Apple, just as expected, announced an update to the iPad Air line. Why predictably? Since the iPad mini 6 launched last year already had slightly better specs than the larger and more expensive Air – we can’t let that stand, can we?
Anyway, here we go – the Apple iPad Air (2022) comes with the same candy-colored body shape but with new interiors to keep it on par with its peers.
Is it the iPad Pro killer? Sort of… Apple has managed to maintain the appeal of the iPad Pro line by keeping 120Hz refresh rates hostage. But now that the iPad Air 5 has an M1 chip…it’s kind of hard to overlook it.
So, what can we expect from the iPad Air (2022)? Let’s take a quick look, shall we?
iPad Air design (2022)
No big surprises here – it’s the same menu as before. We’ve seen this design on the iPad Pro 11″ (2018), then on the iPad Air (2020), and here’s another iteration. Keep in mind – the iPad Air has a 10.9-inch screen, which means its bezel is slightly thicker than the 11-inch iPad Pro. You are right, it is not. It hardly makes an impression and gives your thumb more room to rest, to tell the truth.
What matters is the amount of colors you can choose from with the iPad Air line. It’s kind of frustrating that if you pour a bag of cash on the serious Pro models, you can choose between dark gray and light gray, while the iPad Air adds blue, purple, pink and silver along with Space Gray into the mix.
The fact that the iPad Air 5 comes in the same shape means that it will still be compatible with all accessories that fit the iPad Air 4 and even the iPad Pro 11-inch line. That includes the excellent (and precious) Magic Keyboard, which this writer is addicted to here. Or the less expensive (but also tricky) Smart Keyboard Folio. And any of the smart covers – the iPad Air is full of magnets, just like the Pro line.
There’s still a USB Type-C port on the bottom and we have – again – dual speakers that work in stereo when the iPad is in landscape mode. (So, if you hold it upright, they are both upper and lower woofers.)
The iPad Air 5 still doesn’t use Face ID — it has a Touch ID scanner built into the power button, just like the Air 4 or iPad mini 6. Our experience with older models is that they’re easy to use and quick to scan. Personally, I’m very used to Face ID on the iPad Pro, but I can definitely live with “only” Touch ID.
iPad Air screen (2022)
Firstly, Apple strongly refuses to give the Air line a refresh rate above 60 Hz. So yeah, if your eyes spoil the smooth animation, you’ll feel it right here. Whether or not it’s worth switching to the iPad Pro for the ProMotion display is up to you.
Secondly – and probably needless to say – there is no tiny LED technology on the screen. This feature is still exclusive only to the biggest and worst 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
Otherwise, you can rest assured that Apple has its own LCD technology. The iPad Air 4 looks great with very accurate colors, great brightness and good clarity. I have no reason to believe that the iPad Air 5 will be worse.
There’s still True Tone on board, and Dark Mode – of course – to keep your eyes relaxed after sunset.
iPad Air (2022)
And here, we have half the reason why this update came out. The iPad Air 4 (2020) was powered by the Apple A14 Bionic chip, and this new model comes with the Apple M1. Yes, you read that right – the same chip that powers the latest iPad Pro, MacBook Air, Mac mini, and basic MacBook Pro.
Should you go to stores to update your 2-year-old iPad Air? It sounds tempting, to be fair. Plus, Apple will happily give you some cash for your iPad Air 4 through the trade-in program. On the other hand, these tablets have value, so you may do better if you take them to the flea market. But, in all fairness, the Apple A14 is still a pretty powerful chip in its own right, so unless you order a lot from your hardware – you should be fine.
In terms of RAM – the iPad Air 5 gets a big bump with 8GB of RAM. This is double what the iPad Air 4 had and is equal to the RAM of the iPad Pro.
The only place the iPad Air (2022) lags is in storage. That price is $599 for the base 64GB storage variant. Come on, for a device that can edit 4K HDR video in a jiffy, 64GB is kind of a joke. Especially with iPadOS, which just loves to create unique copies of your files whenever you’re working on them in different apps.
More about storage options and purchasing decisions in conclusion.
iPad Air Speakers (2022)
So, speaking from past experience – the iPad Air 4’s stereo speakers… are good. We have the same setup from top to bottom here. Don’t let the diagram fool you, the speaker has two subwoofers. They don’t have an advantage over the iPad Pro’s quad speakers—the latter certainly sound deeper, more defined, and a bit louder.
iPad Air Camera (2022)
Yes, I know, nobody takes a tablet to take pictures with them (or do they?). But tablet cameras have proven to be useful for light office-related businesses – you can use the rear camera to scan documents through a plethora of useful applications. And of course you can use the front camera for video calls.
And that’s where we got the major upgrade — or the second half of the reasons Apple needed to upgrade the Air line. The iPad Air 4 was the only tablet in the entire iPad lineup that didn’t have an ultra-wide selfie camera with Center Stage.
Well, the iPad Air 5 is now available. In case you’re out of the loop, Center Stage is a software feature that zooms in on ultra-wide-angle camera shots and tracks your face. It’s kind of cool – as if you had your own personal camera trigger. You don’t need to be nailed to your tablet while calling relatives – you can sort your purchases and make sure the camera is still on your face.
The main camera on the back appears to be the same 12MP camera as before. As mentioned earlier – I don’t find this to be a pressing issue. The camera was good enough for the small tasks I may or may not need for it, and I expect the new camera to do the same.
iPad Air (2022) software features
Here’s the spoiler – iPadOS is iPadOS. The new iPad Air will come with iPadOS 15 out of the box, with all the features you can get from the Pro, the old Air 4, mini 6, or even the basic iPad. That’s just the way it is, so Split-view, Slide-over, Mouse compatibility, multiple instances of the same app, Apple Pencil 2 and Magic Keyboard compatibility, the new updated iMovie, and anything you can find in the App Store – they’re all the work. .
And yes, that is why a lot of people call the iPad Air the “iPad Pro killer”. It looks the part, has all the basics, and works like a beast.
If you can absorb the fact that it doesn’t have a 120Hz refresh rate, you’re golden.
iPad Air Predictions and Recommendations (2022)
Should you buy an iPad Air 5? To be fair – yes, the iPad Pro is pretty hard to recommend.
You basically get all the power of a Pro and access to the same accessories – the Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard.
However, if you think of the iPad as your serious work machine, the iPad Pro’s large 12.9-inch screen definitely gives you more real estate to play with.
But I feel the main comparisons will be drawn between the iPad Air (2022) and the iPad Pro 11 (2021). They basically have the same specs, but the iPad Pro 11 has a 120 Hz ProMotion display, and there are slightly different storage options.
Let’s think about it a little bit.
- iPad Air (2022) with 64GB of storage – $599. It’s tremendous value for money and will be robust and productive for years, but this 64GB will feel intimidating if you’re going to do a video on it.
- iPad Air (2022) 256 GB – $749. That’s still $50 cheaper than the base iPad Pro 11 (2021) and has plenty of storage to play with.
- iPad Pro 11 (2021) with 128GB of storage – $799. You get a 120Hz screen, quad speakers, and Face ID. To be fair, the 128GB storage feels comfortable — I’ve been using a 128GB iPad Pro for a year now and I’m currently 62GB full. But when you put all these specs side by side… it is very difficult to recommend to a budget conscious buyer to go for the iPad Pro instead of the new iPad Air!