iPad Air vs iPad 4: Older Hardware Equals Cheaper Price Tags


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Apple will release two new iPads in Q4 of 2014 in the form of the iPad Air 2 and the third-generation iPad Mini with retina. But as is often the case with Apple stuff, if you don’t mind not having the latest and greatest, you can actually pick yourself up quite a bargain by going with an older, preceding model. In this case, the iPad Air or the iPad 4. 

A lot of additions to new iPads could be considered superfluous too, things like minute savings in weight, TouchID and the inclusion of new sensors. This will of course depend on your needs as a user and your budget; if you want the best and money is no concern, you’re obviously best off going the latest and greatest.

But if you want a bargain with still-excellent performance and timely software updates for at least the next 18 months, it is definitely worth looking at Apple’s older model iPads. They’re cheaper, do all the same stuff – broadly speaking – as the newer models and cost A LOT less.

So, ahead of the impending launch of the iPad Air 2, lets take a look at 2012’s iPad 4 and 2013’s amazing iPad Air. 

Direct spec comparison

DeviceApple iPad AirApple iPad 4
Display9.7-inch IPS LCD Retina,2048×1536 pixels,264ppi9.7-inch IPS LCD Retina,2048×1536 pixels,264ppi
Camera5-megapixel iSight5-megapixel
Processor, RAM, GraphicsApple A7 dual-core 64-bit,M7 Motion,1GB RAMApple A6X dual-core 1.4GHz, 1GB RAM
Operating SystemiOS 7iOS 7
ConnectivityBluetooth 4.0,Wi-Fi,GPS, Lightning,Optional 4G/3GBluetooth 4.0,Wi-Fi,GPS, Lightning,Optional 4G/3G

Build and design

Apple’s iPad Air is drastically different from its predecessor on the outside. The whole aim of the game for Apple this time around has been to make the device smaller, lighter, thinner and more manageable while retaining the larger screen size.

It has a completely new bodyshell inspired by the iPad Mini.

It is virtually the same height (240mm) and still made of aluminium, however, it’s noticeably narrower from edge-to-edge at 169.5mm to the iPad 4’s 185.7mm, has a much thinner bezel on either side of the display – reduced by as much as 43%, according to Apple, and it’s much thinner at only 7.5mm to the iPad 4’s 9.4mm.

Weight and balance have also been improved with the iPad Air living up to its name at 478g (469g for the Wi-Fi only model) compared to the iPad 4’s hefty 662g.

Not only is the end result easier to operate and carry around, but it looks much sharper to boot, while keeping Apple’s high-grade build quality with a reassuringly solid fit and finish.

Colour options have changed slightly, instead of black or white you can now choose between space grey (with a black fascia) or silver (with a white fascia).


Apple received plenty of acclaim for the full-size iPad’s Retina display, so logically there’s very little reason to switch things around at this stage. As a result, the iPad Air carries exactly the same display setup as the iPad 4 with both sporting a 9.7-inch IPS LCD Retina panel at 2048×1536 pixels and 264 pixels-per-inch (ppi), producing rich, sharp and bright visuals.


Both devices have the same set of storage options – 16GB at the lower price end, 32GB and 64GB in the middle and a top-tier 128GB option for all you film, game or music enthusiasts.

Processor and performance

Another major differentiator is the processing power. The iPad 4 uses Apple’s A6X dual-core chip clocked at 1.4GHz with 1GB of RAM. Meanwhile, the iPad Air uses the new A7 chip, also dual-core and sporting 1GB of RAM, but this time it’s 64-bit which opens up faster speeds, particularly with optimised 64-bit apps and content such as Appel’s iWorks suite.


With both tablets being on Apple’s latest iOS 7 software there will be no difference in the end user experience and both devices have been optimised with the operating system and its apps to ensure the slickest performance possible.

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