Home Tech iPad Air M2 review: The cheapest iPad Pro for the rest of us is getting bigger

iPad Air M2 review: The cheapest iPad Pro for the rest of us is getting bigger

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iPad Air M2 review: The cheapest iPad Pro for the rest of us is getting bigger

TOApple has more options than ever for those looking for a tablet with different sizes, prices, screens and power, but the iPad Air is pretty easy to understand: it’s the premium, big-screen iPad for those who don’t want to shell out thousands of dollars. for an iPad Pro.

The Air starts at £599 (€699/$599/A$999) and is now available in two screen sizes: the original 11-inch model and a larger 13-inch model for big-screen viewing. That puts it right in the middle of Apple’s line-up, with the 10th generation iPad starting at £349 at the bottom and beaten by the new iPad Pro M4 starting at £999.

The 11-inch Air is a direct replacement for the excellent 2022 M1 model, with the same attractive iPad Pro-like design, sharp display, and stereo speakers. The 13-inch version, as reviewed here, expands by a factor of 1.2 diagonally, making it about the same size as the previous generation iPad Pros.

The 13-inch iPad Air has a screen similar in size to a laptop. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Air’s screen is a significant improvement on the base iPad model, as it is brighter and higher quality, matching the screens of good quality laptops like the MacBook Air or Surface Laptop. But it lacks the iPad Pro line’s more advanced miniLED or 120Hz OLED technology. That means it’s not as bright, contrasty, or smooth as Apple’s best tablets. Compared side by side, the difference is night and day, but so is the price.

Stereo speakers are great for watching TV. The aluminum body and glass front feel solid and are just 1mm thicker than the super slim 5.1mm thick iPad Pro. The webcam has been moved to the top edge horizontally, which greatly improves the video calling experience compared to previous iPads.

The Touch ID sensor on the power button works well but isn’t as convenient as Face ID on the iPad Pro. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian


  • Screen: 10.9 or 12.9-inch Liquid Retina display (264 ppi)

  • Processor: apple m2

  • RAM: 8GB

  • Storage: 128, 256, 512 GB or 1 TB

  • OS: iPadOS 17.5

  • Camera: 12MP rear, 12MP for selfies

  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E (optional 5G eSim only), Bluetooth 5, USB-C, Touch ID, Smart Connecter

  • Dimensions: 247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1mm or 280.6 x 214.9 x 6.1mm

  • Weight: 462g or 617g

M2 power supply and accessories.

The M2 chip absolutely flies and will handle almost any task, including multitasking, hampered more by software limitations than performance. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The M1 chip in the previous Air has been replaced by an M2 chip, which was used to great effect in the 2022 iPad Pro, as well as Apple’s MacBook Air and other machines. It’s about 15% faster than the previous model, much faster than any competing tablet, and more powerful than most will use an iPad.

I navigated through work, multitasking between the browser, note-taking apps, chat apps, photo editing, and word processing. Handles games and heavier applications with aplomb. The base Air model also starts with 128GB of storage, double that of its predecessor, which is a welcome improvement.

The tablet runs the same iPadOS 17.5 as the rest of Apple’s tablet lineup, meaning it has a very large library of apps and can connect to an external monitor, mouse, and keyboard, but it’s limited in multiple ways compared. with an equivalent macOS. laptop like a normal computer.

The 13-inch version’s battery lasts 10 hours while working, browsing, or watching movies, which is certainly enough for most tasks. The 11-inch will last about the same nine or ten hours.

The iPad’s more square-shaped screen means that movies have large black bars at the top and bottom, even on the larger 13-inch model. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The M2 Air supports the same excellent £129 (€149/$129/A$219) Apple Pencil Pro as the M4 iPad Pro, which replaced the second-generation Pencil on previous iPads and attaches magnetically to the side of the tablet for charging and match it. .

The tablet is compatible with the old Magic Keyboard on previous iPads, but not the new Magic Keyboard on the iPad Pro. The keyboard makes the iPad Air a viable replacement for a laptop, but it costs from £299 (€399 / $299 /A$499) on its own.


The recycled aluminum body feels smooth, premium and sturdy, even at the largest size. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Apple doesn’t give an expected lifespan for the battery, but it should last over 500 full charge cycles with at least 80% of its original capacity and can be replaced from £175. The tablet is generally repairable, with a damaged repair out of warranty costing from £819.

The tablet contains at least 20% recycled content, including aluminum, copper, gold, tin, plastic and rare earth elements. Apple analyzes the environmental impact of the tablet in your report and offers free exchange and recycling schemes, even for non-Apple products.


The 11-inch iPad Air M2 costs from £599 (€699/$599/$999) and the 13-inch iPad Air M2 costs from £799 (€949/$799/1,299 Australian dollars). The 5G versions cost £150 (€170/$150/A$250) more.

For comparison, the 10th generation iPad costs from £349the iPad Pro M4 costs from £999 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 costs from £799. MacBook Air M3 starts in £1,099.


The iPad Air is a truly excellent tablet that finds itself in a tough spot in Apple’s lineup. It’s a highly capable machine that can do almost anything you want with an iPad. But it’s not as cheap as the £350 10th generation iPad, which is perfectly capable of handling the TV and navigation that tablets are mainly used for, nor is it as spectacularly good as the iPad Pro M4 with its impressive screen and wallet. breakout price.

Instead, the iPad Air has plenty of power, a quality LCD screen, good speakers, and a solid range of accessories for a premium experience. The 13-inch version, in particular, offers a considerably larger screen, making it better for watching TV on the couch or using as a computer replacement.

So the Air is the best iPad for people who want a premium mid-sized tablet that can do double duty as a full computer when needed or want the largest screen Apple offers that doesn’t cost £1,300 or more.

Advantages: choice of sizes, fast performance of the M2, good battery life, excellent screen, USB-C, long software life, wide range of applications, good speakers, horizontal Center Stage camera, recycled aluminum, good accessories.

Cons: expensive, no multi-user support, iPadOS still needs to function as a laptop replacement, no case-less support, no Face ID, needs to be treated with more care than its cheaper rivals.

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