We thought it was going to happen and it has: Apple has announced the new iPad Air 5 (2022).
Launched during the company's 8th March 'Peek Performance' event alongside the iPhone SE 3 (2022), the new iPad Air looks very much like its predecessor but has a far faster processor at its core.
So what are the iPad Air 5's specs? When will it launch and how much will it cost? All of the details are a short scroll away...
Apple iPad Air 5 release date
The iPad Air 5 (2022) will be available for pre-order from 11th March 2022 and will be released on 18th Match 2022.
The new tablet was announced, as expected, during Apple's 8th March 'Peek' Performance event, alongside the new iPhone SE 3, a new Mac Studio desktop computer and an intriguing Studio Display monitor.
Apple iPad Air 5 price
The new iPad Air 5 (2022) price starts at £569 / $599 / AU$929. Somewhat surprisingly, that means the new model is £10 cheaper in the UK than the iPad Air 4 was at launch, while in Australia it's slightly more expensive. The price in the States has stayed the same.
That price will get you a 64GB wi-fi-only model. The 256GB wi-fi-only model will set you back £719 / $749 / AU$1159.
Adding cellular to whichever storage option you choose will add a cool £150 / $150 / AU$230 to the price.
Apple iPad Air 5 screen
The big news? The next iPad Air doesn't have an OLED screen. Apple was reportedly planning on kitting out the new iPad Air with an OLED panel, but changed its plans due to the hight cost and sub-par performance.
In fact, Apple seems to have pushed back plans to release any iPad with an OLED screen. The firm reportedly had to can a deal with Samsung to produce the necessary panels, due to high costs. An OLED-toting iPad now won't debut before 2024, sources say.
Apple's biggest iPad Pro features a Mini LED screen, and the 11-inch version is also rumoured to come with a Mini LED display this year, but the new iPad Air 5 is having to make do with a standard LED-lit LCD display.
In fact, specs suggest it's the same display as found on the iPad 4, with no changes to size (10.9 inches), resolution (2360 x 1640), pixel density (264ppi) or peak brightness (a quoted 500 nits).
It's always a shame when specs stay static across device generations, but the iPad Air 4 was a superb video playback device so it wouldn't be the end of the world if the iPad Air 5 performed the same, and Apple has a tendency to squeeze a little extra performance from one generation to the next, even if that's not illustrated by the specifications. So much of picture performance is software-related after all. We will, of course, be taking a far closer look at this for our review.
New iPad Air 5 specs
It was rumoured that the new iPad Air would get the A15 Bionic chip that powers the latest iPad Mini and iPhone 13 range, but instead Apple has gone all out and squeezed its powerhouse M1 chip into the iPad Air 5's housing. That's the same chip that's in the latest iPad Pro models and a bunch of MacBooks.
Apple claims that gives the iPad Air 5 a 60 per cent performance increase over the iPad Air 4 and that it's twice as powerful in terms of graphics performance.
That's not the end of the bold claims. Apple also says that the new iPad Air 5 isn't only faster than "the fastest competitive tablet", but also "up to two times faster than the best-selling Windows laptop in its price range". Apple says that the Windows laptop in question (which it obviously doesn't name) is three times thicker and four times heavier than the iPad Air 5.
In short, the new iPad Air sounds as if it should be much more powerful than most of us need, but those who want a tablet for serious gaming and/or productivity should be well served.
On the subject of productivity, the iPad Air 5 does, like its predecessor, support the Apple Pencil (2nd Generation) as well as the Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio.
The front-facing camera has had a big upgrade, too, with the 7MP camera of the iPad Air 4 having been replaced by a 12MP Ultra Wide camera that supports Centre Stage, which tracks you as you move around the room during a FaceTime call. Unfortunately, the camera is still placed on one of the tablet's short edges, as it is on all of Apple's other tablets, and that means it will likely still look as if you're trying to avoid eye contact when using it in landscape orientation.
One final and predicable specs upgrade is the move from 4G to 5G for the cellular model, which will obviously result in a far faster data connection where 5G is available.
iPad Air 2022: design
The iPad Air 5 is available in five colours, just as the iPad Air 4 was, but, Space Grey aside, they're all slightly different to the colours they replace: 'Silver' is now 'Starlight', which appears to be a slightly less stark and cold hue; 'Rose Gold' is now a slightly subtler 'Pink'; 'Sky Blue' is now a richer, more vibrant 'Blue'; and 'Green' has now been replaced by 'Purple'. We thought the green finish of last year's model was rather lovely but perhaps buyers didn't agree. Green can't be that unpopular though, as Apple has just announced it as a new option for the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro phones.
Colours aside, the design of the iPad Air 5 is essentially identical to that of the iPad Air 4, with the only difference on the spec sheet being a 3g (0.02lb) increase in weight. Dimensions remain 248 x 179 x 6.1mm (9.7 x 7 x 0.2 inches), and that makes this a very svelte proposition. As before, there's no home button and only slim bezels, with the screen very much taking centre stage.
New iPad Air: early verdict
The new iPad Air 5 (2022) might look the same as the iPad Air 4, but the move to the M1 chip makes it vastly more powerful and a genuinely tempting proposition for those who want a tablet for serious gaming or 3D design work but who are put off the iPad Pro models for size and/or price reasons.
Of course, we're more concerned with pure picture and sound quality and Apple is making no grand claims in those areas. That said, the iPad Air 4 is a brilliant movie and music machine and Apple has a habit of squeezing small improvements into these areas that aren't reflected by the spec sheet, so the iPad Air 5 could turn out to be step up.
We're looking forward to putting that possibility to the test, but the more important question might be whether the new iPad Air 5 can handle the competition it faces from the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 range, which is looking very tasty indeed.
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