Here’s why Apple’s new iPad Air beats the Pro model for music-making

iPad Air 2020
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple has announced new versions of its standard full-size iPad and the iPad Air, with both models offering significantly more power than their predecessors.

Let’s deal with the Air first as, by our reckoning, this has immediately become the best music-making iPad you can buy.

Borrowing its design from the iPad Pro, this is powered by the all-new A14 Bionic processor - the chip we’d now expect to see in the delayed iPhone 12 and Apple’s most advanced to date - and comes with a larger 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display.

In the chip stakes, this puts the new Air above the iPad Pro, which ‘only’ has the A12Z inside it - slightly strange when you consider that it’s not the flagship and costs less. It’s compatible with the Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard folio, and has a USB-C socket. There’s no home button, but Touch ID is built into the top button.

On the downside, the extra power and functionality means a price increase - the new iPad Air starts at $599/£579 for the 64GB model, which is $100/£100 more than its predecessor. But, pound for pound, it looks like the music-making iPad to beat right now.

iPad eighth-gen 2020

(Image credit: Apple)

If you don’t have that much to spend, the good news is that the new entry-level iPad (eighth-generation) also looks like a decent music-making option. It’s getting a significant speed boost thanks to the inclusion of the A12 Bionic chip - a big step up from the previous model’s A10 Fusion processor - which brings Apple’s Neural Engine to this model of iPad for the first time.

The buzzkill here is that the entry-level model contains just 32GB of storage, which might be fine for casual users but will quickly be eaten up if you start installing a lot of music-making apps.

If you think you can live with that, though, the $329/£329 starting price looks pretty attractive. It’s also worth pointing out that this is now the only full-size iPad with a headphone socket, while a Lightning connector is used rather than USB-C.

The new iPad goes on sale from today, while the new iPad Air will be available next month. iPadOS 14, the new version of Apple’s tablet OS, will be available from 16 September.

You can find out more and place orders on the Apple website.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

Get over 70 FREE plugin instruments and effects… image
Get over 70 FREE plugin instruments and effects…
…with the latest issue of Computer Music magazine