iPad Air М2 (2024) Review: New size, accessory traps, and a little more

iPad Air M2 (2024) Intro

Apple’s sixth generation of the iPad Air will probably leave a mark in the history of iPads, not because it is anything too different from the previous generation, but because it is the first Air series to include a larger 13-inch model.

Apple has done some housekeeping here, providing a general spec bump with the 2024 iPad Air in the form of a new chipset as well as a higher base and maximum storage options. There is also some small changes to the design, like finally moving the front-facing camera where it is supposed to be on a tablet.

iPad Air M2 (2024) upgrades in a nutshell:

  • Apple M2 chip replaces the M1
  • Base model comes with 128GB storage
  • Maximum 1TB storage
  • A new, 13-inch model
  • Front-facing camera changes position
  • New colors
  • Support for Apple Pencil Hover feature
  • Some AI features

Table of Contents:

iPad Air M2 (2024) Specs

If you are familiar with the 2022 iPad Air, you might see an uncanny level of resemblance here. Truth be told, there isn’t much to look at in terms of hardware upgrades besides the M2 chip that replaces the M1 from the previous generation.

“*” = not confirmed

iPad Air M2 (2024) Design & Colors

Selfie camera finally goes where it belongs
Apple hasn’t done anything groundbreaking with the iPad Air’s design. Usually, the company sticks to the same design language for at least three generations, so the lack of any alterations here is normal. Maybe we will see a new design for the iPad Air whenever the next generation comes along.One crucial change, however, is the placement of the front-facing camera. Until now, Apple always placed it on the vertical side of the screen, but now it has moved to the right horizontal side, making it much more convenient for facetime calls with multiple people. After all, this is the way most users tend to hold their tablets anyway.

Size-wise, the 13-inch iPad Air measures 280.6 mm x 214.9 mm x 6.0 mm, so almost exactly the same as the 2022 13-inch iPad Pro, which measures 280.6 mm x 214.9 mm x 6.4 mm.

Here are the iPad Air M2 (2024) colors you can pick from:

  • Starlight
  • Space Gray
  • Blue (new)
  • Purple (new)

The new blue and purple appear more pastel and pale compared to the ones from last generation. Here at the office we have the blue model, and we noticed that it can look a bit more pale in certain lighting conditions, almost appearing off-white instead of blue.

iPad Air M2 (2024) Display

Still LCD and still 60Hz
The main upgrade to the display is the fact that you get to choose between an 11-inch one and a significantly larger 13-inch variant thanks to the new larger iPad Air.

Unfortunately, Apple treats its iPad Airs the same way it treats its non-Pro iPhones. In other words, there is no 120Hz high screen refresh rate here, so you still get the rather more tame 60Hz. It is even a bit worse than with the iPhones, actually, since they at least get an OLED display while the 2024 iPad Air is still rocking an LCD panel that has worse contrast and color saturation.

Still, it is not a bad LCD display. Images appear sharp enough and the image quality is more than satisfactory. It doesn’t get very bright, though, so if you intend to use it outside or in bright areas you might want to consider one of the Pro models, as they can get much brighter.

Display Measurements:

Our display lab tests showed us that while the color accuracy of the M2 iPad Air is pretty good, the same cannot be said about the greyscale accuracy. This is something that often differs between units, though, so yours might not have this issue.

iPad Air M2 (2024) Camera

It is no secret that the back camera on a tablet is probably its least used part, so it is also no surprise that the 12MP main camera remains unchanged on the 2024 iPad Airs.

The only difference here is, as mentioned earlier, that the 12MP ultra-wide selfie camera is now housed inside one of the longer bezels of the iPad Air, making it much more comfortable to use when you are holding the tablet horizontally.

iPad Air M2 (2024) Performance

The new iPad Air’s performance is the one area where there has been a more noticeable upgrade, jumping from the M1 to the M2 chipset. What does that mean in practicality? Well, Apple says that M2 has a GPU that’s 25% more powerful in comparison, and a CPU that is 15% faster. Apple claims that, with the faster memory bandwidth, the new iPad Air is almost 50% faster than its predecessor.

M2 also comes with a 40% faster neural engine, which is the part of the silicon responsible for tasks that utilize artificial intelligence, such as Siri, for example.

In all honesty, we had a difficult time to find something that could push even the previous M1 generation to its limits, so despite all of the performance talk and the benchmark results we got in our performance tests, there was little to none real life difference in the user experience.

Performance Benchmarks:

The base storage has now gone up from 64GB to 128GB. The maximum storage capacity has also gone up from 256GB to 1TB, but you get that only if you go for the larger 13-inch iPad Air.

Additionally, both of the 2024 iPad Airs support Bluetooth 5.3, which creates more stable connection with Bluetooth devices and is more power efficient. Apple has also upgraded its mid-range tablet from Wi-Fi 6 to Wi-Fi 6E, which can utilize the faster 6GHz Wi-Fi networks.

iPad Air M2 (2024) Software

Apple released iPadOS 17 back in September, when the new iPhone 15 series was announced, and that is what the iPad Air M2 (2024) comes with straight out of the box.

iPadOS 17 includes a lot of features that iPhones get, such as lock screen customization, interactive widgets on the home screen, and you can now check your health and fitness information on your iPad as the Health app is available there too.

Thanks to the M2 chipset, however, the new iPad Air also offers AI features such as Visual Look Up, Subject Lift, and Live Text capture. All three features work exactly as they do on iPhones.

One of the biggest changes to these new iPad Air models is that they support the new Apple Pencil Pro, which comes with haptic feedback, squeezing functionality, and a new Barrel Roll feature that allows you to change the angle of your brush.

As far as software updates go, iPads are usually supported between 5 and 7 years, just like iPhones. Most of the time it is 6 years, so don’t worry about future-proofing, you are covered.

iPad Air M2 (2024) Battery

Just like with the rest of its products, Apple does not specify what the charging speeds or battery capacity are on its iPads, and that includes the new iPad Air. While the battery capacity on the 13-inch model is probably more, Apple claims the same 10 hours browsing or video over Wi-Fi, 9 hours over cellular for both iPad Airs, which leads us to think that battery life is the same between the two.

We have the 13-inch iPad Air here at the office, and these are the results we got when we put it through our web browsing battery life test.

PhoneArena Battery Test Results:

Charging speeds remain the same, even with the 13-inch iPad Air. Here’s how much it took us to charge the larger 13″ M2 iPad Air.

PhoneArena Charging Test Results:

You might want to go above Apple’s recommended 20W charger, as we noticed that the M2 iPad Air chargers much quicker with a more powerful adapter. Ours, for example, was a 65W one. Note, however, that frequently using a charger that is not recommended by Apple might negatively affect the battery health down the road.

iPad Air M2 (2024) Audio Quality and Haptics

Besides the display, the speakers are also one of the main areas where Apple differentiates the Air from the Pro iPads. The latter comes with four speakers, while the Air has two, and that remains true with this year’s M2 iPad Air series.

That being said, Apple mentioned the bigger 13″ iPad Air comes with better sound, and we are happy to say that is indeed the case. We don’t think it is “double the bass” as the company claims, but there is definitely a difference in the overall sound quality coming from the dual speakers. That’s physics for you!

iPad Air M2 (2024) Summary and Final Verdict

The truth is that the M2 chipset, even though it seems like the biggest upgrade with the 2024 iPad Air, is among the less noticeable changes. What makes the M2 iPad Air feel new is the larger 13-inch model, the Apple Pencil Pro support, and the new position for the selfie camera.

We are not exactly fans of how Apple has made older Apple Pencil models obsolete, though, as none of them are compatible with the 2024 iPads. So, in truth, the Apple Pencil Pro perk is kind of an inflated upgrade over the previous model. The truth is that, besides the larger display and better sound, the support for this new and improved pencil is probably the best reason for upgrading to the 2024 iPad Air.

If you are a creative person and you think having access to the Apple Pencil Pro would benefit you enough, then sure, get the the new model. But for those users who don’t use their iPads for creative work the M2 iPad Air does not offer enough to merit an upgrade from last generation. If this will be your first iPad, however, you will likely be happy with your purchase.

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