Performance and Battery Life
The iPad Air is powered by the same 64-bit A7 chip and M7 motion coprocessor found in the iPhone 5s. This is a bit of a change for the iPad as it has traditionally shipped with a slightly modified processor carrying the “X” suffix. Even without the revised moniker, the A7 in the iPad Air is clocked slightly faster than the 5s' (1.39GHz versus 1.29GHz). It’s not a significant boost but regardless it’s plenty fast to carry the tablet through the next few generations as it feels just as snappy as it does on the 5s despite having to power a higher-resolution display.
Apple’s latest tablet debuts with the all-new iOS 7. If you haven’t yet used iOS 7 or are new to Apple’s ecosystem, you’ll find a robust OS that’s intuitive, packed with features and easy to use. It’s not as enthusiast-friendly as Android as much of the OS is still locked down but compared to previous iterations, it’s a lot more refined and straightforward. If you haven’t done so already, I’d encourage you to check out our recent iOS 7 editorial where I take a look at several features that Apple nailed with the new OS and many that are still missing.
Speaking of the processor, the iPad Air turned in some fantastic benchmark numbers just as the iPhone 5s did last month. With the 64-bit architecture Apple is getting ahead of the game, although in present time it doesn't signify much, I wouldn't be surprised if the company shipped software that took better advantage of this within the next 12 months.
Apple says the 3.73V, 32.3 WHr 2-cell battery inside the Air is good for up to 10 hours of web surfing on Wi-Fi, watching video or listening to music. To put that claim to the test, I conducted our standard battery test on the tablet by setting the screen to 75 percent brightness and looping a 720p movie until the Air died.
This test resulted in 10 hours and 44 minutes of uptime – impressive when you consider Apple significantly reduced the size of the battery in the Air compared to the previous iPad’s 43 WHr, 3-cell battery. Key to the improved battery life is of course the greater efficiency afforded by the A7 processor.