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iPad Air review: cheaper iPad Pro for the rest of us gets M1 power upgrade | iPad

Apple’s latest tablet is an iPad Air upgraded with the M1 chip from the newest Macs and iPad Pro – turning it into a compact powerhouse that’s just as happy manipulating images in Photoshop as it is binge-watching the latest series of Star Trek: Picard.

This new fifth-generation model is £10 cheaper than the outgoing model, costing £569 ($599/A$929). While certainly premium-priced, it undercuts Apple’s other M1-equipped 11in tablet, the iPad Pro, by £180.

the back of the iPad Air 2022 in blue
The iPad Air is thin, light, made of recycled aluminium and available in five different colours, shown here in its attractive blue. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The design of the new tablet is identical to the 2020 iPad Air, which still looks top-class in 2022. It generally feels solid and well-made, though a device this thin will need to be treated with care and kept in a case for transport. Oddly two small spots next to the Apple logo on the aluminium back creaked slightly when pressed with a finger.

The power button doubles as a Touch ID fingerprint scanner, which works well but isn’t quite as effortless to use as Face ID on the iPhone or iPad Pro.

The iPad Air has a great 10.9in screen. It is crisp, clear and bright, but lacks the firm’s ProMotion 120Hz technology, which makes it less smooth and leaves it suffering from a bit of so-called “jelly scroll” when scrolling in landscape, similar to the iPad mini.

the Guardian website shown in Safari on the iPad Air
The 10.9in screen is a good size, nicely balanced between being big enough for reading or watching video, and not too big to easily carry, hold or throw in a bag. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

M1 power and iPadOS 15.4

The M1 chip and 8GB of RAM give the small tablet desktop computer-level processing power. It’ll fly through all the usual tablet tasks such as browsing, email, updating your Premier League team or watching TV. But, as with the latest iPad Pro, it also has unrivalled performance to handle complex image manipulation in Affinity Photo, the drawing and rendering of 3D worlds in SketchUp, or the creation of a cinematic masterpiece in LumaFusion.

Outside of gaming, most will not need that much power on a regular basis, but having a more powerful chip hasn’t hurt battery life. The iPad Air still gets a reliable 10 hours of browsing, light app use or offline video.

The iPad ships with Apple’s latest iPadOS 15.4, which introduces a major new feature called Universal Control that allows you to use a Mac’s keyboard and mouse to control the iPad or visa versa, including dragging and dropping files between the two. The long-awaited feature is quite something, extending the usefulness of the tablet as a second screen or input device, but only if you also have a modern Mac computer running macOS Monterey.

Centre Stage

an image of the webcam of the iPad Air
The Centre Stage webcam works very well, keeping you in frame whether you’re on your own, in a group or moving around, taking some of the hassle out of video calls. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The webcam has been upgraded over its predecessor with Apple’s game-changing 12-megapixel automatic panning and zooming video call camera that was introduced first to the iPad Pro, but is now available on all current iPads.

Specifications

  • Screen: 10.9in 2360×1640 Liquid Retina display (264ppi)

  • Processor: Apple M1

  • RAM: 8GB

  • Storage: 64 or 256GB

  • Operating system: iPadOS 15.4

  • Camera: 12MP rear, 12MP selfie

  • Connectivity: Wifi 6 (5G optional), Bluetooth 5, USB-C, Touch ID, Smart Connecter

  • Dimensions: 247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1mm

  • Weight: 461g (5G version: 462g)

Sustainability

the iPad Air laying flat on a table showing its USB-C port
It takes about two and a half hours to fully charge the tablet with the included 20W USB-C power adaptor, or faster with something more powerful. You can connect a large range of peripherals via USB-C too, including storage drives and external displays. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Apple does not provide an estimated lifespan for the iPad Air’s battery, but it can be replaced for £99. Batteries in similar devices maintain at least 80% of their original capacity for at least 500 full charge cycles. The tablet is generally repairable, with the out-of-warranty service cost being £396.44, which includes the screen.

The tablet has a 100% recycled aluminium body, 100% recycled tin in the solder of its main board, 96% recycled rare earth elements, and at least 35% recycled plastic used in multiple components. Apple breaks down the tablet’s environmental impact in its report and offers trade-in and free recycling schemes, including for non-Apple products.

Price

The fifth-generation Apple iPad Air costs from £569 ($599/A$929) with 64GB of storage, or £719 ($749/A$1,159) with 5G, and ships on 18 March.

For comparison, the 10.2in iPad costs £319, the iPad mini costs £479 and the iPad Pro costs from £749, Amazon’s Fire HD 8 costs £90, the Fire HD 10 costs £150, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 costs £649.

Verdict

The 2022 iPad Air is one of the best premium tablets you can buy, now with enough power to be as good at content creation as general-purpose browsing and TV-watching.

The slim design and 10.9in screen strike an excellent balance between usability and portability, slotting nicely in between the small iPad mini and giant 12.9in iPad Pro. With the right accessories it can be a laptop replacement, too, or the new Universal Control feature helps it be a seamless second screen for a Mac.

Centre Stage is brilliant for video calls, Touch ID works great, the speakers are really good, and you’ll get 10 hours of useful battery life out of it. You can expect at least seven years of software updates from release, meaning you can keep using it for longer than any Android competitor. Then there’s the unrivalled library of apps from desktop-class software to almost every media consumption service.

As brilliant as the iPad Air is, its biggest problem is being undercut to the tune of £250 by Apple’s basic 10.2in iPad, which offers many of these benefits without as much raw performance and in a much older design. If all you want to do is watch TV on it, the basic model is the better buy.

Pros: modern design, unrivalled M1 performance, good battery life, great screen, USB-C, iPadOS with long software support life, huge range of apps, great speakers, great mics, best-in-class Centre Stage video-call camera, recycled aluminium.

Cons: expensive, no multi-user support, relatively small storage on the starting model with no way to add more, no Face ID, slight “jelly scroll” effect, must be treated with more care than cheaper rivals.

the rear camera of the iPad Air protruding from the back of the tablet
The rear camera is very good for a tablet, outpacing many cheaper phones, but is no match for a good camera phone. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.


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China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending ‘Taikonauts’ To The Moon From 2030 Onwards

China Reveals Lunar Mission

The Voice Of EU | In a bold stride towards lunar exploration, the Chinese Space Agency has unveiled its ambitious plans for a moon landing set to unfold in the 2030s. While exact timelines remain uncertain, this endeavor signals a potential resurgence of the historic space race reminiscent of the 1960s rivalry between the United States and the USSR.

China’s recent strides in lunar exploration include the deployment of three devices on the moon’s surface, coupled with the successful launch of the Queqiao-2 satellite. This satellite serves as a crucial communication link, bolstering connectivity between Earth and forthcoming missions to the moon’s far side and south pole.

Unlike the secretive approach of the Soviet Union in the past, China’s strategy leans towards transparency, albeit with a hint of mystery surrounding the finer details. Recent revelations showcase the naming and models of lunar spacecraft, steeped in cultural significance. The Mengzhou, translating to “dream ship,” will ferry three astronauts to and from the moon, while the Lanyue, meaning “embrace the moon,” will descend to the lunar surface.

Drawing inspiration from both Russian and American precedents, China’s lunar endeavor presents a novel approach. Unlike its predecessors, China will employ separate launches for the manned module and lunar lander due to the absence of colossal space shuttles. This modular approach bears semblance to SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, reflecting a contemporary adaptation of past achievements.

Upon reaching lunar orbit, astronauts, known as “taikonauts” in Chinese, will rendezvous with the lunar lander, reminiscent of the Apollo program’s maneuvers. However, distinct engineering choices mark China’s departure from traditional lunar landing methods.

The Chinese lunar lander, while reminiscent of the Apollo Lunar Module, introduces novel features such as a single set of engines and potential reusability and advance technology. Unlike past missions where lunar modules were discarded, China’s design hints at the possibility of refueling and reuse, opening avenues for sustained lunar exploration.

China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending 'Taikonauts' To The Moon From 2030 Onwards
A re-creation of the two Chinese spacecraft that will put ‘taikonauts’ on the moon.CSM

Despite these advancements, experts have flagged potential weaknesses, particularly regarding engine protection during landing. Nevertheless, China’s lunar aspirations remain steadfast, with plans for extensive testing and site selection underway.

Beyond planting flags and collecting rocks, China envisions establishing a permanent lunar base, the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), ushering in a new era of international collaboration in space exploration.

While the Artemis agreements spearheaded by NASA have garnered global support, China’s lunar ambitions stand as a formidable contender in shaping the future of space exploration. In conclusion, China’s unveiling of its lunar ambitions not only marks a significant milestone in space exploration but also sets the stage for a new chapter in the ongoing saga of humanity’s quest for the cosmos. As nations vie for supremacy in space, collaboration and innovation emerge as the cornerstones of future lunar endeavors.


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Aviation and Telecom Industries Reach Compromise on 5G Deployment

The Voice Of EU | In a significant development, AT&T and Verizon, the two largest mobile network operators in the United States, have agreed to delay the deployment of 5G services following requests from the aviation industry and the Biden administration. This decision marks a crucial compromise in the long-standing dispute between the two industries, which had raised concerns over the potential interference of 5G with flight signals.
The aviation industry, led by United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby, had been vocal about the risks of 5G deployment, citing concerns over the safety of flight operations. Kirby had urged AT&T and Verizon to delay their plans, warning that proceeding with the deployment would be a “catastrophic failure of government.” The US Senate Commerce Committee hearing on the issue further highlighted the need for a solution.
In response, US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) head Steve Dickson sent a letter to the mobile networks, requesting a two-week delay to reassess the potential risks. Initially, AT&T and Verizon were hesitant, citing the aviation industry’s two-year preparation window. However, they eventually agreed to the short delay, pushing the deployment to January 19.
The crux of the issue lies in the potential interference between 5G signals and flight equipment, particularly radar altimeters. The C-Band spectrum used by 5G networks is close to the frequencies employed by these critical safety devices. The FAA requires accurate and reliable radar altimeters to ensure safe flight operations.

Airlines in the US have been at loggerheads with mobile networks over the deployment of 5G and its potential impact on flight safety.

Despite the concerns, both the FAA and the telecoms industry agree that 5G mobile networks and airline travel can coexist safely. In fact, they already do in nearly 40 countries where US airlines operate regularly. The key lies in reducing power levels around airports and fostering cross-industry collaboration prior to deployment.
The FAA has been working to find a solution in the United States, and the additional two-week delay will allow for further assessment and preparation. AT&T and Verizon have also agreed to not operate 5G base stations along runways for six months, similar to restrictions imposed in France.
President Joe Biden hailed the decision to delay as “a significant step in the right direction.” The European Union Aviation Safety Agency and South Korea have also reported no unsafe interference with radio waves since the deployment of 5G in their regions.
As the aviation and telecom industries continue to work together, it is clear that safe coexistence is possible. The delay in 5G deployment is a crucial step towards finding a solution that prioritizes both safety and innovation. With ongoing collaboration and technical assessments, the United States can join the growing list of countries where 5G and airlines coexist without issue.

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