If you’ve watched your mobile display gain as many inches as your waist size these past few years, you’re probably not spending much time with your tablet or iPad doing tablet things. So, what were iPad things? Flashback to 2014 or 2015, most mobile displays were well under 5-inches. Apple’s last iPad Air (2) was launched around this time. Our tabs were our ‘go to’ devices for play – from eBooks to videos, and work on the go. Now the average smartphone display is above 6-inches, perilously close to 7-inch tabs that have all but disappeared in the premium segment. It’s one reason why tablet sales have gone from stagnation phase to decline. Also, we never replace our iPads as quick as our smartphones. Apple clearly has a different take.
The company has launched not one but three iPads in less than three quarters starting with the all-new iPad Pro, the biggest overhaul of the iPad since its debut, a decade ago. The iPad Air might look remarkably similar to the iPads of yesteryears, but most iPad die-hards will tell you that it’s a comfort zone. Knowing exactly what to do, the minute you unbox it. But Apple’s 2019 iPad portfolio has suddenly become quite complex. It starts with the iPad (2018) that has no suffix. This is the entry-level (Rs 28,000 onwards) tab that features a 9.7-inch display and also now offers iPad Pencil (first generation) support. The base variant packs only 32GB of Internal memory and it is powered by the A10 Fusion chip that was under the hood of devices like the iPhone 7. Then there’s the iPad Mini (2019), the fifth-generation version of this diminutive tab that is perfect for Content consumption. The iPad Air shares the same internals with the Mini. And then at the top of the heap is the iPad Pro with hardware specs (including a 1TB version) that are more formidable than most laptops.
If the iPad Pro is the Business Class cabin, I’d say the iPad Air is Premium Economy. It’s probably why this is the tab that will satisfy most users. It starts with the form. At approximately 460 gms it totally earns the ‘Air’ moniker. It’s not just light but remarkably thin – just 6.1 mm. The 10.5-inch display incorporates Apple’s proprietary true-tone tech that allows the display to adapt depending on the lighting scenario. Colours are vibrant on this IPS LCD capacitive touch screen (1668 x 2224 pixels), it packs 265 pixels per inch (PPI). Despite its thick bezels on the top and the bottom and a 4:3 aspect ratio, it still manages a commendable 78.3% screen: body ratio.
The big change with the third iteration of the iPad Air is the addition of the Smart Connector. Apple probably realised that a starting price of Rs 71,900 for its new iPad Pro may not work for all users, especially for those who don’t depend completely on their tabs to get work done. This Connector allows you to add Apple’s ultra-light Smart Keyboard (and third-party options from brands like Logitech) to the Air. This was a feature that was restricted only to iPad’s Pro line. The new Air also offers Apple Pencil (First generation) support, making this a serious productivity accessory. Working on MS Word or Excel is a breeze. Is it ready to replace your laptop? That’s an argument that hasn’t stopped raging.
The Air’s big changes are under the hood. At its core is Apple’s A12 Bionic Chip (the same chip is in the latest iPhone XS and XS Max devices) that allows you to multi-task effortlessly. It has the firepower for intense gaming or photo editing too. Battery life is another big win; we comfortably clocked over ten hours in our tests with a mix of browsing, videos and MS Office. The iPad Air (2019) is the perfect blend and probably the best all-around tablet for someone who is looking at a portable device for entertainment and more than the occasional amount of work on the go.
The iPad Air (2019) starts at Rs 44,900 for the Wi-Fi only/64GB variant and goes up to Rs 69,900 for the 256GB/Wi-Fi + Cellular option. You can choose from the silver, space grey and gold colour options.