(Pocket-lint) - Apple has been busy updating its tablet lineup in 2020. Firstly by launching the new iPad Pro line in spring, and then followed it up later on at the end of summer with two new full-sized iPads. Those are the iPad Air, and a new entry-level iPad.
This is everything we know about the next-generation iPad Air and budget 8th generation iPad.
Release date and price
- 15 September event held
- iPad 8th gen available now - from $329/£329
- iPad Air available in October - from $599/£579
While both the new iPad Air and iPad 8th gen were announced, only one was made available to buy immediately after launch. That was the more affordable iPad 8, which will cost you $329/£329.
The iPad Air - which is really an iPad Pro 'lite' - will be available in October with prices starting at $599/£579.
- iPad Air: Thinner bezels, five colours, TouchID in the power button
- iPad Air: 6.1mm thin, weighs 458 grams
- Entry iPad: Same design as before
Apple's newest iPad Air has taken many design cues from the iPad Pro series. That means you get a narrow bezel all the way around the display and no more chunky bezels at the top and bottom. That means Apple had to move the TouchID fingerprint sensor, which is now built into the power button on the top edge.
For the first time, Apple has also made the new iPad Air available in five colours. As well as the usual silver and grey, there's green, pink (rose gold) and blue. With the edges being completely flat now, Apple has also built in a magnetic area for charging and holding the Apple Pencil. That means it's compatible with the second generation Pencil.
Similarly, the two new models of iPad are compatible with keyboard accessories too. The iPad Air works with the new Magic Keyboard with the floating hinge design, while the iPad 8 is compatible with the older design smart keyboards as well as third party models from the likes of Logitech.
The 8th generation of entry-level iPad features the same design as previous years and is available in silver, grey and gold.
- iPad Air: 10.9-inch Liquid Retina
- iPad Air: 2360 x 1640 resolution
- iPad 8: 10.2-inch, 2160 x 1620 resolution
Starting with the iPad Air, this new model features a larger screen than before at 10.9-inches and features a fully-laminated panel with an anti-reflective surface. For the spec hungry, it's a 2360 x 1640 IPS panel with a pixel density of 264 pixels per inch. It has a 500 nit peak brightness and supports Apple's True Tone feature.
While there were rumours of an under-display fingerprint sensor, those didn't materialise into anything real. However, the display does support the Apple Pencil thanks to its high refresh rate touch response and densely packed touch sensors.
Similarly, the iPad 8th gen also supports the Apple Pencil, but not the second generation model. It has a 10.2-inch display with a lower 2160 x 1620 resolution IPS panel.
- iPad Air: A14 processor, USB Type-C
- Entry iPad: A12 Bionic processor
- iPad Air: 12MP camera + 7MP FaceTime HD selfie cam
- Entry iPad: 8MP camera + 1.2MP FaceTime HD selfie camera
The new generation iPad Air comes with a new custom A14 processor. That means it's more powerful than the last iPad Air, and is one of Apple's most powerful iOS/iPad OS devices to date. What's more, it has USB Type-C support for transferring data from cameras and external drives, plus supports external 4K monitors.
The 8th generation entry-level iPad meanwhile, runs on the A12 Bionic processor. Like the iPad Air, that's a pretty big jump in performance over the previous model.
Both feature cameras on the front and the back, with the iPad Air making use of the updated cameras from the iPad Pro: a 7-megapixel front camera and 12-megapixel rear snapper. The entry-level iPad has entry-level cameras: 8-megapixel on the back and 1.2-megapixel on the front.
There are Wi-Fi and Cellular and Wi-Fi only options of both iPads, and varying amounts of storage. iPad Air comes with either 64GB or 256GB of storage, while the iPad 8th gen comes with either 32GB or 128GB.
- iPadOS 14
Apple revealed the features coming to iPadOS 14 during its Worldwide Developer Conference in June so we know some of the features coming to the new iPads. All will run on the iPadOS 14 software, which you can read more about in our separate feature.
Along with offering game developers the ability to support the iPad's trackpad and keyboard (as well as mouse control) in future titles, additional gamepads will also be supported with the new software.
iPadOS 14 also brings data-rich widgets and other enhancements, along with a sidebar in apps so you can drag and drop more easily. Many apps also have a new Tools menu at the top of the screen to free up space at the bottom. Incoming call notifications will also no longer take up the whole screen in the new software so you can easily dismiss them if you're working on something else.
Apple iPad: What's happened so far?
Here's everything we have heard so far about the next iPad models.
15 September 2020: Apple Watch SE seems certain to launch alongside the Watch 6, iPad Air and new entry-level iPad
Further leaks suggest the next generations of the iPad Air and entry level iPad will be revealed at the 15 September event.
8 September 2020: Apple announces Special Event
Apple has announced it will be holding a Special Event on 15 September 2020. It is thought the event will see the reveal of the new iPad models and the Apple Watch Series 6. In particular, the iPad rumours seem to be pointing towards a revision of the iPad Air.
26 August 2020: New iPad model numbers spotted
It looks very much like we're going to get a refresh of all non-Pro iPads - A2270, A2072, A2316, A2324, A2325, A2428, A2429. That looks very much like a refreshing and re-aligning of the complete lineup with the possible exception of the iPad mini. The model numbers were spotted on the EEC database where devices are ratified for sale in Russia and other countries.
9 July 2020: iPadOS 14 public beta now available
Apple has launched the public beta version of iPadOS 14. It is free to download and includes first-looks at all the new iPadOS features.
26 June 2020: iPadOS 14 will bring keyboard, mouse and trackpad support for games
Also announced during Apple's developer conference was the ability for game developers to support the iPad's trackpad and keyboard (as well as mouse control) in future titles. Additional gamepads will also be supported including the Xbox One Elite 2 Wireless Controller and the accessible Xbox Adaptive Controller.
22 June 2020: iPadOS 14 announced
Like iOS 14, the new version of iPadOS was announced at Apple's developer conference and has data-rich widgets and other enhancements. But iPadOS goes further than iOS and many apps now have a sidebar so you can drag and drop more easily - for example in Music and Files.
Many apps also have a new Tools menu at the top of the screen to free up space at the bottom. And also in iOS and iPad OS incoming call notifications no longer take up the whole screen so you can easily dismiss them if you're working on something else.
4 June 2020: Early 2021 iPad Pro expected to come with 5G and MiniLED displays
The MiniLED display rumour has been around for a while, but this report is a little different in that it says the 2021 iPad Pro will boast the Qualcomm X55 modem for 5G cellular connectivity instead of 4G LTE. They will also have a new A14X processor, which isn't a big leap to surmise.
15 May 2020: Upgrades to iPad Air and mini expected in late 2020 or early 2021
TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggests there will be a new 10.8-inch iPad (presumably to replace the iPad Air) and a new iPad mini that would clock in between the 8.5 and 9-inch size. That means it would have a screen at least half an inch bigger than the current iPad mini display.
19 April 2020: iPad Air will have under-display Touch ID
According to an accurate Apple leaker, Apple is planning a 2020 iPad Air with Touch ID under the display, meaning it can ditch the bezel and look much sleeker. While we still think it's more likely any new iPad will go for Face ID, the retention of Touch ID on the iPhone SE (2020) shows Apple is still willing to make new devices with Touch ID. The leaker also suggests the new iPad Air will have a Mini-LED display, which we think is a bit less likely.
16 April 2020: Mini-LED iPads could be delayed until 2021, could be 5G
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggests that a new iPad featuring Mini-LED could be delayed until early 2021. This may not be for any reason other than we have already had an iPad Pro refresh in 2020 and so it makes sense to space things out because the iPad Pro is the most likely to get the new display. At that point, a new iPad Pro at that point is likely to be released with 5G on board.
2 December 2019: Could new iPads have Mini-LED displays?
This report - via 9to5Mac - suggested that upcoming iPad displays will switch to Mini-LED and that other products will also go the same way, with the MacBook Pro 16-inch also switching to the upgraded tech during 2020, possibly at the same time as a MacBook Pro 14-inch is launched to replace the current 13-inch.
It was also suggested new iPads could be based around a beefed-up Apple A14X processor.
4 October 2019: Apple might have a haptic on-screen keyboard in future so you can feel the 'keys'
Could Apple have a tactile touchscreen keyboard on its iPads in future? A patent, discovered by Patently Apple, shows a next-gen haptics tech known as Static Pattern Electrostatic Haptic Electrodes. A variety of voltages could be applied which would make typing on the device feel different.
The site said such efforts could mean that touchscreen keyboards could, in future, potentially emulate the feel of more traditional keyboards - even with concave-feeling 'keys' - so users would be able to find their place on the keyboard without looking down at it.