New iPad Air review roundup: Screen and Apple Pencil Pro are standouts

in iPad edited May 14

The first reviews of the iPad Air are in, and while there is a lot of focus on how there's now a larger-screen version, all also wonder how this will affect sales of the iPad Pro.

The 11-inch and 13-inch iPad Air
The 11-inch and 13-inch iPad Air

It doesn't seem possible to review any iPad without reference to others, so every review also talks about where the iPad Air fits into the lineup. That's particularly since Apple's new range smooths out some of its previous overlaps and tries to make clear distinctions between the iPad, iPad Air, and iPad Pro.

Solid release, but not the best one to get for most

David Pierce from The Verge generally likes the device, and calls it more compelling than ever. However, he also calls it a "study in tradeoffs" more than it has ever been.

The review notes that it is functionally identical on the outside on the smaller size, and the 13-inch model is just a larger version. But, that size opens up some use cases, and some media is easier to consume on the larger screen -- an opinion we generally share at AppleInsider.

He does note that it is a good way to support the extra features that the Apple Pencil Pro has versus the second-generation Apple Pencil.

On the other hand, the iPad Air is the iPad model to buy

Nathan Ingraham from Engadget has a slightly different take. While he would very much like the iPad Pro, he sees the new iPad Air as an ersatz iPad Pro, bearing an about-ideal blend of features to cost.

"For the first time, there is a large-screen iPad at a much more approachable price," Ingraham writes in his review. "My heart may want an iPad Pro, but my head (and wallet) agree that the iPad Air is a far more reasonable option."

He too cites the Apple Pencil Pro support as a main selling point for the device, as well as a bump in the base storage tier for the cheapest model. And, that $500 difference between the 13-inch iPad Air versus the iPad Pro is a compelling savings, and not much sacrifice.

Iterative, not evolutionary

Gerald Lynch from iMore sees the device as a worth evolution of the iPad family itself, sitting in-between the entry-level 10th generation iPad and the iPad Pro very neatly.

"You're getting (last-gen) iPad Pro performance at a fraction of the price -- you'll be able to run demanding 3D games side-by-side with Apple's pro editing software like Logic Pro 2 and Final Cut Pro 2," Lynch writes. "Things like render, export and file transfer speeds will get a boost on the M4 iPads, but in reality there will be very little that can't be done just as easily, if marginally slower, on the iPad Air."

Overall, Lynch is impressed by the hardware. He is less impressed by iPadOS, which he feels is the limiting factor for the iPad Air.

iPad Pro in all but name

Scott Stein from Cnet is perhaps the most enthusiastic about the new iPad Air. He likes the large screen at a significant cost savings over an iPad Pro, and awaits the day when the iPad can fully replace a Mac.

"While the iPad Pro has a nicer OLED display and an even faster processor, the Air is more than enough Pro for most," Stein said on Monday afternoon. "In fact, I'd recommend it over the Pro just for its price difference, but try to keep configuration creep in mind so you don't suddenly find yourself spending $1,500."

He does note, however, that most users will be fine with a 10th-generation iPad. Or, perhaps, sticking with what they already have.

Real-world reviews coming

Unusually, Apple is shipping the new iPad Air to arrive for most purchasers on Wednesday, May 15, 2025, instead of its usual Friday, though. So the first pre-order customers, or people going in to Apple Stores, will soon have their devices.

Despite some reviewers having had an extended time with the new iPad Air, it's going to be when customers have it that we'll learn more about issues such as durability -- or any bugs. Given this reality, and the general maturity of iPad hardware and software, our own full review will come in time, and we'll be discussing features over the week that we feel need highlighting and discussion.

The iPad Air was launched at Apple's "Let Loose" event. The 11-inch model costs from $599, and the 13-inch one starts at $799, though deals are already available knocking up to $100 off the tablets.

Read on AppleInsider


  • Reply 1 of 2
    Nobody reviewing this release even considers the possibility of AI advances at WDC making the Pro a better choice in every aspect. Am I alone in thinking that, in spite of the increased cost, the iPad Pro large screen model is the most versatile going forward?

    I don’t have an iPad. I’m running a 2016 MBP 13 inch with only 256 ssd. I took a gamble on the ability to use an external drive to bolster the mega internal drive as in its first and only sale of Apple products in NZ, Harvey Norman had run it of stock of every other model. I was mistaken and it was a pain point every day of the last eight years. Even with an iCloud account to extend storage it was never enough. I’ve been using Mac since Mac 512 so should have known better. 

    I have been waiting over five years for the iPad OS to run all my main Apps, Banktivity was the holdout, but OmniFocus 4, Devon Apps, and drawing Apps etc never, until recently seemed to be quite ready for the full switch. Now seems to be the sweet spot before I start dribbling on the screen. In NZ the model I desire will set me back between 4 to $5000; a lot of missed Latte’s, LOL. 

    Is AI going to be the deciding factor?
  • Reply 2 of 2
    thttht Posts: 5,548member
    I haven’t read them all, but it appears the reviewers don’t actually review iPads as a tablet. They review them like a macOS laptop. The same way they have been doing reviews for iPads for years now. 

    For example, nobody actually used the Pencil Pro. To most of the reviewers, they used the Pencil like a sausage with a sharp point. Just the perfunctory few sentences about it, when what I would like to read about is how well can you draw with it, how well you can write with it, how well the haptic feedback works, how well the barrel roll feature works, etc. 

    I like Apple to go even further in optimizing iPads as a touch and stylus system. Would like to see the virtual keyboard improved. The touch UI navigation continually improved. And of course touch-base navigation and manipulation to be continually improved. 

    I am in agreement that Apple has to enable unlimited tasking, include better audio capture in the audio, add VMs, add Terminal access, etc, but has to remain as a touch and stylus optimized system. 

    It always grates on me when I see these media types use the iPad while it is vertical, or touching it while vertical. That’s not how you use a tablet. 

    Windows has had touchscreen support for decades now. 99.99% of the usage I’ve seen in a touchscreen laptop is to scroll or push a button. Not worth it especially on Macs which have the best trackpads available.

    Different story for Windows laptops where it is relatively common for owners to carry around a mouse instead of using the trackpad. 
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