2024 iPad Air reviews roundup: Bigger, and probably ‘pro’ enough


2024 M2 iPad Air with Apple Pencil Pro
Compatibility with the new Apple Pencil Pro is one reason to buy this year's iPad Air.
Photo: Apple

The first reviews of the 2024 iPad Air paint the tablet as a budget version of last year’s iPad Pro.

Here’s the consensus of the early M2 iPad Air reviews: If you want a big-screen iPad, but don’t need (or don’t want to pay for) high-end features like an OLED screen, Face ID and Apple’s most powerful processor, this is the tablet for you.

M2 iPad Air review roundup: Bigger is better

Apple unveiled the M2 iPad Air alongside the M4 iPad Pro last week during its “Let Loose” event. The iPad Pro stole the show due to its fancy screen and the surprising introduction of the M4 processor.

The 2024 iPad Air‘s big update was all about size. This year’s model is the first to come in a larger size — 13 inches. Aside from bumping the Air from an M1 chip to an M2, everything else stayed pretty much the same.

“It’s pretty easy to sum up what’s new about the iPad Air this year,” wrote Nathan Ingraham for Engadget. “It has a faster M2 chip compared to the old M1, it works with a new Apple Pencil Pro, the front camera has moved to the landscape edge and it starts with 128GB of storage (double the prior model) at the same $599 price.”

That same-as-before feeling led to the cheekiest review so far, from David Pierce at The Verge. “The new iPad Air is very good,” Pierce wrote. “If you buy one, you’ll almost certainly like it. That’s it, that’s the review.”

As is not often the case, the devil is really not in the details. If you know everything about 2022’s M1 iPad Air, you basically have the M2 iPad Air’s number.

13-inch iPad Air: Big screen, medium price

Most reviewers found the M2 iPad Air to be a slight upgrade of last year’s model, citing the 13-inch model’s larger screen as the main reason anybody should buy the tablet rather than opting for a “regular” iPad. In short, it’s a direct route to big-screen bliss on a constrained budget.

“The larger size starts at $800, and is a more affordable way to go big and ‘Pro’ without getting an iPad Pro. Of course, previous-gen iPad Pros are often on sale and may hover near that price already, too,” wrote Scott Stein for Cnet. “While the iPad Pro has a nicer OLED display and an even faster processor, the Air is more than enough Pro for most. In fact, I’d recommend it over the Pro just for its price difference, but try to keep configuration creep in mind so you don’t suddenly find yourself spending $1,500.”

Apple Pencil Pro support: Great for artists

Possibly the only other reason to upgrade to the iPad Air is if you’re an artist or otherwise depend on an Apple Pencil. Just like the new iPad Pros, the new iPad Airs support the advanced Apple Pencil Pro.

That means iPad Air owners can take advantage of the latest in Apple stylus technology.

“If you’re a fan of the Apple Pencil, though, the good news is that the iPad Air supports the brand-new Pencil Pro,” wrote Ingraham. “It does everything the older second-generation Apple Pencil can while adding new features like haptic feedback, Find My support, a squeeze gesture for bringing up menus and the ability to roll the Pencil in your hand to change the width of a brush thanks to built-in gyroscopes.”

At the same $129 price point as the second-gen Apple Pencil, the new pro stylus delivers a definite upgrade. One bummer for people who already own an Apple Pencil: Older versions don’t work with the 2024 iPad Air and iPad Pro due to a redesigned charging mechanism.

M2 processor is more than enough for most people, according to 2024 iPad Air reviews

The updated midrange tablets run on the same M2 chip that powered last year’s Pro. So, from a performance perspective, only the most demanding users — or people with money to burn — should splurge on an iPad Pro in 2024.

Ars Technica’s review, which pegged the M2 iPad Air as something of a Goldilocks model “that best covers the totality of everything the iPad can do,” compared the specs and found the M2 to be just fine.

“Performance-wise, nothing we saw in the benchmarks we ran was surprising; the M2’s CPU and (especially) its GPU are a solid generational jump up from the M1, and the M1 is already generally overkill for the vast majority of iPad apps,” wrote Andrew Cunningham. “The M3 and M4 are both significantly faster than the M2, but the M2 is still unquestionably powerful enough to do everything people currently use iPads to do.”

Front-facing camera makes a pleasant move

The Verge’s reviewer called the front-facing camera’s move from the tablet’s skinny side to the top of the landscape” edge the only truly noticeable change from the previous iPad Air.

“I can use it for video calls without looking like I’m always staring up and away from the screen,” Pierce wrote.

No Face ID (and no function keys on compatible Magic Keyboard)

Pierce, who compared the 2024 iPad Air to the 2024 iPad Pro for The Verge, said the midrange model compares well.

“There are only two Pro features that I truly missed in everyday use after switching to the iPad Air,” he wrote. “The first is Face ID: the Air uses Touch ID in the home button to log you in to your device, which works well enough, but Face ID on the Pro makes it feel like you never have to log in at all. The second is the row of function keys on the Magic Keyboard attachment. On the 13-inch Air in particular, the Magic Keyboard is big and roomy and lovely to type on — which means I’ve missed having quick access to playback, brightness, and more.”

Some reviewers carped that the 2024 iPad Air works only with the “old” Magic Keyboard. That accessory clearly doesn’t seem as nice as the new Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro. But how badly do you need a row of function keys, an aluminum palm rest and a slightly larger trackpad? Only you can answer that question.

Should you pay the price? 2024 iPad Air reviews say ‘regular’ iPad is enough for most people

The M2 iPad Air starts at $599 for the 11-inch model, same as the previous-gen version. The 13-inch model adds $200 to the starting price. The 2024 iPad Pro’s starting price, meanwhile, increased by $200.

Whether you want (or need) to “go pro” depends on your occupation, hobbies and bank account. If so, the 2024 iPad Air awaits you as solid midrange option, according to the first reviews.

“The iPad Air is a study in tradeoffs, even more so than before,” said The Verge. “Starting at $599, it’s not the cheapest iPad you can buy, nor is it the most impressive. It doesn’t support all the accessories, but it does support some of the accessories. It’s fast but not the fastest, thin but not the thinnest, powerful but not the powerful-est. It is Apple’s attempt to find the Goldilocks middle ground — the features that matter most to the most users and nothing else.”

Ultimately, a burning desire for the larger 13-inch size is the only reason people who just want to stream videos, answer emails and do some writing with an iPad should opt for this year’s Air over a “regular” iPad like the 10th-gen model.

“Outside of a couple of specific scenarios, I don’t think I’d tell you to buy this year’s iPad Air,” wrote The Verge’ Pierce. “Not because it’s not great — it is great! It’s just that for $250 less, you can get the base iPad, which is just about as good at every common iPad activity.”


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