Apple’s latest iPad update is simple on the surface, but there’s a huge step forward on the inside.
The new iPad Air update mainly concerns two things: the M1 chip and 5G. Aside from these changes, the new tablet is very similar to its 2020 predecessor.
Those two things probably aren’t enough to make the 2020 upgrade worth it, but thanks to the M1, the 2022 iPad Air is a huge hit if you have an old iPad or another tablet and are ready to take a step up.
Let’s start with what has not changed since the last model.
What has not changed
Starting at $599The iPad Air comes in 64GB and 256GB storage configurations (for an extra $150), and features a 10.9-inch IPS display with a resolution of 2,360 x 1,640 pixels. It’s a great screen, although it can’t achieve the kind of contrast or deep blacks you get from OLED or Mini LED screens seen in other devices, like the larger iPad Pro. The iPad Air’s refresh rate remains stable at 60Hz.
Dimensions are almost exactly the same as the 2020 model too at 9.74 x 7 x 0.24 inches, or 247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1 mm. It weighs 1.02 pounds, or 462 g in the case of the Cellular model. The Wi-Fi model is imperceptibly lighter at 461g.
The tablet features a Touch ID fingerprint reader built into the top on/off button and stereo speakers in landscape mode, along with two microphones. Apple claims that it gets up to 10 hours of battery life when browsing the web over Wi-Fi or while playing a video.
There is a 12MP rear camera with f/1.8 aperture, and the tablet can record 4K video at up to 60 frames per second.
In terms of wireless connectivity, the non-cellular model supports Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.
This is where we come to our first big difference compared to last time: the 2022 iPad Air cellular model offers 5G connectivity. Whether that’s attractive depends on where you live, of course. If you live in the heart of a major city, you are likely to see faster download speeds and lower latency in many places. If you don’t, the benefits may be minimal.
Like the iPad Pro and the latest iPad Air, the 2022 iPad Air has a single USB-C port instead of the Lightning port seen in previous iPads. This time around, though, it offers twice the data transfer speeds of the iPad Air’s USB-C port of 2020. Most users don’t matter as wired file transfers aren’t a common use case for this type of device, but if it matters to you, He is there.
We talked about the rear camera which has not changed but the front camera has. iPad Air features an ultra-wide 12MP front camera (up from 7MP) that now supports Center Stage, a feature that tracks you as you move around the frame.
Center Stage is a great feature on tablets primarily because it addresses some of the awkwardness of the side-aligned camera when the tablet is in landscape orientation. It works fine most of the time, although sometimes it can get a little confused or move in a distracting way out of your control. However, most of the time it does exactly what it is supposed to do. It’s not enough by itself to justify upgrading on another iPad, but it’s a nice addition.
Finally, the iPad Air includes the Apple M1 chip, which was previously seen in the iPad Pro, MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, 24-inch iMac, and Mac mini. Here, it has an eight-core CPU (four performance, four efficiency), an eight-core GPU, and an eight-core NPU.
We’ll talk about the benchmarks a little later, but here’s the spoiler: It works almost exactly as well as this chip did on the iPad Pro, so there are no compromises here. Also, Apple doubled the RAM from 4GB to 8GB.
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