A big-screen iPad that doesn’t break the bank

A big-screen iPad that doesn’t break the bank

Compared to the iPad Pro, the changes Apple made to the iPad Air are more modest. Rather than a total redesign, the iPad Air is getting some expected and slightly overdue changes: a new screen size, a new processor and a front-facing camera that is placed on the landscape side of the tablet.

Yes, that’s some faint praise, but there’s a lot to like about the new iPad Air. It’s long been the best overall iPad, straddling the line between the budget entry model and the wildly powerful and expensive Pro lineup. That’s the case here, again. But now that the 13-inch iPad Pro is even more pricey than before, it’s good to see a large-screen iPad that doesn’t cost well over $1,000.

The 11-inch iPad Air is identical in size and weight to the old one, though the screen is .1 inches bigger this time. So there’s not a whole lot to say about that one. The 13-inch Air, however, feels quite a bit like the old 12.9-inch iPad Pro that was just replaced today. Indeed, it’s identical in all dimensions, but a little bit lighter (1.36 pounds instead of 1.5).

Photo by Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

That makes it a little more approachable as a hand-held tablet, though I still feel like an iPad this large is best suited to either be used in a keyboard dock or flat on a table with an Apple Pencil. That said, Apple says that about half of iPad Pro sales were for the larger model, so there’s clearly an appetite for this bigger screen. There’s definitely something luxurious about using such a large screen tablet, provided it’s easy to handle, and that’s the case with the iPad Air (at least in the limited time I’ve had so far to handle the device).

I also got to try the new Apple Pencil Pro, which is compatible with the new Air. As I said here, the new tricks like barrel roll for changing the shape of your brush and a squeeze feature to bring up tools like a brush picker are solid additions, and I’m glad that Apple didn’t increase the Pencil’s price given these new features.

iPad Air M2 2024

Photo by Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

These tablets might not have the wow factor that I experienced when checking out the iPad Pro, but that’s OK. From my first look, it feels like the iPad Air lineup offers most of the same experience that you’ll get with an iPad Pro — at least in ways that normal buyers will recognize. And I think Apple did well on pricing this time out. The 11-inch iPad Air costs $599, same as before, but it now has a more reasonable 128GB of storage. The 13-inch model is priced at $799, an expected price bump for the larger screen. It’s the first time you can get a large-screen iPad for less than a grand, and I’m definitely curious to see if that helps to improve iPad sales.

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