iPad Air 6 (2024) Preview: new chip, new size option, and…?

iPad Air 6 (2024) Preview: new chip, new size option, and…?

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iPad Air 6 (2024) Intro

Apple just announced the sixth generation of the iPad Air, but it would be more correct to say “iPad Airs”, as in plural. This year the tech giant is expanding its tablet portfolio by including another, larger iPad Air which serves similar purposes as the iPhone Plus in the iPhone lineup.

The iPad Air is that perfect middle ground where price, performance, and size come into an almost perfect goldilock, at least as far as tablets go. One of the main problems with it was that it came only in 11-inch display size, but now buyers can get a larger screen without going Pro.

What other upgrades and changes does the 2024 iPad Air bring along? Well, here’s a quick list of the ones Apple shared during the announcement:

iPad Air 6 (2024) upgrades:

  • Apple M2 chip replaces the M1
  • A new, 13-inch model
  • Front-facing camera changes position
  • New colors
  • Apple Pencil Hover
  • AI features

Table of Contents:

iPad Air 6 (2024) Specs

If you are familiar with the 2022 iPad Air, you might see an uncanny level of resemblance here. Truth be told, there isn’t much to look at in terms of hardware upgrades besides the M2 chip that replaces the M1 from the previous generation.

“*” = not confirmed

iPad Air 6 (2024) Design & Colors

Apple hasn’t done anything groundbreaking with the iPad Air’s design. Usually, the company sticks to the same design language for at least three generations, so the lack of any alterations here is normal. Maybe we will see a new design for the iPad Air whenever the 6th or 7th generation comes along.One crucial change, however, is the placement of the front-facing camera. Until now, Apple always placed it on the vertical side of the screen, but now it has moved to the right horizontal side of the iPad Air, making it much more convenient for facetime calls with multiple people. After all, this is the way most users tend to hold their tablets anyway.

Size-wise, the 13-inch iPad Air measures 280.6 mm x 214.9 mm x 6.0 mm, so almost exactly the same as the 2022 13-inch iPad Pro, which measures 280.6 mm x 214.9 mm x 6.4 mm.

Here are the iPad Air 6 (2024) colors you can pick from:

  • Starlight
  • Space Gray
  • Blue (new)
  • Purple (new)

The new blue and purple appear more pastel and pale compared to the ones from last generation.

iPad Air 6 (2024) Display

The main upgrade to the display is the fact that you get to choose between a 11-inch one and a significantly larger 13-inch variant thanks to the new larger iPad Air.

Unfortunately, Apple treats its iPad Airs the same way it treats its non-Pro iPhones. In other words, there is no high screen refresh rate here, which still maxes out at 60Hz. It is actually even a bit worse than with the iPhones, since they at least get an OLED display, while the 2024 iPad Airs are still rocking LCD panels that have worse contrast and color saturation.

iPad Air 6 (2024) Camera

It is no secret that the back camera on a tablet is probably its least used part, so it is also no surprise that the 12MP main camera remains unchanged on the 2024 iPad Airs.

The only difference here is, as mentioned earlier, that the 12MP ultra-wide selfie camera is now housed inside one of the longer bezels of the iPad Air, making it much more comfortable to use when you are holding the tablet horizontally.

iPad Air 6 (2024) Performance

The new iPad Air’s performance is the one area where there has been a solid upgrade, jumping from the M1 to the M2 chipset. What does that mean in practicality? Well, Apple says that M2 has a GPU that’s 25% more powerful in comparison, and a CPU that is 15% faster. Apple claims that, with the faster memory bandwidth, the new iPad Air is almost 50% faster than its predecessor.

M2 also comes with a 40% faster neural engine, which is the part of the silicon responsible for tasks that utilize artificial intelligence, such as Siri, for example.

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The base storage has now gone up from 64GB to 128GB. The maximum storage capacity has also gone up from 256GB to 1TB, but you get that only if you go for the larger 13-inch iPad Air.

Additionally, both of the 2024 iPad Airs support Bluetooth 5.3, which creates more stable connection with Bluetooth devices and is more power efficient. Apple has also upgraded its mid-range tablet from Wi-Fi 6 to Wi-Fi 6E, which can utilize the faster 6GHz Wi-Fi networks.

iPad Air 6 (2024) Software

Apple released iPadOS 17 back in September, when the new iPhone 15 series was announced, so if the iPad Air really is set to come out this upcoming spring season, it will launch with that straight from the box.

iPadOS 17 includes a lot of features that iPhones get, such as lock screen customization, interactive widgets on the home screen, and you can now check your health and fitness information on your iPad as the Health app is available there too.

Thanks to the M2 chipset, however, the new iPad Airs also offer AI features such as Visual Look Up, Subject Lift, and Live Text capture.

As far as software updates go, iPads are usually supported between 5 and 7 years, just like iPhones. Most of the time it is 6 years, so don’t worry about future-proofing, you are covered.

iPad Air 6 (2024) Battery

Just like with the rest of its products, Apple does not specify what the charging speeds or battery capacity are on its iPads, and that includes the iPad Air. While the battery capacity on the 11-inch model is probably very similar to that of the predecessor, you now have the option to have much more battery with the 13-inch iPad Air.The 13-inch model and its larger battery might prove crucial here, as the M2 chipset is known to be a little more power-hungry than the M1. In other words, the smaller 11-inch variant might end up with less battery life than its predecessor. Even if that is not the case, the good news is that you now have an iPad Air that can last for hours on end.

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Charging speeds remain the same, even with the 13-inch iPad Air. If we were to venture a guess, that means we can expect a total charging time between 3 and 4 hours for the larger model, and about 2 hours and 10-15 minutes for the smaller one when using the recommended 20W charger from Apple.

iPad Air 6 (2024) Audio Quality and Haptics

Besides the display, the speakers are also one of the main areas where Apple differentiates the Air from the Pro iPads. The latter comes with four speakers, while the Air has two, and that remains true with this year’s Air series.

However, if you decide to go for the larger 13-inch iPad Air you will get better speakers with “double the bass,” says Apple.

iPad Air 6 (2024) Models

The iPad Air 6, or the 2024 iPad Air, comes in two models: a 11-inch iPad Air and a 13-inch iPad Air. In essence, these two sizes mimic the iPad Pro series, which inherently means that buyers no longer need to upgrade to the pricier Pro models if they want a bigger screen and longer battery life.

iPad Air 6 (2024) Summary and Final Verdict

If we are to address purely the performance and features of the 2024 iPad Air, the M2 chipset is the sole upgrade here. It is roughly 50% more powerful in comparison, able to handle some machine learning (AI) features and more graphically intensive games.

Truth of the matter is that the real tantalizing set of upgrades comes with the bigger 13-inch Air, which offers access to more screen, longer battery life, and better sound for a lower price tag compared to the iPad Pros.

The regular 11-inch model is simply a performance bump, and the 2022 variant already offered more than enough power for most users so the new one doesn’t sound too appealing. In other words, the 13-inch Air seems to be the one that’s more worth the purchase, unless you want a more compact tablet.

Nevertheless, we recommend you wait for our full review of the 2024 iPad Air before making a purchase decision. Stay tuned!



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