Apple iPad Air 13in (M2) review

The air is good up here...

from ₹ 79,990

Contrary to popular belief, Apple iPad Air is not the thinnest and lightest iPad in Apple’s tablet category. That crown is with the Apple iPad Pro 11 which is wildly more powerful and expensive than anything before it. So what is the Apple iPad Air? That’s what we’ll find out in this review but for those who need a memory jog, the Apple iPad Air is the middle child in the lineup, squashed between the Pros and the entry-level iPad. And now with M2, it’s as powerful as last previous generation iPad Pro.

Apple iPad Air 13in (M2) review: New features

Aside from the chip upgrade, much of the iPad Air stays the same. There are some minor quality-of-life changes here, starting with the front 12MP ultra-wide front camera. It’s now moved to a landscape position for meetings and video calls. Face it, holding a 13-inch tablet in portrait mode for a video call is a bit unserious. The camera orientation has also forced Apple to move the Apple Pencil magnets around because of which the Air (M2) only works with Apple Pencil Pro.

There’s Wi-Fi 6E support and the screen SDR max brightness is now 600nits from 500nits in the previous model. Best thing? The iPad Air M2 starts with a 128GB storage variant and could very nicely be the entry point for a lot of artists wanting laptop-grade performance for this overqualified sketchpad. We call it that because aside from the iPad Pro with the M4 chip, this is the only iPad that supports the new and improved Apple Pencil Pro. Features like Apple Pencil hover, Squeeze, Barrel roll, Haptic feedback and Find My support are built into the Pencil Pro which could make a difference for artists.

Barrel roll and squeeze are functional improvements to the Apple Pencil and are somewhat deserving of the Pro moniker and for animators, it should open new ways to create content. Unfortunately, these features are only available on Apple’s first-party apps like Freeform and one third-party app Procreate at the time of writing this review. It will take time for the Adobe suite and others to support these we reckon. 

Oh, and if you’re picking up the cellular variant, the M2 Air only supports eSIM.


Apple iPad Air 13in (M2) review: Performance

In terms of computing, the Apple M2 chip is more powerful than anything you’ll find on an Android tablet so its only other competitor is a tablet Windows computer. Which again, isn’t as efficient as the ARM chips inside the iPads and Macs. So in all honesty, you never have to scratch your head over which device to pick for sketching, artwork and designing. The Apple iPad is by default an industry standard but things might change when Snapdragon Elite starts sitting in Android and Windows tablets. The Android OS and app support are going to be inconsistent between brands. 

For now, the iPad Air with M2 is the reigning king under a lakh which is perfectly capable of running Adobe Fresco and Procreate for branding, animation, artwork and designing. It’s smooth and painless but make sure you consider the Apple Pencil Pro (₹11,900) cost for this upgrade. We used Adobe Fresco with Apple Pencil Pro for the duration of the review and there was not a moment’s drop in performance. Although, it can chew through your battery and whatever heat there is, it’s on the top side (between the camera and the Apple Pencil magnet area). So you never feel the iPad Air M2 resting on its laurels for whatever creative work you throw at it.

Throw in the ₹33,900 Apple Magic Keyboard and you can do 90% of the things a laptop can do for office work. Heck, even video editing is swift on this thing. The M2 is no slouch and if you’re a creator, there are very few reasons to not go for the M2 Air. Photographers and videographers might frown on the lack of a Thunderbolt Type-C port which we feel should’ve been added to the M2 Air as well.

The Air with M2 is capable yes, but can it replace your laptop? Not entirely. The iPadOS still remains a non-desktop operating system and if you want to use full-fledged versions of software like Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, Lightroom and more for design and creative work, you’re going to have to deal with the watered-down versions of these software on the iPad. Not to mention when you consider the cost of the Magic Keyboard and a higher storage iPad Air, it’s better to buy an Apple MacBook Air which costs the same amount and comes with a headphone jack, more ports and more software flexibility. The same is the case with gaming. I am confident that the Apple iPad Air M2 would be the most amazing gaming tablet if it had Steam on it!

That said, Assassin’s Creed Mirage is on its way to iPadOS to join Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil Village and Death Stranding Director’s Cut. These are console games coming to the iPad which is great but the list is still limited. Running Apple Arcade games on this iPad is like driving a sportscar inside a parking lot. They all run as smoothly as a smartphone game can run.

Apple iPad Air 13in (M2) review: Display and speakers

Top-class processor married to an LCD with 2732x2048-pixel resolution and P3 colour gamut can kill some excitement. Especially when you realise that it’s also a measly 60Hz screen in a 2024 premium device. However, for entertainment, watching movies and TV shows on Netflix is good on the Apple iPad Air 13in and the colours are typical Apple with excellent saturation and tonality. It also supports Dolby Vision and the motion processing is among the best on a tablet. Bare in mind, a similarly priced Samsung Tab S9 comes with an AMOLED display which has punchier contrast and deeper blacks so if you want this for entertainment then an OLED screen iPad Pro will seduce you in more ways than one.

Stereo speakers on the sides add depth and texture to your binges. Dolby Atmos tracks on Apple Music sound much better than competition with noticeable bass and punch.


Apple iPad Air 13in (M2) review: Software and battery

Currently the iPadOS is a hotch-potch mixture of iOS and MacOS. Multitasking is better than iOS with split screen and pop up windows but it’s not as robust as MacOS. There’s Stage Manager here but it’s not as smart as OnePlus Open’s Canvas feature for multitasking.

Apple’s upcoming WWDC 2024 conference will surely unlock new software smarts to take advantage of this laptop-class processor. 

Battery life isn’t an issue here too but if you’re running Procreate Dreams and other resource-heavy software then expect your mileage to vary. Ideally, it should last 10hours with gaming, entertainment, music and some editing. Juicing it back up with the bundled 20W USB-C adapter is criminally slow though.

Apple iPad Air 13in (M2) review: Verdict

The Apple iPad Air M2 is a great choice for artists and creators looking for a powerful and portable tablet. It's got the latest M2 chip, which is more powerful than anything you'll find on an Android tablet. It can easily handle running Adobe Fresco and Procreate for animation, artwork, and design. Plus, the new Apple Pencil Pro has some cool features like hover, squeeze, and barrel roll that can be helpful for artists.

However, there are a few things to keep in mind. The iPad Air M2 doesn't have a Thunderbolt port, which might be a turn-off for some people. And while it can handle some gaming, the iPadOS still isn't as robust as a desktop operating system, so you won't be able to use full-fledged versions of software like InDesign or Photoshop.

Overall, the iPad Air M2 is a great option for artists and creators who need a powerful and portable tablet. But if you're looking for a tablet that can completely replace your laptop, you might be better off with an Apple MacBook Air.

Stuff Says

The M2 only pushes the Air to bigger heights, remains the best tablet for artists!
Good stuff
Bad stuff
  1. Effortless performance

  1. Fast and reliable

  1. Sounds good

  1. Well optimized colour

  1. Expensive first party keyboard and pencil

  1. Terrible charging speeds

Brightness: 600 nits brightness
Camera: 12MP Wide camera
Display: Liquid Retina display, LED backlit with IPS technology, 2732x2048-pixel resolution at 264 ppi, Wide colour (P3)
Front Camera: Landscape 12MP Ultra Wide front camera with Centre Stage
Operating System: iPadOS
Ports: USB-C port with support for: Charging, DisplayPort, USB 3 (up to 10Gb/s)
Processor: Apple M2 chip
Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Supports: Apple Pencil Pro, Apple Pencil (USB-C)