I have been using an iPad since the product was first introduced ten years ago. Over time it has gone from a device I use when I put away my Mac to becoming a full-time work computer that can handle any job I throw at it. The release of the powerful iPad Air solidifies its place in my daily workflow.
iPad Air features a great mix of pro features with a comfortable price-point for most consumers interested in buying a computer or iPad. The iPad Air was the first Apple product to use the A14 chip, it’s compatible with the Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio, you can use the Apple Pencil (2nd generation), and it has about 10 hours of battery life.
The Air also has a 12MP Wide camera on the rear and a FaceTime HD front-facing camera. Everyone is different, but I don’t know if I’ve ever used a camera on the iPad to take photos. If you do, the camera will deliver great pictures. I use it for FaceTime quite a bit, so the iPad Air’s included cameras fit my uses. The iPad Pro includes an Ultra Wide camera on the rear, but for me, that’s not enough of a reason to upgrade to the Pro.
I think it’s important to understand who can use the iPad Air and who it is made for. From what I’ve seen in using it, very few people can’t get all of their work or personal communications done with the Air. As I said, we are all different. A pro photographer or artist would likely get more use from the iPad Pro features, but with the power and features the Air has, those people are becoming fewer with every product revision.
When this iPad Air was first introduced, I recommended it to a friend who was looking at purchasing a new computer—he’s currently a Windows user. He had an older iPad, and he’s an iPhone user, so he’s familiar with the ecosystem and how to use Apple products. The one thing he didn’t like was using the onscreen keyboard.
I showed him the Magic Keyboard for iPad, and he was sold. I’ve said it before—that keyboard is one of the most important accessories that Apple has ever released. It allows people like my friend to have the convenience of an iPad without having the clunky feeling of typing on a screen. Magic Keyboard Has totally changed the way I use an iPad.
My friend is an average user—In a lot of ways, so am I. In fact, I would argue that most of us, for the everyday things we do, are average users. There are going to be outliers that will actually need the advanced features in the iPad Pro, but it’s certainly not the majority.
Some users who always want the top of the line of every product they purchase—that’s great if you can do it, but not always practical for everyone else. For the other 90 percent of users, the iPad Air will be exactly what they need.
I’m used to working on the iPad Pro and its 12.9-inch display, but the 10.9-inch display on the Air gives you plenty of screen real estate to do almost any type of work without feeling like you’re compromising.
One thing that did take some getting used to was using Touch ID instead of Face ID. I would stare at the screen waiting for it to unlock, but I got over that in a day or so. Touch ID is integrated into the On/Off button on the iPad Air and is a breeze to set up. It’s just a matter of following the instructions and placing your finger on the button multiple times so it can read your fingerprint.
I usually have the iPad connected to the Magic Keyboard, so it’s set to use my left index finger. I would recommend setting another finger if you plan to use the iPad in portrait mode, so it’s easy to unlock with either hand. You’ll get the hang of it after a couple of days of use.
Another thing I want to address with the iPad Air is storage. The Air comes in two storage configurations: 64GB and 256GB. Personally, 64GB is at the limit of almost being too small, even though I have most of my files in the cloud. Having 256GB for the Air seems to be on the high side of what I need, so I would really like to see a 128GB model.
If you are an aspiring pro in photography or music, the iPad Air can handle the work you want to do, but you should opt for the larger storage capacity to be safe. If you are only using the Air for email and surfing the Web, the 64GB model will do just fine, but really take a look at what you are using it for before making the decision.
There is nothing about the iPad Air that would keep me from recommending to everyone but the most ardent pro. I’ve seen for myself that it can replace a computer (if you want it to), and it can stand up to the tasks that you throw at it every day. iPad Air is powerful and portable, allowing you to work remotely or travel easily when we’re allowed to travel again.