Which one is best for YOU?
w iPads this week. First was an update iPad mini—the first update the mini iPad has received in almost two years. Then we got a brand new iPad Air with a 10.5in display—the Air’s largest display ever.
Along with these new iPads, Apple also simplified the iPad lineup. The company now sells four models of iPad: the iPad Pros with Face ID and Apple Pencil 2 support, the new iPad Air, the entry-level iPad, and the iPad mini. The latter three of these devices all sport Touch ID and support the original Apple Pencil.
It’s fairly obvious who the iPad Pros are designed for (pros, of course), as well at the iPad mini (people who want a small Apple tablet. But middle-of-the-road users now have the option between two centrist iPads: the iPad Air and the iPad.
So just what are the differences between the two? Glad you asked! Let’s dig in.
10.5in iPad Air vs The 9.7in iPad: Specs and Design
10.5in iPad Air (2019)
- Display: 10.5in 2224 × 1668 pixel at 264 pixels per inch, 60Hz
- Colors: Silver, Space Grey, Gold
- Storage: 64 or 256GB
- Processors: A12 Bionic chip
- Features: Touch ID, Smart Keyboard, and Apple Pencil support
- Cameras: front 7MP 1080p HD camera and a rear 8MP 1080p HD camera
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, optional 4G
- Size: 250.6 mm × 174.1 mm × 6.1 mm
- Weight: 456 grams
9.7in iPad (2018)
- Display: 9.7in 2048×1536 pixel at 264 ppi
- Colors: Silver, Space Grey, Gold
- Storage: 32 or 128GB
- Processors: A10 Fusion
- Features: Touch ID and Apple Pencil support
- Cameras: front 1.2MP 720p HD camera and a rear 8MP 1080p HD camera
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, optional 4G
- Size: 240 mm × 169.5 mm × 7.5 mm
- Weight: 469 grams
Let’s take a look at some of the major internal differences between the Air and the regular iPad. The biggest differences are in the CPU and storage department. The A12X Bionic with Neural Engine processor found in the Air means the thing will wipe the floor for the regular iPad when it comes to processing power. Literally, it will be over twice as fast as the regular iPad’s A10 Fusion in some instances.
The iPad Air also comes in bigger storage sizes: 64 or 256GB. The regular iPad now only comes in 32 or 128GB options. As far as connectivity goes, both include Wi-Fi with an optional cellular model. While both iPads support the original Apple Pencil, only the Air features Smart Connector support for smart keyboard cases, like the one Apple makes.
10.5in iPad Air vs The 9.7in iPad: Display & Design
Of course, the biggest difference between the Air and the regular iPad is the display. The iPad Air has the larger 10.5in display versus the regular iPad’s 9.7in display. And that’s not all: the iPad Air also features a fully laminated display and offers TrueTone support, which will automatically change color based on ambient light in the room, which means it will look more natural—the way paper does when you work on it.
Design-wise both iPads are very similar looking. However, the iPad Air is an “Air” for a reason. At only 6.1mm thick, it’s much thinner than the 7.5mm thick iPad.
10.5in iPad Air vs The 9.7in iPad: Camera
The final major differences between the iPad Air and the iPad are in the camera department. The iPad Air features a much better front camera at 7MP and 1080p HD video. The regular iPad’s front camera only sports a 1.2MP lens with 720p HD video. Both iPads feature the same rear camera: 8MP and 1080p HD video.
10.5in iPad Air vs The 9.7in iPad: Price and Verdict
Here’s the rundown of the various costs for the different models of each iPad:
- iPad Air: 64 GB £479, 256 GB £629 (add £120 on for the cellular model).
- iPad: 32 GB £319, 128 GB £409 (add £130 on for the cellular model).
As you can see, the iPad Air is more expensive than the iPad. But cost shouldn’t be the deciding factor for which you buy. You should get the iPad Air mainly if you want the bigger, better screen and Smart Cover support.
But for many people, the regular iPad is still the best fit if all you want to do is browse the web, play games, and send emails, due to its much lower cost. In short, the iPad is an everyman device. The iPad Air, one the other hand, is for those who want the regular iPad but with a few more bells and whistles.
Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.