• Full Review
  • Specifications

Full Review

It’s been a long, long wait for the iPad Air 3, with Apple choosing to launch the iPad mini 4 and iPad Pro instead in 2015.

Given that it’s the successor to arguably the best tablet on the planet expectations were understandably sky high, so can it live up to them?

We’ll tell you right now that it’s beautiful and powerful, but is there more to it than that? Or is that already enough to seal its place at the top of the pack? We answer that and more below.

Design

Apple hasn’t drastically altered the design of its Air range for the latest entry, but that’s ok, because the iPad Air 2 already looked great and this is similarly stylish.

It has an incredibly slim metal unibody, that looks and feels high-end. Yet it’s also very light, so you can cart it around all day and never feel weighed down.

Screen

Just like the iPad Air 2, the iPad Air 3 has a 9.7-inch 1536 x 2048 screen with a pixel density of 264 pixels per inch.

It’s a slight shame that Apple hasn’t improved it, but that still leaves it up there with the sharpest tablet screens you’ll find.

It has been improved in some ways too. The actual quality is higher, with better contrast and an improved level of brightness, so you can make it out better when outside on sunny days.

The biggest improvement though is of course the addition of 3D Touch. This technology, which was inherited from the iPhone 6S, allows the iPad Air 3 to respond differently to different amounts of pressure.

There are any number of potential uses for that, but the main one baked into the OS allows you to ‘peek’ at content, such as emails and websites, without leaving the screen you’re currently on. It’s a useful feature and one that we’re expecting to see on more and more devices over time. But for now, if you want it on a tablet, the iPad Air 3 is your only option.

Power

The iPad Air 3 has a powerful dual-core Apple A10 processor and 3GB of RAM, which is up from the 2GB found in the iPad Air 2.

What all that means is performance is slicker than ever, proving almost perfectly smooth even during demanding tasks.

Apple almost always delivers silky smooth performance on its devices and the iPad Air 3 is the best yet, which is great and also means it should remain a top performer for quite a long time.

Camera

One area which hasn’t received much attention is the camera, as Apple has stuck with an 8MP snapper on the back and just a 1.2MP one on the front.

That’s a bit of a shame and we always lament the low quality front-facing cameras on tablets especially, as they can be useful for video calls.

But they’re both perfectly adequate and the rear camera is actually capable of taking some reasonable snaps, if you really want to use something this size to take photos.

Interface and features

The iPad Air 3 runs iOS 9, which we’ve already seen on other Apple devices. It’s a good operating system though, offering the slickest, most intuitive version of iOS yet.

It also makes Siri better than ever and brings true multitasking to the table, so you can take advantage of all that screen space and run two apps side by side.

Apple also supports its devices for quite a while, so as soon as iOS 10 arrives you can bet that will land on the iPad Air 3, keeping it up to date.

As for features, other than 3D Touch, which we’ve highlighted above, the main new one is the presence of four speakers, making music, movies and games much more enjoyable without headphones. The sound quality isn’t a match for a good pair of cans, but it’s still nice to have the option to forgo headphones.

You’ll also find Touch ID, just like on most other recent iOS devices. This allows you to unlock the slate and authorise purchases with your fingerprint, which is a whole lot faster than entering a PIN or password. Plus, Apple has improved it for its iPad Air 3 outing, so now it’s faster and more accurate than ever.

Battery Life, Memory and Connectivity

Apple hasn’t revealed the size of the battery in the iPad Air 3, but the company promises up to 10 hours of video or web browsing and it lives up to that claim.

That’s enough to see you through even the heaviest days of use and if you use your slate more sparingly you could easily get a few days out of it between charges.

It’s a good battery life, but no better than the iPad Air 2, Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet or a number of other slates.

Storage comes in at 16, 64 or 128GB. We’ve been moaning about Apple’s insistence on making 16GB versions of its products for years, as at this point they’re far too limited, especially since Apple doesn’t allow for microSD cards. It would be much more useful to have 32GB as the smallest size.

As it is, you’ll probably want to opt for at least the 64GB version, which pushes the price up, but at least Apple offers high storage capacities to those prepared to pay.

Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 and NFC, though the NFC is only useable for Apple Pay. You can also get a version with 4G mobile data if you shell out extra.

Conclusion

The iPad Air 3 is the tablet we’ve been waiting for. While Apple continues to frustrate in some ways, for example by insisting on offering a 16GB model but not a 32GB one, in most ways the iPad Air 3 is near perfect.

Sure, it looks a lot like the iPad Air 2, but that just means it looks premium and stylish. It’s also very powerful and very slick, with a great, innovative screen, impressive speakers, long battery life and the most intuitive tablet OS around.

It’s not perfect, but it’s the best iPad Apple has ever made and just about the best tablet full stop. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait quite as long for the next one.

Specifications

Specifications

  • Dimensions (mm): TBC
  • Weight (g): TBC
  • Battery capacity (mAh): TBC
  • Colours: Space Grey, Silver, Gold TBC
  • Screen size (inches): 9.7 TBC
  • Resolution: 1536x2048 pixels TBC
  • Pixels per inch (PPI): 264 TBC
  • Processor: TBC
  • Processor make: Apple A10 TBC
  • RAM: 3GB TBC
  • Internal storage: 16/64/128GB TBC
  • Expandable storage up to (GB): None
  • Camera: 8-megapixel and 1.2-megapixel TBC
  • Operating System: iOS 9 TBC

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