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Apple iPad Air 13in (M2, 2024) review: The best “pro” iPad for most people

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £799
inc VAT (13in model, no keyboard or stylus)

This year’s Apple iPad Air undercuts the iPad Pro on price but matches its utility in many ways


  • Superb screen and keyboard
  • Much cheaper than M4 iPad Pro
  • Supports Apple Pencil Pro


  • Shorter battery life than M4 iPad Pro
  • 60Hz display feels a bit dated

The Apple iPad Air 13 is simultaneously both a very interesting and incredibly boring product. It’s interesting because this is the first time Apple has introduced an iPad with a display larger than 11in below its iPad Pro range; and it’s boring because it’s effectively the same tablet as the old M2 iPad Pro – just shorn of that product’s ProMotion 120Hz display and a handful of other less significant features.

The former doesn’t make it a must-buy in the same way that the latter doesn’t make it a bad product. The iPad Air 13in (M2, 2024) sits somewhere in the middle. However, thanks to a significantly lower price than the flagship iPad Pro 13in it is the best “pro” level iPad for most people.

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Apple iPad Air 13in (M2, 2024) review: What you need to know

As with the iPad Pro, the 2024 Apple iPad Air is available in two sizes: 11in and 13in. And just like its more exotic stablemate, the Air can be turned into a laptop with the addition of the Apple Magic Keyboard (the old one, not the new-fangled one with the function key row).

The Air lacks a few of the Pro’s main features, as you’d expect, chief among which is the display. Instead of the 120Hz tandem OLED screen, it comes with a “Liquid Retina” display: an IPS screen with a lower refresh rate of 60Hz and a resolution of 2,732 x 2,048.

The iPad Air 13in’s front camera has been shifted to the long “landscape” edge, just like the iPad Pro, but it doesn’t support Face ID for quick biometric logins. You do get a Touch ID sensor built into the power button, though, so all is not lost on that front.

On the rear, meanwhile, the Air’s 12MP, f/1.8 camera lacks the Pro’s LiDaR sensor, and it also lags behind the iPad Pro in terms of outright performance, with an Apple M2 chip instead of an M4, half the RAM at 8GB, and only 128GB of storage for the base model. You can boost the storage to 256GB, 512GB or 1TB when you buy one, though.

Finally, the iPad Air is chunkier and heavier than the iPad Pro, weighing 462g for the 11in and 617g for the 13in model reviewed here, with the Magic Keyboard adding a further 699g (to the 13in). For reference, the iPad Pro weighs 446g for the 11in, 579g for the 13in and the new Magic Keyboard adds 665g (to the 13in).

There is one area in which the iPad Air matches the M4 iPad Pro and that’s its support of the new Apple Pencil Pro. This makes it almost as good a digital art creation tool as its more expensive sibling, with the Pencil Pro’s new rotation detection, haptic and squeeze sensor features taking stylus digital art to the next level.

iPad Air 13iniPad Pro 13in
Weight (Wi-Fi only)617g579g
Magic keyboard699g665g
Thickness with keyboard15.3mm13.3mm

Apple iPad Air 13in (M2, 2024) review: Price and competition

So there are plenty of areas where the Apple iPad Air 13in falls behind the iPad Pro, then. However, the compensation for that is that it’s a LOT cheaper. The 11in model starts at £599 (plus £299 for the Magic Keyboard), and the 13in model starts at £799 (plus £349 for the keyboard). The 13in Apple iPad Air I’m reviewing here is £500 cheaper and there’s £400 difference between the 11in iPad Air and Pro models.

Even so, this still makes the iPad Air 13in and Magic Keyboard £50 more expensive than the cheapest M3 MacBook Air 13.6in at £1,099, while the older M2 MacBook Air is even less at £949.

Assuming you want a productivity tablet with the ability to scribble or sketch on the screen occasionally, though, the main rival for the iPad Air will be Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra or the Galaxy Tab S9 Plus.

The former has a larger 14in OLED display, includes a stylus in the box, and costs £999 for the tablet plus £199 for the keyboard. The latter has a smaller 12.4in OLED display and also includes a stylus for £849, while adding a keyboard case (£159) takes the price up to £1,008.

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Apple iPad Air 13in (M2, 2024) review: Design

The one physical advantage the iPad Air has over the iPad Pro is that it’s available in more colours. It’s pictured here in “Starlight”, which is Apple’s name for a sort of silvery gold, but you can get it in grey, blue and purple, whereas the Pro is only available in silver or black. Otherwise, what you’re essentially getting is the chassis from the 2022 iPad Pro, with a slightly different mix of features, as detailed above.

Next to the M4 iPad Pro, the Air does feel heavier and somewhat more cumbersome but it’s less than 100g heavier in total, so it shouldn’t make too much difference to the load you carry around with you in your laptop bag.

And as for general usability, the biggest issue with the Air is its lack of Face ID. Having to reach up to dab the Touch ID sensor in the power button whenever you need to unlock or pay for something isn’t that much of a chore, though.

The iPad Air is otherwise just as good as the iPad Pro in the design department. The old Magic Keyboard is just as great to type on as the newer model with the function key row and the floating hinge design is as practical as ever. If anything, it brings the screen a fraction nearer to you, making dabbing the touchscreen ever so slightly easier.

The iPad Air’s speakers sound great. There isn’t all that much body to them but they’re more than good enough for video calls and podcasts. The new positioning of the 12MP f/2.4 webcam on the long edge of the screen makes so much more sense for video calls than the old positioning on the short edge – a hangover from the very first iPad, which was principally designed to be held in portrait orientation.

Image quality from this camera is decent, too, with good levels of exposure and noise control and, just like the iPad Pro, you can use it with Centre Stage, keeping your face neatly in the centre of the frame.

Apple iPad Air 13in (M2, 2024) review: Display

Both the 11in and the 13in iPad Air use Apple’s Liquid Retina technology in their displays, which means what I’m testing here uses an IPS panel, backlit with LEDs, rather than self-emissive pixels, like the latest iPad Pro’s Tandem OLED screen.

This means if you have a black area of the screen – the black bars above and below a movie, for instance – they will look a touch greyer than on the iPad Pro. As a result, HDR content doesn’t pop off the screen with as much impact, and the fact that the Air’s display doesn’t have that smooth 120Hz refresh rate is pretty noticeable when you compare the two devices side by side.

However, this screen is otherwise pretty impressive. Peak brightness is quoted at 600 nits in both full-screen and HDR content, which is more than enough in most ambient lighting conditions.

Colours are vibrant – it can reproduce the same P3 colour gamut as the Pro – and its resolution of 2,732 x 2,048 (2,360 x 1,640 on the 11in model) is very nearly as sharp, too.

What’s more, in testing, using a combination of DisplayCal and Portrait Displays’ Calman calibration and measurement software, plus our X-Rite hardware calibrator, the iPad Air 13in’s screen performed brilliantly. With standard dynamic range content, the iPad Air adhered to the sRGB colour standard with impressive accuracy, returning an average Delta E of 0.64 (that’s pretty much perfect), while peak brightness hit 631cd/m2 and colour reproduction covered 96% of DCI-P3.

The iPad Air isn’t quite as vibrant or as brilliant at delivering HDR content as the iPad Pro, but there’s no denying that this is a superb display. You only have to fire up a Dolby Vision show from Apple TV+ like Tiny World, or the HDR Channel on YouTube to see it’s not that far behind.

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Apple iPad Air 13in (M2, 2024) review: Performance

  • M2 chip and 8GB RAM are powerful
  • Battery life is better than the old iPad Pro
  • 128GB base storage is low

Another area where the iPad Air lags behind the iPad Pro on paper is performance. And the benchmarks do show the Pro has some performance advantage. The M2 inside the iPad Air has 8 CPU cores split into 4 performance and 4 efficiency cores, plus a 10-core GPU, while the M4 in the iPad Pro has 9 cores split into 3 performance cores and 6 efficiency cores with a 10-core GPU.

As you can see if you take a glance at the charts below, the M2 is slower than the M4 but it remains a mighty quick chip, outpacing the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra and keeping up with the old M2 iPad Pro.

apple ipad air 13 review - cpu performance geekbench 6 chartapple ipad air 13 review - gfxbench chart average fpsI do think, however, that the base 128GB of storage isn’t quite enough if you plan on using your iPad Air for demanding tasks. That M2 chip is more than a match for 4K video editing, for instance, but if you’re using it regularly for that sort of task, you’re going to need 256GB at the very least to store all your projects – unless you enjoy the drudgery of storage management.

apple ipad air 13 review - battery life chart

I was impressed, however, with the battery life, which was one aspect of the old M2 iPad Pro that didn’t quite live up to my expectations. This edition lasted nearly two hours longer than that one and is on par with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9, although again it falls short of the new iPad Pro.

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Apple iPad Air 13in (M2, 2024) review: Verdict

The iPad Air 13in isn’t the most exciting of developments I’ve ever seen from Apple’s iPad team. It’s a rehashing, rebranding and repackaging of an older product, and it’s hardly inspirational.

Having said all that, it delivers where it counts, on performance, battery life, screen quality and usability. Heck, it even supports the new Apple Pencil Pro, which makes the iPad Air nearly as good a digital art pad and note-taker as its much pricier sibling.

Most importantly of all, though, the Apple iPad Air 13in addresses the key concern I’ve had with the iPad Pro for some years now: price. The M2 iPad Pro was, in my opinion, far too expensive and the new M4 iPad Pro is the same, yet the iPad Air bucks that trend; finally, we have an Apple productivity tablet that sits in roughly the same price bracket as the laptops it’s purporting to be a replacement for.

In short, if you are looking for a tablet that works just as well as a graphics tablet as it does a laptop replacement, but you don’t have the money to splash on an iPad Pro, the iPad Air is a no-brainer. I love the M4 iPad Pro with its OLED display and its long battery life, but the lower price means this model is the best “pro” iPad for most people.

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