In advance of Friday’s official iPad Air release, a select number of websites who were furnished early access, have published their iPad Air reviews. Since the original, the iPad in both its full-size or mini form factor have generally received positive reviews. Now that the iPad mini will receive a much need retina display when it launches in late November, has Apple done enough to the 9.7-inch iPad Air for it to reclaim some of its cachet. Tim Cook called the iPad Air “the best iPad we’ve ever done,” but what are the critics saying?
Ed Baig, USA Today
As it happens, though, this latest full-size Apple tablet is the most tempting iPad yet, better than its already best of breed predecessors, superior still to each and every rival big screen slate that I’ve tested.
Brad Molen, Engadget
Yes, as strange as it may sound, the latest iPad is actually just a larger version of the 7.9-inch mini. It’s as if the smaller device — which launched at the same time as the fourth-gen iPad — was a pilot test for Jony Ive’s new design language. Calling it the “Air” was fitting indeed, since it’s ridiculously small and light compared to previous models.
Stuart Miles, Pocket-Lint
Despite the boost in power, in day-to-day use we’ve noticed no real speed enhancements compared to the previous full-sized iPad. And that’s based on tests using an array of apps and playing all the resource-heavy games we can – Infinity Blade III, Need for Speed Most Wanted, Real Racing 3, Dead Trigger 2 and others. For today, the Air is as fast as any Apple tablet has ever been: we’ve experienced zero lag and zero performance issues. The importance of 64-bit is huge, though. It is very much an improvement that you’ll see tomorrow rather than today, which makes it really hard to tell you that it’s amazing, because on release day you’ll look at the iPad Air and say: “this is no different to the iPad 4″. Compared to the original iPad, though, and it’s light years ahead.
Clayton Morris, FoxNews
It’s hard to believe Apple managed to shave nearly a half-pound off last year’s fourth-generation iPad while still maintaining exceptional battery life, which in my all-day usage rarely dropped below 30 percent.
Anand Lal Shimpi, AnandTech
If you prefer the 9.7-inch form factor of the original iPad, the Air gets you as close as possible to a mini without giving up that display size. The name does the product justice in this case. In two hands or lightly propped up against something (palm, legs, chest), the iPad Air feels incredibly light – the weight just seems to disappear.
David Pogue, Yahoo
So that’s the iPad Air for you: No longer alone in the marketplace, no longer the only right choice, no breakthrough new features. But it’s smaller, lighter, and faster than ever, with a much bigger catalog of apps—and much better ones—than the competition. If you want a big tablet, this is the one that will make you happiest.
Rich Joroslovsky, Bloomberg
One thing that’s not here that should be is Touch ID, the fingerprint sensor on the latest iPhone. Apple won’t say why it was left out, but it’s arguably even more important on a larger device, which may be used to access more sensitive personal information. I expect to see it on future iPads, and will be glad when it shows up.
Jim Dalrymple, LoopInsight
It’s very hard to describe how good the iPad Air feels in your hand without actually picking one up. It’s kind of like the first time you saw a Retina display for the first time—shock.
Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch
When Apple introduced the iPad mini, I feel in love and felt that I’d never be swayed back to the other side. The iPad Air makes the argument anew that there’s still room for big tablets in people’s lives, and it might just help usher in an era of computing where households own more than one kind of iPad, and PCs are harder and harder to find.
Walt Mossberg, Wall Street Journal
I’ve been testing the iPad Air for about a week and found it a pleasure to use. This new iPad isn’t a radical rethinking of what a tablet can be, but it’s a major improvement on a successful product. It is the best tablet I’ve ever reviewed.
Ben Bajarin, Techpinions
The A7 being a 64-bit processor has laid a new foundation in mobile computing and it is one that will help the iPad Air stand the test of time. There was a time not too long ago when PC purchasing advisors recommended to consumers to buy as much processor as they could afford. These were the days when megahertz was going to gigahertz. While I don’t recommend consumers buy products solely based on specs, I think the same advice applies to the iPad Air. The A7 helps future proof the iPad Air helping to extend its life and the performance of the tablet well into the future.
Tim Stevens, CNET
The iPad Air is worth getting excited about. Though it brings no new functionality to the table, and we can’t help being disappointed about the lack of Touch ID, the performance increase and solid battery life show that progress is still being made on the inside. It’s the new exterior design, however, that really impresses. The iPad Air is thinner than any tablet this size deserves to be, and lighter, too. The old iPad always felt surprisingly hefty. This one, compellingly lithe.
Not only do the critics find the iPad Air a great device, but most found it to be a compelling alternative to the retina iPad mini, thanks to the size reduction. If you are deciding between the iPad Air or retina iPad mini, these reviews might tip the scales towards the Air. The iPad experience hasn’t changed, but the device seems to have been slimmed down, making it more of an iPad mini Max.
Editor’s note: At some point in the next few weeks, we’ll have our complete iPad Air review posted.