This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl.


It's a difficult time to buy IT equipment. Frankly speaking, it's difficult, which is partly why my job as an information professional makes a living, but it's also a hassle for consumers.

I think the iPad Air (4th generation) is a great product, but due to timing issues, I think it's in the middle of the "it's a great product, but how should I choose it because I'm worried about how it's positioned against the others?" question.

Fourth-generation iPad Air in Sky Blue, the Wi-Fi model.

So I thought about that while actually touching the device.

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The difference between it and the iPad Pro is that "if you use it, it's definitely different"...

As you can see from its appearance, the iPad Air is designed to be "the same generation as the iPad Pro". I use the 12.9-inch iPad Pro on a daily basis, so I am very familiar with this design. At a glance, I can hardly notice any difference in the display.

The iPad Air with the Magic Keyboard. As you can see, there is almost no difference from the 11-inch iPad Pro.

No, there's actually a decent difference. The iPad Pro's display draws 120 frames per second and the iPad Air's display draws 60 frames per second. When I scroll down, I thought, "Oh, it's a little less smooth," but that's just because I'm already in a luxury environment. Likewise, the input latency of the Apple Pencil is affected by the display side, and is also slightly slower on the Air. This is also only slightly different when using the two devices side by side.

However, I can't feel the difference in color and other factors, and I only feel that the Pro is preferable in comparison to what is caused by the frame rate. There is a price difference of nearly 20,000 yen between the Pro and the Air, and it is hard to do anything about it.

The Pro is superior in terms of actual performance, but the A14's excellence is overwhelming

Moreover, there are some parts of the Air that are better.

For example, the processor. Take a look at the following benchmarks: the Air's single-core CPU performance exceeds that of the iPad Pro, and the GPU performance is much closer. The number of CPU and GPU cores is different between the A12Z Bionic used by the Pro and the Air's A14 Bionic, so the Pro's total performance is better than the Air's.

And yet, when I use it, I get the impression that it doesn't differ much. Or rather, the Air is powerful enough. After all, even though A12Z Bionic has more cores for 2 high-performance CPU and 4 GPU cores than A12Z Bionic, there is only this much difference. In terms of GPU scores, the Air overtakes the Pro, which has twice as many cores.

iPad Air
iPad Pro

Geekbench 5's comparison of iPad Air and iPad Pro specs. The Air has 4GB of memory.

iPad Air
iPad Pro

CPU benchmark results. The Pro beats the Air in multi-core scores, but the Air is the dominant winner in single-core scores.

iPad Air
iPad Pro

GPU benchmark results. Wow, the 4-core Air overtook the Pro, which should have 4 more cores (8 cores). The excellence of the A14 is evident.

I also checked the time it takes to export four 4K videos together in one minute with the video editing software Adobe Premiere Rush. The results were about 1 minute and 17 seconds for the Pro and about 1 minute and 26 seconds for the Air. With this difference, you'd think that the Air would be fine. Conversely, I'm tempted to wonder how much faster the A14-generation iPad Pro and Apple Silicon Mac (presumably with enhanced CPU and GPU cores) will be.

Incidentally, the Air has 4GB of main memory, and its benchmark values were almost identical to the iPhone 12, as was its video export speed in Rush. When you think about it, it can be said that "iPhone 12 is fast".

The inclusion of a fingerprint sensor may also be an advantage of the iPad Air. You've all experienced enough in the last six months to know that Face ID, which is facial recognition, is hard to do when you're wearing a mask. The screen design has also been optimized for Touch ID, which is integrated into the power button.

Touch ID, the fingerprint sensor, is built into the power button.

But when I actually used it, I wondered if it didn't have to be Touch ID. I often use the tablet at home, and there are many occasions when I take off my mask. In addition, when the Magic Keyboard is attached, the distance to the power button is so far away that I sometimes wondered if I could just enter the keycode. If it had both face and fingerprint recognition, it would be fine, but if it had one, it would not meet the user's needs.

Of course, Touch ID is a gospel for people who use the iPad outside a lot, though.

When setting up or when authentication is required, this is also displayed on the screen.

The camera is better on the Pro than that of the Air. The super wide-angle camera is still very useful. The inclusion of LiDAR is also a plus for AR, although unlike the iPhone, the iPad Pro's LiDAR doesn't seem to work with the photo-taking feature, which is a shame. If you don't take that many photos with your iPad or don't care about AR, this won't resonate with you. Of course.

However, the Magic Keyboard itself is used in conjunction with both the Pro and the Air, so the camera area is a bit desolate.

The top is the Air's and the bottom is the Pro's camera section. If you attach the Magic Keyboard, the difference comes out in the "notch" of the camera section.

Rather, the "iPad" is noticeably cheaper. There's no doubt that the Air is a great deal.....

In the current iPad lineup, the standard 8th generation iPad is by far the most cost-effective. It's the same design as the previous generation, but you can't beat the fact that you can get it for 30,000 yen.

The Pad Pro (11-inch), iPad Air, and iPad (8th generation) are lined up on Apple's comparison page. The Pro and Air compete in terms of features, but the iPad's low price is outstanding.

With that in mind, I think the iPad Air is still for people who value performance and features. As I mentioned above, the difference between it and the current iPad Pro is quite small. I honestly think that if you're fine with the 11-inch model, you should choose the Air. However, the 64GB of storage is quintessentially small. If you try to go higher than that, you'll end up with 256GB of storage because there's no 128GB available, which is a bit of hatred of Apple's product setup. The iPad Pro's storage, on the other hand, starts at 128GB, which is plenty for the needs. However, the 256GB model of the Air is still cheaper than the 128GB model of the Pro, so that's probably a budgetary consideration.

As with the iPhone, Apple balances its top- and bottom-end models by deliberately controlling its storage lineup. If you're thinking, "I wish it had a little more storage," that model isn't available.

That's why, as I said at the beginning of this article, it's difficult to choose a model.

Still, there's no doubt that the Air is a great value for money, though. I'm curious about the top-performing "next iPad Pro", but I can see that it's surely going to be quite a costly one...


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The A14 Bionic on the iPad Air (2020) outperforms that on the iPhone 12


This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.