Did you buy the original iPad back in 2010?

I did.

Back then, it really was an oversized iPhone. But I saw the potential. Perhaps more importantly, I just couldn’t get past the lust factor; I really wanted one.

When it comes to tech, that’s absolutely fine. If you want something and can afford it, just get it. Don’t listen to anyone who suggests that you’re being frivolous or should consider a more sensible purchase.

iPads often feel like frivolous purchases. None of us really need an iPad, after all. Do we?

Do you?

Unless it’s your main computing device, your iPad almost certainly plays second fiddle to your laptop and smartphone.

This is also fine – particularly if you decide to buy the best iPad Apple has ever made. That’s what happened to me when I purchased the 4th generation iPad Air last year.

Here’s why I love it so much.

The price

The iPad Air starts at £579. For that, you get 64GB of storage, which isn’t very much. However, it’s the model I went for, and since October 2020, I’ve only used 22GB.

This is because I don’t store anything remotely interesting on my iPad. Every piece of work I undertake is situated on the cloud – as is the content I consume. I just don’t need any meaningful local storage.

If you sit in this boat – which, I assume, an increasing number of people do – the base-level iPad Air is an absolute bargain.

By comparison, the base-level 11” iPad Pro costs £749. And yes, that nets you 128GB, but if you don’t need anywhere near that space, it simply isn’t worth the £200 extra (I’ll explain why later).

It’s easy to get lost in the quagmire of iPad pricing comparisons, but if you want the iPad Air simply because it starts off cheaper and comes in some funky colours, you’re not as daft as some people might suggest.

Eighth generation iPad ‘normal’ aside, the iPad Air provides the best bang-for-buck. Trust me.

The design

I was a big fan of the redesigned iPad Pro when it arrived in 2018. I’ve still got the big daddy 12.9” version and love the huge expanse of near bezel-less screen estate it provides.

But it is a bit too big for anything other than serious creative work.

Bringing the iPad Pro’s design aesthetic to the Air was a stroke of genius. With the 8th generation iPad still in existence, the iPad Air needed a differentiating factor, and I genuinely think Apple’s decision to so comprehensively redesign it was rather brave.

The inclusion of Touch ID in the power button is equally bold, and the colours (if that’s your thing) are interesting enough to make the iPad Air a bit of a head-turner.

More importantly, if you’re a long-term OG iPad Air user, the upgrade in design will be something you appreciate daily for a very long time. That’s worth the investment alone.

There’s just one problem.

The 11” iPad Pro factor

Apple has made a rod for its own back with the iPad Air. It’s so good, I simply cannot recommend the 11” iPad Pro anymore. Sure, it provides Pro Motion, Face ID, a better camera and the M1 chip.

But none of that matters. Honestly. There isn’t one piece of tech above that you’ll miss if you go for the iPad Air over the iPad Pro.

In fact, the only reason you’d want to go for the Pro over the Air is if the 256GB storage cap on the latter isn’t enough for you (the iPad Pro goes up to 2TB, but comes in at a whopping £1,749 for the privilege).

When Apple refreshed the iPad Pro with the M1 chip earlier this year, I genuinely thought we’d wave goodbye to the 11” version. But it’s still there, and I’m almost certain that the iPad Air is continuing to cannibalise its sales.

The Magic Keyboard combo

I recently bought the Magic Keyboard for my iPad Air – mainly because it’s white and looks really cool.

However, for the last couple of weeks, I’ve sat either here on the couch or in my local coffee shop with only the iPad Air and its box-fresh white Magic Keyboard for company.

I’ll be covering this in a separate review, but it’s now my favourite writing device – ever. Sure, the keyboard is a little cramped (as is the trackpad), but the combination of the iPad Air’s size and speed, and the Magic Keyboard’s enjoyable key travel and ultimate convenience makes it a killer little device.

Up until now, the M1 MacBook Air had been my new writing device of choice. Not any more. The iPad Air and Magic Keyboard take me back to the days of netbooks. Only, it’s an alternative reality where netbooks actually worked.

Conclusion

Need an iPad? Got a relatively decent budget?

Just buy yourself the 4th generation iPad Air. It’s the best iPad Apple has made – and, I suspect, will make for quite some time.