Enlarge / Add a Bluetooth keyboard to an iPad Air 2 operating iPadOS 13 and you have a surprisingly succesful gadget for looking and capturing off emails and Slack messages.

Andrew Cunningham

Beginning at the moment, iPads run one thing known as “iPadOS” relatively than iOS, however the change has extra to do with branding than performance. Apple’s tablets may get a number of extra keyboard shortcuts and a few multitasking options; perhaps they’ll diverge extra sooner or later. However for proper now, iPadOS remains to be basically iOS.

Which means, as with iOS, Apple is in whole management of what can run the brand new working system (in contrast to the Mac, the place you’ll be able to sometimes get round Apple’s restrictions and run new software program on unsupported Macs or that isn’t Apple’s in any respect). The unique iPad Air and the iPad Mini 2 and Mini three have all been dropped, due to their slower Apple A7 processors and (extra importantly) their 1GB of RAM. At the moment, the iPad Air 2 and the iPad Mini four are the oldest, slowest tablets that run iPadOS 13.

The Air 2 was Apple’s first iDevice to incorporate 2GB of RAM and the primary iPad to help multitasking options like Cut up View that had been launched in iOS 9 (the primary iPad Air acquired a extra restricted subset of these options, however its 1GB of RAM wasn’t sufficient to help two apps operating facet by facet concurrently). It was arguably over-powered on the time of its launch, however its forward-looking specs have helped it bridge that hole between the full-screen, one-app-at-a-time mannequin that also existed in iOS eight and the still-limited however typically extra computer-y iPadOS expertise.


The iOS 13 replace runs only a bit slower than iOS 12 operating on the identical gadget, however the A9 chip within the iPhone 6S and SE is quick sufficient that somewhat little bit of slowdown doesn’t make the telephones really feel sluggish. The A8 doesn’t have as a lot energy to spare today; its single-core efficiency is 40% or 45% slower than the A9’s, though the triple-core A8X remains to be about as quick because the dual-core A9 when all of the cores are getting used.

With that in thoughts, we used the identical app-launching efficiency check that we did for the iPhone 6S and SE to look at how iPadOS works on one of many oldest eligible gadgets. We additionally spent a number of weeks testing the iPadOS 13.zero and 13.1 betas. Word that every one of this testing was carried out utilizing iPadOS 13.1 Developer Beta four, as a result of Apple didn’t launch a Golden Grasp construct of iOS or iPadOS 13.1 earlier than releasing it at the moment. The construct is simply per week outdated, nevertheless, so it’s presumably fairly near the one Apple has launched to the general public.

iPad Air 2 efficiency

iOS 12.four.1
iOS 13.1 b4
Distinction (%)

zero.92 seconds
zero.98 seconds

1.30 seconds
zero.94 seconds

zero.82 seconds
zero.77 seconds

1.36 seconds
1.42 seconds

1.15 seconds
1.09 seconds

zero.74 seconds
1.11 seconds

1.65 seconds
1.82 seconds

1.58 seconds
1.48 seconds

TV app
2.79 seconds
2.76 seconds

Chilly boot
19.5 seconds
19.1 seconds

Efficiency on the iPad Air 2 really isn’t dangerous, and iPadOS doesn’t sluggish issues down a lot in comparison with iOS 12. Some issues launch extra slowly, however typically launch instances are related (or in a few instances, somewhat higher). As with the iPhone 6S and SE, for those who’re pleased with how iOS 12 runs, you ought to be comfortable sufficient with how iPadOS runs.

The one disagreeable shock I bumped into when utilizing the iPad Air 2 with iPadOS was with “desktop-class looking.” It was actually attainable to load pages just like the Google Drive apps or the WordPress CMS—issues that had been troublesome or unimaginable with earlier variations of cellular Safari—however in comparison with my newer iPad Air three, scrolling by and enhancing massive paperwork typically felt jerky and clumsy. In any case, the Air 2 is working with significantly slower and fewer RAM than precise desktops or newer iPads.

Lacking (and not-missing) options

There are some things that the Air 2 simply can’t do, apart from simply operating slower than trendy iPads. An Apple A9 or newer chip is required for a handful of software program options, together with capturing HEIF pictures and HEVC video and something that has something to do with ARKit. An absence of Apple Pencil help signifies that you miss out not solely on Pencil help, but additionally Sidecar help for macOS Catalina, which (as of this writing) seems to require an iPad with Pencil help. And iPads with extra RAM can load extra Safari tabs and different apps earlier than the OS must reclaim that reminiscence for different makes use of, making multitasking only a bit extra laborious.

However the Air 2 (and the Mini four, although we couldn’t check it) nonetheless advantages from the overwhelming majority of the additions that make iPadOS price putting in. It nonetheless will get a brand new, denser Dwelling display that may match extra icons, plus a At the moment View column; it will possibly nonetheless learn recordsdata from USB drives and SD playing cards with a Lightning adapter; it will possibly nonetheless hook up with distant servers through SMB; it nonetheless will get a ton of recent, genuinely helpful keyboard shortcuts and textual content enhancing enhancements; Safari nonetheless will get a obtain supervisor and “desktop-class” looking (efficiency points apart); and it nonetheless will get the Slide Over multitasking view and the power to open the identical app twice.

I do not assume I’ve ever ended one in all these articles by telling folks to not improve, even within the instances the place efficiency is worse than it was earlier than. There’s undoubtedly a case to be made for ready till iPadOS 13.2 or some future launch, when Apple could have had some extra time to eradicate bugs that it could not do away with throughout iOS/iPadOS 13’s unusually chaotic beta course of. And individuals who will actually profit from iPadOS 13’s new, extra computer-y options, particularly those focused towards photograph editors, could be higher served by a more recent iPad with extra processing energy—this suggestion consists of each iPad on the market at the moment, together with the $329 model.

However regardless of the A8X’s advancing age and the options lacking relative to what you get on newer iPads, I do assume anybody with an iPad Air 2 ought to set up iPadOS 13 as quickly as they’re comfy. When paired with a reasonable Bluetooth keyboard, the pill remains to be a surprisingly compelling finances pc, absolutely able to looking, phrase processing, emailing, social media, multitasking, watching movies and viewing photographs, and informal gaming—in different phrases, many of the issues that ordinary folks use their computer systems for.

However if you wish to do critical photograph or video enhancing (and you do not need to use a Mac, which stays a way more versatile platform with extra complicated and versatile third-party apps), for those who’re a Internet developer, or for those who’re an artist or note-taker who may profit from the Apple Pencil, it might be time to improve. The iPad Air 2 nonetheless feels trendy in a number of methods, however newer iPads have achieved laptop-like efficiency to associate with a few of these laptop-like options.


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