iPad Air 3
The iPad Air 3 used the old iPad design with Home Button and Touch ID. While Apple Authorized Resellers still sell it at a discount, the iPad Air 4 took its place in Apple's tablet lineup. The A12 Bionic processor and reduced price may still appeal to those looking for an iPad at a discount.
● A12 Bionic processor
● Touch ID
● 10.5-inch screen
● 1st generation Apple Pencil support
● 64GB or 256GB
● Wifi or Cellular
● 500 nit, P3 gamut display
● Apple Resellers still sell it at a discount
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The iPad Air line originated in 2013, named with the same "Air" moniker used for thin and light MacBooks. The iPad Air 3 is a mid-tier tablet for those who don't want Face ID or to spend too much. The iPad Air 4 replaced this tablet in October 2020.
It runs iPadOS, meaning you get all the features and apps you've come to expect from an iPad.
iPad Air 3 Features
Months after Apple launched the redesigned 11-inch iPad Pro, the company recycled many 10.5-inch iPad Pro features and design details in this 2019 iPad Air update.
Compared to the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, the iPad Air 3 uses the same basic design, display size, and resolution. It also works with the same Apple Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil. However, the iPad Air 3 has an updated processing chip, the only area where it's better than the 2017 pro-level tablet. The iPad Air 3 also lacks the iPad Pro 10.5's 120Hz ProMotion display, and has weaker cameras.
Apple had previously used the iPad Air brand in 2013 and 2014, highlighting light-and-thin design advances the company had made in those years. At that point, it served as the flagship iPad, while the iPad Air today is a mid-ranged option in between the premium iPad Pro and budget 10.2-inch iPad lines.
The iPad Air uses the first-generation Apple Pencil. Previously reserved for the iPad Pro line, the Apple Pencil has since propagated through the entire iPad lineup. With the laminated display of this model, using the Apple Pencil on its screen still feels as natural as ever.
The Apple Pencil charges via the iPad's lightning connector. It does not offer the magnetic attachment and wireless-charging capabilities required for the second-generation pencil. The newer Apple Pencil is only compatible with 2018 and later iPad Pro and the iPad Air 4.
The mid-tier iPad has a 10.5-inch P3 gamut display at 500 nits of brightness. It uses True Tone and has a laminated display. The resolution of the screen is 2224 x 1668 at 264 PPI.
Although this iPad shares many similarities with the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, it is missing one key element. There is no ProMotion display, which means you are not getting the automatically-adjustable 120Hz refresh rate that recent iPad Pros have.
The A12 Bionic was Apple's go-to chipset for this generation of mid-tier tablets. With 3GB of RAM, you can run modern apps and multitask using iPadOS.
Games run great at 60fps with no perceived lag, as AppleInsider tested "Fortnite" on the hardware.
Apple launched the Smart Connector with the original iPad Pro in 2015, hoping third-party accessory makers would design new pro accessories with an easy connection. Very few accessories ever took advantage of this – and almost all were keyboards. The Apple Smart Keyboard is what Appleinsider recommends for the iPad Air, along with these accessories.
The Apple Smart Keyboard lacks the trackpad and scissor-switch keys found in the Magic Keyboard the company launched in 2020. The Magic Keyboard doesn't work with this version of the iPad Air. It only works with the iPad Pro lineup from 2018 and 2020 and the iPad Air 4.
In early 2020, Logitech released an iPad Air 4 keyboard accessory with a built-in trackpad. We gave the Logitech Combo Touch 4.5 out of 5 stars in our review.
Cameras and Speakers
The rear camera is 8MP and capable of capturing Live Photos in wide color, though it's limited to 1080p video recording. Apple updated the front-facing camera this generation to 7MP, allowing for 1080P FaceTime and video.
The audio is limited to two stereo speakers, unlike the four in the iPad Pro line. These speakers still sound great, although it is easy to block one of the speaker grates when holding the iPad.
iPad Air 3 Legacy
The iPad Air 3 was Apple's reboot of the iPad Air line, which it had discontinued in early 2016 after the iPad Pro 9.7 launch. Apple appears to be sticking with this brand name as its mid-ranged iPad, falling between the premium iPad Pro and budget 10.2-inch iPad.
This 2019 model was the last iPad Air with a Touch ID Home Button and classic design. The form factor of Apple's 2020 iPad Air is more reminiscent of the 11-inch iPad Pro.
The iPad Air 4 has a 10.9-inch screen that nearly stretches from edge to edge. Its bezels are much narrower than those on the iPad Air 3. However, the 2020 iPad Air still has slightly wider bezels than those on the 11-inch iPad Pro.
To keep its price down, Apple skipped Face ID on this model, opting instead for Touch ID in its power button. This is the first Apple mobile device with that feature. Recent MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models also have Touch ID in their power buttons.
No significant leaks have pointed yet to an iPad Air 5, but we can expect Apple to next update the tablet line sometime in 2021 or 2022.
iPad Air 3 Review
AppleInsider gave it 4 out of 5 stars in our review from the tablet's 2019 launch.
Where it Stands
"The 2019 iPad Air is Apple's newest mid-to-high tier tablet, and falls just below the Pro line and just above the sixth-generation iPad, making it unexciting, but arguably the go-to tablet for the general consumer.
"Apple in 2019 currently sells five different iPads, in five different price points. There's the 9.7-inch iPad which sells for $329, the iPad mini which sells for $399, this new iPad Air at $499, and the two iPad Pros at $799 and $999 respectively. On the surface, that looks like a lot of iPad in Apple's lineup, but in 2019 maintaining a business that is just as large as the Mac, Apple has an iPad for everyone.
"The mini is aimed at those who prefer a smaller, more compact device. The 2018 9.7-inch iPad is the budget-friendly alternative that is aimed squarely at the education market. The iPad Pros are targeting those who want to get the most out of their tablet. Which leave the iPad Air — right in the middle.
"This middle ground means at times it can feel underwhelming, and in certain areas, behind. That doesn't make it any less a capable device, however. With solid specs, it will likely be — and should be — the tablet that most gravitate towards."
Features and Performance
"This iPad now features a 10.5-inch Retina Display with a P3 wide color gamut, it has an A12 Bionic processor inside — which is also inside Apple's flagship smartphone the iPhone XS, and XS Max — and it also now supports the first generation Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard.
"The A12 Processor on the 2019 iPad Air is ridiculously fast. It pairs well with iOS 12 — and soon iOS 13. For the past two weeks that we've had the device, we've never seen the iPad Air struggle one bit. Everything is so seamless and just works right out of the box.
"Gaming, just as we saw with the new 2019 iPad mini, was great. Titles like 'Fortnite' played smooth, even at a quicker 60 FPS with seldom errant dropped frames.
"The pair of speakers for stereo are decent. They're nothing to brag about, but definitely are a lot louder than any other tablet we've used this year, apart from Apple's own Pro lineup. There are only two of the speakers rather than four on the Pro line, which means when you hold the tablet it is fairly easy to accidentally cover the speaker which will limit the sound output.
"The overall software experience on the new iPad Air has been really good, too. We haven't run into any bugs or app crashes. It's still an iPad running the same old iOS we're used to over the past few years so we're not really getting anything special here.
"We're hoping this coming WWDC we'll see something amazing from Apple with iOS 13 that can visually overhaul this experience. It's certainly due.
"The Pencil support is a nice addition that a lot of people are going to appreciate. Unfortunately, the display doesn't have Apple's ProMotion technology which gives you a 120Hz refresh rate for a smoother experience. Slower refresh rates mean eagle-eyed artists will notice it to be slightly jumpy while using the Apple Pencil. Unless you are really particular about your drawing, you won't notice this difference. Those who are that serious will likely prefer the iPad Pro and the second generation Apple Pencil instead, but for note taking and less demanding work, there are no problems to be found here.
"The smart connector is new here as well, it's meant to be used for Apple's own smart keyboard which in our opinion is the best keyboard that you can buy for the iPad. The keyboard is a bit stiff, and mushy at the same time, but once you use it long enough, it'll start to wear down and soften up to a point where every keystroke feels great. There are hundreds of Bluetooth keyboards out in the market already, but the smart keyboard is what we'd highly recommend.
"It is unfortunate that we still don't have additional accessories to use the Smart Connector. When Apple debuted it originally, third-parties were going to be able to take advantage of it. Years later, we've only seen two or three others actually test the waters, leaving the connector mostly for Apple's utility."
"The iPad Air exists because it gives Apple an option to serve a bunch of different people who use an iPad for a bunch of different reasons. Some may want a smaller iPad that they can easily pack in their bag or a small tablet to give to their kid so they pick up the iPad mini. Some people want the most basic, and most affordable iPad so they go for the 9.7-inch iPad.
"This exists because it gives Apple that happy medium option between the low-end iPad to the high-end Pro models, and that's why it's here. The new iPad Air gives you a big 10.5-inch display that is bright, and color accurate. It supports Apple Pencil, Smart Keyboard, and it has the same fast A12 Bionic processor from its $1000 smartphone, and you're getting all of that for just $499, the same price that the original iPad shipped for nine years ago, and that is pretty impressive.
"Again, this is a case where the AppleInsider audience varies a great deal from the target market — no ProMotion is a potential issue, as is the need for the original Apple Pencil, versus the new one on the newer iPad Pro line. But, even all that considered, overall, the new iPad Air is a solid 4/5, with it a bit higher for most of the iPad-using public, and a hair lower for the 'prosumer' market."
iPad Air 3 Pricing
Apple discontinued the iPad Air 3 after announcing the iPad Air 4 in September 2020. However, you can still find the iPad Air 3 at Apple Authorized Resellers for a discounted price.