Apple launches 10.5-inch iPad Air with A12 Bionic chip, Apple Pencil support & more

Apple today released a new 10.5-inch tablet branded as “iPad Air”. We thought that moniker was long abandoned after the iPad Air models were phased out about two years ago!

It starts at $499, offers Apple Pencil support and runs Apple’s latest A12 Bionic processor with the second-generation Neural Engine coprocessor for hardware-assisted acceleration of machine learning and artificial intelligence tasks. It does not borrow Face ID from the iPad Pro series so the good ol’ Touch ID Home button is still present on this machine.

The A12 Bionic chip brings a 70 percent boost in performance and twice the graphics capability. The A12 chip series also powers the latest iPhone XR and iPhone XS.

The new tablet weighs in at one pound (456 grams) and is just 6.1 mm thin, the same ultra-thin profile we saw on the previous iPad Air 2 model and the new iPad mini 5. The 30.2-watt-hour battery is rated at up to ten hours of surfing the web on Wi‑Fi, watching video or listening to music or up to 9 hours of Internet time when using cellular data network.

Phil Schiller, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing:

iPad continues to provide magical new experiences for a growing range of uses where it is the absolute best device, from playing games in augmented reality to note-taking and drawing with Apple Pencil, from streaming HD movies and editing 4K films to learning to develop apps with Swift Playgrounds.

Today the iPad family takes two big leaps forward with an all-new 10.5-inch iPad Air that brings high-end size, features and performance at a breakthrough price, and a major upgrade to the 7.9-inch iPad mini, which also brings Apple Pencil, Retina display and the A12 Bionic chip to the many customers that love its compact size.

The previous iPad Air models had a 9.7-inch screen and this new model packs in a 10.5-inch display into roughly the same enclosure, which was achieved by shrinking the side bezels slightly (similar to the now discontinued 10.5-inch iPad Pro).

In addition to being nearly 20 percent larger, the 2,224×1,668 display features over half a million more pixels than the previous iPad Air models. This is a fully laminated screen like on iPad Air 2 so the images will appear as if painted directly on a piece of glass.

The LED-backlit panel has 500 nits brightness and 1.8 percent reflectivity.

The new iPad Air is compatible with Apple’s Smart Keyboard

The tablet supports Apple’s True Tone screen technology that automatically adjusts display brightness to match lighting conditions around you. This is also a wide color display (the DCI-P3 profile) capable of rendering HDR photos with redder reds and greener greens.

It does not use OLED technology nor is it rated for HDR video.

The selfie camera has gone from the awful 1.2-megapixel shooter with 720p video capture on iPad Air 2 to an iPhone 7-like seven-megapixel sensor with 1080p video recording at 30 frames per second. The eight-megapixel rear camera features improved low-light sensitivity, 1080p video capture with stabilization, slo-mo video capture at 120 frames per second and more.

Both cameras have Auto HDR and take wide color images and Live Photos. In fact, both the new 10.5-inch iPad Air and iPad mini 5 are now rocking the same front and rear cameras (that lack LED flash and optical image stabilization).

Other notable perks include Bluetooth 5, the magnetic Smart Connector on the side, the 3.5mm headphone jack, stereo speakers, the Lighting port, dual microphones and the same Wi-Fi performance, eSim technology and Gigabit‑class LTE connectivity as the latest iPad Pro series.

The new 10.5-inch iPad Air is available starting today in Silver, Space Gray and Gold. The 64GB/256GB Wi-Fi-only models are priced at $499/$649 (add $130 for cellular connectivity).

The devices will be available in stores next week.

Are you planning on buying one of these?

Let us know by posting your thoughts in the comments down below.