It’s not just about the iPhone 12 today, as it appears Apple has also quietly opened pre-orders for its newest iPad Air, which it unveiled at last month’s “Time Flies” event, simply saying it would be available in October.
Well, it’s October, and while there had been some hopes that the iPad Air might arrive sooner, it’s now up for pre-order today alongside Apple’s two 6.1-inch iPhone models, the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro.
In some ways, the timing isn’t all that surprising; since the unusual times we’re living in right now resulted in Apple having to delay its iPhone launch into October, we found ourselves in the unprecedented situation where Apple’s newest flagship CPU, the A14, actually made its debut in an iPad rather than an iPhone.
However, Apple had surprisingly little to say about A14 when it unveiled the iPad Air, offering only the most basic performance comparisons to the A12X and A12Z, the chips used by the last two generations of iPad Pro, and the fastest chips previously found in any iPad.
So it was apparent that Apple was saving the bigger unveiling of the A14 for its iPhone event this week, and it definitely had a lot to talk about regarding the A14 Bionic when it unveiled the iPhone 12.
Apple clearly wanted to make sure that the A14 chip got its big debut in the iPhone 12, and not the iPad, so it’s understandable that it wouldn’t have wanted the iPad Air to begin shipping to customers before the iPhone, lest benchmarks from the larger tablet put the focus on the wrong aspect of Apple’s latest silicon. In fact, we’ve been hearing reports that while Apple has already begun sending out the new iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPad Air to reviewers, it’s also doing so with instructions that reviews of the iPhone get published first.
While Apple opened pre-orders for the new iPad Air this morning at the same time as its two 6.1-inch iPhone 12 models went on sale, it looks like Walmart actually jumped the gun, and had the iPad Air Wi-Fi models available for pre-order yesterday, although the expected shipping date was still the same as Apple’s — next Friday, October 23rd — so ordering from Walmart wouldn’t have necessarily helped you jump the queue.
In any case, it looks like whatever stock Walmart had has already sold out, but as of today Apple and other retailers such as Best Buy also have also now opened preorders for the newest iPad.
The iPad Air starts at $599 for a 64GB Wi-Fi-only version and is available for the first time in five colours — Space Gray, Silver, Rose Gold, Green, and Sky Blue.
AppleCare+ for the new iPad Air will set you back an additional $69 for a full two-year plan or $3.49 per month, and includes coverage for an Apple Pencil and Apple-branded iPad keyboard.
Much like Apple’s iPhone 12, the new iPad Air is truly the ideal iPad model for most people now that Apple has closed the gap somewhat between it and the considerably more expensive iPad Pro.
It’s a pretty massive upgrade over the 2019 iPad Air, since it adopts the same edge-to-edge Liquid Retina LCD display, along with a USB-C connector, a Touch ID sensor built into the sleep/wake button, and a new design that makes it compatible with Apple’s excellent Magic Keyboard accessory.
Even more significantly, it packs in Apple’s latest A14 CPU, which technically makes it even faster than the 2020 iPad Pro, which is still using an A12Z, which is really just a modest upgrade from the 2018 A12X.
Of course, the 2020 iPad Pro still packs in several more advanced features, but much like the iPhone 12 Pro, the lines are being drawn much more clearly between those features that most users need versus the ones that are clearly professional-grade features for power users.
For example, the 2020 iPad Pro provides a LiDAR Scanner and better camera technology overall, along with a brighter 120Hz ProMotion display, four speakers for better sound, and the TrueDepth front camera with all that entails: Face ID, Portrait Mode, and Animoji and Memoji support. You can also get the iPad Pro with up to 1TB of internal storage, while the iPad Air caps out at 256GB.
It’s also very likely that we’ll see the processor gap between the two models rectified in a few months when Apple releases its next-generation iPad Pro, which is expected to include the same A14X SoC that Apple will be putting into its Apple Silicon Macs, along with a whole new mini-LED display.
The new iPad Air is available now, however, and so unless you actually need (or really want) the more advanced camera and display technology packed into Apple’s flagship tablet, the mid-range iPad Air could be a much better choice thanks to its considerably more affordable price.