Prior to the introduction of Apple’s in-house CPUs into the tech world, if you wanted something more adaptable and portable than a typical laptop, you had to shell out the additional cash for an iPad Pro. Apple’s new iPad Air, which uses the same M1 CPU as the company’s current MacBook Air, alters that by putting a laptop-class chip in a tablet physical size. With all that power and a starting price that’s far lower than the M1 iPad Pro, making an iPad Air your primary machine appears to be a viable venture that won’t break the bank.
The M1 MacBooks, on the other hand, have just as much power, if not more, thanks to CPUs like the M1 Ultra and M1 Max. The strength of bringing a laptop-class CPU to a tablet form factor is in the promise of giving the best of both worlds: a bright, colourful tablet that’s fantastic for on-the-go web surfing and gaming, and a laptop-like device with enough power to enable you grind through work without breaking a sweat.
The M1 iPad Air is the closest thing to an economical two-in-one that can entirely replace your laptop due to its reduced price and great capabilities. Nonetheless, it suffers from the same flaws as any other iPad.
Despite significant progress toward introducing desktop-like multitasking to iPadOS, it remains a restricted platform when compared to more mature desktop operating systems as as macOS and Windows 11.
For begin, with iPadOS, windowed multitasking is limited to two side-by-side programmes, with the option of a third, floating app with the aspect ratio of a current iPhone. It’s adequate, but it’s not nearly as adaptable as being able to put your windows wherever you want, in whatever size and shape you choose.
You will also be unable to use a second monitor in any meaningful way with your iPad. Because of software constraints, connecting your iPad Air to a second monitor will just mirror your iPad’s display rather than extending your screen real estate and providing you more area to work with. That may change in the future, but for the time being, the screen you see is all you have.
Finally, file management on iPadOS is restricted. While there is a file manager, not every software interacts with it in the same manner. Some programmes, such as iA Writer and Procreate, allow you to read and write to folders on your iPad or in the cloud. Meanwhile, some applications, like as Google Docs, either don’t support the Files app at all, or only utilise it to back up things like app settings, not real files you’ve written.
The app ecosystem is thriving, but it is your only option.
iPadOS, unlike macOS and Windows 11, does not enable you to install software from sources other than Apple’s App Store, whereas macOS allows you to execute any installable programme you choose (as long as you accept the security risk). While there is no shortage of practical and helpful applications, as well as flashy and enjoyable games, that is all you get to pick from on iPadOS.
This may be especially aggravating if you aren’t a fan of the increasingly popular subscription-based apps. There are many applications that may fix an issue in your life, but unlocking all of the functions may cost you a few additional dollars each month.
If you only subscribe to a few applications, this generally won’t create too many issues, but it may soon build up. So, if you rely on a specialised text editor, time tracker, calendar organiser, and password manager, and they all charge a buck or two per month for all the services you require, it will add up. Subscriptions are finding their way into Mac programmes as well, but at least there are choices outside of the App Store.
It’s lightning quick.
The new M1 iPad Air, like the M1 iPad Pro before it, is quick and doesn’t use much power. It can easily handle anything from routine chores like spreadsheet management and email to more resource-intensive tasks like video editing and gaming.
Fortunately, all of that performance doesn’t reduce the battery life on a single charge. The iPad Air lasted anywhere from eight to ten hours per charge in our tests, depending on how we used it. This is comparable to the M1 MacBook Air and distinguishes it from more power-hungry laptops, which may last anywhere from six to eight hours on a charge.
Given how powerful the M1 processor is even on the MacBook Pro, such speed may seem excessive. You won’t be able to accomplish as much with the processor on iPadOS as you can on macOS, but it should be strong enough to handle multiple major software updates.
It is compatible with all of the same accessories as the 11-inch iPad Pro.
Despite being less expensive than the 11-inch iPad Pro, the Air shares more similarities than differences with the Pro. They’re nearly the same size, have the same chip, and are compatible with the same set of attachments.
So, if you want to use a keyboard and mouse with your iPad, you can still get Apple’s Magic Keyboard or Logitech’s Combo Touch without spending the extra money for the Pro. If you need to scratch your artistic itch, the same Apple Pencil works with the Air as well.
However, this might soon add up. The M1 iPad Air, with a starting price of $600, is a lot of computing for not a lot of money, but that’s before you include important business peripherals like a keyboard case. Apple’s Magic Keyboard would cost an additional $300, while Logitech’s Combo Touch would cost an additional $200. That puts you under $1,000, but you’re only saving a couple hundred dollars over a MacBook Air.
Should you get rid of your laptop?
The M1 iPad Air represents a significant advancement for the mid-range iPad. It has the same processing as the finest iPad Pro, the same applications and accessories, yet it’s less expensive without sacrificing critical features. You might miss features like FaceID and the four-speaker system, but that’s just confetti on top of an already amazing tablet.
The question isn’t so much whether the iPad Air is a terrific tablet as it is whether it has the software capabilities to back up all that hardware. In many circumstances, such as sending a few emails or taking notes in class, the Air shines as a productivity tool. It still can’t accomplish all a laptop can, and you might not notice it until you’ve made the switch. Certain online programmes, for example, may not run on your iPad, so have a desktop or laptop close in case such gaps appear. (For that reason, filling out the documents my doctor requires is a dreadful experience.)
Having saying that, the M1 iPad Air is still more than capable of doing most chores. It can’t do heavy development work, but it can do most jobs with ease owing to the speedy M1 CPU. That may be enough to get you partly there, but it still leaves the Air as a better supplementary device than a major one.