In spring Apple secretly introduced the iPad Air 3 via press release. It's sold as a mid-range device, although it doesn't even differ that much from the iPad Pro. Our test.
Let's start by looking at what we're actually dealing with here, because the manufacturer has several tablets in its range - let's start with the cheapest device. Here we have the iPad 7, which comes with 32 gigabytes of memory and a comparatively older processor. Then there's the iPad Air 3 and the iPad mini, which are in the middle class and we'd have the iPad Pro at the top. Now that we've clarified that, we can start with the actual report.
Unboxing and initial setup
Apple packed the latest iPad Air into a company-typical package. This means that a photo of the product is visible on the top, two Apple logos and two product names on each side. Once the very outer plastic layer is 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, some notes and the obligatory Apple stickers. The first setup of the iPad is very simple. Simply switch on the device, select the language and the country, enter the Apple ID, import possible backups and wait until the software automatically configures the last things. After a good 15 minutes, the user can already use his new tablet.
And now we want to take a look inside the iPad. The device is powered by an A12 Bionic, which was used in last year's iPhones, and has three gigabytes of RAM. The latter may look a bit weak, but it's surprisingly good enough. RAM management is something Apple seems to be very good at. When it comes to memory 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 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. The A12 Bionic is great for all tasks - from simple browsing to photo editing with the new Photoshop app, everything works fine.
The battery is both a curse and a blessing. Let's first come to the blessing, which would be the size of the battery. With 8134 milliampere-hours it is possible for me to use the tablet for at least one whole day, so that I still have at least 30 percent remaining charge in the evening. When the good part is empty, the curse appears, that is the loading speed. The problem here is that Apple only includes a 10-watt power supply, so it can sometimes take 3.5 hours (wtf?!) until the battery is full again. Something like this is simply not allowed to happen anymore in 2019. The logical consequence for me was to go to Amazon to buy a fast AC adapter. That made the situation much more bearable.
We continue with the software. When I bought the iPad Air 3, it still ran 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 as it was before the update. If you then go into the settings, it gets more exciting. All of a sudden there is an option for a system-wide dark mode and an option for displaying more apps per homescreen page. And the widget bar also has a place on the start screen. But it doesn't stop there. You can now also use computer mice and external storage media. An improved multitasking with the possibility to use several instances of an app at the same time is also on board. Same as a new slide-over window.
Unfortunately, there are also some bugs, which don't limit the use unpleasantly, but still attract attention. These include the error that the dock is often misaligned, but the rest of the Home screen is correct. It's also a bit annoying to feel that a new system update appears every day.
However, a glance at the App Store is enough to lift my spirits again. There are a lot of apps that have been very nicely designed and can be really useful. In school, for example, I use GoodNotes in conjunction with the Apple Pencil, just like MyScript Calculator or PDF Expert 7 from Readdle. There you can also find the exclusive Apple Arcade Games. It's also nice that you get one year of Apple TV+ for free with your purchase.The update also improved the Safari browser. This browser now pretends websites that the iPad is a Mac, so 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.
Although the iPad has an eight-megapixel camera with an f/2.4 aperture and video recording with 1080p, I didn't judge the camera like a smartphone because I personally don't take photos with a tablet. I mainly used the device to scan documents - the lens was enough for that. The 1080p front camera has a seven-megapixel resolution. That's enough for video calls with FaceTime, but I prefer to use a smartphone for selfie photography.
Prices and availability
The iPad Air 3 is best bought from Apple itself, because there you can flexibly choose between the configurations and the colors. The starting price is 549 Euros. The surcharge of 256 gigabytes costs almost 200 euros, while the upgrade to the LTE version costs 140 euros.
iPad Air 3: Conclusion
The bottom line is that there are two things that should decide whether you buy an iPad Pro or get by with the iPad Air. The first of these is design. The Pro is the first Apple tablet in a long time with a new look, while the Air still comes along with the "old" look. The second thing is the display. The touchscreen of my model still has a 60 Hertz repetition rate, the more expensive Apple model offers 120 Hertz, which can make a difference especially when working professionally.
I don't regret buying the iPad Air 3 myself. The device is very reliable in everyday life and I can do everything I want to do on this thing except programming for school and my part-time job. Writing and publishing articles for TechnikNews is also surprisingly good.
And as good as the battery life of the iPad is, the worse the charging time is. I really hope that the next generation of the Air series will come with a faster power supply.