The iPad Air is a big step forward for Apple in so many ways – not least through design and setting a precedent for the future.

It's 28% lighter and 20% thinner, taking up 24% less volume overall. We can see that Apple has really pushed the envelope when it comes to design, and the result is pretty phenomenal.

We liked

Reading the iPad 4 review, we see that the issues we came across before have largely been resolved. The design is better. The bezel is smaller. The price is palatable in comparison to the competition.

iPad Air review

The speaker output is immensely impressive, the overall look and feel of iOS 7 more intuitive (although a long way from perfect, granted) and the general speed of operation is unsurpassed.

The range of accessories, the ecosystem and the general speed with which the iPad works, especially when it comes to the heavy lifting, is massively impressive. Nothing is a huge leap forward, more a set of constant steps towards the perfect tablet that make everything that little more slicker to use.

We disliked

As we mentioned, there's very little that Apple hasn't addressed here for us to really criticise. The 16GB option of the tablet simply isn't enough storage for most to be able to get the best out of their iPad.

iOS 7 doesn't feel like a completed operating system for this advanced device, and while we're not that bothered, the absence of TouchID is strange given it was so widely expected.

iPad Air review

The camera is no great shakes, but we wouldn't be complaining if Apple had got rid of it altogether - however, to not offer the software that's found on the iPhone 5S is odd.

And here's an odd one: the iPad Air is lighter, but it's not light. It's not got the same feel we found when we first picked up the iPad mini, or the iPhone 5, or the Sony Xperia Tablet Z. It's not too heavy or anything, but it didn't wow us the first time we held it.

Verdict

Make no mistake - Apple has finally nailed the tablet with a great combination of specs, power and a decent OS.

It's a joy to hold the iPad Air. From the clever construction to the fast processor to the improved user interface, Apple has found an answer to every criticism we had of the device and then some.

The fact it's not even more expensive than its large-screen brethren is really impressive for an Apple product, and the suite of apps that are now free, coupled with the excellent App Store and premium build, make this a no brainer for anyone looking to enter the tablet market.

We'd advise that you get the largest capacity your budget can manage - although at the top end you're verging on Macbook territory, so make sure you're ready to use a tablet and think about getting an external keyboard to make full use of the extra apps you've now got.

You've seen the score, and for those keeping tabs you'll realise this is TechRadar's first five-star tablet. It's a device with almost no flaws - it's not just Apple's best tablet, it's the only tablet you should be considering this Christmas if you're keen on a larger screen.

First reviewed: November 2013