Initial reviews of the iPad Air 5 from reputed YouTubers and media houses are out ahead of the tablet’s release later this week. The new iPad Air packs an M1 chip borrowed from the pricier 2021 iPad Pro. It also gets 5G support and a wide-angle front-facing camera with support for Center Stage. Not a lot has changed but here’s what the reviewers think of the iPad Air 5.
The iPad Air 5 was unveiled to the public at Apple’s Peek Performance event earlier this month. It shared the spotlight with the new iPhone SE 3, Apple Studio Display, and Mac Studio with the new M1 Ultra chip inside. The new iPad Air isn’t a significant update compared to its predecessor, except for the new processor and camera that help it narrow the gap with the pricier Apple iPad Pro.
2022 iPad Air 5 Review Roundup
The Verge’s Dan Seifert opines that the iPad Air 5 borrows a lot from its predecessor and its starting price of $599 is the lowest for an M1 chip-powered device.
“The design, screen, speakers, rear camera, and fingerprint scanner are all carried over from the 2020 model. The updated front-facing camera with Apple’s Center Stage feature can be found across the entire iPad line. It’s compatible with all the same cases, keyboard, and stylus accessories as before. And the M1 chip inside the new Air is lifted right from last year’s iPad Pro and the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac Mini, and iMac.
What’s new is that you can get that combination of features in a tablet that starts at $599. That’s now the lowest price you can get access to Apple’s impressive M1 processor, undercutting even the value-driven (and screenless) Mac Mini.”
He also commended Apple for increasing the data transfer rate on the iPad Air’s USB-C port.
“Apple didn’t bring down the Pro’s Thunderbolt 4 USB-C port to the Air this year, but it did upgrade the speed of the port to 10Gbps, or twice as fast as the 2020 models so you transfer files from external storage a bit faster or plug in to an up to 6K external display.”
On the downside, Seifert notes that Apple has achieved the mouth-watering $599 price tag by cutting down on storage. The base variant iPad Air 5 gets just 64GB of storage that fills up p[retty quick with today’s apps. Additional storage is “a steep upcharge.”
“The base model Air also still comes with 64GB of storage, which is starting to feel a bit stingy at its $600 price point. It doesn’t take much to fill up that amount of space, especially if you use the iPad for gaming (Genshin Impact consumes 14GB on its own, for example), and if you’re going to be keeping this iPad for multiple years as most people do, you’ll probably have to do a bit of storage management at some point. Upgrading to 256GB of storage is a steep $150, bringing the price up to $749, or dangerously close to the iPad Pro, which offers 128GB of storage at its $799 base price.”
In summary, Seifert says the iPad Air isn’t geared to replace your laptop, but it will work better than the standard iPad for “iPad things.”
“It’s not the iPad I’d recommend wholly replacing a laptop with, though it can work for certain laptop-like tasks when paired with an optional keyboard case. It’s the nicer iPad for those looking to do iPad things, like reading, watching video, playing games, taking notes, and perhaps writing the occasional email but aren’t planning on making it their only computing device.”
Writing for Engadget, Nathan Ingraham notes that the new iPad Air offers top-notch design, optional 5G, and an “excellent font camera.” Like other reviewers, he noted that the upgrade isn’t substantial. He says existing users can reuse accessories for the older iPad Air with this new model.
“The new Air uses the same accessories as the old model. That means the two first-party keyboard cases Apple offered for the 2020 Air work fine here. Unsurprisingly, the second-generation Apple Pencil that magnetically snaps to the top of the iPad is supported here, too.”
Ingraham says the battery life on the iPad Air 5 is just as good as it was without the resource-hungry M1 chip.
“Battery life on the Air is just as good with the M1 chip as it was before. Apple typically always claims any iPad will last about 10 hours, and in this case I think the company undersold the Air’s longevity. In my normal routine, I got close to 12 hours of use before needing to charge the Air, though your mileage will vary depending on what you’re doing. Games took a bigger toll on the battery, but the Air lasted a long time while watching movies. I looped a downloaded movie in the Apple TV app for four hours and the battery only dropped to 75 percent.”
Interestingly, the iPad Air 5 doesn’t support the faster mmWave 5G band and Ingraham was quick to point this out.
“Optional 5G is another unsurprising addition, given that last fall’s iPad mini and the iPad Pro all have it as well. (The entry-level iPad remains stuck with LTE.) This is a logical update that doesn’t change the experience of using the iPad very much. Most people will probably opt to save the $150 and simply get a WiFi-only iPad Air.”
“And I ran a few different speed tests on the iPad Air while running it on Verizon’s network and actually got faster speeds from LTE than 5G. It’s also worth noting that the Air doesn’t support the mmWave 5G networks, like Verizon’s Ultra Wideband network. Those faster networks are only supported on the iPad Pro.”
CNET’s Scott Stein also reviewed the iPad Air 5 but didn’t have opinions that contradicted other reviewers’ thoughts about the tablet. However, he was fairly critical of the FaceTime camera’s placement on the iPad Air 5.
“The one thing I do miss, though? The front camera being off to the side. Apple insists on its iPads having cameras in the same portrait orientation layout as iPhones, instead of putting them on the longer edge so it would be centered in keyboard-attached “laptop” mode. Putting the camera along the longer edge would be the correct placement: the Studio Display monitor added Apple’s Center Stage zooming camera, but there, it’s in the right place. It kills me to do video calls on this iPad, with its excellent camera, and see my face off-center. No other iPad right now is any different, and all current models have that zooming Center Stage camera tech.”
He clarified that despite packing the M1 chip, the new iPad Air 5 is not a replacement for your Mac or PC.
Just like last year’s iPad Pro, which also got this same M1 chip, Apple hasn’t flipped the switch on making iPadOS and MacOS merge. They’re slowly sharing more in common, and iPads can work well with keyboards and mice and trackpads, but an iPad is just not the same thing as a Mac or PC. If you’re really interested in an iPad that can feel a bit nicer and more laptoplike, and you want that second-gen Pencil that can snap to the side easily to charge, this is your upgrade. But for most people, the basic iPad, while unexciting, is still nearly as versatile and also less expensive.
YouTube content creators also had a field day reviewing the iPad Air 5. Make sure to check out some of the video reviews below.
Are you thinking of buying the new iPad Air 5? Do share with us why, in the comments section below.