Thinner, lighter, faster and easier to hold in one hand than its predecessor. The official cover is also much better… you can now hold the cover and the iPad won’t fall away…
Dragging the review out
I was very tempted to simply leave that opening line as the review, because that explains the iPad Air in a nutshell. It is thinner. It is lighter. It is slightly easier to hold in one hand than the versions that came before it. Beyond that, there’s really not much more that you can say. But i’ll magic up some words just to make sure i’m not underselling the iPad Air.
As a former iPad 3 owner, I noticed the differences instantaneously and appreciate them. Having also played with an iPad Mini retina lately, it feels very strange moving from a full size iPad to a mini. If you’re thinking about buying a new iPad Air or an iPad Mini and you currently own a full size iPad, my advice would be to stick with the iPad Air – coming down in size will be a frustrating experience, although you’ll probably get used to it after a while.
That photo above gives you an idea of how thin the iPad Air is… it’s virtually the same thickness as an iPhone 5 (seen on the right of the photo).
How it feels
Like pretty much all Apple products I’ve ever held / used / seen, it looks like a quality product. It feels like it’s well constructed and not made in China, even though it is. You can squeeze it and shake it around and it won’t budge. No rattles, no give, no concerns. The bezel is slightly more rounded than the older iPad and although the screen size hasn’t changed they’ve narrowed the plastic bits around the screen so that the whole device is slightly smaller in width than older iPads. This means it’s now easier to hold and support in one hand. I can now hold my iPad in one hand facing down and be reasonably content that it’s not going to fall.
How it performs
Sometimes opening and closing tabs in your favourite browser (Chrome) or moving from app to app would result in dropped frames or a choppy kind of transition on the iPad 3. I haven’t noticed any of that with the iPad Air. So it’s noticeably quicker and never found lagging. I don’t really play games at all on any devices but i’m sure if you’re a heavy gamer, you’d probably benefit more than anyone.
One annoying problem with my old iPad was that the cover was not as magnetic as i’d have liked it to be. For example, if i picked up my old iPad by the cover, the cover would pull away from the iPad and the iPad would fall. I became used to that so i’d never intentionally pick the iPad up by the cover. With the new official cover for the iPad Air, it seems to be a lot more magnetic. I *can* safely hold the cover up and the iPad will come with it. I don’t have to brace myself for the moment when it’ll just fall away from the cover.
The new cover is also comprised of 2 folds rather than 3 folds. Some people have complained about this but i can’t see why… the cover sticks to the iPad better which means it doesn’t slip and slide as much or come loose. As a stand, the angles it allows the iPad to sit at are also pretty much identical to the angles the old cover produced so i really can’t see any problems or concerns with the newer cover. In fact i’d say it’s as big an improvement as any improvement on the iPad Air itself.