Apple iPad Air 2020 Review – ‘Netnietpro’ is a fine tablet

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Are you now looking for a more luxurious iPad that lends itself to just a little more than just content consumption? For about 250 euros less than a new iPad Pro costs, you have a device with the same modern design, an almost equally beautiful screen with an unfortunately somewhat disappointing adjustment, and a soc that is as fast as it is modern. You can also use the same accessories, such as the fine Apple Pencil 2 and the Magic Keyboard. The super thin housing is not the strongest and the battery life also suffers from the form factor.


  • Beautiful design
  • Powerful social
  • Suitable for the same accessories as iPad Pro
  • Slight difference in feature set with iPad Pro


  • Short battery life
  • Color display screen could be better
  • Expensive memory upgrades and accessories

The iPad Air has been filling the middle of Apple’s iPad line-up for several years now. In terms of price and performance, it sits somewhere between the cheap iPad with no suffix and the expensive iPad Pro. At Apple, the cheaper devices more often have “cast-offs” from earlier high-end models on board and that was also the case with the iPad Air from 2019, a kind of mishmash of parts from the first and second generation iPad Pro and the iPhones of the year therefor. Due to the decent hardware that Apple invariably gives its tablets in combination with the good tablet ecosystem of iOS, it still resulted in a great tablet. There were also pain points that had already been resolved on the high-end iPad Pro, which had been completely redesigned in 2018.

Last fall, Apple finally updated its mid-sized iPad with a completely new look: a screen with rounded corners and narrow bezels in a very flat case with straight sides. Of course we already know that from the iPad Pro. Of course, not all features of the expensive top model are in the new Air, but at first glance the device comes a lot closer to Apple’s best tablet. Does the new iPad Air know how to find the right balance? You can see that in this video.

Casing and features

The new iPad Air 2020 looks like two drops of water on the iPad Pro of 2020, except for a few minor savings and changes. So the new Air has a symmetrical, narrow bezel around a rounded screen. The sides, which are perfectly straight, consist of one piece of aluminum together with the back. The ‘new’ design of the Air may no longer be spectacular, especially now that Samsung has provided its most recent Galaxy Tab models with the same slim design, but the iPad Air 2020 looks a lot more up-to-date than its predecessor. The iPad Air 2019 looked a bit dated with its wide black bezels, especially when you consider that it was more expensive than most of the competitor’s tablets. Just like with the iPhone 12 and 12 mini, you can order the iPad Air in a number of cheerful pastel colors. For example, the aluminum housing of our test model has a mint green color. The color scheme for the iPad Pro, as with the Pro iPhones, remains more subdued.

Looking at the table below, where we’ve put the specs of the entire current iPad lineup side by side, you might notice that the iPad Air 2020 is almost the same size as the iPad Pro 2020 in the 11-inch version. and width are identical. Although marginally thicker, the iPad Air 2020 is still an extremely thin tablet at 6.1 millimeters. At 458 grams, it is also the lightest iPad, other than the much smaller iPad mini. The slim size is nice in use and looks nice. As with the iPad Pro, the sturdiness seems to be the child of the bill. Judging by our careful bending attempts, you don’t have to apply too much force for the thin metal to give. The glass on the front also seems not very thick; when drawing or tapping with the pen, we soon see small ‘waves’ on the screen.

Apple iPad mini 2019 Apple iPad 2020 Apple iPad Air 2020 Apple iPad Pro 2020
Dimensions hxwxd 203.2×134.8×6.1mm 250.6×174.1×7.5mm 247.6×178.5×6.1mm 11″
Weight 301g (Wi-Fi) 490g (Wi-Fi) 458g (Wi-Fi) 11″
Screen diagonal 7.9″ 10.2″ 10.9″ 11″
Screen resolution 2048×1536, 324ppi 2160×1620, 264ppi 2360×1640, 264ppi 11″
2388×1668, 265ppi
2732×2048, 265ppi
Refresh rate 60Hz 60Hz 60Hz 120Hz
Color range DCI-P3 sRGB DCI-P3 DCI-P3
rear camera 8Mp (primary) 8Mp (primary) 12Mp (primary) 12Mp (primary)
10Mp (ultrawide)
Lidar scanner
Front camera 7Mp 1.2MP 7Mp 7Mp
Authentication Touch ID
(home button)
Touch ID (home button) Touch ID
Soc Apple A12 Apple A12 Apple A14 Apple A12Z
Random access memory 3GB 3GB 4GB 6GB
Storage 64GB
Price from €459 €389 €669 11″
€ 899
€ 1119
Connections Lightning Lightning
Smart Connector
Smart Connector
Smart Connector
accessories Apple Pencil 1 Smart Keyboard
Apple Pencil 1
Magic Keyboard
Apple Pencil 2
Magic Keyboard
Apple Pencil 2

The design of the new iPad Air may therefore be another mash-upare of ideas that we have seen before, unique in Apple land is the login method. The infrared camera for facial recognition, or Face ID, that iPad Pros and iPhones have was apparently too expensive and there is no room in the new design for a home button with fingerprint scanner. So Apple opted for a fingerprint scanner in the power button, which some Android smartphones and tablets already had. The scanner works fine, but you will always have to think about the orientation of the iPad when unlocking. That sounds obvious, but in practice it is not, because the front is symmetrical. Fortunately, the iPad Air gives a hint on the lock screen where the button is, like iPad Pro models with Face ID show an arrow pointing to the camera if you accidentally cover it.

The iPad Air 2020 does not have a camera island like the iPad Pro 2020 and the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 models. Instead, the camera setup resembles that of the 2018 iPad Pro: a single camera that unfortunately juts out quite a bit again. So there are no ultra-wide-angle camera, no flash and no lidar depth camera on the iPad Air, which you will find on the iPad Pro 2020. As long as you don’t work intensively with augmented reality or like to use your tablet as a photo camera, you may not even notice the lack of the iPad Air 2020. You can also use AR apps with the iPad Air 2020 , although the 3D image may be projected less stable over the scene. In addition, some AR apps already have additional functionality that only works on lidar-enabled devices.

Just like the iPad Pro 2020, there are holes for the speakers in four places on the sides of the iPad Air 2020, but the iPad Air only secretly has speakers in two places. In portrait mode, the sound therefore only comes from the left. When watching video in landscape mode you don’t suffer from this and the stereo image is fine, as is the overall sound quality.

The iPad Air 2020 has the same connections as the Pro model: USB-C instead of Lightning, and a Smart Connector on the side for the keyboard. The USB-C port makes it easier to use accessories with the new iPad Air. This way you can directly plug in memory card readers or external screens, where you need a separate adapter for models with Lightning, such as the iPad 2020 and iPad Air 2019.

Update 6-1 16:00 – It was previously stated here that you cannot connect accessories such as card readers or screens to the iPad Pro 2019 with a Lightning port, but you can do so via an adapter. The article has been adjusted accordingly.

Because the iPad Air 2020 is the same size as the iPad Pro 2020, you can also connect the Magic Keyboard to this tablet. In Apple’s special keyboard cover, the tablet clicks magnetically into place. The whole feels much nicer than the keyboard that Apple previously sold, as we already noted in the review of the iPad Pro 2020. Not only does it tick a lot better, because the amount of travel has increased, Apple has also added a touchpad. For example, you can also operate iOS with a pointing arrow instead of just touching, which works better if the tablet is at an angle in front of you. Unique to the Magic Keyboard is the hinge construction that makes the tablet seem to ‘float’ above the keys. An expensive luxury, because at 339 euros we know few keyboard accessories for tablets that are even more expensive.

Screen and pen

Apple generally equips its iPads with excellent displays, and the new Air is no exception given its specs. The laminated IPS panel has a diagonal of 10.9 “, making it slightly smaller than the 11 “screen of the iPad Pro 2020. Unless you put the two side by side, you won’t notice that. The resolution of the iPad Air 2020 is 2360×1640 pixels, which is good for the pixel density of 264ppi that is also approached by all recent iPads except the iPad mini. The screen can also show a large part of the wide DCI-P3 color range again. The vast majority of other Apple devices from recent years can do that, but the ‘basic’ iPad still cannot.

Like all iPads at the moment, the iPad Air also supports pen input, but the new model can finally handle Apple’s second-generation Pencil, just like the iPad Pro 2018 and 2020. The second Pencil is a lot more convenient to use than the first-generation Pencil , to be used with the iPad Air 2019 and the iPad 2020. For example, the new pen can be attached magnetically to the side and charged wirelessly, so the clumsy charging connector is no longer necessary. Due to the flat sides, the pen does not roll away easily, nor does it have a cap that is easily lost. Unfortunately, you still have to purchase the Pencil separately. At 135 euros, 36 euros more than the first generation, it is an expensive accessory.

The main difference between the screen of the iPad Air 2020 and that of the iPad Pro 2020 is the refresh rate. It is still 60Hz with the iPad Air, where the Pro models are equipped with a 120Hz ProMotion screen. Moving through the interface therefore feels slightly less smooth and fluid, which is also relevant if you use a Pencil with the iPad. Due to the lower refresh rate, the digital ‘ink’ seems to flow less from the tip of the pen, which is especially noticeable with faster pen strokes. Fair is fair, the iPad Air 2020 also offers an excellent drawing or writing experience and if you haven’t had the Pro in your hands, you will probably be happy with it.

We, of course, performed our regular series of measurements on the iPad Air 2020 screen using an X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter and Portait Displays Calman Ultimate analysis software. The screen of the iPad Air 2020 almost exactly achieves the promised 500cd/m² of brightness. Most other iPads arrive there as well; only the tested iPad Pro models offer a slightly higher maximum brightness. The contrast is around 1200:1, as you can expect from an IPS panel, so despite the fairly high peak brightness and the large color range, the iPad Air 2020 is not suitable for HDR display. The iPad Pro 2020 does no better in that regard, but there are rumors that Apple will soon provide the most expensive model in its line-up with a screen with a mini LED backlight, which potentially significantly improves the contrast and thus enables HDR playback.

In terms of color reproduction, we note that our test model of the iPad Air 2020 is less well adjusted than the iPad Pro 2020 and most other iPads with which we compare. This is mainly due to the color temperature. We obviously disabled the True Tone feature for this test. By default, the image is too blue, which is reflected in the increased gray deviation in the graph above and the color temperature of around 7000 Kelvin. A shame, because the color error is as always very low and the gamma adjustment is also almost perfect. The DCI-P3 color coverage is also excellent at 97 percent.

Hardware and battery life

The iPad Air 2020 features the brand new Apple A14 Bionic soc, also found in the iPhone 12 series. Just like the A12-soc in the previous iPad Air and this year’s iPad, it is equipped with six CPU cores and four GPU calculation cores. Of course, the chip per core has become a lot faster. In terms of performance per computing core, the Air 2020 is even the fastest tablet that Apple is selling right now, because the iPad Pro 2020 is still equipped with an older A12Z Bionic soc. However, this ‘stepped-up’ variant of the A12 Bionic soc from the iPhone Xs series has more CPU and GPU cores than the A14. In tests of multicore CPU performance, the iPad Air 2020 is therefore not the fastest. The same applies when we look at the GPU performance.

While the differences in computing power between Air and Pro are now limited, we expect the difference to widen again with the upcoming update of the iPad Pro. The current Pro models also have more RAM, although the iPad Air 2020 with 4GB of ram has had a small upgrade than the iPad Air 2019 with 3GB. Even so, the new iPad Air in 2021 is one of the most powerful tablets you can buy, with fine software and an ecosystem of apps that also enable you to make good use of that computing power. For content consumption and standard tasks, even the most basic iPad is more than enough.

What may not be more than enough is the amount of storage that Apple has re-incorporated into the base model of the iPad Air 2020, just 64GB, where the entry-level iPad Pro starts at 128GB. You are therefore almost forced to ‘upgrade’ to 256GB, which results in an additional cost of no less than 200 euros. There are no other capacities, while you can still order the iPad Pro with 512GB or 1TB.

The iPad Air 2020 is equipped with a 28.6 Wh battery, which means that the capacity is slightly lower than the outgoing model with a 30.2 Wh battery. That while the screen of the new iPad Air is larger and the soc has become more powerful. Not surprisingly, we see in both our battery tests that the runtime is shorter. While the iPad Air 2019 was one of the best-scoring iPads in recent years in the web browsing test, the 2020 model ends up being one of the runners-up, with a running time of more than two hours shorter. In the video test, the iPad Air 2020 even gives three hours to the predecessor. Even with a retest, the image went black after eight hours.

The new iPad Air may run out of battery faster, but it is nice that the device can be charged quickly. For the first time there is a 20W charger in the box, where even with the iPad Pro 2020 you still have to make do with an 18W one. In combination with the smaller battery, the iPad Air 2020 is charged significantly faster than any other iPad of recent years, at least with the included charger.


If you are now looking for a more luxurious iPad that lends itself to just a little more than just content consumption, the iPad Air 2020 is an interesting offer. For about 250 euros less than a new iPad Pro, you have a device with the same modern design, an almost equally beautiful screen, with an unfortunately somewhat disappointing adjustment, and a SOC that is as fast as it is modern, which in some respects even surpasses the SOC in the iPad. Pro to the crown. You can also use the same excellent accessories, such as the Apple Pencil 2 and the Magic Keyboard, with the USB-C connection giving you more options to connect other devices. The housing is not very sturdy and the battery life also suffers from the super thin form factor, but the iPad Air 2020 is still a nice tablet in practice.

Although we expect that the omitted features such as the lidar camera, FaceID functionality and 120Hz refresh rate will not be a huge loss for many users, it is possible that you will end up paying more with an iPad Air 2020 than you might have expected. That makes this ‘net non-pro’ less attractive than you might think at first glance. To begin with, the starting price is 100 euros higher than with the outgoing model. If you want more than a measly 64GB of storage, your only option is to spend an additional $200 on a 256GB model. The pricing of the beautiful accessories, which were previously only reserved for Pro users, seems to be aligned with Apple’s most expensive tablet. Do you provide your new iPad Air with all possible bells, whistles and accessories,

Even so, the difference in feature set and performance between Air and Pro remains remarkably small at the moment, with which the iPad Air 2020 can provide you with a nice saving. Apple will have realized that too. Reportedly, a new iPad Pro will be ready very soon. Features such as a faster SOC and a mini LED screen should put the Pro model back on the map as the undisputed top model in Apple’s line-up.

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