Apple unveils new iPad, iPad Air, plus Apple Watch SE and Series 6

Apple unveils new iPad, iPad Air, plus Apple Watch SE and Series 6
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple used its 'Time Flies' event today to announce an overhaul of its standard-size iPad line-up and introduce two new Apple Watches. Yes, that leaves the iPhone 12 announcement yet to come (and perhaps to look forward to, natch).

Apple's September event was an unusually quiet (although no less sleek) affair due to the absence of a new iPhone, but it wasn't short of exciting product reveals. The standard iPad has entered its 8th generation, while the iPad Air has also been redesigned.

The former is powered by Apple's A12 Bionic, promising to be 40 per cent faster and offer twice the graphics performance compared to its predecessor, the Apple iPad 7th Generation. It has a 10.2in retina display, support for Apple Keyboard and Apple Pencil, and starts at £329 ($329). It's available to order from today, with shipping beginning on Friday.

Arguably the most exciting new iPad announced today, however, is the next-generation iPad Air, which will be available from next month for £599 ($599). Available in five colours – including new rose gold, green and sky blue finishes – it sports the same footprint as its predecessor, the Apple iPad Air (2019), but boasts a larger (10.9in compared to the older model's 10.5in) Liquid Retina display with a 2360x1640 resolution. 

new iPad Air

(Image credit: Apple)

Next-gen TouchID has been smartly integrated into the top button, marking the smallest authentication sensor Apple has ever designed. Neat.

But the headline feature is more power, and then some. The new iPad Air is powered by Apple's top-line A14 Bionic chip, the first to use a 5-nanometer processor, which comprises 11.8 billion transistors – 40 per cent more than the previous 7-nanometer processor. 

This means increased power efficiency, 40 per cent faster processing performance, and a 30 per cent increase in graphics performance. Apple says it has twice the graphics performance of a laptop, bringing the Air closer to the iPad Pro. And perhaps making the iPad Pro slightly redundant.

To that end, it also plays ball with Apple's Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio.

Elsewhere, the new Air has a USB-C charging port, improved built-in speakers that can play stereo audio in landscape mode, and an enhanced camera set-up. The front snapper is a 7MP lens capable of 1080p video capture, while the front 12MP shooter has been taken from the iPad Pro and can shoot in 4K.

Naturally, both new iPads will benefit from the new features brought by the iPadOS 14 update, which arrives tomorrow.

Not one new Apple Watch, but two!

Apple Watch Series 6

Apple Watch Series 6 (Image credit: Apple)

The Apple Watch Series 6 is the most colourful yet, with a new blue aluminium case alongside stainless gold and a brand-new red colourway. 

It introduces a raft of new health features, perhaps the biggest of which is the full range measurement of your VO2 Max, a general predictor of overall health. Later this year, owners will be able to receive a notification if it drops to a dangerous level.

Using a new health sensor that shines infrared light onto your skin, the Apple Watch Series 6 can also measure how much blood is in your oxygen in just 15 seconds. Apple has improved the always-on display, allowing it to go 2.5x times brighter outside when your wrist is down. And see altitude change in real time.

watchOS 7 – coming this autumn – introduces a Sleep App for tracking your, err, sleep. A new hand washing feature will also automatically detect when you begin washing and encourage you to keep going for the amount of time recommended by global health organisations – how very 2020 of it. 

There's also Apple Fitness+, an all-new fitness service with ten different types of studio workouts (with new workouts added every week). It's powered by music curated from Apple Music and led by "world-class" trainers. Fitness+ will be available at the end of the year for $9.99-per-month, or $79.99 per year.

Not only are there new colours for the Series 6, there's also a new band option. The new 'Solo Loop' is a flexible, one-piece silicone band that's swimproof and also available in a braided material.

Apple Watch SE

Apple Watch SE (Image credit: Apple)

The Apple Watch Series 6 starts at £399 ($399), but Apple is also bringing the new watchOS 7 features to a more affordable price point with the introduction of Apple Watch SE. 

The Apple Watch SE, £279 ($279), has the "essential" Apple watch features and latest motion sensors but packages it all inside the Apple Watch Series 6's display. It has the S5 chip, making it 2.5x faster than the entry-level £199 ($199) Series 3, although don't expect the blood oxygen sensor.

The Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE can be pre-ordered now, with availability starting from this Friday (19th September).


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Becky Roberts

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her 10 years in the hi-fi industry, she has been fortunate enough to travel the world to report on the biggest and most exciting brands in hi-fi and consumer tech (and has had the jetlag and hangovers to remember them by). In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.