Is the iPad Air Worth it?

Yes. The iPad Air (3rd Generation) is a great option when compared to other standalone tablets manufactured by companies other than Apple. However, when compared to Apple’s new iPad Pro, the iPad Air falls short in terms of performance and screen size.

Comparing one tablet to dozens of other similar devices can be tricky because there are too many different aspects to consider. That said, it is safe to say that the iPad Air is superior to almost every other standalone tablet within the same price range.

It has a super fast processor, called A12 Bionic chip, is has a 10.5-inch display that surpasses the average of medium-sized tablets, which is 10 inches and most importantly, it’s totally compatible with Apple’s most important accessories, the Apple Pencil (First Generation) and the Smart Keyboard.

Samsung has been releasing increasingly better tablets, but they still have a long way to go before reaching the iPad Air level. The only company selling a tablet with similar features and at almost the same price (although slightly more expensive) is Microsoft with their Microsoft Surface Go 2.

iPad Air

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Apple iPad Air
Apple iPad Air

Technical Specifications of the iPad Air

iPad Air
Screen Size10.5 inches
Internal MemoryUp to 256 GB
Digital Pen (Stylus)Apple Pencil
KeyboardBluetooth
Battery Life 10 hours
Operating SystemiOS

Positive Features of the iPad Air

Processor

Although the A12 Bionic chip is no longer Apple’s fastest processor, it still is considered very powerful in comparison with processors found in other tablets around within the 500-dollar range.

This chip can handle multi-tasking quite well, meaning several apps open at the same time while maintaining acceptable levels of performance.

It can also handle most complex 3D games, although it can start displaying sub-optimal behavior if the game is too resource-intensive (like Fortnite). The most obvious negative effect is a drop in the FPS (frames per second) rate.

Screen Size

At 10.5 inches, the iPad Air screen simply cannot be considered large, however it’s also not small. It sits almost exactly at the limit of what is considered medium size for tablets, which is 10 inches.

As someone who creates digital artwork on a daily basis, I usually prefer larger screens. That being said, I consider the iPad Air screen size to be comfortable enough for most situations, including drawing.

Display Quality

For a budget tablet, the iPad Air has a great display. Instead of those older iPads, in which a thick layer of glass used to be placed above the display, the iPad Air has what is called a retina display, meaning that the display itself and the glass are the same thing.

This characteristic makes the tablet much more user-friendly because it eliminates the gap between the surface of the iPad Air and the display. In simpler terms, when you touch the screen, your finger accurately touches exactly the place you intended.

Apple Pencil (First Generation) Support

Nowadays, every tablet should offer stylus support. There is a plethora of apps that requires a stylus in order to be fully explored.

Luckily, the iPad Air (3rd Generation) is compatible with the Apple Pencil (First Generation). Pay close attention to this, earlier releases of the iPad Air are not compatible with any versions of the Apple Pencil. Before you buy, make sure that you are getting the third generation of this tablet.


Negative Features of the iPad Air

No Apple Pencil (Second Generation) Support

Unfortunately, Apple did not make this iPad compatible with its new stylus, the Apple Pencil (Second Generation). Although both styluses are quite similar, the second generation has a better design and, most importantly, can be charged simply by letting it touch the side of the tablet.

Apple Pencil
Apple Pencil (Second Generation)

Charging the first Apple Pencil (First Generation) is a hassle because it either requires a cable, or it has to be inserted into the lighting port at the bottom of the device.

Apple Pencil cap
Apple Pencil (First Generation) cap

Back Camera

This tablet comes with an 8MP back camera. Since I’m not a photographer, this camera suits my needs perfectly well. That said, people’s standards are increasing fast when it comes to cameras and I’ve seen multiple complains about this camera not being good enough when compared to a lot of the newer tablets out there, especially the ones sold by Apple.

If taking pictures with your tablet is one of your priorities, maybe it would make more sense to go straight to the iPad Pro, which has a 12MP camera that even takes super-wide shots.

What is the Best Alternative for the iPad Air?

Since you are reading an article about the iPad Air, I’m sure you’re more inclined towards Apple devices.

There is absolutely no doubt that the iPad Pro is superior to the iPad Air in every single area, of course I’m not talking about pricing.

The iPad Pro’s processor is much more powerful, it’s even better than processors in some gaming computers, the screen is also considerably larger, it supports the Apple Pencil (Second Generation) and so on.

I have written a very detailed comparison between the iPad Pro and all other tablets sold by Apple and I highly encourage you to read it here: Why the iPad pro is better than the iPad Air.

iPad Pro

(Check price on Amazon)

iPad Pro
iPad Pro
iPad Pro
Screen Size11 inches
Internal Memory128 GB, 256 GB, 512, 1TB
Digital Pen (Stylus)Apple Pencil (2nd Generation)
KeyboardSupports multiple keyboards
Battery Life 10 hours
Operating SystemiPad OS

Conclusion

The iPad Air is definitely the best option around 500 dollars, but it still fares behind super powerful devices like the iPad Pro.

I always prefer to save money and get the best possible tablet, especially because I use my devices for work-related reasons. So, if you have the means to get the substantially more expensive iPad Pro, by all means go for it. But if your budget is predefined and you absolutely cannot save more and buy it later, then the iPad Air is also a great option.

Do you have any questions? Leave a comment below!

Bruno Santos

Bruno Santos

Hi! My name is Bruno. I'm a web developer/designer based in Toronto, Canada. I've been working with drawing tablets for over 20 years and I'm among the Top 10 Most Viewed Writers on Quora in the Graphics Tablets category. Do you have any questions? Just leave a comment =)

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