Why the iPad Air 2020 is My Favorite Apple Device

It’s fast and just the right size

Key Takeaways

  • The iPad Air 2020 is the best Apple device I’ve ever owned. 
  • The iPad Air (starting at $599) is positioned price- and feature-wise between the basic iPad (starting at $329) and the iPad Pro (starting at $799)
  • Paired with the Apple Pencil and the Magic Keyboard for iPad, the iPad Air outstrips my MacBook Pro's capabilities.
The iPad Air next to a Magic Keyboard

Sascha Brodsky / Lifewire

It’s been six months since I bought an iPad Air 2020, and it’s quickly become my go-to gadget for work and play. 

I’ve owned succeeding generations of iPads since Apple launched the line, and this is the first Apple tablet I can wholeheartedly recommend for anything beyond media consumption.

It’s fast enough to work on multiple documents while watching videos, and it’s the best Apple device I’ve ever used. 

As Apple’s mid-range tablet, the iPad Air (starting at $599) is positioned price- and feature-wise between the basic iPad (starting at $329) and the iPad Pro (starting at $799).

That’s not counting the iPad mini (starting at $399), which is a wonderful gadget, but is more like an oversized phone at this point with its 7.9-inch screen. I feel like the Air is a good compromise between features and price. 

iPad Beats MacBook Pro, Sometimes

Paired with the Apple Pencil and the Magic Keyboard for iPad, the iPad air outstrips my MacBook Pro's capabilities. While I like the giant screen on my MacBook, the ability to use a digital stylus is handy for taking notes or just doodling. 

Before I bought the Air, I toyed with the idea of purchasing a Pro model, mainly because I thought I might want a bigger screen. It turns out that 11 inches of crystal clear screen is precisely what I need in most situations.

I wish the Air had a higher screen refresh rate like the Pro models, because it makes everything displayed on the screen much smoother.

In the end, I was glad I decided to go with the Air. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro I had my eye on would have been double the cost.

At that price point, I start worrying about ever taking the iPad out of the house, which kind of defeats the purpose. It’s also just bulky enough to make it a nuisance to carry around, while the Air slips inconspicuously into my backpack.

These days when I’m working. I often reach for my iPad instead of my MacBook. It’s not just that the iPad is ridiculously portable at just over a pound. The iPad’s iOS offers a less-distracting environment than the macOS.

The Calmer Choice

When I’m using my MacBook Pro, it sometimes feels like I’m on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise, with a dozen programs screaming for attention. By contrast, the iPad is an oasis of calm.

The iPad’s multitasking capabilities don’t quite match those of the MacBook, but that can be an advantage when all you’re trying to do is finish an article about Apple hardware. 

I’ve been using iPads for over a decade, but, until recently, they primarily were media-consumption devices. They were great for watching Netflix and browsing the web, but that’s about it.

A view looking down on an iPod Air standing on its end.

Sascha Brodsky / Lifewire

The iPad Air 2020 changed everything for me when I invested in Apple’s Magic Keyboard for iPad. Even though the Magic Keyboard is smaller than the one on my MacBook, I type faster on it, thanks to some combination of exquisitely tuned springy keys and tactile feedback. 

Armed with the keyboard and Apple Pencil, the Air has turned me into a productivity machine that I would never have imagined possible before I owned it. When I’m researching articles, the fast processor lets me rip through web pages that take an instant to load.

I take notes on what I’m exploring with the Apple Pencil on the Notes app, and quickly can refer to them later on because the text syncs across all devices. 

Then when I’m ready to write, I just swivel the iPad in its case to a horizontal position and type nearly 80 words per minute. Another game-changer is the way the Magic Keyboard incorporates a very effective trackpad, which is key to writing. 

After six months with the Air, it’s no exaggeration to say that it’s changed my life. Now, I’m just waiting to hear what Apple has in store for its rumored iPad upgrades that could soon be revealed.

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