iPad Air 2024, Apple Pencil Pro and a new Magic Keyboard announced

Apple significantly expands the iPad ecosystem with more configuration options and improved accessories


What is arguably the “best iPad for most people”, the Air, got a number of decent upgrades and improvements this time around, including – at long last – a larger model. Both are compatible with the new Apple Pencil Pro. (Image: Apple)


In the same online presentation where the new iPad Pro models were unveiled, Apple announced – just as it was heavily rumored over the past few weeks – a number of other new products that fall into the same broad tablet category: a seriously upgraded iPad Air 2024 model, a totally new iPad Air 2024 model as well as a new Magic Keyboard and a new Apple Pencil.

The company even took this opportunity to rearrange the iPad lineup to a certain degree, although there’s definitely room for improvement there as it’s fair to say that – in the eyes of many consumers and analysts alike – there are still too many similar iPad models on offer addressing too many of the same use cases.

The good news is that, by releasing these iPad Pro 2024 and iPad Air 2024 models at the same time, Apple is now offering more options for similar use cases while covering a wider price range than before. Let’s break it all down.

The new iPad Air: as close to the perfect mainstream tablet as it gets

Apple’s impressively upgraded iPad Pro models may be drawing so many headlines right now because of the M4 and that OLED screen, but most consumers will always be interested in a more affordable tablet that’s good enough for their mainstream needs. The new iPad Air is almost perfect for that: it’s now based on the M2 processor instead of the M1 (so two more graphics cores and increased memory bandwidth), it supports Wi-Fi 6E/Bluetooth 5.3 and its front-facing camera is moved to the side for proper landscape video calls.

Yes, these make for an incremental update rather than an impressive upgrade, but they are all welcome improvements over the previous iPad Air and they’ll just make this mass-market model easier to live with for years to come. The M2 should also be good enough for at least some of the AI functionality Apple is expected to include in iPadOS 18, which is nice.

The 2024 iPad Air comes in two sizes, one equipped with an 11-inch screen, the other sporting a 13-inch one. People who always wanted a large iPad but could not afford the pricier Pro models now have a much more affordable option. (Image: Apple)


Even nicer, though, is the 13-inch version of the iPad Air offered for the first time in Apple’s lineup. Just like in the case of last year’s MacBook Air 15-inch, this is something many people have been interested in but could not afford since the larger screen was reserved for the more expensive Pro models. That crowd can now get a 13-inch iPad Air – complete with a higher resolution display and better speakers, ideal for content consumption and gaming – for $799, which is rather enticing for a large tablet, let alone a large iPad.

For those not in need of a bigger tablet, the new 11-inch iPad Air starts at $599, which is not bad at all for a product with this kind of potential (storage has also been doubled to a minimum of 128GB with more options available). Since this is Apple we’re talking about here, that price obviously goes up pretty fast if one deems more storage and/or 5G connectivity necessary, but the base model is more than good enough for the vast majority of use cases the iPad Air is designed for… so there.

Most consumers would probably use the 13-inch 2024 iPad Air for media consumption and gaming, but the more expansive screen is extremely useful for educational and even professional purposes. (Image: Apple)


For people who still wish for the most affordable iPad possible, there’ve been some changes to Apple’s lineup: the old-school, $329 iPad – sporting a mechanical home button, headphone jack and Lightning port – is now officially discontinued, although it can still be found in stock at various retailers for even less nowadays. Apple will be promoting the 10th-gen iPad (which comes with a USB-C port and the A14 chip) as its entry-level model instead, at $349 down from $399. Maybe not that big of a deal, that $20 difference, since the 10th-gen model is a better tablet overall.

New iPad accessories, significantly improved

Apple is not the kind of company that would miss an opportunity such as the launching of new iPad Pro models, so… yes, better accessories for those are on the way too. The much-discussed Magic Keyboard for these M4-based models is now improved in a number of important ways: it’s made of aluminum (a much more durable material befitting its high price), it sports a row of function keys (finally!), it offers a larger trackpad (complete with haptic feedback) while also supporting 60-Watt wired charging.

The new Magic Keyboard is, truth be told, still quite expensive – at $299 and $349 for the 11-inch and the 13-inch iPad Pro respectively – but it’s at least decidedly better than its predecessor, which is always… something.

The Apple Pencil Pro seems to be a more promising upgrade over its own predecessor. Although previous rumors about it offering interchangeable magnetic tips did not turn out to be true, this Pro model does offer a number of other new features: Apple’s stylus now supports double tapping and haptic feedback, for instance, both of which can greatly enrich interactivity and enhance functionality in compatible drawing apps. The lower part of the Pencil Pro also allows for a new squeeze gesture that can bring up tool menus or options, while its tip can “barrel roll” – that is, it can be turned this way and that when touching an iPad’s surface, like a real pencil – in order to simulate different stroke angles.

The new Apple Pencil Pro sports a number of new, potentially game-changing features without costing a penny more than the current model. The catch: it only works with the latest iPad Air and Pro models. (Image: Apple)


Developers can customize how most of the new features work, too, so it will be interesting to see how popular creative apps such as ProCreate, ArtRage or Adobe Fresco make use of these. The Apple Pencil Pro obviously supports the Hover function first introduced with the second-gen Apple Pencil 2 back in 2022, as well as the Find My app (so no more searching for it around the house… hopefully).

The Apple Pencil Pro only works with the new M4-based iPad Pro and the new M2-based iPad Air, but it still costs $129 just like its predecessor. It’s now up for pre-order and it will be available along with all the other new iPad models and accessories Apple announced on May 15th.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Kostas Farkonas

Veteran reporter with over 30 years of industry experience in various media, focusing on consumer tech, entertainment and digital culture. No, he will not fix your PC (again).

Veteran reporter with over 30 years of industry experience in various media, focusing on consumer tech, entertainment and digital culture. No, he will not fix your PC (again).

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