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

Compared to the iPad Pro, Apple’s changes to the iPad Air are more modest. Instead of a complete redesign, the iPad Air gets the expected and somewhat overdue changes: a new screen size, a new processor, and a front-facing camera placed on the tablet’s landscape side.

Yes, that’s a bit of a compliment, 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 series. Here it is again. But now that the 13-inch iPad Pro is more expensive than before, it’s good to see a big-screen iPad that doesn’t cost more than $1,000.

The 11-inch iPad Air is the same size and weight as its predecessor, although the screen is .1 inch larger this time. So, not much to say about it. The 13-inch Air, however, today looks like the old 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which has just been replaced. Indeed, it is the same in all dimensions, but slightly lighter (1.36 pounds instead of 1.5).

iPad Air M2 2024iPad Air M2 2024

Photo by Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

This makes it a bit more accessible as a handheld tablet, though I still feel this large iPad is best suited for use either on a keyboard dock or on a desk with the Apple Pencil. However, Apple says that roughly half of iPad Pro sales were for the larger model, so there’s clearly an appetite for that larger screen. There’s definitely something luxurious about using a tablet with such a large screen, provided it’s easy to handle, and that’s the case with the iPad Air (at least in the limited time I’ve had to handle the device so far).

I also got to try out the new Apple Pencil Pro, which is compatible with the new Air. Like me said herenew tricks like a barrel roll to change the shape of your brush and a pinch function to bring up tools like the brush picker are solid additions, and I’m glad Apple didn’t increase the price of the Pencil with these new features in mind.

iPad Air M2 2024iPad Air M2 2024

Photo by Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

These tablets may not have the wow factor I experienced when testing the iPad Pro, but that’s okay. From my first glance, it looks like the iPad Air series offers most of the experience you’ll get with the iPad Pro — at least in the way normal buyers will recognize. I think Apple got the pricing right this time. The 11-inch iPad Air costs the same $599 as before, but now has a more reasonable 128GB of storage. The 13-inch model costs $799, which is an expected price increase for the larger screen. This is the first time you can get a big-screen iPad for less than a grand, and I’m very interested to see if that helps improve iPad sales.

You can read my first impressions of the new iPad Pro M4 here.

Watch all the news from Apple’s Let Loose event live here.

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