Apple iPad Air 4th gen, iPad 8th gen now official: Faster, flashier than ever

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Apple's new iPads are its best yet
Oh, what a time to be an iPad fan: Apple's new iPad Air 4th gen and iPad 8th gen slates are finally official with important upgrades and novelties in tow that bring them closer to the iPad Pro than ever. Although the Apple Watch Series 6 was the highlight of Apple's Time Flies event, the new iPads flew under the radar but undeservedly so. Here's why the new iPads deserve your attention.

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Apple iPad Air 4th gen design, specs, and price

So, what's so important about the all-new iPad Air 4th gen? Easy: it's the first Apple device to be powered by the next-gen 5nm A14 Bionic chipset. This move is a bit perplexing since Apple usually debuts its latest chipsets on the iPhone range, but as this year's crop of iOS-powered smartphones won't see the light of day until mid-October, it was the Air 4's turn to herald the new chipset. Actually, this is the first time in years that an iPad has got Apple's new chipset before the same year's iPhone crop: the last time Apple did that was with the iPad 2, which got the A5 chipset before the iPhone 4S. Don't worry - the A14 Bionic will make it to the iPhone as well.

The 5nm A14 Bionic is truly the highlight of the new iPad Air. It comes with a new 16-core Neural Engine that takes machine learning to a whole new level of capability and coincides with Apple's push into artificial intelligence. Thanks to the A14 Bionic, the new iPad is capable of superior image recognition, natural language learning, motion analysis, and more.

The new iPad Air has a stunning new all-screen design with thin bezels and is available in five new colors, a 10.9" Liquid Retina display with True Tone and P3 wide-color gamut support. Touch ID has been integrated in the power button, making this the smallest ID sensor Apple has put in a device so far. It retains the same level of security that the Touch ID sensor is known for, just stuffs it in a smaller button. The new iPad Air has a 7MP FaceTime camera with F2.2 aperture, while the rear one is the same as the one on the iPad Pro. The 12MP camera with wide F1.8 aperture lets you take stunning 4K videos and also comes with enhanced video stabilization. USB-C is another contemporary iPad Pro feature that finally makes it to the iPad Air lineup.

The new iPad Air is priced at $599for the Wi-Fi-only model and $729 for the Wi-Fi + cellular version. The tablet will be available with 64 or 256GB of storage. 

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Does the lower price make it a more appealing buy than the the iPad Pro? As a reminder, the latter comes with a display that has a higher refresh rate, Face ID, and triple camera setup supplemented by a LIDAR for dimensional awareness, but more conscious buyers will definitely get more value from the new iPad Air 4th gen.

iPad 8th gen specs, design, and price

Apple has also announced the new iPad 8th gen at its "Time Flies" event today at the Apple Park. Arguably not as exciting as the iPad Air 4th gen, it retains its position as the most popular iPad in Apple's lineup. Not only is it affordable, the new iPad 8th gen also scores some rather important updates.

First, Apple improved the performance and design, and what's a better match for an entry-level tablet than the same chipset that made the iPhone XS family click and tick? That's right, the iPad 8th gen comes along with the Apple A12 chipset, which is everything but a slouch. It brings Neural Engine capabilities for the first time on a regular iPad, allowing for "next-level machine learning capabilities, including people occlusion and motion tracking in augmented reality (AR) apps, enhanced photo editing, Siri performance, and more." This move also means that all of Apple's tablets are now coming with machine-learning capabilities on deck. 

You can also have the iPad 8th gen in any storage variant as long as it's 32 or 128GB. With a 10.2" Retina display and stereo speakers on deck, as well as an all-day battery life, the new tablet will likely be the perfect companion for your entertainment needs, be it Netflix or Apple TV+ or whatever else floats your boat.

Second, the 8th gen iPad comes with enhanced support for the Apple Pencil 1st gen (available separately for $99), which offers an improved user experience in concert with iPad OS 14. The latter brings enhanced note‑taking features and makes handwriting as powerful as typed text, with improved shape recognition that makes for precise drawings, and even scribbling in any text field with the eponymous Scribble feature.The new tablet also supports Apple's $159 Magic Keyboard.

The Wi-Fi version of the new iPad 8th gen is coming at a familiar price - $329, but students and schools can get it as low as $299. If you want the Wi-Fi + cellular model, you will have to splurge out $459. The tablet will be available this Friday, September 18, but pre-orders are already live. 

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