Apple has decided that they don’t seem to have enough devices using their famous M1 chip yet, so here we are: The iPad Air 5 (2022) model is here, and thanks to its new chipset it’s now as powerful as the iPad Pro, all while being less expensive.
Additionally, Apple made a few nice improvements to the iPad Air compared to the old model. At the end of this review, you also will find a comparison of all the key differences between this one, the older iPad Air 2020 and the current iPad Pro! But first, let’s begin by taking a deeper look at Apple’s newest 5th Gen. iPad Air and start off with the unboxing.
Unboxing iPad Air 5
As always with Apple products, the iPad comes in a nice looking minimalistic box. You will find the tablet and a quick starting guide. In stark contrast to its iPhone line-up, there is even a charger and a cable included. It’s a 20W charger, so you will get decent charging times with it.
Design & build quality
At this point, a lot of you already realized that the new iPad Air 5 is, design wise, exactly the same as the old model. It’s still using a high quality body made out of recycled aluminum. The device is pleasant to hold and with its only 6 millimeters thickness extremely slim.
Only the camera bump sticks out and makes the device overall a little thicker, but most people will use a case on their iPad anyway. The bezels of the screen seem to be a great compromise in terms of size.
Small enough so the screen can make use of the real estate, but big enough to hold the device comfortably. The build quality overall is amazing. The device just feels durable and gives you the impression that it will live a long life.
On the side you will find a magnet for snapping your Apple Pencil 2 stylus. There are the smart connector pins on the back if you plan on using the Magic Keyboard and of course there’s a USB-C port on the bottom of the device.
And there we will find the first key difference to the old iPad Air 4: The USB-C port is now double the speed, and can therefore make better use of docking stations or attached storage options. The power button also serves as a fingerprint reader for TouchID, which works really snappy.
So far, the new iPad Air 5 doesn’t seem to be all that different to its predecessor. It’s when you start looking at performance numbers, that you realize that the new iPad Air 5 is a major leap forward compared to the old model. The M1 is just crazy fast, we all know that by now.
Let’s look at the well respected Geekbench 5 multi core benchmark: The iPad Air 5 (2022) gets 7299 points and therefore is almost twice as fast as the old iPad Air 4 with its 4209 points. The same goes when we look at GPU Results.
The A14 chip of the iPad Air 4 (2020) model gets 9431 points in the Geekbench Metal benchmark. The new shiny M1 iPad Air 5 gets a result that’s more than twice as good with 21043 points. Also, the new iPad gets double the RAM and now has 8GB to play around with. That’s plenty enough, even for very heavy multitasking.
It’s hard to describe how incredible it is that you get the M1 chip in this small $599 tablet. A chip that outclasses any current android tablet and is even faster than most Windows laptops out there, even if they cost twice as much money. It’s also the same chip that powers the smaller Macbooks and iMacs, but this time, in the palm of your hand.
Utilizing all this power in a small device like this isn’t easy. There is no way to get this iPad to slow down, no matter how much heavy multitasking you are doing. Everything just feels as snappy as it gets. But that was already true for the iPad Air 4 (2020) model.
Certain use cases can benefit from the extra horsepower though. If you do heavy photo editing or video editing on the new iPad Air 5 it really shines. Even 4k video files don’t make it sweat. If you pair it with a keyboard you do really get a great productive device. For that, Apple wants you to buy their expensive but well-built Magic Keyboard.
And thanks to iPad OS great software selection there is an app for every use case, so this can actually replace your laptop. The iPad Air 5 comes with iPadOS 15.4 pre-installed. Typical for Apple, you can expect years of software updates, and thanks to the power of the M1 the iPad shouldn’t slow down in the coming years.
Here we do need to mention a single, but major, weak point of the iPad Air 5. The basic model only comes with 64GB of storage, which just doesn’t really make sense for such a powerful device. The problem is, there is no 128GB option, so if you do need more local storage, you would need to pay a hefty fee for an upgrade to 256GB of storage.
The Retina IPS LCD display is unchanged from the previous iPad Air. But even two years later, with its resolution of 2360 x1640 and True tone capabilities it is still looking gorgeous. With the True tone feature, the display automatically changes the brightness and color temperature of the screen, depending on the ambient light.
The contrast ratio of about 1500:1 is great, so is the wide color gamut. You can even use the display in bright sunlight thanks to its anti reflective coating and high 500nits peak brightness. Another positive aspect of the display is the low minimal brightness. You can comfortably use it at night, without blinding yourself.
Just like the previous iPad Air, the new model is also compatible with the Apple Pencil 2. If you have never used one of the recent iPads with the Apple Pencil 2, then you really need to try it.
The experience is just great, everything feels so intuitive and pleasant. Unfortunately, the new iPad Air 5 only uses a 60Hz refresh rate for its screen, if you want the 120Hz promotion screen you need to buy the pricier iPad Pro.
The rear camera is also one of the many aspects that stay unchanged from the older model. It uses the same 12 MP sensor with an aperture of F1.8 and produces nice looking pictures in well-lit conditions, but falls behind the current iPhones in terms of picture quality.
The selfie camera on the other hand is brand new and more exciting in terms of innovation. It’s a 12MP ultra wide camera which, for the first time in the iPad Air lineup, supports Center Stage.
That means that the camera is automatically reframing the picture, depending on where you are in a video call. This also works great if multiple people are in front of the same iPad.
In this new work-from-home-age, this is a handy feature! Furthermore, the image quality is really decent and makes this iPad overall a great little device for doing video chatting.
Apple also decided that the speakers from the iPad Air 2020 model are so good, they’ll simply keep them for the newest iteration. And for good reason, the sound quality that the speakers deliver is tremendous.
Apple tries to fool you with four speaker grills, even though there are only two of them. They still offer a clean stereo experience, decent bass for its size and get immensely loud without distorting your music.
Just like with the old model, there is no headphone jack, so you will need to use bluetooth headphones or make use of the USB-C for attaching headphones.
The new iPad Air 5 gained so much in terms of performance, that you might think that the battery life is going to suffer a big impact. Luckily, that is not the case. The battery life seems to be a little shorter than the older model, but is still good enough.
With a typical mixed use of web surfing, watching videos and some light gaming, you can expect 9 to 10 hours. If you use the included charger, you can charge the iPad in about two and a half hours from 0 to 100%. The iPad Air supports chargers up to 30W.
The End Note
This tablet is just blazing fast. It is the cheapest device that offers Apple’s well respected M1 chip. So for just $599 you get the same compute performance as the iPad Pro, the MacBook Air or even the current iMac lineup.
You also get a beautiful screen to look at, a great build quality and speakers that get loud and sound nice. If you add a keyboard and an external monitor you can really get productive and use all this horsepower for stuff like photo or video editing.
If you do plan to use the iPad Air mostly for professional use cases, then maybe investing $150 more for the iPad Pro is a good idea. It offers some real key benefits over the iPad Air, which we listed down below. But, if you just want the highest performance you can get for $599, then there is just no other option: The iPad Air 5 (2022) is the best tablet in its price class.
Differences to the iPad Air 2020 & iPad Pro
Here is a short overview of the key benefits that the new iPad Air 5 offers over its predecessor from 2020:
- M1 chip, which offers about twice the performance.
- Twice as much RAM (8GB) for a better multi tasking experience.
- The support for 5G cellular compared to only 4G.
- The USB-C port now offers 10Gbps speed, which is twice as fast as before.
- Better selfie camera supporting the Center Stage feature.
And for comparison, here are the benefits that the current iPad Pro offers compared to the new iPad Air 5:
- Storage options higher than 256Gb. The iPad Pro goes up to 2TB.
- 16GB RAM options.
- It has a second rear camera.
- It offers a LiDAR Scanner.
- It supports FaceID.
- The USB-C port supports Thunderbolt and is therefore four times as fast.
- It offers a refresh rate of 120Hz.
- The display gets brighter.
- It has two more speakers.