iPad Air review

Apple lays down the gauntlet for future tablets with a stunning effort

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Editor's Choice

The display on the iPad Air is nothing overly new - but it's still amazing. It uses a new technology to make sure that the power isn't sucked as heavily, which is as much to do with 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 Retina 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 new iPad Air 2), but according to DisplayMate, it's not that bad.

There's also the small matter of the higher-res, sharper and more colour-saturated tablet screen on the market with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S - while I'm still waiting for the test results between these two tablets, I've no doubt that the South Korean model will be more impressive overall than Apple's version when it comes to web browsing and movie watching.

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

However, Apple hasn't made the best large-screen tablet display on the market according to DisplayMate. While the Air performs fairly well in most scenarios, it's bested by the competition - namely the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9.

iPad Air review

Credit: Republished with permission from DisplayMate Technologies

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

The PPI on the iPad Air may make it look like it's a tablet that isn't as sharp as the competition, but in reality that makes no difference given the distance you hold it from your eyes.

There's no doubt that 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 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 here, the iPad Air is like the rest of the competition when it comes to flicking the tablet around in your hands - the brightness and color will quickly shift away from perfection when you begin to tilt.

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 a kitchen while cooking, for instance, it will irk a little. It's nothing major, but I saw 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 it has a much lower cost than the competition, 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 results were that while the Amazon tablet was the best in all tests - and the best the laboratory had ever seen, 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 think that the 8.9-inch screen of Amazon's offering isn't the best for an extended movie marathon.


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