(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.

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Release date and price

  • iPad 8th gen available now - from $329/£329
  • iPad Air available in October - from $599/£579

Apple held a virtual Special Event on 15 September 2020 when it announced the Apple Watch Series 6 and new iPads.

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. But the iPad Air - which is really an iPad Pro 'lite' is now also available with prices starting at $599/£579. 

Design

  • 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. 

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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. 

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Display 

  • 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. 

Hardware

  • 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. 

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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. 

Software

  • 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. 

Writing by Dan Grabham and Cam Bunton.