Today Apple announced new iPads. Both the standard, low-cost iPad and the more premium iPad Air have been refreshed, with new processors, bodies, and features to bring them more in line with the iPad Pro line and later iPhones. The new iPad is on sale today, the Air comes in October.
Let’s start with the standard, 10.2-inch iPad, now in its eighth generation. This version is updated to the new blazing-fast Apple A12 Bionic processor, with approximately double the power of the previous model. Apple claims it’s twice as fast as the fastest Windows laptop…which is debatable, but it certainly beats any Android tablet or Chromebook in the price range.
The design of the case itself doesn’t seem to have changed at all. That means no new input port, and retaining the old home button with Touch ID. It’s compatible with all the accessories and cases that worked with the seventh-gen 10.2-inch iPad, including Apple’s own Smart Keyboard and the Apple Pencil. This includes the new capabilities introduced in iPad OS 14.
The price will start at $329, $299 for education—the same price as the old model. It’s on sale today, shipping to customers on Friday, September 18th.
The more premium iPad Air gets a drastic makeover, including the sleek perpendicular sides and curved screen corners of the iPad Pro line, but available in a series of pastel aluminum colors, pink, blue, and green. A less superficial change is a shift to the USB-C port, as Apple has done for all Mac laptops and the iPad Pro (even though it steadfastly refuses to drop the proprietary Lightning port on the iPhone).
The retina screen is 10.9 inches, fitting handily between the standard iPad and iPad Pro, and underneath is a new A14 Bionic processor, with a new 5nm chip design. To compress Apple’s somewhat glorious technical language: it’s faster and more efficient than ever before, with a 6-core CPU, 40% faster than the last iPad Air with a 30% graphics boost.
The new Air drops the home button to rely solely on gesture navigation, but surprisingly, there’s no Face ID unlock as seen on the iPhone and iPad Pro. Instead, Apple has integrated Touch ID on the power button on the top of the device, which is a solution seen on some other tablets like the Google Pixel Slate. It’s compatible with all of the applications that it was before.
The iPad Air also gets a Smart Connector, which makes it compatible with a new Magic Keyboard accessory—again, very much like the iPad Pro. The front camera gets boosted to 7 megapixels, while the rear gets upgraded with the iPad Pro’s current 12MP sensor. It also includes stereo speakers and a magnet for the Apple Pencil.
The new iPad Air starts at $599, going on sale in October.