard cases.
The Air retains some of the iPad features that were expecting, such as the headphone jack and TouchID. This shouldn’t come as any surprise, since this new device seems to be based on the chassis of the 10.5 Pro, which also had these features. The new Air also sticks with the first gen Apple Pencil, like both the iPad and 10.5 Pro. Again, no surprise there.
One interesting bit is that Apple is discontinuing and closing out the iPad Pro 10.5, which had remained in the lineup last year after the new 11″ and 12.9″ Pros were released as a lower cost option. To reduce the price, the new Air does not have the A12X processor of the Pro line, or the ProMotion 120Hz refresh rate, so there are a couple of concessions. It also doesn’t have four speakers like the Pro.
The new iPad Air comes in 64 GB and 256 GB options with WiFi or Cellular and will start at the base price of $499. While the $170 price increase over the iPad isn’t insignificant, it makes sense when you consider the nice upgrades the Air gets over the iPad. It also needs to be mentioned that the new Air is $150 cheaper than the 10.5″ Pro, which is shares many features with. This starting price is a better middle ground, in my opinion.
Apple also made the smart decision to keep the previous gen iPad in the lineup at $329, so there isn’t a forced price increase imposed here. I would expect that price to go on sale often and potentially drop with the next iPad Pro spec bump. This keeps a solid entry-model device in the lineup. It also means that all available iPads now have Apple Pencil support. More on that in just a bit.
I like what Apple did here. Instead of keeping the iPad chunky and just expanding the screen a bit, they gave us a solid mid-tier option without forcing users to pay more to get a new iPad. More choice is good, and at this starting price and with these features, I expect the new Air to sell well.
I will be picking one up as soon as I can to compare with my son’s iPad and my iPad Pro, so stay tuned.