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iPad Air 3 (incl. accessories) review: who needs an iPad Pro?

iPad Air 3 featured image
Picture: TechnikNews
(Post picture: © 2019 TechnikNews)

In the spring, Apple secretly presented the iPad Air 3 via a press release. This is sold as a mid-range device, although it doesn't look all that different from the iPad Pro differs. my test

At the beginning, let's take a look at what we're actually dealing with here, because the manufacturer has several tablets in its range - let's start with the cheapest device. There we have it iPad 7, the one with 32 gigabytes of memory and a comparatively older Processor comes along. After that comes the iPad Air 3 and the iPad mini, which are in the middle class and at the top we have the iPad Pro. So, now that that's settled, we can start with the actual report.

Unboxing and initial setup

Apple packed the latest iPad Air in company-typical packaging. This means that on the top is a photo of the Proproduct is visible, two Apple logos and two Apple logos on each side Product name. Once the very outermost layer of plastic has been removed, the lid can be lifted (a bit difficult, but still). You can already see the Air. Below: A Lightning-to-USB cable, a (much too slow) five-volt adapter, a few pieces of paper and the obligatory Apple stickers. The initial setup of the iPad is very simple. Simply turn on the device, select the language and country, enter the Apple ID, import possible backups and wait a moment for the software to automatically configure the last things. After a good 15 minutes, the user can already use his new tablet.

iPad Air 3 unboxing

A look into the three packages. (Image: TechnikNews)

But there are also two additional, separately purchased packagings for the iPad. In the first is the Apple Pencil with a small charging adapter, a spare tip and some paperwork. The pen is set up by activating Bluetooth on the iPad Air 3 and plugging it into the Lightning port. A pairing request should appear after just a few seconds. In the box with the Smart Keyboard you will only find the keyboard cover, which is simply connected to the Smart connectors.

Design and workmanship

The latest Air is still one of the iPads with the "old" design. This means that the corners and edges have been rounded off towards the sides and there is also a home button and headphone jack. This home button hides the obligatory Touch ID sensor, which you can use to unlock your iPad and make purchases in the App Store. Admittedly, I couldn't get enough of the newer technology, namely Face IDprobeer, but I suspect I like Touch ID better in comparison. After all, it is enough to press the button to unlock the tablet. With the "old" appearance, there are also somewhat thicker display edges than on the current iPad Pros. At first I thought that this bothered me a little, since I'm usually a fan of thin edges, but I was able to get used to the distances up to the touchscreen.

iPad Air 3 home button

The iPad Air 3 also comes with a home button and Touch ID. (Image: TechnikNews)

With the iPad Air 3, Apple (again) relies on a Lightning connector for charging and data exchange - no USB-C. At first it bothered me a little that I now need another cable and more adapters, but even these thoughts evaporated after a few days. Still, I think my next iPad will have USB-C because it means I have fewer cables and dongles to carry around with me. On the right is the slot for the SIM and the volume control, then the power button on top.

Next to the connection, two loudspeaker grilles are noticeable. It stays with the two, a buyer of the iPad Air does not get the stereo effect. Although I use in 99 Proten of the cases headphones for media enjoyment, but I used the integrated speakers a few times. Sure, they're not nearly as good as those on the iPad Pro, but they're not bad either. The sound is very clear and loud and is always sufficient for occasional music enjoyment. However, it can happen from time to time that the grilles for the loudspeakers are unintentionally covered.

A special feature are the three dots on the left, these are the connectors for the Smart Keyboard from Apple.

iPad Air 3 back

The Smart Keyboard is magnetically attached to the side. (Image: TechnikNews)

The iPad is made entirely of aluminum on the back and glass on the front. The whole package feels very high quality and does not break easily. Nevertheless, it is very light with a weight of 456 grams (464 grams with LTE). The device fell off the table once and it wasn't a single scratch. The Cupertino company also sells the device in several colors: space gray (my model), silver and gold.

Display: Without 120 Hertz repetition rate

The display of the latest model in the Air range is 10,5 inches and has a resolution of 1668 x 2224 pixels. It supports True Tone, which means that the color temperature of the panel adapts to the ambient light. So when it's darker outside, the picture turns slightly orange, as this is easy on the eyes in the dark. Is activated by default, but can easily be deactivated in the settings - I also did because the constant changing of the color bothered me and the fake colors disturb the image processing. But I've also heard from many people that they are very satisfied with the True Tone feature.

iPad Air 3 display

The display has a 60 Hertz refresh rate. (Image: TechnikNews)

What is also not supported is the 120 Hertz refresh rate, no, we only get 60 Hertz here. But what difference does that make? The iPad Air 3's display refreshes its content 60 times pro second, which corresponds to 60 Hertz. We are already used to this from most smartphones, tablets, laptops and PCs, so it is practically the standard. The difference to 120 hertz is that the whole thing looks a lot shakier in comparison because fewer updates are made. In my opinion, this is not noticeable if you have not already used a device or iPad with such a refresh rate. Means that the 60 Hertz didn't bother me at all and most buyers will probably feel the same way.

Accessories: Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard

Let's come back to the details of the accessories that I bought for the iPad Air 3, namely the Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard.

Let's start with the Apple Pencil, which I really like in general. It lies in the hand like a pencil, is very light and after a few days the writing feeling, which initially seems unusual due to the smooth surface, is also very great. My girlfriend once even said that my handwriting was nicer with it than on paper. But it also has a few disadvantages that Apple partially addressed in the second generation for the current iPad Pro fixed Probably the biggest negative is the lack of a magnet, which means that you always have to carry the stylus separately or use a third-party gadget to store the pen. Not nice either: the loading process. While you can simply connect the second generation to the iPad Pro pins, the first generation is loaded via the Lightning port. This not only looks weird, but is also extremely impractical. In addition, the protective cap of the pencil can be lost very easily. Last but not least, I noticed that the pen tip can easily get scratches, which is why there is a reserve in the packaging.

iPad Air 3 Smart Keyboard

Picture: TechnikNews

Next up is the Smart Keyboard. Apple also only offers the first generation for the iPad Air, the second is again only with the iPad Pro compatible. This has an advantage, but also a disadvantage. The good thing is that the cover can be folded in such a way that the iPad turns into a small standing TV. The bad thing is that it can take a few days to get used to the somewhat complicated folding mechanism. In addition, working on the lap and on uneven surfaces is rather impractical since the tablet tips over very easily. In my opinion, however, the typing feel is very good.

Equipment

And now let's take a look inside the iPad. The device is powered by an A12 Bionic that was used in last year's iPhones, plus there are three gigabytes of RAM. The latter may look a bit meager, but is surprisingly enough. RAM management is something Apple seems to be very good at. When it comes to storage capacity, the user can choose between two different options: 64 gigabytes and 256 gigabytes. A SIM card slot, with which the iPad can dial into the Internet, is optional. I have the LTE model with 64 gigabytes and I have to say that I am very satisfied with the choice. I don't regret the choice of memory size, even though it's "only" 64 gigabytes - I only used 20 gigabytes of it. I never had any problems with the performance either, the A12 Bionic copes perfectly with all tasks - from simple browsing to photo editing with the new Photoshop app, everything works smoothly.

The battery is both a curse and a blessing. Let's get to the blessing first, which would be the size of the battery. With 8134 mAh it is possible for me to use the tablet for at least a whole day, so that I can still use at least 30 in the evening Procent remaining charge. Once the good piece is empty, the curse comes to light, that is the loading speed. That ProThe problem here is that Apple only includes a 10-watt power adapter, so it can take up to 3,5 hours (wtf?!) before the battery is fully charged again. In 2019, something like that just can't be anymore. The logical consequence for me was to go here on Amazon to buy a faster power adapter. That made the situation a lot more bearable.

Software: iPad OS

It continues with the software. When I bought the iPad Air 3, it was still running iOS 12. Just a week later, the update to iPadOS 13 was available - and I think that only made the device even better.

At first glance, nothing changed at all. Everything looked like it was before the update. If you then go into the settings, it gets more exciting. Suddenly there is an option for a system-wide dark mode and an option for showing more apps pro home screen page. In addition, the widget bar on the home screen also has a place. But it doesn't stop there. You can now also use computer mice and external storage media. Improved multitasking with the ability to use multiple instances of an app at the same time is also on board. Same as a new one Slide-over window.

Unfortunately, there are also some bugs that do not restrict the use in an unpleasant way, but are still noticeable. This includes the error that the dock often aligns incorrectly, but the rest of the home screen is correct. It is also a bit annoying when a new system update appears every day.

However, a look at the App Store is enough to lift my spirits again. There are tons of apps there that have been designed very nicely and can be really useful. At school, for example, I use GoodNotes in conjunction with the Apple Pencil, just like MyScript Calculator or PDF Expert 7 from Readdle. You can also find the exclusive ones there Apple Arcade-Games. It is also nice that you have a year Apple TV + gets given with the purchase.

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The update also improved the Safari browser. This now leads websites to believe that the iPad is a Mac, which is why sites like WhatsApp Web suddenly work. In addition, you can now work better with sites like Google Docs, and Apple implemented a decent download manager.

Camera

The iPad has an eight-megapixel camera with an f / 2.4 aperture and video recordings with 1080p, but I didn't judge the camera like one on a smartphone, because I personally don't take photos with a tablet. I mainly used the device to scan documents and documents - the lens was definitely sufficient for that. The 1080p front camera has a seven-megapixel resolution. This is sufficient for video calls with FaceTime, but I prefer to use my smartphone to snap a selfie.

Prices and availability

The iPad Air 3 is best bought from Apple itself, because there you can choose flexibly between the configurations and the colors. The starting price is 549 euros. The surcharge to 256 gigabytes costs almost 200 euros, while the upgrade to the LTE variant costs 140 euros.

iPad Air 3

Picture: TechnikNews

iPad Air 3: conclusion

In the end, it comes down to two things that should decide whether to get an iPad Pro buys or already manages with the iPad Air. The first of the two things is the design. That Pro is the first Apple tablet in a long time with a new look, while the Air still comes with the "old" look. The second thing is the display. The touchscreen of my model still has a 60 Hertz refresh rate, the more expensive model from Apple offers 120 Hertz, which is particularly useful for the proprofessional work can make a difference.

I don't regret buying the iPad Air 3 myself. The device is very reliable in everyday use and except for that Programming for school and my part-time job, I can do whatever I feel like doing on the thing. Also articles for TechnikNews writing and publishing goes surprisingly well.

And as good as the battery life of the iPad is, the worse the length of the charging time. I really hope that a faster power supply will be included with the next generation of the Air range.

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David Haydl

David lives in Graz and has been there for around half a decade TechnikNews, also editor-in-chief for some time. He regularly provides the site with news, test reports and the like TechnikNews Weekly, which was his idea to launch. He likes to spend his free time outdoors, listening to a lot of music (and clearly too loud) and some podcasts on all kinds of topics, and also likes to go running. He enjoys the time that remains with his charming girlfriend or in front of the TV.

David has already written 1257 articles and left 117 comments.

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