Apple iPad Air 2024 (13-inch) review: More space for the ‘I use it as a laptop’ folks from Mashable

Come to mama! The 13-inch iPad Air, packed with the new M2 chip, is finally here — and it’s about time. I’ve been waiting nearly two years for a refresh.

However, I wish there was more. It’s like when someone tells you they’ve been working on a novel for two years, and you finally read it, and you’re like, “That’s it?” It doesn’t quite meet your expectations as far as excitement and thrill goes, but I get it. The iPad Air isn’t meant to cause too much pomp and circumstance: it’d steal the iPad Pro’s spotlight after all.


Credit: Joe Maldonado / Mashable

Although Apple was light on design changes this time around, the most important updates are under the hood. As you’ll read later on, the M2 chip delivers impressive performance and noteworthy battery life that will keep creatives, students, and on-the-go busy bees away from the imprisonment of charging cables and wall outlets.

iPad Air (13-inch, 2024) price and specs

The iPad Air I got for this review has a price tag of $1,049 via Apple’s official website and it comes with the following specs:

New M2 chip

256GB of storage

8GB of RAM

Wi-Fi + Cellular

13-inch, 2048 x 732-pixel resolution display

“Purple” chassis

I know, I know; $1,049 is a little much. If that’s the case, you can, instead, get just the WiFi model (instead of the Wi-Fi and cellular configuration) and downgrade to the 128GB variant, saving you $250 (i.e., $799 in total).

If you don’t care for a 13-inch display, you can shave the price down even further by getting the 11-inch model instead, which has a price tag of $599. This, by the way, is the cheapest configuration you can get.

Also, let’s give Apple a round of applause for starting its lineup with 128GB of storage and adding two more variants: 128GB, 512GB and 1TB. (Strangely, the previous-generation iPad Air only came in 64GB and 256GB models.)

Credit: Joe Maldonado / Mashable

iPad Air (13-inch, 2024) design

I used the iPad Air to type this very review, and while I still find iPadOS being quite limiting for what I do for work, I felt much more comfortable on the new 13-inch iPad Air. Anyone who needs a sleek, thin, and light tablet for school and work, and doesn’t have a demanding workflow, could totally benefit from the iPad Air.


Credit: Joe Maldonado / Mashable

Interestingly, although the 13-inch is, of course, larger than its 11-inch sibling, both models have the same slimness (0.24 inches). The 13-inch version weighs 1.36 pounds, making it expectedly heavier than the 11-inch model (i.e.,1.02 pounds).

At this point, you may be wondering, “Other than a new display size, what else is new? Are there any big design changes?” The answer to that is “kind of.”

Apple moved the webcam from the top bezel to the side (if you’re holding it in portrait orientation). This means that while you’re hosting video calls and FaceTime sessions in landscape mode, the webcam will be situated on the top bezel (instead of sitting awkwardly on the side).

Other than that, you’ll still find the volume buttons on the upper-right side, the TouchID sensor on the top right, the Smart Connector on the back, and the magnetic connector on the right side for Apple Pencil (it’s only compatible with Apple Pencil Pro and the Apple Pencil USB-C model released last year).

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Unboxing the 2024 iPad Pro and iPad Air

iPad Air (13-inch, 2024) display

With the iPad Pro graduating from miniLED to OLED, I was hoping that the iPad Air would adopt some of that miniLED goodness. Instead, however, the new iPad Air models still have a 60Hz LCD panel.


Credit: Joe Maldonado / Mashable

As mentioned, the iPad Air line, adopting the Pro line’s style, now has a 13-inch display. For what it’s worth, Apple is calling this the “13-inch” iPad Air for simplicity. It’s actually a 12.9-inch panel, to be specific, mirroring the iPad Pro 2022’s 12.9-inch model. (However, it’s worth noting that the 13-inch model on the iPad Pro is actually 13-inches.)

I fired up the Mufasa trailer on the iPad Air and Simba looked so crisp, he looked like he was jumping out of the screen with his vivid, orange-red, scruffy fur.

iPad Pro (left) and iPad Air (right)
Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

Impressed by the display, I was curious to see how it looked next to the iPad Pro playing the same trailer. In ideal lighting situations, it’s actually tricky to determine which display is the iPad Pro, which says a lot about the iPad Air’s picture quality.

However, in more challenging lighting situations, the iPad Pro does, indeed, shine.

The 13-inch model, packed with a 2,732 x 2,048-pixel panel, features 600 nits of brightness (the 11-inch model offers 500 nits). Seeing the iPad Air and iPad Pro side-by-side, I’d recommend the Pro model if you have plans of frequently using your tablet in brightly lit office or outdoors.

The 11-inch and 13-inch iPad Air in a brightly lit area.
Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

However, if you’re mostly an indoors user, perhaps you love to read or flip through comics, the iPad Air should be just fine.

iPad Air (13-inch, 2024) ports and connectivity

You should know that the iPad Air doesn’t have a SIM tray anymore, so it’s all eSIM from here on out.


Credit: Joe Maldonado / Mashable

The iPad Air has a UBS-C port located on the bottom that supports 10Gbps data transfer speeds. Plus, it can manage one external display with up to 6K resolution at 60Hz.

iPad Air (13-inch, 2024) audio

You’re still getting dual landscape stereo speakers, strategically spaced to provide optimal stereo sound when held horizontally. I fired up Apple Music on the iPad Air, and whoo, it sounds spectacular.


Credit: Joe Maldonado / Mashable

No, it’s not as good as the booming, quad-speaker setup on the iPad Pro, but in true Apple fashion, the audio is crisp and clean.

Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful” sounded hauntingly beautiful on the iPad Air, perfectly capturing the lush orchestration and melancholic melody. Plus, the iPad Air gets pretty loud, which means this tablet could be sufficient enough to manage a party of five, allowing you to jam with your loved ones in a medium-sized room.

iPad Air (13-inch, 2024) cameras

On the back chassis, you’ll find a 12MP world-facing wide camera while the selfie camera that faces you is a 12MP ultra-wide camera. “Does the iPad Air have FaceID?” you ask. Nope. If this is important to you, you can grab the iPad Pro. (The iPad Air does have TouchID, though.)


Credit: Joe Maldonado / Mashable

I took the 12MP wide camera for a spin at a local park, and it was alright. It did well in capturing the various hues of green of the tree-filled park as well as the reflection-filled pond that’s defined with countless ripples.


Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

However, naturally, it struggles to capture distant objects, like the building’s orangey-red facade. Still, I’m not expecting iPhone 15 Pro Max camera performance on an iPad Air. I do wish there was a telephoto lens, allowing me to zoom in on the swan in the pond for a sweet close-up shot, but that’s wishful thinking.

As for the 12MP selfie camera, it does a great job at capturing rich color, including my complexion.


Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

And unfortunately, it picked up on my pimple, putting it on full display, as well as other raised bumps on my face, but this is a testament to how well it picks up on small details. However, the selfie is a bit too saturated for my taste.

iPad Air (13-inch, 2024) battery life

Apple said that the iPad Air is rated for 10 hours of battery life, but the Cupertino-based tech giant definitely underpromised and overdelivered here.


Credit: Joe Maldonado / Mashable

When we ran the TikTok rundown on the iPad Air, which involves running a loop of a TikTok video at 50% brightness, the iPad Air lasted a whopping three hours longer than expected (i.e., 13 hours and 10 minutes).

iPad Air (13-inch, 2024) benchmarks

The iPad Air now has the M2 chip, leaving the previous generation’s obsolete M1 processor behind. We ran Geekbench 6 on the new iPad Air and it notched a multi-core score of 10,049.

This puts the M2 iPad Air on par with the following laptops and devices:

15-inch M2 MacBook Air10,146

HP Victus 1610,460

Lenovo Legion Go10,412

Asus Zenbook Duo10,344

In other words, the M2 iPad Air can run with the big dogs, including some of the best laptops and gaming rigs.

I tested the M2 chip’s prowess by playing around with Photomator, an editing app. I used features like “ML Enhance” to improve the vibrancy of the photo as well as “Super Resolution,” which has been trained on millions of images to deliver crisp, high-res results to photos. Both features put to M2 chip to work, and I was pleasantly with surprised with how fast and well they worked.

Is iPad Air (13-inch, 2024) worth it?

The new 13-inch M2 iPad Air is for the following consumers:

You need a spacious, thin-and-light, laptop-like device within the Apple ecosystem for school

You’re fledgling digital artist, sans a clientele, and you need a capable easel to hone your craft

You love to read comics and other digital content

You work remotely (indoors) and your workflow isn’t affected by the limits of iPadOS

If you fall into any of the aforementioned categories, the iPad Air is definitely worth it. If you want more battery life and more performance, however, the iPad Pro may be a better fit, particularly if you’re a professional creator.

Credit: Joe Maldonado / Mashable