iPad Air review

It's no longer king, but the Air is still an excellent choice

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The display on the iPad Air is nothing overly new – but it's still amazing. It uses some clever tech to ensure it doesn't drain power too heavily, which is as much to do with mitigating the overall battery pain as it is about making sure we don't see a repeat of the ultra-warm tablets of previous years.

But in reality, things look very nice indeed, with the Retina standard already a mainstay of Apple's larger tablet for years now.

I still think it's a touch too reflective for watching video (and that's something that's been changed in the iPad Air 2). According to DisplayMate it's not that bad, but a couple of the iPad Air's contemporaries were found to be more impressive overall when it comes to web browsing and movie watching.

Ray Soneira of that same laboratory testing facility has found that things are actually pretty good for Apple's tablet on that front, with less than 10% of the light hitting the screen surface actually reflecting back into your peepers.

However, Apple didn't make the best large-screen tablet display of its generation for the iPad Air, according to DisplayMate. While the Air performs fairly well in most scenarios, it's bested by the direct competition – namely the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9. Separate tests on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S range have since revealed that it too is better than the iPad Air in most key areas.

iPad Air review

Credit: Republished with permission from DisplayMate Technologies

It's clear that the iPad Air is much better than the Nexus 10, though, which is predictable given that the Nexus is a device that's well past the end of its life.

The PPI numbers for the iPad Air may have you thinking its display isn't as sharp as those of the competition, but in reality it makes no difference given the distance you'll be holding it from your eyes.

There's no doubt the iPad Air isn't as good as the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX, which has dynamic contrast to make pictures look simply stunning on the screen. But the Air is plenty powerful enough, and won't let you down on the display front in any way.

iPad Air review

Credit: Republished with permission from DisplayMate Technologies

As you can see above, the iPad Air is much like the competition when it comes to flipping the tablet around in your hands – the brightness and color will quickly shift away from perfection when you begin to tilt the device.

This wasn't a problem in most scenarios, as you'll be the only one using the device in day-to-day use. However, if you've got it set up on a stand in the kitchen while cooking, for instance, it will irk a little. It's nothing major, but I noted that the Kindle Fire HDX was superior here in that example.

iPad Air review

As I mentioned, the reflectivity of the iPad Air isn't the best on the market, and might irritate lightly at times. The Nexus 10 still looks like an awful tablet, but given that Google has put it out to pasture since our initial review of the iPad Air, we can't castigate it too much.

You can head over to the DisplayMate report to see the full findings of the tablet test, but the upshot is that while the Amazon tablet was the best in all tests – and the best the laboratory had ever seen at the time, apparently – the iPad has made some significant gains here too, offering a more power-efficient display.

Crucially, it's larger too, meaning you're getting more of a viewing experience – I don't think the 8.9-inch screen of Amazon's offering is the best for an extended movie marathon.

Of course, while this is an instructive slice of comparative data from around the time of the iPad Air's launch, things have moved on since, and you can now get better displays from all parties concerned, including Apple – indeed, the iPad Mini 4 screen is widely held to be one of the best in the business.


Tech Specs

Product TypeTablet
Flash Memory Capacity16 GB
Processor ManufacturerApple
Graphics Controller ManufacturerImagination Technologies
Graphics Controller ModelPowerVR G6430
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeNo
Maximum Battery Run Time10 Hour
Backlight TechnologyLED
Product FamilyiPad Air
Front Camera/WebcamYes
Operating System PlatformiOS
ColourSpace Gray
Operating SystemiOS 7
Brand NameApple
Form FactorSlate
Processor Speed1.30 GHz
Processor TypeA7
Screen Size24.6 cm (9.7")
Screen Resolution2048 x 1536
Weight (Approximate)453.6 g
Cache1 MB
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Display Screen TechnologyIn-plane Switching (IPS) Technology, Retina Display
WWAN SupportedNo
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution5 Megapixel
Height238.8 mm
Width167.6 mm
Depth7.4 mm
Screen ModeQXGA
ManufacturerApple, Inc
Product ModelMD785LL/A
Product NameiPad Air Tablet
Product LineiPad Air
Aspect Ratio4:3
Manufacturer Part NumberMD785LL/A
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.apple.com/uk
Marketing Information

All-new design. A ton of advanced technology. In just one pound. You have to hold iPad Air to believe it. It"s just 7.5 millimeters thin and weighs just one pound. The stunning Retina display sits inside thinner bezels, so all you see is your content. And an incredible amount of power lies inside the sleek enclosure. So you can do so much more. With so much less.

Limited Warranty1 Year