New iPad Air goes official with latest A12 chip, slim and light look, but no Face ID

New iPad Air goes official with latest A12 chip, slim and light look, but no Face ID
Apple has just quietly unveiled two brand new iPads: the long-awaited refresh to the iPad mini and the new iPad Air, which borrows many of the great features from the iPad Pro, including a similar, 10.5-inch screen with True Tone, a thin and lightweight design, and top-tier performance with the latest Apple A12 chip at a much more affordable, $500 price. And nope, there is no USB-C port on these two new iPads.

So to put all the models in context, we now have the following iPads on offer:

  • iPad (2018): prices from $330
  • NEW! iPad Mini (2019): prices from $400
  • NEW! iPad Air (2019): prices from $500
  • iPad Pro (2018) 11": prices from $800
  • iPad Pro (2018) 12.9": prices from $1,000

And in case you were wondering, neither of these two new iPads has Face ID, the secure identification system that Apple uses on its latest iPhones and iPad Pros. Instead, the new iPads use the familiar Touch ID fingerprint recognition.

Both new tablets also support the Apple Pencil, but with a catch: they support the first-gen Pencil, and not the modern second-gen Pencil, so the coolest new features of the stylus like magnetic snapping to the tablet, wireless charging, and tapping the pencil to activate special features are not available. That's a strange decision on Apple's part, but we guess it's another way to differentiate the much pricier Pro models. The new iPad Air also supports the Smart Keyboard for faster typing (the mini model does not support the Apple-made keyboard).

The new iPad Air comes with the slogan that "power isn't just for the pros", likely a reference to its more bearable price compared to a Pro version, and here are its main highlights:

  • Apple A12 Bionic chip with Neural Engine
  • 10.5-inch LCD Retina Display with True Tone and wide colors
  • Support for Apple Pencil (1st gen) and Smart Keyboard
  • 1-pound weight and slim, 6.1mm body
  • 10-hour battery life
  • Space gray, silver and gold color options

New iPad Air (2019) vs iPad Pro vs iPad

With so many different iPad models, you might be getting lost. We know that we are! So, let's clear things up and see how this new iPad Air is different from the iPad Pro. And what about the differences compared to the cheap, $330 iPad?

Here is a short summary.

Compared to the iPad Pro, the new iPad Air (2019) LACKS the following features:

  • ProMotion (120Hz refresh rate) 
  • Quad Speakers
  • Face ID
  • Air has A12 chip, while Pro has the more powerful A12X  

And compared to the affordable, $330 iPad, the new iPad Air (2019) has the following advantages:

  • Bigger screen with True Tone, smaller bezels, lighter and thinner design
  • More powerful A12 chip vs A10 chip on the $330 iPad
  • Compatible with Smart Keyboard ($330 iPad is not)

There are other tiny differences that you probably would not care too much about: the new iPad Air seems to have a slightly less capable camera, an 8-megapixel f/2.4 main shooter, compared to a 12MP f/1.8 camera on the iPad Pros. The number, however, might not be the biggest difference, as the hallmark Smart HDR feature of the latest iPhones and the iPad Pros is not available on this here new iPad Air. It can also only record 1080p Full HD videos, while the iPad Pros can capture footage at 4K resolutions, and you are also missing the Quad LED flash that you have on the Pro models.

And then the front camera seems to be the same, but on the Air you do not have support for Portrait Mode for selfies, nor Portrait Lighting, nor Animoji. 

There also does not seem to be much of a change in terms of battery life, and Apple says the new iPad Air will last you for up to 10 hours of screen time, pretty much as long as any iPad ever.

Prices and Availability

The new iPad Air is available in two storage options: 64GB and 256GB, and as always with Apple product you do not have the option to expand that storage. You will see the detailed prices for all available models below, but it's easy to remember that the base iPad Air now costs $500, while the extra charge for the 256 gig model is $150 on top of that.

You will also have a model with cellular connectivity. It will work via eSim and will support Gigabit-class LTE speeds of up to 866Mbps. 

You should also know that the iPad Air (2019) is a dual SIM device that has both a nano SIM card slot plus support for eSIM, much like Apple's latest iPhones.

And ere is how prices for the new iPad Air break down:

  • $499 for the 64GB Wi-Fi model
  • $649 for the 256GB Wi-Fi model
  • $629 for the 64GB Wi-Fi + Cellular model
  • $779 for the 256GB Wi-Fi + Cellular model

Again, it also supports Apple Pencil (1st gen) and the Apple Smart Keyboard, but those are not included in the box and you need to buy them separately. Apple charges $100 for the Apple Pencil and $160 for the Smart Keyboard.

The release date for both new iPads including this here iPad Air is set for today, March 18th for the United States, Canada, the UK and most Western European countries, so you can get order one right away. China, Mexico and many countries in the rest of the world will be able to buy one starting exactly a week from now.

Related phones

iPad Air (2019)
  • Display 10.5" 1668 x 2224 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 7 MP front
  • Processor Apple A12 Bionic, Octa-core, 2490 MHz
  • Storage 256 GB
  • Battery 8134 mAh



1. vgking9699

Posts: 194; Member since: Mar 01, 2019

I’m a iPad Pro 12.9 256gb user But still great deal for this new iPads Back when I got the 256gb iPad Pro 10.5 it was $800 for WiFi only But this new 10.5 iPad has got faster cpu and is cheaper than the iPad Pro 10.5 but now is cellular for less money

8. Victor.H

Posts: 1062; Member since: May 27, 2011

Absolutely! It's still not quite as good as the Pro, but the price is much more appealing at $500.

19. vincelongman

Posts: 5691; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

So happy it has a laminated display and the A12, not the outdated A10 or A11 like the rumors Hopefully it has 4GB of RAM 3GB might make it struggle to take advantage of iOS 13's rumored tablet features and better multi tasking

22. foldablephone

Posts: 57; Member since: Sep 19, 2018

Yep, strange how Apple offer better value on their tablets. When the time comes to replace my iPhone 7 if I switch to Android I may get one of these cheaper iPads and then something like a OnePlus Flagship or Honor Flagship will still be cheaper two devices than getting just a new iPhone! Plus I’d have the best of both worlds.

2. Jason2k13

Posts: 1462; Member since: Mar 28, 2013

So a cheaper version of the 2017 10.5 iPad Pro? I’m scratching my head why Apple added the name “Pro” in the first place. Does “pro” mean higher cost?

9. Victor.H

Posts: 1062; Member since: May 27, 2011

Haha I guess so! But really, take a closer look at our article and you would notice that there are a few important advantages that the Pro still has over this new iPad Air.

25. mackan84

Posts: 454; Member since: Feb 13, 2014

You forgot that the budget iPad 9,7” doesnt have a laminated screen like the new ones.

16. vgking9699

Posts: 194; Member since: Mar 01, 2019

Pro was the most powerful spec wise of the current iPads But now the new 10.5 2019 is more powerful than the 10.5 Pro from 2017 The 2017 model had the older A10 chip, now it’s got the newer A12 chip But it’s just not considered a pro simply cuz of the even more powerful 2018 iPad pros with its A12X chips

4. shiv179

Posts: 164; Member since: Aug 08, 2012

Those bezels!

6. f_u_006

Posts: 120; Member since: Mar 19, 2014

I love how companies like Apple, Sony, Toyota, etc. recycle both the materials they use and their design. No room for innovation? Too many body parts laying around from last production? Let's make a "new" product with similar design but with new names and numbers to fool folks.

23. _KIRA_

Posts: 108; Member since: Dec 25, 2013

Those three companies and others who do this are known for their reliability. There's a method to their madness

7. kennybenny

Posts: 214; Member since: Apr 10, 2017

i'd buy the iPad Air (2019) but it would cost an additional $150 due to the poor exchange rate here in Canada! ($650) Can't afford it, might have to buy the 2018 one....... Now bring the updated version of the iPod touch and i'd snap up one!

10. Victor.H

Posts: 1062; Member since: May 27, 2011

Haha let's see in a week! Apple will have an event that should be focused on subscription services but some people have hopes for a new iPod Touch too.

20. deleon629

Posts: 461; Member since: Oct 04, 2014

I'm sure there are plenty of (5x more capable/higher spec'd) Lenovo ultrabooks and tablets "lying around" for 1/4th of the cost...

11. User123456789

Posts: 914; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

Mine is the 9.7 2018. Battery life is great. I use a lot and only charges 3 time per week.

13. shiv179

Posts: 164; Member since: Aug 08, 2012

Apple stated: "major upgrade for iPad Mini fans who love a compact, ultra-portable design packed with the latest technology" - what? No FaceID, ugly bezels, no USB-C, steep price

14. surethom

Posts: 1691; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

WoW apple announce then release new tablets, But Samsung Tab S5e is still not released or even pre-order.

15. vgking9699

Posts: 194; Member since: Mar 01, 2019

The tab s5e is a downgrade from the tab s4

17. emcdonald75

Posts: 160; Member since: Nov 07, 2012

Apple could have at least given both new iPads the quad speakers. Samsung gave the Galaxy Tab S5e four speakers. Come on Apple!

18. vincelongman

Posts: 5691; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

TBF at least Apple used their latest A12 SoC The Tab S5e only has SD 670, should have used the SD 855 or SD 845

21. CreeDiddy

Posts: 2186; Member since: Nov 04, 2011

I had the iPad Pro 10.5 and upgraded to the iPad Pro 12.9 (2018). Needless to say I sold my iPad Pro 10.5 and want it back. The iPad Pro 12.9 i s not worth the money even since I bought at $769+taxes. At $499 thats good price.

24. TechNeck

Posts: 651; Member since: Aug 29, 2014

I'm not surprised nor intrigued about these new iPads. I actually expected more from the mini.

26. japkoslav

Posts: 1505; Member since: Feb 19, 2017

Same screen, worse speakers, no bending - easy to chose an iPad. Unless they do a major upgrade and fix to an iPad Pro line, they will hardly peak in sales like they did before. I say it really rarely, but GJ Apple - you made something people want for a change.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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