iPad Air review

20 Jun 2014
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT
Buy it now for 

Apple's best tablet ever, the iPad Air is small, light, incredibly powerful and has an amazing screen


Processor: Dual-core 1.4GHz Apple A7, Screen size: 9.7in, Screen resolution: 2,048x1,536, Rear camera: 5 megapixels, Storage: 16/32/64/128GB, Wireless data: 4G (optional), Size: 240x169.5x7.5mm, Weight: 469g, Operating system: iOS 7.1

Our one worry about a new iPad was, where could Apple go? After all, with the iPad 4 it already had a slim, light tablet with a high-resolution screen. All fears that improvements would be few or minor were dissipated the second we picked up the iPad Air.

Build quality

Ditching the numbering system and going for the Air moniker used by the company's super-light laptops really makes sense here, as the iPad Air is staggeringly light. At just 469g (Wi-Fi version) it's 183g lighter than the 652g iPad 4. That's a staggering 28 per cent lighter, which is even more impressive given the iPad Air has the same size screen. Trust us, you need to get yourself to an Apple store to hold one in the flesh to see how light it really is.

In order to get the weight down, Apple had to make iPad Air smaller and thinner than its predecessor. In simple terms, the Air takes its design cues from the iPad Mini with its thinner bezel and slimmer case. It shouldn't be underestimated how much work this takes, as Apple's managed to make the iPad Air a lot smaller than its predecessor, reducing width from 188mm to 169.5mm (a 10 per cent reduction) and depth from 9mm to 7.5mm (a 16 per cent reduction), while height remains roughly the same.

As we've come to expect from Apple, the iPad Air is made from a single piece of aluminium, with a glass front. Available in Space Grey, and White to match the colours of the iPhone 5S, the iPad Air is the most attractive tablet out there. More than that it also feels extremely tough and durable thanks to its metal construction.


Although the iPad Air still has the same size 9.7in screen as used in all full-size iPads since the original, the reduction in size of the case means that it looks bigger. That’s no bad thing, as the screen is the most important thing about a tablet.

Apple has kept the same 2,048x1,536 Retina resolution, originally introduced with the iPad 3. There are some tablets with more resolution, but that doesn't matter. On a screen this size, you don't need more resolution; as Apple states with Retina, it's a resolution at which you can no longer see the individual pixels. As a result everything looks incredibly sharp and detailed.

As we've come to expect, the screen is also one of the best quality. Thanks to its IPS panel, viewing angles are superb and you can hold the tablet at pretty much any angle and still see what's onscreen clearly. It's bright, too, making it easily usable in pretty much any lighting conditions. Image quality is still incredible, too. Colours are rich and vibrant, with dark blacks and bright whites. This really helps bring out the quality and detail in any photo.

No TouchID

One surprising omission from the iPad Air is the lack of the TouchID fingerprint reader, which was introduced with the iPhone 5S. Currently this reader is just used to unlock the phone and make app store purchases, but the long-term play would seem to be to use this technology for authentication for a wide-variety of applications, such as online payments. Given that it was the biggest new bit of tech added to the iPhone 5S, we thought that Apple may include it on its new tablets, too. As it stands, the iPad Air just has a traditional Home button; it's not a big loss day-to-day, but TouchID would have been nice to see.

iPad Air home button

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