Just returned my iPad Air after I had spent the whole weekend reading countless reviews deliberating which one to buy.
I decided to sell my iPad 2 the previous week in order to trade up to the newer model as was keen to get my hands on the lighter device sporting a retina screen and a bit more zip.
Getting a decent £259 for my 2 year old iPad 2 on eBay (WiFi, 32GB), plus with a further £200 for ditching my old iPhone 4S as well meant I could do a straight swap for the equivalent iPad Air without being out of pocket.
The Quick Let Down…
Getting home with the new device I was all excited. Upon opening it looked great and it was already charged to 96% so I jumped straight in. For weird reason the first thing I tested was Siri, something I hardly use on the iPhone but thought I’d give it a go. “Hello” I said expecting the usual reply, but instead I got a muffled sound that vaguely resembled the voice we all know. I did it again and the same. I thought these new iPads were meant to have superior sound quality but instead they just sound muffled and hollow sounding, nothing the older versions.
Putting it down to just being a bug in Siri, I decided to test the sound via iTunes. I quickly downloaded something I had in the cloud and pressed play… This time the muffled sound had gone, only to be presented with a bass heavy, reverberating iPad Air. Even though the volume wasn’t turned up that high, the whole device was shaking to the music.
A little downhearted, I continued to prep the device adding all my usual apps. As I was tapping away I suddenly became aware that the screen made a funny sound every time I pressed it. Again it sounded hollow and made these louder than usual sounds every time I typed something. They have changed something about the way the screen is made and it no longer has a solid premium feel.
Instead, to save on weight, it has a very flimsy screen that alongside making annoying sounds, indents under pressure and creates squidgy effect on the LCD panel a little too easily.
Also the volume buttons now have this hollow clicking sound when you press them, the whole machine again seems to reverberate.
It Looks Amazing So What’s The Issue?
Basically, once you got past it’s sleek form, the fact it rocks the A7 chip and the initial 28% lighter feel, it just did not feel like a premium £500 device like its 4 predecessors’. Instead, it felt hollow, cheaply made and not something that would withstand many knocks and bumps. The screen felt dangerously thin and unprotected. You would have to keep this device in a case in order to protect it, which immediately ruins its main selling point, it’s good looks…
Many will say that this is all the trade off to have a lighter tablet, but I disagree, look at the iPhone 5 and 5s, these are much lighter than their previous incarnations with larger screens, more power, yet they feel even more of a premium device in comparison.
My other issue with the Air included no touch ID. The amount of times my finger rested gently on the button waiting for something to happen became annoying and counter intuitive. I have just trained myself to do this on the 5S, now I have to unlearn that when on the brand new iPad Air.
Also, the iPad Air has inferior screen technology compared to the bonded panel of the iPhone 5s – the panel sits further away from the glass, losing that sitting on the surface effect. When owning the two devices, you notice the difference in quality instantly and you can see that the iPad Air is a hugely inferior product. The fact it sits in an enlarged the iPad mini chassis which bends when slight pressure is exerted tells me too much energy has gone into making it lighter.
Basically, like the original iPad and the iPad3, the Air is not a polished device yet. Yes, it features a cool looking new form factor and has a great CPU inside, but to me it’s a device still in beta development, released most likely to keep the stockholders and early adopters happy. It just does not feel like a premium Apple device like most other products in their current line up.
I was not happy spending £479 on this device even though the money was generated through old Apple device sales. That says a lot.
Before you all go crazy, I am an Apple fanboy, I own many devices including iPhones, iPad and Macbooks, Apple TV and and AirPlay for music. I love the Apple ecosystem because it just works. My girlfriend even knows how to use all the Apple devices in the house. This makes the Air all that more disappointing as I know what Apple are capable of.
What worries me most is that in all the reviews I read, no matter how in-depth, not one reviewer has picked up on the flimsiness of the new iPad Air build quality and lacklustre feel of the screen and the buttons or the fact that the device vibrates in your hands when playing music. Instead, they all focus on how amazingly fast, light or good looking they are. This makes me feel that these reviewers are not being 100% honest and have other motives for their glowing reviews.
Unless you are desperate, hold on to your existing tablets and wait for the next generation iPad Air which hopefully will iron out all of the teething issues the new form factor has brought about and add the missing elements that are so glaringly missing…It could be less than 7 months away after all.