Apple iPad Air Review
Interface and Functionality
By now, the updated iOS 7 experience has made its way to several Apple devices, so there aren’t any surprises here folks – even more if you’re already using an older iPad with the new software. We’ve covered the experience extensively in our review of the iPhone 5s, but to sum it all up here with the iPad Air, we’re pleased to know that the updated visuals help to complement the fact that this is a totally redesigned iPad that we’re dealing with. In addition to the overhaul found with the visual presentation of the platform, it still keeps in mind all of the core foundational aspects of the platform that we all know and continue to appreciate – like its simplified and straightforward approach.
On the surface, the look and feel of iOS 7 on the iPad Air is very familiar, as the grid-style layout of its interface has been a constant staple. As for those iPad centric features, like the various gestures it uses for navigation, they haven’t really changed at all. Specifically, they include the 5-finger pinch gesture that “minimizes” an app, and the other 5-finger swipe left/right that allows us to switch between opened apps. Sure, the animations that accompany those gestures look pretty much identical from before, but nevertheless, they’re both features that help us to get around with ease.
At the end of the day, it’s just the visuals that change here with iOS 7. It’s something that we naturally appreciate, but we were kind of hoping to see some additional gestures, or other features that greatly differentiate it from the iPhone experience.
There’s nothing particularly new here with the messaging experience with the iPad Air, well, to its credit, iOS 7 features a different color theme for the keyboard. Besides that, everything else is identical to last year’s unit. Naturally, the landscape option is by far the best option to go with, seeing that its spacious layout allows us to use it much like a regular keyboard. With the portrait option, we recommend relying on the split-style option – mainly because our thumbs are better able to encompass the layout.
Using the default email app, it’s yet again a familiar one that only sees a subtle change with its visual presentation. Indeed, it’s more than equipped to help us organize our various accounts, but it still doesn’t have the depth of functionality we see with the Gmail experience over on Android – albeit, the official Gmail app for the iPad is pretty darn good on its own.
Checking out the usual array of core organizer apps on the iPad Air, it’s again the visuals that are new here with the experience. Beyond that, though, there’s nothing out of the ordinary with any of them, since they pack along the usual features and functions we’ve come to expect to find. Still, it’s nice that they’re all optimized to make great use of the extra real estate with the tablet’s display. Interestingly enough, iOS 7 does adds this new feature called iCloud Keychain, which allows us to share various passwords and credit card information between approved iOS 7 devices.
Processor and Memory
Although the iPad Air shares the same 64-bit based dual-core Apple A7 chip that’s also used by the iPhone 5s, its clock speed is higher at 1.4GHz – whereas it’s 1.3GHz with the iPhone 5s. As expected, the iPad Air just flies with all tasks and operations thrown at it, which is something that’s been constant with the tablet. Heck, even processor intensive tasks, like playing some serious 3D games, don’t slow this one at all! Still, the availability of apps and games that are optimized to make use of the 64-bit processor is a small listing at the moment, but the momentum should shift into higher gear over the next few months.
To tell you the truth, it really pains us to see that Apple is just so stubborn when it comes to storage capacity with the iPad Air. As usual, it’s available in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB capacities, which are priced at $500, $600, and $700 respectively for the Wi-Fi versions. Seriously, we were hoping to see the trio consist of 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB versions. It’s just called keeping up with the times!
Internet and Connectivity
Safari on the iPad Air acts much the same as what we’ve seen previously, but it sees a new feature that enables us to perform back/forward functions by simply swiping with one finger from its left/right edges. Honestly, we can’t complain about the experience, since it’s rich with so many lovable qualities that makes the tablet great for the occasion – like its speedy page loads, super smooth navigational controls, instant page rendering, and lots of crisp details thanks to its high resolution screen.
Lessening the need to make different iPads to accommodate the various networks around the world, the iPad Air stands out for its support of 14 LTE bands – so that it will be compatible to work with your wireless carrier of choice, even if you’re uncertain about your operator’s network settings. Aside from that, it features the same connectivity features as before, which includes aGPS, Bluetooth 4.0, and dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi. Yeah, it doesn’t have NFC on board, but iOS 7 allows us to share content with its AirDrop functionality. In terms of video-out functionality, it requires the purchase of an adapter to gain that feature.