Review: The third-generation 2019 iPad Air is pro enough

Posted:
in iPad edited April 8
The 2019 iPad Air is Apple's newest mid-to-high tier tablet, and falls just below the Pro line and just above the sixth-generation iPad, making it unexciting, but arguably the go-to tablet for the general consumer.

2019 iPad Air
2019 iPad Air


Apple in 2019 currently sells five different iPads, in five different price points. There's the 9.7-inch iPad which sells for $329, the iPad mini which sells for $399, this new iPad Air at $499, and the two iPad Pros at $799 and $999 respectively. On the surface, that looks like a lot of iPad in Apple's lineup, but in 2019 maintaining a business that is just as large as the Mac, Apple has an iPad for everyone.






The mini is aimed at those who prefer a smaller, more compact device. The 2018 9.7-inch iPad is the budget-friendly alternative that is aimed squarely at the education market. The iPad Pros are targeting those who want to get the most out of their tablet. Which leave the iPad Air -- right in the middle.

This middle ground means at times it can feel underwhelming, and in certain areas, behind. That doesn't make it any less a capable device, however. With solid specs, it will likely be -- and should be -- the tablet that most gravitate towards.

Specs

2019 iPad Air display
2019 iPad Air Retina Display


This iPad now features a 10.5-inch Retina Display with a P3 wide color gamut, it has an A12 Bionic processor inside -- which is also inside Apple's flagship smartphone the iPhone XS, and XS Max -- and it also now supports the first generation Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard.

The A12 Processor on the 2019 iPad Air is ridiculously fast. It pairs well with iOS 12 -- and soon iOS 13. For the past two weeks that we've had the device, we've never seen the iPad Air struggle one bit. Everything is so seamless and just works right out of the box.

2019 iPad Air playing Fortnite
2019 iPad Air playing Fortnite


Gaming, just as we saw with the new 2019 iPad mini, was great. Titles like 'Fortnite' played smooth, even at a quicker 60 FPS with seldom errant dropped frames.

The pair of speakers for stereo are decent. They're nothing to brag about, but definitely are a lot louder than any other tablet we've used this year, apart from Apple's own Pro lineup. There are only two of the speakers rather than four on the Pro line, which means when you hold the tablet it is fairly easy to accidentally cover the speaker which will limit the sound output.

The overall software experience on the new iPad Air has been really good, too. We haven't run into any bugs or app crashes. It's still an iPad running the same old iOS we're used to over the past few years so we're not really getting anything special here.

We're hoping this coming WWDC we'll see something amazing from Apple with iOS 13 that can visually overhaul this experience. It's certainly due.

2019 iPad Air and Apple Pencil
2019 iPad Air with Apple Pencil


The Pencil support is a nice addition that a lot of people are going to appreciate. Unfortunately, the display doesn't have Apple's ProMotion technology which gives you a 120Hz refresh rate for a smoother experience. Slower refresh rates mean eagle-eyed artists will notice it to be slightly jumpy while using the Apple Pencil. Unless you are really particular about your drawing, you won't notice this difference. Those who are that serious will likely prefer the iPad Pro and the second generation Apple Pencil instead, but for note taking and less demanding work, there are no problems to be found here.

The smart connector is new here as well, it's meant to be used for Apple's own smart keyboard which in our opinion is the best keyboard that you can buy for the iPad. The keyboard is a bit stiff, and mushy at the same time, but once you use it long enough, it'll start to wear down and soften up to a point where every keystroke feels great. There are hundreds of Bluetooth keyboards out in the market already, but the smart keyboard is what we'd highly recommend.

2019 iPad Air Smart Keyboard
2019 iPad Air Smart Keyboard


It is unfortunate that we still don't have additional accessories to use the Smart Connector. When Apple debuted it originally, third-parties were going to be able to take advantage of it. Years later, we've only seen two or three others actually test the waters, leaving the connector mostly for Apple's utility.

Should you grab one?

2019 iPad Air
2019 iPad Air


The iPad Air exists because it gives Apple an option to serve a bunch of different people who use an iPad for a bunch of different reasons. Some may want a smaller iPad that they can easily pack in their bag or a small tablet to give to their kid so they pick up the iPad mini. Some people want the most basic, and most affordable iPad so they go for the 9.7-inch iPad.

This exists because it gives Apple that happy medium option between the low-end iPad to the high-end Pro models, and that's why it's here. The new iPad Air gives you a big 10.5-inch display that is bright, and color accurate. It supports Apple Pencil, Smart Keyboard, and it has the same fast A12 Bionic processor from its $1000 smartphone, and you're getting all of that for just $499, the same price that the original iPad shipped for nine years ago, and that is pretty impressive.

Again, this is a case where the AppleInsider audience varies a great deal from the target market -- no Promotion is a potential issue, as is the need for the original Apple Pencil, versus the new one on the newer iPad Pro line. But, even all that considered, overall, the new iPad Air is a solid 4/5, with it a bit higher for most of the iPad-using public, and a hair lower for the "prosumer" market.

Where to buy

Apple's 2019 iPad Air can be ordered from Apple authorized resellers with cash discounts of up to $10 off. To find the lowest prices, check out our iPad Air Price Guide, which is updated throughout the day.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 16
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 657member
    This was a rather short product summary video. It seems to have been written just to create commissionable links to some purchasing websites. That's okay, but I expect a "Review" to be a little more detailed than this. I think this could be called a "First Impression." A "review" should talk about speed measurements, memory options, cellular options, fingerprint readers, and other key features.
    deminsdn2itivguy
  • Reply 2 of 16
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,361member

    We're hoping this coming WWDC we'll see something amazing from Apple with iOS 13 that can visually overhaul this experience. It's certainly due.
    ...
    The smart connector is new here as well, it's meant to be used for Apple's own smart keyboard which in our opinion is the best keyboard that you can buy for the iPad. The keyboard is a bit stiff, and mushy at the same time, but once you use it long enough, it'll start to wear down and soften up to a point where every keystroke feels great. There are hundreds of Bluetooth keyboards out in the market already, but the smart keyboard is what we'd highly recommend.
    ...
    This exists because it gives Apple that happy medium option between the low-end iPad to the high-end Pro models, and that's why it's here. The new iPad Air gives you a big 10.5-inch display that is bright, and color accurate. It supports Apple Pencil, Smart Keyboard, and it has the same fast A12 Bionic processor from its $1000 smartphone, and you're getting all of that for just $499, the same price that the original iPad shipped for nine years ago, and that is pretty impressive.

    I have a logitech smart connector keyboard for my iPad Pro and it blows the Apple keyboard out of the water - both in terms of features and feel. It's backlit, has function keys, a loop for the pencil and has a much better feel, and I never have to worry about charging it or dealing with bluetooth connectivity issues. Hopefully they release a version for the new Air as well.

    I feel like at this point iOS is holding the iPads back. it's close, but there are enough little issues with file management, app capabilities, etc that keep you from truly being able to use an iPad as a laptop replacement. 

    That said, the 'happy medium' is a good place to be. There are an awful lot of people out there who don't want/need an iPad Pro but still want a solid device. 
    mwhite
  • Reply 3 of 16
    iOS_Guy80iOS_Guy80 Posts: 151member
    The 10.5” predecessor to the iPad Air 3 Pro was a tremendous tablet. Would have kept it if it were not for the new 12.9” Pro. Hopefully iOS 13 will take advantage of the tech these tablets employee. 
  • Reply 4 of 16
    deminsddeminsd Posts: 136member
    Apple's own smart keyboard which in our opinion is the best keyboard that you can buy for the iPad. The keyboard is a bit stiff, and mushy at the same time, but once you use it long enough, it'll start to wear down and soften up to a point where every keystroke feels great. There are hundreds of Bluetooth keyboards out in the market already, but the smart keyboard is what we'd highly recommend.
    So now mediocrity is considered the best?  A stiff and mushy keyboard that magically "wears down" over some period of time (how long?) is "the best" option on the market?

    And, where is the review/comparison of the "hundreds of bluetooth keyboards" on the market that compares to the Apple mushy and stiff keyboard?  I have a Zagg  Limitless BT keyboard that I paid $19 and with multi-color backlighting and function keys (and works with Windows/Mac and iOS), can be programmed for 3 different devices, AND feels great, I would start to question how the Apple keyboard is the "best option".

    It's unsubstantiated claims like this that make me discount the entire "review".     
  • Reply 5 of 16
    Yes its a good choice - i went for it, i do not need the power or the huge size of the pro or its price , and the mini is too small yet i need the pencil . Its fine for my needs and a reasonable price. 
  • Reply 6 of 16
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 1,919member
    iOS_Guy80 said:
    The 10.5” predecessor to the iPad Air 3 Pro was a tremendous tablet. Would have kept it if it were not for the new 12.9” Pro. Hopefully iOS 13 will take advantage of the tech these tablets employee. 
    "Hopefully iOS 13 will take advantage of the tech these tablets employee."

    It isn't just iOS, it's also the apps that take advantage of the processing power that the iPad Air / iPad Pro contain.  Adobe is making a great start with "full" Photoshop but there needs to be more.
  • Reply 7 of 16
    MisterKitMisterKit Posts: 250member
    Apple really has the best and most sensible iPad lineup now that they ever have had. Every device has pencil support now and keep in mind that pencil 1 is a fine high end experience. Only pencil 2 can beat it. All the current models really hit the sweet spot at the price points. It would really be great if iOS 13 hits it out of the park. The right iOS would put iPad in a great position. It is so close now that we have a right to expect something big at WWDC.
  • Reply 8 of 16
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,455member
    The iPad, without the benefit of a cursor / mouse remains 'just' a content device for browsing the web or social media.  Yes, you can draw on it or do some rudimentary word processing.   But, primarily it remains a content device.

    The biggest expansion to the iPad lineup remains the Mini because its smaller form factor lets it be more portable (you can hold it securely in one hand), better suited to kids and games and it fits into a coat or labcoat pocket. 
  • Reply 9 of 16
    jdb8167jdb8167 Posts: 136member
    The iPad, without the benefit of a cursor / mouse remains 'just' a content device for browsing the web or social media.  Yes, you can draw on it or do some rudimentary word processing.   But, primarily it remains a content device.

    Remains just a content device for you. Your experience is not everyone's experience.
    chiafastasleep
  • Reply 10 of 16
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,361member
    The iPad, without the benefit of a cursor / mouse remains 'just' a content device for browsing the web or social media.  Yes, you can draw on it or do some rudimentary word processing.   But, primarily it remains a content device.

    The biggest expansion to the iPad lineup remains the Mini because its smaller form factor lets it be more portable (you can hold it securely in one hand), better suited to kids and games and it fits into a coat or labcoat pocket. 
    It’s not so much the absence of a cursor - I have a cursor on my iPhone as I write this. The problem comes when you need to do precision work and your finger, as dexterous as it may be, is just too big and blocks your view. There are some applications for which the touch interface works well or even better. Part of it also needs to involve re-thinking the user interface. I’ve found when using my iMac I’m often more efficient keeping my hands on the keyboard. 
  • Reply 11 of 16
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 2,838member
    The iPad, without the benefit of a cursor / mouse remains 'just' a content device for browsing the web or social media.  Yes, you can draw on it or do some rudimentary word processing.   But, primarily it remains a content device.

    The biggest expansion to the iPad lineup remains the Mini because its smaller form factor lets it be more portable (you can hold it securely in one hand), better suited to kids and games and it fits into a coat or labcoat pocket. 
    Speak for yourself.
    chia
  • Reply 12 of 16
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,455member
    The iPad, without the benefit of a cursor / mouse remains 'just' a content device for browsing the web or social media.  Yes, you can draw on it or do some rudimentary word processing.   But, primarily it remains a content device.

    The biggest expansion to the iPad lineup remains the Mini because its smaller form factor lets it be more portable (you can hold it securely in one hand), better suited to kids and games and it fits into a coat or labcoat pocket. 
    Speak for yourself.
    It's just reality.   Not my reality or your reality.   Just reality.
  • Reply 13 of 16
    chiachia Posts: 698member
    The iPad, without the benefit of a cursor / mouse remains 'just' a content device for browsing the web or social media.  Yes, you can draw on it or do some rudimentary word processing.   But, primarily it remains a content device.
    Speak for yourself.
    It's just reality.   Not my reality or your reality.   Just reality.

    10 Ways People Are Using The iPad To Create Content, Not Just Consume It

    https://www.businessinsider.com/ipad-creative-2010-10?r=US&IR=T

    With over a million apps made for iPad, many of which are used to create content, it's time for GeorgeBMac to stop using that tired old trope of "content consumption device" and get a grip with reality.
  • Reply 14 of 16
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,455member
    chia said:
    The iPad, without the benefit of a cursor / mouse remains 'just' a content device for browsing the web or social media.  Yes, you can draw on it or do some rudimentary word processing.   But, primarily it remains a content device.
    Speak for yourself.
    It's just reality.   Not my reality or your reality.   Just reality.

    10 Ways People Are Using The iPad To Create Content, Not Just Consume It

    https://www.businessinsider.com/ipad-creative-2010-10?r=US&IR=T

    With over a million apps made for iPad, many of which are used to create content, it's time for GeorgeBMac to stop using that tired old trope of "content consumption device" and get a grip with reality.
    I was talking about real, functional stuff -- not drawing pictures or word processing light on a mouseless keyboard.

    There are now thousands of touchscreen laptops out there -- but few who actually use the touch screen (Apple themselves said it is a sucky experience).  There's a reason why they didn't eliminate the trackpad and mouse from those devices.
  • Reply 15 of 16
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 2,838member
    The iPad, without the benefit of a cursor / mouse remains 'just' a content device for browsing the web or social media.  Yes, you can draw on it or do some rudimentary word processing.   But, primarily it remains a content device.

    The biggest expansion to the iPad lineup remains the Mini because its smaller form factor lets it be more portable (you can hold it securely in one hand), better suited to kids and games and it fits into a coat or labcoat pocket. 
    Speak for yourself.
    It's just reality.   Not my reality or your reality.   Just reality.
    Again, you're speaking about your experience. Not everyone's.
    MplsP
  • Reply 16 of 16
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,455member
    The iPad, without the benefit of a cursor / mouse remains 'just' a content device for browsing the web or social media.  Yes, you can draw on it or do some rudimentary word processing.   But, primarily it remains a content device.

    The biggest expansion to the iPad lineup remains the Mini because its smaller form factor lets it be more portable (you can hold it securely in one hand), better suited to kids and games and it fits into a coat or labcoat pocket. 
    Speak for yourself.
    It's just reality.   Not my reality or your reality.   Just reality.
    Again, you're speaking about your experience. Not everyone's.
    True, I am not speaking of YOUR reality.   But, it is the reality for most people.  If it wasn't, most people would own iPads instead of laptops -- and we know that that is not the case.
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