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Apple iPad Air M2 review: Solid all-rounder tablet

Apple's latest iPad Air M2 is an incremental upgrade over its predecessor. It has a great display, a powerful processor and delivers good battery life. It is a good affordable alternative to the iPad Pro.
Last Updated : 08 July 2024, 13:12 IST

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Apple offers iPads in several tiers with different screen sizes, accessories and capabilities to help customers choose an ideal tablet that meets their demands and budget.

The iPad Air is placed between the regular iPad and the feature-packed iPad Pro.

The iPad Air has a better processor and display than the standard iPad. It may not be as versatile as the Pro, but has formidable hardware and supports several software applications to deliver a good user experience not just in just day-to-day activities and entertainment, but also in productivity as well.

Here are my thoughts on Apple's latest iPad Air with M2 silicon.

Display and build quality

The new iPad Air retains the design language of its predecessor, but when you look from the front, you will notice one meaningful change. i.e. the 12MP FaceTime front camera is now placed in landscape orientation for a better video calling experience.

As far as build quality is concerned, it is made of a premium aerospace-grade aluminium enclosure. Guess what? It is one of the most eco-friendly devices in the industry. The metal used is 100 per cent recycled.

Not just that, several internal components are made of repurposed materials. The rare earth elements in all magnets in the device are 100 per cent recycled. And, the company has used 100 per cent recycled gold plating and tin soldering in multiple printed circuit boards in the device.

Apple iPad Air M2.

Apple iPad Air M2.

Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit

On the front, it flaunts a beautiful LCD-based Liquid Retina display with 2732x2048p resolution. It supports a pixel density of 264 ppi (pixels per inch) and peak brightness of 600 nits. It also features stereo quad-speakers, two on each side (landscape orientation).

It also has an anti-glare coating, which comes in handy while viewing content outdoors. The screen is amazingly good for multimedia consumption.

It has a Type-C port at the base and a TouchID fingerprint sensor on the top. It works like a charm and is way more efficient than the face-based biometric security system.

Performance

With the 33-core M2 silicon, the new iPad Air is nearly 50 per cent faster than the previous iPad Air with M1. It has an octa-core CPU with four efficiency cores and four performance cores.

Also, it is integrated with a 9-core Graphics Processing Unit and a 16-core Neural Processing Unit.

The device can smoothly perform a wide range of activities such as digital artwork and video editing in addition to regular productivity use cases such as keynote presentations for the office or school project.

It runs on feature-rich iPadOS 17.1. It comes with several native productivity apps such as notes, keynote, freeform and more. It also supports iMovie, which can help users create fun videos and short movies too.

Apple iPad Air 2024 AnTuTu performance score.

Apple iPad Air 2024 AnTuTu performance score.

Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit

Apple iPad Air 2024 Geekbench performance score

Apple iPad Air 2024 Geekbench performance score

Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit

Add to that, the device can handle several gen AI applications including the ChatGPT, Gencraft, Wonder and more.

As noted earlier in the design section, the iPad Air's front camera is now placed at the centre in landscape orientation.

With the 'Centerstage' feature, the camera will focus on the subject and keep it in the centre of the frame even if the presenter moves around the room.

On the back, it also features a 12MP wide camera. Both the front and the back camera supports 4K video recording.

Thanks to its lightweight design and big display, the iPad Air is great for media consumption and playing games for hours. The device supports Magic Keyboard. If you use a regular keyboard, it will take a few days to get the muscle memory to get the hang of the compact Magic Keyboard.

Apple iPad Air M2 with Magic Keyboard.

Apple iPad Air M2 with Magic Keyboard.

Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit

With Apple Pencil Pro, users can do more with the iPad Air. It offers a natural writing-like experience on a digital screen. The device can mimic the sound of the real pencilling writing on a paper sheet.

Pencil Pro houses a new custom haptic engine that can detect finger squeeze and tap gestures to perform functions. A light tap or squeeze registers as confirmation of an operation.

A gyroscope sensor allows users to roll Apple Pencil Pro for precise control of the tool (such as pen and brush-like effect options) they’re using on the iPad. Rotating the barrel changes the orientation of the shaped pen and brush tools, just like pen and paper. And with Apple Pencil hover, users can visualise the exact orientation of a tool before making a mark.

With Apple Intelligence features coming with iPadOS 18 this September, the iPad Air will only get better with time. It will bring proprietary generative Artificial Intelligence (gen AI) tech Apple Intelligence, a dedicated iPad app with a Maths notes feature and more.

It's good that Apple is offering the base model with 128GB. It is enough to store personal photos and install all your favourite applications. If you want more, the company offers three bigger storage options- 256GB, 512GB and 1TB.

It also delivers good battery life. It can last for 10 hours of video playback with Wi-Fi on.

Unlike Mac laptops, I don't use an iPad all day. I used to binge-watch TV series on OTT apps and video blogs on YouTube during my commute to and fro between the office and the home. It used to run for more than three days.

It should be noted that if you use the smart MagicKeyboard folio cover attached at all times, the battery life will slightly impact the battery life.

Final thoughts: Best alternative to expensive iPad Pro models

Apple's latest iPad Air M2 is an incremental upgrade over the predecessor. But, it is a solid all-rounder tablet and a good affordable alternative to the iPad Pro.

It has a bright and vibrant display, really good for reading e-books for several hours wihout any issue of strain to the eyes. It is great for binge-watching TV shows. Also, a very handy device to shop on e-commerce apps is to read those important terms and conditions, which are strategically printed in tiny font sizes, which are often difficult to notice on a phone.

It excels in productivity such as creating keynote presentations for office work or a school project. Also, it is a great portable device for video conferencing.

It can also smoothly handle editing short videos without any noticeable signs of lag-ness.

Apple iPad Air M2 series.

Apple iPad Air M2 series.

Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit

With accessories such as Pencil Pro and Magic Keyboard, the iPad Air becomes even more useful, particularly if you are a writer or a creative digital artist or a student. The display and Apple Pencil are fully optimised to deliver the best results in terms of writing and drawing artwork.

The iPad Air M2 is such a good companion for out-of-city work assignments. The light-weight tablet is more convenient to carry around than the bulky laptop. And, it can deliver long battery life.

And, with the iPadOS 18 slated for release later this year in September/October, the iPad Air M2 will only get better with Apple Intelligence features.

If given a choice between the 11-inch and 13-inch, you should get the latter. With a bigger display, there is more space to work on your creative digital art, and take more notes and also great for media consumption.

The 11-inch iPad Air starts at Rs 59,900 for the Wi-Fi model, and Rs 74,900 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model. The 13-inch iPad Air starts at Rs 79,900 for the Wi-Fi model, and Rs 94,900 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model.

For students and teachers, Apple is offering huge discounts on iPads (& Mac devices) along with a free Apple Pencil via the Back to School sale campaign (up to September 30, 2024).

Get the latest news on new launches, gadget reviews, apps, cybersecurity, and more on personal technology only on DH Tech.

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Published 08 July 2024, 13:12 IST

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