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One Missing Feature Has Almost Ruined the New iPad Air

84 / 100

Introduction Of iPad Air

I’m a few days into using the new 11-inch iPad Air (2024), and one single feature decision has annoyed me to the point where I’m questioning why it exists at all.

iPad Air

My Issue with the iPad Air’s Display

The new iPad Air (2024) is an impressive device in many ways, but its lack of a ProMotion 120Hz refresh rate screen is a significant drawback. This missing feature places the iPad Air in an awkward position within Apple’s current iPad lineup, which includes the highly capable iPad Pro (2024) and the budget-friendly regular iPad. The iPad Air is designed to offer a balance of power and affordability, yet it compromises on one critical aspect: the display.

60Hz vs. 120Hz

For those unfamiliar with the technical specifics, the It (2024) sports a 60Hz refresh rate Liquid Retina IPS screen, identical to the cheaper regular iPad, both featuring a resolution of 2360 x 1640 pixels. To enjoy a 120Hz refresh rate, which Apple brands as ProMotion, one must upgrade to the iPad Pro, which boasts an Ultra Retina XDR screen. However, this enhancement comes at a steep price.

The situation mirrors that of the iPhone lineup, where only the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max feature a 120Hz ProMotion display, while the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus remain at 60Hz. This disparity is easier to accept in the iPhone range due to the absence of an intermediate model like the It, simplifying the buying decision.

Did Anything Really Improve?

Reflecting on the M1 It released in 2023, it also featured the same 60Hz Liquid Retina IPS screen. Back then, the tablet’s large screen emphasized the downsides of a 60Hz refresh rate, making the user experience less smooth during scrolling and animations compared to ProMotion-equipped iPads. This was a noticeable letdown.

Has the new M2 iPad Air brought any improvements? After using it for several days to replace my 2020 iPad Pro and M1 iPad Air, I observed a subtle improvement in screen smoothness in some scenarios. Initially, I thought this might be due to the new M2 processor. However, upon conducting a side-by-side comparison with the M1 It and 2020 iPad Pro, I found the difference to be almost negligible. The M2 iPad Air seemed slightly smoother, but the change was minimal, likely imperceptible without direct comparison.

What Apple Should Have Done

Apple missed an opportunity to elevate the iPad Air to a new level of user experience by omitting the ProMotion 120Hz refresh rate. Including this feature would not only bridge the gap between the iPad Air and the iPad Pro but also significantly enhance the Air’s appeal. The smoother, more responsive display would make a noticeable difference in everyday tasks like scrolling through web pages, navigating menus, and using apps.

The current compromise leaves the iPad Air feeling somewhat unfinished, as it’s positioned as a powerful device yet falls short of delivering a premium visual experience. For a device marketed as a middle ground between the professional and the budget-friendly, the omission of ProMotion creates a disconnect. Apple’s decision seems more strategic than consumer-centric, likely aimed at pushing more users towards the pricier iPad Pro.

In conclusion, while the new iPad Air (2024) is a competent and powerful tablet, the absence of a 120Hz ProMotion display is a significant shortcoming that undermines its potential. For users like me, who appreciate a smooth and responsive screen, this omission is a major disappointment. Apple needs to reconsider this aspect in future iterations to truly offer a balanced and compelling mid-range tablet.


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