Audiophiles and purveyors of cheap headphones will rejoice.
Now, this is quite the boon for the creative types and obsessive note-takers. It means you can do considerably more with the tablet than any competitors that don't accommodate such accessories. So now annotating PDFs or jotting down missives on the Air is a cinch, and you can delve into those bespoke apps that have Pencil support, such as Procreate.
But while the stylus addition is most welcome, what isn't of course is that fact that its the wrong stylus. The 1st-gen Pencil looks clunky and half-baked next to the lovely 2nd gen Pencil. The initial version rolls off tables with far too much ease, the magnetic end that protects the lightning connector gets lost, you have to physically stick the stylus into the lightning port to charge it, for heaven's sake.
The 1st gen Pencil shows how easily we fall out of love with a product when something clearly better comes along. The second Pencil is better in every way, with its touch-sensitive sides, magnetic charging and anti-roll design. Don't get us wrong, we're happy to have Pencil support, but we're also fickle and want the best Pencil we can get.
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Speaking of which, rather than go for the Apple Pencil 1 here, you may want to try out the Logitech Crayon instead. It's cheaper and won't roll off every flat surface with abandon. And the battery life isn't as long Another real plus for the Air is the support for Apple's Smart Keyboard, thanks to the inclusion of the Smart Connector at the side. I am a big fan of the Smart Keyboard, it's infinitely preferable to a Bluetooth keyboard, as you'd need to use with the iPad, as there's no pairing nor batteries needed plus if doubles as a cover.
For such a slim keyboard the keys on Apple's proprietary accessory travel surprisingly well and give more than enough feedback for fast typing.
If you take screen size out of the equation, this is the key differentiator between the iPad and Mini and the Air. While the Mini might have got almost as much love in the refresh as the Air, only the Air gets the Smart Keyboard of the two. What none have is Face ID, of course. Anyone who has used Face ID on the new iPhones or Pro iPads knows how fast this tech has got, and how quickly you become used to it. Should we therefore be a little miffed about having to make do with Touch ID here on the Air? It's no surprise then that it feels almost like a step backwards having to open your brand new iPad Air with a fingerprint rather than simply glancing at that The tech we're talking about here is now six years old.
And, of course, you can understand that Apple needs to obviously separate what the Pros can do compared to the Air, but another effect is that by having to make room for that Touch ID sensor it means the Air has chunky, unsightly bezels on the top and bottom of the tablet, rather than the svelte lines of the Pros. This brings us to the clear design differences between the Air and the Pros. Remember what I was saying about how quickly one can fall out of love with a product when a better version comes along?
The Air's design, being very much in the Mini and iPad camp with its angled sides and home button, is just not as good-looking as the new Pro design. You really can't go wrong with any item in this lineup, though I look forward to the days when the cheapest model comes with more than 32GB of storage.
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