iPad Air (2022) assessment: So good I virtually remorse shopping for my iPad Professional

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Apple’s pill lineup is full. Or at the least, on the identical web page. Apple introduced the fifth-generation iPad Air throughout its Peek Efficiency occasion in early March. The brand new Air has a beefed-up processor, new coloration choices, 5G connectivity and Heart Stage, Apple’s fancy video name characteristic for the entrance digital camera. 

For the final 5 days, I’ve been testing the iPad Air, changing my

iPad Pro

— which is normally within arms reach at all times — with the new Air. Outside of display differences (both in size and quality), I haven’t missed my iPad Pro one bit. And heck, I imagine with another week of use, I won’t even miss my Pro’s 12.9-inch screen.


  • Efficiency
  • Battery life
  • 5G connectivity
  • Sooner USB-C

Don’t Like

  • 64GB base storage is senseless
  • iPadOS must reap the benefits of energy

My expertise with the iPad Air has been every little thing I figured it might be with sturdy efficiency and lengthy battery life. And as a lot as I hate to confess it, there’s a contact of purchaser’s regret thrown in. 



Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Just a few years in the past it felt as if Apple had all however forgotten concerning the iPad Air. However in 2020 we noticed a recent new design come to the fourth technology iPad Air. Simply 18 months later, Apple has as soon as once more up to date the iPad Air. Solely as an alternative of a whole design overhaul for the fifth-generation Air, this yr’s replace focuses on efficiency. 

Which means the skin of this yr’s iPad Air appears similar to the 2020 mannequin, save for brand new colours. The iPad Air now is available in house grey, pink, purple, blue and starlight. 

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The iPad Air nonetheless has a ten.9-inch Liquid Retina show that reaches almost edge-to-edge. There’s a brand new 12-megapixel extremely extensive FaceTime digital camera centered on the high of the display. 

After Apple launched the ninth-generation iPad, the iPad Air was the one pill left within the lineup that lacked Apple’s Heart Stage characteristic for the FaceTime digital camera. The brand new iPad Air positive factors Heart Stage, which makes use of the wide-angle digital camera to maintain you within the body of video calls in FaceTime and third-party apps like Zoom. It’s a useful characteristic to have and use, and one I’m certain iPad Air homeowners will discover handy as properly. 

On the proper fringe of the pill are the quantity up/down buttons and an area to retailer/cost a second-generation Apple Pencil. 

When you go for a mobile mannequin, you’ll additionally discover a nano-SIM card tray on the proper aspect of the iPad Air. You don’t have to make use of the SIM tray, nonetheless, because the Air helps eSIM know-how that means that you can arrange service along with your provider of alternative with the faucet of only a few buttons. The iPad Air now helps 5G mobile connectivity, however not mmWave, solely the slower Sub6 normal. Don’t be discouraged, although. Similar to with the new iPhone SE, the shortage of mmWave isn’t a dealbreaker because of the lack of widespread rollout and points with sign interference. 

On the highest of the iPad Air is the highest button that continues to double as a fingerprint reader with Contact ID constructed into it. It’s quick and straightforward to wake and unlock the iPad Air by urgent after which resetting your finger on the highest button. 


Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

As with the final refresh of the iPad Air, for the primary day or so I missed my iPad Professional’s Face ID unlock methodology, however as I sit right here scripting this assessment, my muscle reminiscence is already reaching for the highest button to unlock the iPad Air or authenticate my password supervisor. 

For charging and syncing the iPad Air, there’s a USB-C port on the underside of the housing. Apple opted to not embody Thunderbolt 4 capabilities within the iPad Air’s USB-C port, regardless that it, in idea, would assist it. As a substitute, you’ll be able to count on as much as 10Gbps switch speeds when doing issues like offloading pictures or movies from a digital digital camera, in addition to output as much as 6K when related to an exterior monitor. Due to the pace enhance of the USB-C port, the iPad Air is appropriate with Apple’s

new Studio Display

when it comes to using the full resolution of the screen. You won’t be able to extend your iPad’s display to it, nor can you use the display’s built-in camera for FaceTime calls. Instead, you’re stuck mirroring your iPad’s display to the monitor.

On the back of the iPad Air is Apple’s Smart Connector for use with one of Apple’s keyboard accessories, like the 

$299 Magic Keyboard

or the 

$179 Smart Keyboard Folio

. Also located on the back of the Air is a 12-megapixel rear camera. 

Also: Best cheap tablets



Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Apple’s spring occasion

had the tagline of “Peek Efficiency” and for good motive. The

Mac Studio

, according to Apple, is the most powerful Mac in its lineup. The

iPhone SE

uses the same design as its predecessor, but has brand-new internals that makes it just as powerful as the

iPhone 13 Pro Max

. The new iPad Air takes the same route the iPhone SE took, using the same design as the 2020 iPad Air, but with a big increase in performance thanks to Apple adding the M1 Apple processor. 

Also: Apple iPhone SE (2022) review: As fast as iPhone 13 Pro Max, but half the price

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It’s the identical processor that Apple debuted within the MacBook Air, MacBook Professional and Mac Mini to start the transition from Intel processors to its personal Apple Silicon processors. Final yr, Apple added the M1 chip to the iPad Professional lineup, and now it’s trickled right down to the iPad Air. 

The fifth-generation iPad Air comes with 64GB for $599 or 256GB of storage for $749. I don’t perceive the reasoning for beginning the iPad Air at 64GB of storage. Perhaps Apple has utilization stats that present 64GB is greater than sufficient for this value vary to justify it. Or possibly the gross sales pitch is that in the event you want extra base storage, then the iPad Professional is the place to look. Both approach, 64GB of storage feels prefer it’s simply not sufficient house, particularly when you’ve got an Apple One subscription that gives entry to the Apple Arcade, Apple TV+ and Apple Music catalogs. 

Like I did with the brand new iPhone SE, I ran the Geekbench 5 benchmark app on the brand new iPad Air to match its efficiency to the 2021 iPad Professional. Thoughts you, benchmarks aren’t the one approach to gauge a tool’s efficiency, however they supply a baseline of what you’ll be able to count on on a tool. Geekbench 5 on the iPad Air resulted in a single-core rating of 1,701 and a multi-core rating of seven,137. I ran the identical check on my private 12.9-inch iPad Professional with the identical M1 processor with 16GB of reminiscence, in comparison with the iPad Air’s 8GB, and the scores had been a lot nearer than I anticipated. The iPad Professional scored 1,708 for single-core and seven,297 within the multi-core check. 

In different phrases, the $599 iPad Air is simply as highly effective as my $1,999 iPad Professional. I’m beginning to really feel a contact of purchaser’s regret. 

To see the way it in comparison with the competitors, I ran the identical Geekbench 5 assessments on the

$899 Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus

, which uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor. The Tab S8 Plus scored 1,219 for single-core and 3,219 for multi-core performance. Compare the two tablets, and single-core performance is sort of close, but multi-core performance on the iPad Air is more than double that of Qualcomm’s latest chip in Samsung’s latest tablet. Crazy. 

Also: Galaxy Tab S8 review: Samsung’s new tablet exceeds expectations

However, as I stated, benchmarks aren’t every little thing. My real-world use has mirrored that of my iPad Professional. Apps not solely load quick, however there are not any efficiency points whereas multitasking and utilizing a couple of app at a time. 

Efficiency isn’t a difficulty with the iPad Air (or iPad Professional). Nevertheless, the limiting issue for what an individual can or can’t do on the pill turned hybrid-laptop is iPadOS itself. It’s the identical story that’s been written numerous occasions over time, however it’s getting shorter. Apple has made nice strides in constructing out the instruments that iPad energy and informal customers have been asking for because the transition to iPadOS. However as the corporate continues to extend the efficiency of the iPad to be equal to the Mac lineup, the expectations — proper or unsuitable — improve as properly. 

That stated, the iPad Air, with iPadOS 15.4, is totally able to changing a laptop computer for lots of people. 

So far as battery life is worried, the iPad Air’s battery lasts simply so long as my iPad Professional. Which means I can get a full day of use out of it if it’s my lone pc for the day, or I can stretch it a couple of days if I’m leaping between computer systems and my pill. 

Backside line

When it’s all stated and completed, you’re $599 for the 64GB iPad Air, $129 for the

Apple Pencil

and $299 for the Magic Keyboard. That’s $1,027 to buy everything you’d need to convert the iPad Air into a 2-in-1 device, with just 64GB of storage. For some that’s sure to be enough space, but not for everyone. The base storage model should be 128GB, and it’s unfortunate that’s not the case. 

But, really, the base storage is my only gripe with this year’s edition of the iPad Air. It’s as powerful as the iPad Pro, but costs hundreds of dollars less — even when you max out the storage — with a display that’s on par with the 11-inch iPad Pro. 

If you’re in the market for an iPad, and the base model and

iPad Mini

aren’t enough for you, the iPad Air is where your search should begin, and most likely, end. The more Apple pays attention to the iPad Air, the less the 11-inch iPad Pro makes sense to me.

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