Tuesday, July 23, 2024
Smart Phones

iPad Air 6 (2024) vs iPad 11th gen (2024): expectations



Intro

With 2023 out the door with no new iPads announced at all, it seems that a big launch might be in the works for the first half of 2024. Rumors say new iPads from all categories — from mini to Pro. So, we will very probably get refreshes for the very popular iPad Air and base iPad models.

Since 2022, the base iPad has moved to that new all-screen design with no home button and even frame around the edge, bringing it in line with the rest of the cast. So, if you’ve already decided it’s not worth spending the money on an iPad Pro for its 120 Hz screen, maybe now you are wondering if the iPad Air 6 is going to be that much better than the iPad 11th gen.

So, it’s time to start speculating and planning, which iPad will be worth a purchase in 2024!
iPad Air 6 (2024) vs iPad 11 (2024) expectations:

  • Very similar shape and size
  • iPad Air works with Magic Keyboard, base iPad works with Magic Keyboard Folio
  • iPad Air works with Apple Pencil gen 2, base iPad only supports gen 1, or Apple Pencil (USB C)
  • USB C with USB 3 transfer speeds on iPad Air, USB 2 on base iPad
  • Both have two speakers in landscape stereo positioning
  • Stage Manager (desktop multitasking on external monitor) on iPad Air
  • It’s possible that we will see a 12.9-inch iPad Air (2024)

Table of Contents:

Design and Size

iPad Pro killer vs iPad Air killer
Since the iPad 10th gen (2022) was redesigned, it now resembles the iPad Air very closely, which in turn looks very much like an iPad Pro. Unlike before, when we had iPads with home buttons and ones without, Apple has now made them all to look more or less the same.

This has the obvious benefit of interchangeable accessories — a Magic Keyboard will fit both an iPad Air and an iPad Pro, which is great, because if you choose to upgrade from one to the other, you don’t need to plan for a full accessory revamp as well. This does not include the base iPad and its own Magic Keyboard Folio, though. That accessory is made for and compatible only with the base iPad. And the Magic Keyboard will not work for it. So, it’s important to consider this when planning an iPad and accessories purchase.

OK, let’s reel it in talking about the tablets again. We expect the iPad 11th gen and iPad Air 6 will not veer away from the established design. Meaning, 10.9-inch LCD screens, even bezels all around, and Touch ID embedded in the power button for both tablets. The iPads generally look the same, it’s all about the internals.

Even the camera bump on the back consists of a single lens for the base iPad and the iPad Air. And there’s a USB C port for charging on the bottom. The iPad Air will give you 10 Gbps transfer speeds here (USB 3), whereas the base iPad will probably remain limited to USB 2 (480 Mbps). 

Display Differences

The display size may be identical, but the tech isn’t exactly so. The iPad Air models have a laminated screen, meaning the display and the touch digitizer are fused in a single sheet of glass, saving space and making the screen “pop” a bit more. The base iPad uses regular tech, so when looking at the screen, you can perceive the gap between the top glass and the display underneath. The image just looks like it’s further away, sunken into the iPad.

That’s not a huge issue or anything, it’s just to point out that the Air will give you a bit more of a “premium” experience. Also, the laminated glass is slightly better at dealing with glare and bright ambient lighting.

Otherwise, both of these screens will most likely be capped at 60 Hz, as ProMotion is being held hostage by the iPad Pro line exclusively.

For colors, Apple’s screens have been pretty accurate for years, even on the base tier iPad. So, we expect nothing less with the iPad 11th gen. The base models even get True Tone and Night Shift nowadays — modes that make the screen cast look more natural or warmer, for a less harsh viewing experience.

So, screen-wise, you aren’t expecting a lot of differences here, aside from that laminated panel.

Performance and Software

M2 versus A15

The iPad Airs drag slightly behind the iPad Pro line. In 2024, we expect that Pros will get the new M3 chip, so the iPad Air (2024) would now have the Apple M2. Which is excellent — a desktop-class chip that allows you to use the desktop environment of Stage Manager when hooking the tablet up to an external monitor. And, of course, it’s fast, so if you want to edit video or audio on your iPad, it will export projects pretty quickly!

The iPad 11th gen will most probably have an Apple A15 Bionic chip inside it — that’s the processor from the iPhone 13 era. Still a pretty good chip — definitely towards the top end of midrange. And yes, you will be able to use those specialized apps for audio, video, and drawing. It will just not be as fast as the M2. And again, USB transfer speeds may matter if you want to work with big files — the USB 3 speeds of the iPad Air will be much handier here, instead of the slow USB 2 of the base iPad.

Camera

Improvement not mandatory

The iPads’ cameras are serviceable as is. Currently, all models have a 12 MP front camera with an ultra-wide lens, so that they can utilize the Center Stage feature for video calls — the iPad can “follow” your face as you move around, thus making a video call more natural even if you need to get up from your desk.

In fact, speaking of “more natural”, the iPad 10th gen was the first iPad ever to have the selfie camera on the right-hand frame of the tablet. That way, when placed on the desk horizontally, the selfie camera was actually on the top frame — like you would see on laptops. This makes video calls slightly more natural, as on any other iPad, you kind of look like you are looking off to the side, whereas a top-mounted camera gives us a mugshot that we are more used to.

The iPad Air has the magnet array to hold and charge an Apple Pencil gen 2 up there, so there’s no room to mount the camera. At least, we assume Apple won’t have solved this when the iPad Air (2024) comes out, so you will be looking at a selfie camera placed on the top frame (becomes left frame when placed horizontally).

On the back, most iPads have this 12 MP camera, which is nothing phenomenal, but does the job when you need to take a quick snap and works OK for documents. We don’t expect Apple to be rushing any upgrades here, but we’ll see we guess.

Audio Quality

The iPad Air and latest iPad 10th gen have these “landscape stereo” speakers — two drivers that are placed on the top and bottom of the tablet. So, when placed horizontally on a stand, they wind up on the left and right — hence, landscape stereo.

The previous generation sounds OK. A bit thin, maybe, when compared to the iPad Pro’s quad speaker setup, but both the iPad (2022) and iPad Air (2022) sound good enough. We don’t expect any changes in 2024.

Battery Life and Charging

iPads will typically give us around 10 hours of screen on time. We’ve been using all models — from the huge 12.9-inch iPad Pro to the tiny iPad mini and we are kind of used to seeing the battery percentages drop by 10% with every hour of screen on time.

Of course, for YouTube binging, that’ll be about 15% per hour, for gaming and video editing it can easily grow to 20+ percent per hour. Our point is, the iPads have a dependable endurance, but don’t expect miracles.

And we are not expecting miracles with the iPad 11th gen and iPad Air 6 — probably the same numbers, really. Of course, we will run them through their paces whenever they launch!

Specs Comparison

Mostly, we expect the iPad Air 6 specs to echo the iPad Pro from 2022, and the iPad 11th gen to be kind of lagging behind in tech, as usual.

*Assumed or rumored specs

These are mostly based on speculation, past iPad model knowledge, and scarce rumors. But we do believe we are in the ballpark. Full iPad 11 vs iPad Air 6 specs comparison will be posted as data becomes available.

Summary

Sooner or later, the iPad 11th gen and iPad Air 6th gen will come. Question is — which would be the better purchase? At this time, we do think the Air would offer more — the faster hardware, Stage Manager (multitasking on monitor), and support for accessories that you can carry over to the iPad Pro line if you choose to do so.

The base iPad also has the Pencil and Keyboard, but it kind of lives in a bubble of its own. Anything you buy for the iPad 11 has to go with the base iPad 11. 

That said, if you don’t care about using the 1st party keyboard, or transforming the iPad into a desktop work machine, the base model might just work for you. With core essentials like a good selfie FaceTime camera and stereo speakers, as well as support for Apple Pencil in place, we can see how some users might go straight for it.



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