Apple released a new, refreshed iPad Air recently and reviews are in. Powered by Apple’s own silicon in the form of the M1 chip, it’s even more powerful than ever.
This updated device is said to be about 40 percent faster than the A14 chip contained in the previous version. Does all of that power translate into performance? Is iPadOS still the sticking point for professional use?
Where does this new, $599 iPad Air fit in the rest of the lineup? For answers to these, and more, keep reading.
The 2022 iPad Air is almost indistinguishable from the 2020 version, says Ars Technica. It’s the same all-aluminum shell, same bezels, same flat sides. If you loved the iPad Pro, you’ll love this tablet.
The Air is nearly $200 cheaper than the iPad Pro. That drop in price means no ProMotion screen or the mini-LED screen of the 12.9 inch iPad Pro. Maybe that’s okay, Apple has always been good for scrolling smoothness, and if you’re not used to the higher refresh rate you won’t miss it.
Apple kept Touch ID, with the scanner inside the sleep/wake button. The Verge liked how quickly it recognized their fingerprints, but preferred Face ID on the iPad Pro. I can’t blame them, but then $200 is $200.
The only other change design-wise is the selfie camera. That’s upgraded to a 12-MP ultrawide sensor with Apple’s Center Stage tech. That keeps you in the frame as you move around, and it’s great when it works.
Power and performance
This year, Apple put the M1 chip into the Air. Yes, the M1 chip that powers MacBooks, Macs, and the iPad Pro. It’s a beast and has been tested extensively. Apple paired it with 8GB of RAM, and either 64GB or 256GB of storage.
Does everyone need the power of the M1? No, not really. The Verge says for light users, “you won’t likely notice the extra performance headroom.” Then again, it’s nice to know that there’s some extra performance if you need it, like for video editing.
Engadget was impressed with the M1 chip, noting that during benchmark tests, it outperformed the 2020 iPad Pro “in both single- and multi-core tasks.”
TechCrunch thought the lack of storage is an issue vs the iPad Pro. That’s mainly because of where it fits in the lineup price-wise. Performance is still stellar though, so there’s not much to grumble about here.
Oh, and the new Air has 5G, with support for sub-6 5G networks. You’ll need the $749 Celluar version, of course. No faster mmWave here, but maybe that’s okay. Not many places in the US have mmWave anyway.
The only real annoyance is iPadOS, with multiple reviewers wondering why Apple doesn’t just create a touchscreen optimized version of macOS for its higher-powered iPads.
Powered by that ultra-efficient M1 core, the iPad Air 2022 should have some hefty battery life. The Verge calls it “an all-day tablet” but could be stretched to multiple days if used lightly. They found the Air needed charging after seven hours of solid use.
Wired found even more battery in the tank, with 45 or 50 percent battery left after using it for five hours daily. That’s way more battery life than my second-generation iPad Pro can manage or my second-generation iPad Air.
Sounds like the iPad Air 5th gen has enough battery life for most users. For the power users, there’s always using an external battery pack to top it off.
So, should I buy an iPad Air?
CNBC calls the new Air the “best iPad for most people.” That said, if you’re already on a 2020 iPad Air, you “probably don’t need to upgrade.”
The only sticking point for all the reviewers is the low storage options, with the iPad Air topping out at 256GB. That’s okay, but the $749 price brings it close to the $799 price of the iPad Pro, which has 128GB of storage and a way better screen.
Maybe Wired sums it up best, calling the iPad Air “a highly capable tablet” while saying it’s more suited to fans of iPadOS, instead of those who need a portable computer.
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