iPad Air 2022: Pro in performance and mini in price

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Apple has revised its iPad Air and given it its M1 chip. Yes, exactly the same chip used by the powerful iPad Pro 2021. In addition, the Air also gets an antenna for the fast 5G connections. In short, the 5th generation iPad Air is not only the most powerful in its class – it also comes very close to the iPad Pro 2021 with some other features. So, is the new iPad Air perhaps a cheaper iPad Pro in the end?

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Good

  • Very fast and performant
  • Center Stage: The new Apple system for video calls is on board
  • Super battery life
  • Compatible with Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard
  • Fast data transfers and connectivity to external displays thanks to USB-C

Bad

  • It could be tight for people with a hunger for storage space
  • No Face ID (but that does not bother me personally)

iPad Air 2022 in a nutshell

Apple announced the iPad Air 2022 or 5th generation on March 8, 2022 during its Peek Performance event. It will be available in store shelves from March 18.

The Wi-Fi only variant starts at $599, the 5G cellular option is available from $749.
Both variants are available with either 64 GB or 256 GB of internal storage.

Apple iPad Air 5 (2022) design and build quality

In terms of design, Apple stays true to its line and changed: Nothing. With dimensions of 9.74 x 7.02 x 0.24 inches (24.76 x 17.85 x 6.1 mm), the new iPad Air measures just as much as its predecessor from last year. At 461/462 grams, it is barely heavier than the 4th generation.

The corners are still rounded, the on/off button is located at the top of the narrow side, the volume buttons next to it on the long side. The front camera is still (unfortunately!) on the narrow side of the iPad for video calls, I think it would be more helpful if the camera was installed on the wide side.

NextPit Apple iPad Air
The new blue color really pleases with the nice back finish / © NextPit

There is a new color, though – and I have to say, I like it!
The new blue replaces the green iPad that was still around last year.

Apple iPad Air 5 (2022) display

The display of the iPad Air is great.
It reproduces rich colors and uses the so-called True Tone technology, which is supposed to reproduce the colors of the display more naturally.

It is the same panel that Apple used last year: A 10.9” or 27.69 cm diagonal Liquid Retina display that resolves with 2360 x 1640 pixels and typically has a brightness of 500 nits.

NextPit Apple iPad Air Pro Edge
If you look closely, you can see that the bezels of the iPad Pro (back) are slightly smaller / © NextPit

Compared to the iPad Pro, the ProMotion technology, which can be used to display particularly smooth transitions during movements at up to 120 Hz, is missing.

If you look at the two iPads, i.e. the new Air and the Pro, side by side from above, you might notice the slightly larger bezels on the Air if you look closely. But even the missing ProMotion should hardly be noticeable in many cases.

Apple iPad Air 5 (2022) special features

The iPad Air 2022 is also compatible with the Magic Keyboard and the 2nd generation Apple Pencil
. I will explain why it is so exciting in combination with its performance later in the conclusion.

NextPit Apple iPad Air Keyboard
With the iPad Air, you can fully use both the Apple Magic Keyboard and the 2nd generation Apple Pencil / © NextPit

Apple iPad Air 5 (2022) software

The new iPad Air 2022 naturally comes with the latest version of iPadOS. Currently, this is version 15.4. Anyone who has ever seen an iPad in action knows that iPadOS and its possibilities are remarkable.

Since the iPad Air has the M1 chip, the tablet should be assured of all
software updates for the next 4 to 5 years as well.

Apple iPad Air 5 (2022) performance

In NextPit‘s review of the iPad Pro (2021) last year, I wrote about the M1 chip:

“Apple’s first system-on-a-chip has 8 CPU cores, 8 cores for the GPU, and 16 Apple Neural Engine cores. Apple says the M1 brings a 50% performance boost and 40% better graphics performance.”

Why am I rehashing almost a year-old quote – even more so because these are actually meant for a completely different device? Because they sum up exactly what applies to the iPad Air as well. Apple’s mid-range tablet device, the iPad Air, also gets the M1 chip, making it the fastest tablet in its price range.

In case that was perhaps too fast, here is a summary:
The iPad Air now has the same chipset which Apple had not only installed in the iPad Pro (2021), but also in last year’s MacBook Pro.

Graphics-intensive games, video editing for home use, or multithreading is no problem with the new iPad Air. This makes you wonder: Why should I even buy an iPad Pro if the iPad can do so much?

NextPit Apple iPad Air Test Review
The iPad Air can also be used as an everyday device / © NextPit

By the way, it’s also fast when it comes to connectivity. The iPad Air comes with a 5G antenna as well as Wi-Fi 6, which is not yet very widespread. But in terms of future-proofing, that is certainly a plus point.

A good question, which I will clarify in more detail in the conclusion, however, it should be noted that the iPad Air is only available in 64 GB and 256 GB versions. This might be too low for people with a hunger for data. However, I would like to point out at this point that it is possible to store data wonderfully and hardly noticeably together with iCloud. Most of the time, iPadOS even does this job without you noticing: Data that is not or rarely used remains in the cloud and does not steal valuable storage space.

Nothing new with the sound. The front-facing camera is

Apple gives its Air two speakers that sound quite good for their size. Those who have already enjoyed the iPad sound know what I mean. However, not much more can be said about the sound.

In contrast to the front-facing camera: Apple now also uses the 12 MP ultra-wide-angle camera, which is also used in the iPad Mini and iPad Pro.
This also enables Center Stage – Apple’s new function for video conferencing.
The camera always seems to follow you and keeps the speakers in focus.

The main camera consists of only one lens with a ƒ/1.8 aperture. A 5x digital zoom is possible with it. Videos can be recorded in 1080p or 4K.

NextPit Apple iPad Air Pro Camera
iPad Pro on the left and iPad Air on the right. / © NextPit

If you want to see Center Stage in action, here’s an article on how to (de)activate Center Stage on the iPad and a video showing the function.

Apple iPad Air 5 (2022) battery

It is really amazing what Apple now gets out of the batteries.
As usual, Apple does not give exact mAh specifications and specifies the performance of its battery in runtime. Apple specifies the battery performance with up to 10 hours for web surfing and video via Wi-Fi and up to 9 hours when using mobile data.

I can easily confirm this value. The iPad has accompanied me throughout my day for the last few days. In the evening, despite intensive use – like writing emails or articles, surfing, or watching a video – there is still some juice left. So, if you don’t mainly perform computing-intensive tasks or play graphics-heavy games without connecting the tablet to an external power source, you can easily get through the day.

NextPit Apple iPad Air USB
The iPad Air can be recharged via the USB-C port / © NextPit

Apple iPad Air 5 (2022) technical specifications

  Price-performance For creators
Product
Picture Apple iPad Air 5 (2022) Apple iPad Pro 11 Apple iPad Pro 12.9
Display 10.9-inch LCD IPS
2360 x 1640 pixels (264 PPI)
60 Hz refresh rate
11-inch LCD IPS
2338 x 1668 pixels (261 PPI)
120 Hz refresh rate
12.9-inch LCD IPS
2732 x 2048 pixels (264 PPI)
120 Hz refresh rate
Processor Apple M1
8-core CPU
8-core GPU
RAM 8 GB 8 GB or 16 GB
Rear camera 12 megapixels (wide-angle) 12 megapixels (wide-angle)
10 megapixels (ultra-wide-angle)
LiDAR sensor
12 megapixels (wide-angle)
10 megapixels (ultra-wide-angle)
LiDAR sensor
Flash LED True Tone LED
Video 4K recording at up to 60 fps
HDR video up to 60 fps
3x digital zoom
Mono recording
4K recording at up to 60 fps
HDR video up to 60 fps
3x digital zoom / 2x optical zoom out
Stereo recording
Front camera 12 megapixels (ultra-wide angle)
 
12 megapixels (ultra-wide angle)
TrueDepth
Internal storage 64 / 256 GB 128 / 256 / 512 / 1024 / 2048 GB
Removable storage No memory card support
External storage using USB-C
No memory card support
External storage using USB-C/Thunderbolt 
Connectivity Wi-Fi 6 – 2.4 & 5 GHz
Bluetooth 5.0
Cellular models: 
nano-SIM / eSIM
3G / 4G
5G: sub-6 GHz
Wi-Fi 6 – 2.4 & 5 GHz
Bluetooth 5.0
Cellular models:
nano-SIM / eSIM
2G / 3G / 4G
5G: sub-6 GHz & mmWave
Battery life Up to 10 hours (WLAN)
Up to 9 hours (4G/5G)
Dimensions 9.74 x 7.02 x 0.24 inches
(24.76 x 17.85 x 6.1 mm)
9.74 x 7.02 x 0.23 inches
(24.76 x 17.85 x 5.9 mm)
11.04 x 8.46 x 0.25 inches
(28.06 x 21.49 x 6.4 mm)
Weight Wi-Fi: 1.02 pounds (461 g)
Cellular: 1.02 pounds (462 g)
Wi-Fi: 1.03 pounds (466 g)
Cellular: 1.04 pounds (470g)
Wi-Fi: 1.5 pounds (682 g)
Cellular: 1.51 pounds (685 g)
Authentication Touch ID (top button) Face ID (TrueDepth camera)
Accessories Apple Pencil (2nd generation)
Magic Keyboard
Smart Keyboard folio
Good
  • Very fast and performant
  • Center Stage: Apple’s new video call system is on board
  • Super battery life
  • Compatible with Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard
  • Fast data exchange and connection for external displays thanks to USB-C
  • Great performance due to the M1 processor
  • Thunderbolt port
  • 5G network support
  • Great audio performance
  • Very good battery life, especially when on standby
  • Center Stage is great
  • 1st generation Magic Keyboard compatibility
Bad
  • Few storage options
  • No Face ID
  • iPadOS needs an update to make mobile productivity a possibility
  • The smaller 11-inch model doesn’t have an XDR display
  • Front camera location is not optimal
Rating Go to review Go to review

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Final verdict

“Pro in performance and mini in price” – that is the title of my article. Apple has upgraded its Air lineup a lot from a technical point of view. So much so that the differences to the iPad Pro apart from the design almost have to be searched for with a magnifying glass and the price is nevertheless oriented towards the iPad mini (priced currently from $499).

It seems to be part of a new Apple strategy. After all, the new iPhone SE is also upgraded so much in the chipset that it is virtually on par with the iPhone 13 in terms of performance.

Why does Apple do that? Of course, the manufacturer does not give a clear answer to such a question. But this strategy makes perfect sense when you take a closer look and think about it.

The M1 chip is now more than a year old, and the iPad Pro was released at the end of May or the beginning of June last year. This means that a new iPad Pro would probably also get the M2 chip soon. Thus, the Pro would be ahead again in two months.

Nevertheless, the iPad Air is a real power machine and offers everything your heart desires. So what to do if you are now hesitating between iPad Pro and iPad Air?

For whom is the iPad Pro suitable and for whom is the iPad Air?

Of course, this question cannot be answered without knowing the preferences of the respective person. As a rule of thumb, however, I have found that if I have a pronounced FOMO (fear of missing out; I know this emotion all too well myself) and thus the feeling that I have to / want to be up to date with the technical specs and possibilities, I would go for the iPad Pro. Likewise, if I travel a lot with the iPad for work or if it is perhaps even my main computer.

NextPit Apple iPad Air Pro Display
Air or Pro: Hardly distinguishable from above / © NextPit

The iPad Air, on the other hand, is for anyone who wants to do more with a tablet than occasionally look at a web page or two on the couch. I’m thinking primarily of schoolchildren in advanced grades, students, or people who want to do a lot with a tablet for private (but also professional) use. The iPad Air offers everything for that – and at a lower price.

The fact that Apple offers its supposedly smaller and entry-level devices the latest chips is remarkable. And sustainable! This ensures that the devices can receive updates for many years. Thus, nothing stands in the way of a service life of five years and more.

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* This article first appeared here

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