iPad Air 10.9" 4th Gen Review

By James Peckham Review Source

iPad Air 4 design

  • Looks a lot like an iPad Pro

  • Touch ID in side power button

  • Lots of color options

The design of the iPad Air has a lot in common with the iPad Pro range. The home button has been dropped in favor of an all-screen design to make it more in line with Apple’s Pro products.

And, indeed, the iPad Air 4 feels a lot more premium than the iPad Air 3. That slate was criticized for its dated-feeling design, and it looks like Apple took notice. We’ve used this tablet alongside the new iPad 2020, which sports the more traditional iPad look, and it’s remarkable how much the Air feels different to that tablet thanks to its straight edges and all-screen front.

There are still thick bezels around the outside of the display, as there are on the iPad Pro, but overall it feels like a big step up compared to the design of last year’s Air.

The edges are more-squared, with sharper edges than on previous tablets from the company, and if you’re upgrading from an older device that may take some getting used to, as those edges don’t sit as comfortably in your palm.

That said, we felt we had better grip thanks to this design, and it gives the tablet as a whole a distinct look and feel that’s more in line with the new iPhone 12 family, and iPad Pro range.

There are four speakers, two each on the top and bottom edges, and a lock button at the left of the top edge – this also houses the Touch ID scanner if you want to unlock your slate with your fingerprint.

We found this to work well throughout our testing time – our thumb fell naturally on this spot, so little effort was required to reach the button. On the right-hand edge of the tablet are volume up and down buttons, and there’s a magnetic connector below these to which you attach the Apple Pencil stylus for charging.

There’s a second Smart Connector on the rear side, and you can use this to connect Apple’s Smart Keyboard, as well as other products, to your slate. The iPad Air 4 features support for new accessories, including the second-gen Apple Pencil, which is another significant upgrade.

If you’re looking for a tablet that you can use with a stylus or keyboard in certain scenarios, the iPad Air (2020) has you covered. We found the Smart Keyboard to be great for word processing, while the Apple Pencil is useful if you want to sketch on your tablet, take notes, or just sign documents in your own handwriting.

The Wi-Fi-only version of the tablet weighs 458 grams, while the LTE-ready version is slightly heavier at 460 grams. The dimensions of both models are 247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1mm.

Perhaps the biggest change for the iPad Air 4 is the introduction of color options. Previously, you’ve only been able to get most iPads in one shade, and you’d have to get a case if you wanted to personalize your device, but for this generation Apple is offering a range of colors.

You’ve got the choice of Silver, Space Grey, Rose Gold, Green or Sky Blue – we’re a little miffed that we only got to review the Silver edition of the tablet, as we’re excited to see what the Sky Blue option looks like in real life.

iPad Air 4 display

  • 10.9-inch screen

  • 2360 x 1640 resolution but only 60Hz refresh

  • Rather thick bezels The iPad Air 4's display

The iPad Air 4 comes in one size, with a 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display – this feels like the optimum size for a tablet to us, as you’re getting a large screen, but one that doesn’t feel gargantuan when you’re holding the device with both hands.

The resolution is impressive at 2360 x 1640, which equates to 264 pixels per inch. We found the screen to be fantastic for watching video, with vibrant colors and a strong peak brightness, so you’ll enjoy a premium viewing experience when watching Netflix or other streaming services.

There are thick black borders around the outside of the display, which means it doesn’t feel as premium as some Android tablets, notably the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus – however that tablet is also much more expensive than the iPad Air 4.

It’s a typical 60Hz display – you don’t get the benefit of the higher 120Hz refresh rate that Apple has introduced to its top-end iPad Pro range, so scrolling through news articles or your apps won’t feel as smooth as it would on the Pro.

If you’ve yet to use a 90Hz or 120Hz display you won’t miss it here, but it would have been nice to see Apple include it on the iPad Air to make this tablet feel even more premium than it already does.

That said, Apple had to keep some features exclusive to its top-of-the-line slate to justify the price premium – and the screen on the iPad Air 4 is a great size and fantastic quality, and you’ll be happy with it whatever you use this slate for.

iPad Air 4 specs, performance and camera

  • A14 Bionic chip is powerful

  • Storage options limited at 64