Editor's note: Check out our iPad Air (2020) review to see why we love it.
Apple's iPad Air 4 pre-orders just opened up as the company finally changed its release date from the month of October to a specific date. The company's new mid-range tablet is set to arrive on Oct. 23 (the same day that iPhone 12 pre-orders will deliver).
The iPad Air 4 is probably the most interesting iPad in recent memory, as it makes some of the iPad Pro's signature features available at a lower price. So, instead of having to shell out $799 for the iPad Pro, you can get Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil 2 support, the lovely flat-edge design, thinner bezels and the A14 Bionic chip for $599 (opens in new tab).
- The iPad Air 4 will battle for our best tablets rankings
- iPad 8 vs. iPad Air 4: How Apple's new tablets compare
- iPhone 12 pre-orders: How to get yours now
Apple iPad Air 4: $599 @ Apple (opens in new tab)
The brand-new iPad Air 4 gives you some iPad Pro perks for $200 less than the iPad Pro. The biggest one is the support for Apple's Magic Keyboard, which is a gigantic improvement on the Smart Keyboard Folio. Its keys feel much better, and it's got a touchpad too. It's the accessory that finally makes the iPad a MacBook-competitor.
The 6-core A14 Bionic may be the fastest chip ever in a smartphone (as Apple announced at its iPhone 12 event), but we're not yet sure how it competes with the 8-core A12Z processor in the 2020 iPad Pro. What we do know is that the A12Z didn't exactly impress in benchmarks when compared against the A12X Bionic chip in the 2018 iPad Pro.
Another big difference between the iPad Air 4 and iPad Pro is based around its biometric security. With the iPad Air 4 has the super-thin bezels of the iPad Pro, it doesn't include the Face ID camera that Apple fits in the Pro's bezels. Instead, you get a Touch ID fingerprint sensor in the power button. And while Touch ID has had a slight resurgence in public favor thanks to how face masks interfere with Face ID, we'd have preferred Face ID in the iPad Air 4, as it's more likely to be an at-home device and not the screen you bring to the supermarket.
The iPad Air 4 also features a single 12-megapixel rear camera, and a 7MP front-facing camera. That setup is better than the normal iPad (8MP/1.2MP) but a couple of cameras shy of the iPad Pro (12MP & 10MP on the back, 7MP on the front), which also packs a LiDAR scanner for AR content.
Personally, I'm mostly excited for the iPad Air 4 because it opens up the superior iPad accessories to those who don't want to spend $800 on a tablet. The $299 Magic Keyboard may be more costly than the $179 Smart Keyboard, but it's the better keyboard by a country mile.
Similarly, you'll want to spend the extra $30 on the Apple Pencil 2nd Generation for the iPad Air 4, as its magnetic charging is far superior to the awkward charging method used by the 1st Gen Apple Pencil.