In line with its traditional annual update policy, Apple has now unleashed the fifth generation iPad upon the world.
This time round they’ve dropped the unwieldy ‘iPad with Retina Display’ moniker and gone with the far simpler Apple iPad Air. That’s less of a mouthful, and also indicates how they’re thinking about the design. The MacBook Air laptop is famous for its incredible slim design, and this new iPad model exhibits a similar consideration for size and weight.
The iPad Air measures just 7.5mm thick and weighs only 496g. That’s pretty impressive, especially when it’s more powerful than ever before. And it’s a welcome sight because the iPad hasn’t really changed much since the original. The new look is partially inspired by the slick iPad Mini.
Apple iPad Air specification
The iPad Air, despite its smaller dimensions, retains the gorgeous Retina Display found in the last few models. This provides a stunning 2048 x 1536 resolution, which is higher than a HDTV! The screen also has a razor sharp 264ppi pixel depth, making it brilliant for photo viewing and editing, gaming and high-def movies.
New to the Air is Apple’s 64-bit A7 CPU. This is the first 64-bit processor to be used on any iPad, and in the years to come will allow developers to create ever more powerful software.
The Air also gets 1GB RAM, a 5MP rear-mounted iSight camera and 1.2MP front camera for FaceTime, a complete suite of communication extras including Bluetooth and 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and up to 10 hours run time with its Li-poly battery.
Which SIM card do I need for mobile broadband on the iPad Air?
Up until now all the larger iPad models have used the micro SIM form factor, which is common across many other devices. However the iPad Air now utilises the nano SIM first introduced with the iPad Mini.
While a standard SIM can be cut to micro SIM size it is not possible to do this for a nano, so if you wish to continue using the same mobile broadband service on an iPad Air and do not already have a nano SIM you will need to speak to your network provider about a nano replacement - this should be free, or very cheap.
This chart shows which types of SIM are compatible with the various iPad models:
|iPad (Wi-Fi + 3G)||•|
|iPad 2 (Wi-Fi + 3G)||•|
|New iPad / iPad 3 (Wi-Fi+3G)||•|
|iPad with Retina Display / iPad 4 (Wi-Fi + 3G/4G)||•|
|iPad Air (Wi-Fi + 3G/4G)||•|
|iPad Mini (Wi-Fi + 3G/4G)||•|
|iPad Mini 2 (Wi-Fi + 3G/4G)||•|
What to look for when shopping for iPad Air Deals
Our comparison tables usefully break down the iPad deals so you can see exactly what you’re getting. Here are some key points to look out for.
- 4G or 3G?
As with all newer iPads the Air is ‘4G Ready’ to cope with the new high-speed mobile broadband services slowly spreading across the UK. If you select a network which currently offers 4G then you can start using this right away, otherwise you’ll be restricted to the fastest 3G speeds available. Remember though that 4G often costs extra, for now 3G is the cheapest way to get mobile internet on your iPad.
- Pay now
This is the price you’ll pay up front for the iPad Air. Generally, a contract iPad Air will not charge much up front saving you from that hefty price tag, instead the cost is spread over the life of the contract and accounts for data usage too. If you go for a PAYG or rolling monthly iPad then the pay now price will be much higher.
The length of your commitment for the mobile broadband service for your iPad. 24 months is very common, especially for iPad Air deals with lower ‘pay now’ prices, but it is possible to find shorter deals. A 1 month contract (or PAYG) is more flexible as you can cancel at any time without penalty, but it may be poorer value in terms of data limits. The longer contracts are best for heavy users who require larger data caps.
- Data limit
The amount of mobile broadband data usage you get with your contract each month. Our mobile broadband packages offer a range of data limits to suit all budgets, but you’ll need to ensure this is sufficient to handle your requirements otherwise you could end up with a larger bill. See our guide to mobile data usage to figure out how much you may use and which deal is best for you.