Apple announces new iPad Air that looks more like an iPad Pro, starting at $599

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Apple is unveiling a new iPad Air today that looks very similar to the company’s iPad Pro. It’s a significant design change from the current Air, which was brought back to life last year to sit in between the iPad and iPad Pro. Last year’s Air has thick top and bottom bezels and a button for Touch ID, but this new iPad Air has much thinner bezels all around the display.

Apple’s new iPad Air looks like a refresh of the iPad Pro design, and it will be available next month priced from $599.

Apple is using a bigger 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display (2360 x 1640) on this new iPad Air that’s fully laminated with True Tone support and anti-reflective coating. In order to squeeze this display in, Apple has moved the Touch ID fingerprint sensor to the power button at the top. This makes it the first iPad with biometrics built into the power button.

Some of Apple’s new iPad Air colors.

Inside the new iPad Air, Apple is making some big changes to the chips powering this tablet. It will be powered by Apple’s A14 Bionic, a 5nm chip with a six-core CPU (two high, four low), and 11.8 billion transistors. Apple is promising a 40 percent performance improvement over the last iPad Air and improved graphics support, thanks to a new four-core GPU.

Apple says it’s the “most advanced chip” it has ever made, and it even includes specific machine learning accelerators that apps will be able to use. Apple demonstrated a variety of apps during its press event today, promising that app developers will be able to take advantage of the power of this new chip for their apps.

New Touch ID on the power button.

Apple is also switching to USB-C on the iPad Air, much like the iPad Pro, and it’ll support 20W charging and 5Gbps data transfers. Wi-Fi 6 is also included, and optional LTE models will be available, with Apple promising 60 percent faster LTE connectivity.

Over on the camera side, Apple is even borrowing the 12-megapixel rear camera from the iPad Pro and upgrading it with improved video stabilization on the Air. A front-facing 7-megapixel FaceTime HD camera is included on the Air, with smart HDR and support for 1080p 60fps video capture.

This new iPad Air supports Apple’s Magic Keyboard.

This latest iPad Air will also support the (new) $129 Apple Pencil, which magnetically attaches to the tablet. Apple’s $299 Magic Keyboard accessory will also attach to this iPad Air, making this even more similar to Apple’s iPad Pro. The new iPad Air will also support Apple’s $179 Smart Keyboard Folio and new $79 Smart Folio covers.

Apple has clearly refreshed the iPad Air to bring most of the iPad Pro features to a more affordable price point. The iPad Air still lacks the high refresh 120Hz display found on the iPad Pro, Face ID support, and its new lidar camera. If these are all things you can live without, then the iPad Air look like a solid alternative.

Apple says the new iPad Air will be available next month in five colors: silver, space gray, rose gold, green, and sky blue, priced from $599.

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