Apple’s new 10.2-inch iPad vs. the 10.5-inch iPad Air

The new iPad Air with support for Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard introduces high-end features and performance at a breakthrough price.
The new iPad Air with support for Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard introduces high-end features and performance at a breakthrough price.

Leif Johnson for Macworld:

This week, Apple announced the seventh generation of its entry-level iPad, and it’s a weird little beast. The screen is a little larger than last year’s model, and you can now use a full-sized Smart Keyboard, but the processor remains the same and the overall design has only slightly changed…

Let’s compare the new kid on the block to this year’s iPad Air, which has a 10.5-inch Retina display that’s now very close in size to what you’d get on the 10.2-inch iPad. The bodies of both models now measure exactly 9.8 inches by 6.8 inches, although the Air has a tiny advantage in thinness. The Air costs more, but unless you’re really just out to save money or you don’t think you’ll need more space, the iPad Air undoubtedly will be the smarter buy at this size.

MacDailyNews Take: iPad starts at $329. iPad Air starts at $499 [$469 at Amazon]. The difference between the iPad’s A10 Fusion chip and the iPad Air’s A12 Bionic chip alone is more than enough to justify the extra $140.


  1. MDN that cost only justifies it if you need the processing power, which many iPad users don’t.

    This new iPad “design” really appears to be supply chain driven. A lazy upgrade with Cook’s fingerprints all over it. Lets cram the same specs from last year into the 10.5″ pro / Air3 chassis so we can sell more smart keyboards and covers. If there was any innovation involved the bezles would be thinner and the chassis would be similar size to 9.7″.
    Even the latest marketing photo of the new iPads cascaded next to each other makes this new iPad look weird, being same size as the Air3 next to it.

    I’m so glad I got a 10.5″ iPad Pro recently on clearance sale. It wasn’t much more than a regular iPad 128GB but it has ProMotion, 4 speakers, laminated screen and 4GB RAM. All of those are more important to me than having latest A12 chip, since they have a bigger impact on my user experience (specially ProMotion). I still recommend the 10.5″ pro to anyone if they can still get them, refurb, clearance, used and still under Apple care or whatever. Even over an Air3 (for those features I listed).

    1. In my opinion, what I prefer Apple should’ve done, is upgrade the processor from an A10 to A12, keep everything else the same, keep the $329 price & drop the iPad Air3

  2. Should include newest iPad mini in comparison, because it’s the best bang-for-buck iPad deal. Its screen is obviously smaller physically, but it’s 326 pixels per inch. iPad is 264 ppi. That means, in terms of pixel count (and what it displays), iPad mini’s screen is almost as large as iPad’s screen. And for a handheld computer, some users would consider smaller size and lower weight to be advantageous. I can comfortably and securely grip iPad mini with one hand.

    More crucially, iPad mini (like iPad Air) runs A12 Bionic. And storage starts at 64GB, not 32GB. Retail price is only $70 more for iPad mini, compared to base iPad.

  3. The missing component is a price drop on the keyboard and pencil. Now that those accessories are no longer pro accessories, they should have cut the price in half. No more than $100 for both combined.

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