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The iPad Air Is the Best iPad for Most People

Illustration for article titled The iPad Air Is the Best iPad for Most People
Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo

Whether you plan on using it to browse the web in off hours, knock out a few hours of work, or doodle to your heart’s content, there’s never been a better time to grab an iPad. With four different models and five screen sizes to choose from, making the right call might feel a bit overwhelming.

You’ve probably got a lot on your plate, so I’m going to cut to the chase: if you’re reading this, you should probably get the new iPad Air. It’s powerful, fast, packs enough battery to get you through a day of work or play, and it’s notably cheaper than the iPad Pro.

The Air, which released earlier this year, starts at $600 for 64GB of storage. It includes Apple’s speedy A14 processor, a 10.9" display with TrueTone color shifting, and a 12MP wide angle lens. You lose FaceID, but the Air’s power button has TouchID integrated right into it, so you can still unlock your tablet without having to tap your passcode every couple hours. You’ll want to spend the extra $150 for 256GB of storage—the highest and only other capacity you can get for the Air—to avoid sweating your last few gigs a year or two down the road.

Snappier processor and marginally smaller screen aside, the Air offers you nearly the exact same experience you could get on the 11-inch Pro for $200 cheaper. The A14 chip is plenty fast for nearly any task you can throw at it, and should handle a day’s worth of work in most cases without too much fuss. Oh, and that newer chip likely means you’ll get a bit more longevity out of your tablet than you would from one with a slightly more dated chip.

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With the Air, you’ll get the same accessory support as the Pro, so you can snap your iPad into the Magic Keyboard to knock out a few emails or write up a few drafts. Grab an Apple Pencil to sketch out a few outlines or just do some mind mapping when your head’s feeling foggy. Those accessories aren’t cheap, though, with the Magic Keyboard starting at $300 and the Pencil costing $130, so that $200 you might have spent on the Pro will go a long way.

If you’re still tempted to grab the Pro, there’s a few reasons to drop the extra cash. While the Air’s A14 chip is generally faster than the Pro’s A12, the Pro does have an advantage on multi-core tasks thanks to two additional CPU cores and double the GPU cores of the A14 (for a closer look at the processor differences, take a look at this breakdown from MacRumors). For processor-intense tasks like photo editing, illustrations, and video production, you’ll be grateful for those extra cores.

The other advantage to the Pro, depending on your needs, is the screen. While the resolution is mostly the same between the 11-inch Pro and the 10.9"-inch Air, the Pro’s display has a 120Hz refresh rate, while the Air’s maxes out at 60Hz. For everyday use, you might not notice, but videos will look better on the Pro, and your doodling will be a bit smoother as well. If your graphics work depends on sweating the little details, you’ll be grateful for the Pro’s higher refresh rate.

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Unless you need that faster refresh rate, better performance for video or graphic work, or a 12.9" display, the iPad Air offers all the power you need to make sure you can get through the day, whether that’s by watching YouTube until you forget what’s going on in the world right now, or catching up on the backlog of email you’ve let pile up.


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