The iPad Air is thinner, lighter and smaller than the previous model and a clear winner in the large tablet market.
Design & display
The iPad Air is all about slimming down. It utilises the same small bezel, chamfered edges and curved corners as the iPad mini.
The device is 28 per cent lighter (469g) and 20 per cent thinner (7.5mm) than its predecessor and Apple now calls it "the lightest full-size tablet in the world".
The reduced weight makes the iPad Air significantly more comfortable to hold than its predecessor in both portrait and landscape orientations.
The larger screen size still points towards it being a two-handed device, but the Air is by far and away the most comfortable, full-sized iPad yet.
The downsizing of the iPad Air hasn't come with any significant compromises. Build quality remains superb, highlighted by a smooth, aluminium finish on the back, polished, chamfered edges, and laser cut speaker holes on the bottom,
One significant disappointment is the lack of a Touch ID-equipped home button, which was first introduced on the iPhone 5s. The iPad Air includes Apple's regular home button instead.
One slight annoyance is the speakers on the bottom: their position means your hand muffles them when you're holding the iPad Air in landscape mode.
The iPad Air's display remains unchanged from the two prior models. The 9.7in IPS screen has a resolution of 2048x1536, giving it a pixel density of 264 ppi.
Our only real complaint, as with previous iPads, is the reflective, glossy surface. This can often make it tough to see in direct sunlight.
Software & performance
The iPad Air obviously comes with the newest version of Apple's mobile operating system, iOS 7.
The control centre, accessible by swiping up from the bottom of the screen, is without a doubt the most useful new feature.
A new addition to the iPad Air is Apple's decision to make its iWork and iLife apps available for free. The list includes Pages, Numbers, Keynote, GarageBand, iPhoto and iMovie.
The iPad Air has the same updated A7 processor first introduced in the iPhone 5s. It's certainly fast — apps open almost instantly, games are smooth and fast and general performance certainly feels snappy.
Apple has upgraded both the rear and front cameras on the iPad Air.
The rear iSight camera has a 5-megapixel lens, dual microphones and records 1080p video, while the front-facing FaceTime HD camera has a 1.2-megapixel sensor and can record 720p HD video.
The iPad Air retains a 10-hour battery life, the same as the previous model.
In our testing we found these claims pretty close to the mark and often experienced just over 10 hours of battery life.
The Apple iPad Air is available now in Australia and New Zealand. It will be available in a total of eight variants — 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB models in Wi-Fi-only and Wi-Fi+LTE configurations. Pricing is as follows:
|iPad Air 16GB Wi-Fi||$598||$749|
|iPad Air 32GB Wi-Fi||$699||$899|
|iPad Air 64GB Wi-Fi||$799||$1049|
|iPad Air 128GB Wi-Fi||$899||$1199|