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iPad Air: Every Now and Then

by Dewi Safitri

In November 2013, Apple launched a new line of iPads, called the iPad Air. Pretty sure you have seen before-and-after pictures of people losing weight. Well, the iPad Air is precisely that! it is a thinner and lighter version of the standard iPad. With the release of the new iPad Air in March 2022, it’s time to see how the iPad Air transformation throughout the years. Lets start with the Evolution of the iPad Air Before the iPad Air was released!

Apple had already made four different generations of the standard iPad, and one generation of the iPad mini. Surprisingly in 2013 Apple decided to add a new line. It was lighter and thinner than any other iPad. Apple proudly call it “iPad Air”! In November 2013, the first iPad Air was launched. The iPad Air marked the first major design change for the iPad since the iPad 2. It measured just 7.5 millimeters in thickness and was reduced in weight to only 470 grams, making it 38% lighter than the latest iPad, the iPad 4.

The iPad Air retained the 9.7-inch screen seen in previous iPad models, but Apple reduced the bezels surrounding the display by 43%. The device included all of the top-end features and applications seen in the models which preceded it, though Apple’s then-new A7 chip allowed for quicker autofocus, higher video frame rates, and faster photo capture, among other things. 

Apple stated that the A7 chip was twice as fast and had up to twice the graphics power compared to its predecessor. The iPad Air had multiple storage options, 1 GB of RAM, a 5-megapixel rear camera, and a 1.2-megapixel front camera. It was sold for $499, which was the same as the launch price of the iPad 4. 

The new iPad was positively received. Fun Fact! Apple did not invent the name of the iPad. In 2002, Fujitsu made a lightweight handheld device named the Fujitsu iPad. When Apple released the iPad there was a naming controversy between the two devices. So, Apple decided to purchase the trademark rights from Fujitsu for an estimated $4 million. 

One year later in 2014, Apple released the second-generation iPad Air. It was the slimmest tablet available at the time, with a thickness of just 6.1 millimeters, making it even thinner than a pencil. It was also incredibly light with a weight of 437 grams, which is 33 grams lighter than its predecessor.

The iPad Air 2 was the first iPad to have Touch ID, which uses a fingerprint scanner on the home button as an easier way to unlock the iPad. The Retina Display was also improved with a fully laminated screen that contains an anti-reflective coating, which reduces glare. Another major improvement was the Apple A8X chip. Apple stated it had 40% more CPU performance and an impressive 2.5 times the graphics performance compared to the A7.

The iPad Air 2 was not only thinner, lighter, and faster than its predecessor. It also had double the RAM and an improved rear camera, while the starting price stayed the same. In total, Apple managed to sell 2 million units of the second-generation iPad Air. Fun Fact! The iPad with all its variants has become a massive success. Over 500 million iPads have been sold! “Most successful consumer electronics products ever! We’ve now sold over 500 million iPads to consumers around the world.” 

Five years later came the third-generation iPad Air in 2019. It had a slightly larger 10.5-inch Retina Display. Just like the iPad Air 2, the third generation also had a laminated screen.The screen of the iPad has three layers which consist of a cover glass, a touch layer, and a display. In a non-laminated screen, the cover glass and touch layer have been stuck together, leaving a small air gap in between the display and the other two layers. 

With a laminated screen, there is no air gap. This improves visual quality, makes the screen more visible in bright sunlight, and reduces the thickness of the iPad. The iPad Air 3 was the first to feature support for the Apple Pencil and has a True Tone Display, which allows the screen to change colors in different environments. Another notable improvement was the Apple A12 Bionic processor.

In the 5-year gap between the 2nd and the 3rd generation, iPad Air Apple had significantly improved its processors. Multiple generations of processors were made including the A9, A10, and the A11. The iPad Air 3 used the latest and most advanced Apple chip at the time, the A12 Bionic. This chip was an impressive 66% faster than the A8X chip used in the iPad Air 2. The third-generation iPad Air had a storage option of 256 GB, improved memory, and the front camera was significantly upgraded to 7 megapixels.

The fourth-generation iPad Air was released in 2020. The iPad Air 4 was slightly smaller than its predecessor, but it did have a larger display. This was made possible by removing the home button. The iPad Air 4 had a Liquid Retina Display with 3.8 million pixels allowing for amazing detail. The iPad Air 4 came in five colors; Space Gray, Silver, Rose Gold, Green, and Sky Blue

Internally it was equipped with the Apple A14 Bionic chip. It uses 11.9 billion transistors, which allow for higher efficiency both in terms of power and performance. The RAM and rear camera were also upgraded. While all previous iPad Air generations came at a starting price of $499, Apple decided to increase the price of the fourth generation by $100, to $599. Nonetheless, the fourth-generation iPad was widely praised. Fun Fact! During the COVID-19 pandemic, people were happy about the iPad Air having Touch ID on the power button instead of Face ID since Face ID doesn’t work while wearing a face mask.

And finally, in March 2022 the latest iPad Air was released. The fifth-generation is available in five colors: Space Gray, Starlight, Pink, Purple, and Blue. The most significant improvement is that it uses the Apple M1 chip. It delivers a massive leap in performance compared to its predecessor. The CPU is up to 60% faster and the GPU has 2 times faster graphics

Besides the Wi-Fi model, there is also a Cellular model that supports 5G. In ideal conditions, it can reach a speed of up to 3.5 Gigabits per second. The fifth-generation iPad Air also features a 12-megapixel rear camera and an ultra-wide 12-megapixel front camera. The front camera has a new “Center Stage” feature that automatically tracks users to keep them in a frame. In addition, the RAM was doubled to an impressive 8 GB, which is about the same as most laptops use nowadays. The fifth-generation iPad Air comes at a starting price of $599.

Compared to the first iPad Air released in 2013, the 5th-generation iPad Air has only become slightly thinner and lighter. However, its specifications have improved significantly. 

Source: Evolution of the iPad Air

Dewi Safitri

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