Apple iPad Air (iPad 5) vs Apple iPad 4


Now that the latest and greatest Apple iPad Air or 5th generation iPad is here, many older Apple iPad users are considering buying it, especially since it offers a new 64-bit A7 processor, improved slimmer and thinner design and better overall performance. However, with the current state of Malaysia's finances and currency, the Apple iPad Air will likely be sold for a higher price than the previous 4th generation Apple iPad. Are all the iPad Air features worth it, especially if you already own an iPad 4? Find out in our comparison article between the Apple iPad Air vs the Apple iPad 4.

Design - Slimmer, thinner and better one-handed use

If you put the Apple iPad 4 next to the Apple iPad Air you will see an immediate difference in terms of design. The new iPad Air follows the slimmer bezel design of the Apple iPad mini and is now 7.5mm thin compared to the 9.4mm thickness of the iPad 4. The overall design is also flatter for the iPad Air, while the iPad 4 is a bit more rounded on the back. Both still have the same 9.7-inch Retina Display with 1536 x 2048 pixel resolution though, but due to the slimmer and thinner design, the iPad Air is only 469g compared to the 652g of the iPad 4. Many of those who managed to handle the Apple iPad Air have reported it much easier and comfortable to use one-handed. Granted, you won't really be able to use the 9.7-inch screen completely one handed but for those looking to read some news or and ebook, you can flip pages and reach nearby functions much easier than before. Does the Apple iPad Air look better than the iPad 4? We'd have to say yes, as the narrower and slimmer design not only makes it easier to hold but also adds a bit more sexy to it. In addition to this, the Apple iPad Air also gets another colour option called Space Gray, which is a sort of platinum grey colour on top of the standard Silver.

Apple iPad Air 3.jpg

Slimmer bezels and a narrower profile have resulted in a lighter and easier to use iPad Air

Tech Specs and Features - Only one major hardware upgrade

A quick Tech Spec comparison will reveal that the only major tech spec upgrade for the iPad Air is the Apple A7 processor and chipset. Everything else is more or less identical with previous versions except for the addition of more compatible LTE bands and MIMO dual-antennas for better wireless connectivity. The 1GB of RAM remains the same just like the 9.7-inch Retina Display. Other features like the 5MP autofocus rear camera also remain the same and there is no Touch ID fingerprint scanner hidden underneath the Home button. As standard of the newer Apple devices it does come with iOS 7 but you may still have to download the latest bug fixes or updates. While the addition of the 64-bit A7 processor and chipset is the only major upgrade it is still a big thing as apps load faster, you get much better graphics and you future proof yourself for 64-bit apps of the future (still not many of them just yet). However, as Steve Wozniak mentioned, the storage options remain limited to the maximum 128GB though so if you're looking for a single media consumption device that can store all your movies and music you will probably be as disappointed as Steve.

The Apple iPad Air explained

Performance - Better but the same

Initial benchmarks of the Apple iPad Air have been done using the Geekbench benchmarks reveal a massive jump in performance compared to earlier models. With a Geekbench score of 2643 it is about 1100 points higher than the iPad 4. This included better performance in graphics as well as processing power. While exhaustive battery tests have yet to be done, the iPad Air maintains the general Apple iPad 10-hour battery life with about 11 to 12 hours of HD video playback under certain conditions. The benchmarks also reveal something else in that the A7 processor in the iPad Air has been tweaked to 1.4GHz compared to the 1.3GHz A7 processor in the Apple iPhone 5S. There don't seem to be any overheating problems due to the better processor but the display, camera and video capture performance are identical with that on the iPad 4.


The Apple iPad Air outperforms all of the previous generation iPads with ease

Price -  Higher than usual

While the official Malaysian pricing for the Apple iPad Air is still not available all signs indicate that we may see a price increase of RM100 to RM350 based on the US price and the Malaysian pricing for the Apple iPhone 5S. In addition, Apple have decided to remove the Apple iPad 4 from the official US online store, leaving just the Apple iPad Air, iPad mini with Retina Display, iPad 2 and iPad mini for purchase. Currently, the iPad 4 is still available on the Malaysia Apple store starting from RM1449, but this may change when the iPad Air gets released here. After this you could still buy the Apple iPad 4, but only if you buy it from a third party seller or as a refurbished model. In regards to the Apple iPad Air for Malaysia, there are already sellers offering the tablet from RM2460 for the 16GB version, but this is only for those who can't wait for the official pricing.

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The higher US pricing for the Apple iPad Air shows that the Malaysian version will likely have a price increase as well

Conclusion - Definitely the Apple iPad Air

Overall, the Apple iPad Air easily beats the previous generation Apple iPad 4, both in terms of performance as well as design. Unlike the Apple iPhone 5S, which is a nearly identical smartphone with the Apple iPhone 5, the iPad Air is an almost completely different machine compared to the iPad 4. If you always wanted a more portable, powerful and easier to hold iPad then the iPad Air is a near perfect fit. The only downside you might have would be the increase in price compared to last year's iPad 4. However, due to a certain missing features like no Touch ID fingerprint scanner, the same storage options and no better camera, the iPad Air still isn't the most perfect Apple iPad there is. These features are probably being saved for the next generation of Apple iPad or the rumoured iPad Pro. While we'd still recommend that you buy the Apple iPad Air if you already have the Apple iPad 4, if you're looking to completely future proof your touchscreen tablet then we'd recommend waiting for the next generation. If you have a problem with an RM350 price increase we'd also recommend waiting as you won't see many 64-bit apps for a while yet.

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The Apple iPad Air compared to a pencil ;)

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