The iPad Air 5 is one of the highlights of Apple’s March product event. While not a redesign, the new midrange tablet offers a faster processor, Center Stage support and other improvements.
“With the breakthrough M1 chip, Ultra Wide front camera with Center Stage, and ultra-fast 5G, iPad Air is now more powerful, more capable, and simply more fun than ever,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s head of marketing.
What’s new in iPad Air 5
The newest iPad boasts an Apple M1 processor, the same chip used in many Macs. That’s a significant jump over the A14 in its predecessor. The eight-core CPU delivers up to 60% faster performance, and the eight-core GPU delivers up to 2x faster graphics performance, according to Apple.
Among the standout features in the fifth-generation iPad Air is the 12MP ultra-wide front-facing camera. This enables Center Stage so that the camera follows the user during a video call. It makes the tablet well-suited for video calls, whether via FaceTime, Zoom or some other option. Center Stage is already available in the latest iPad Pro, iPad mini and budget iPad models.
Apple did not reveal how much RAM is built into the tablet. It could be 4GB, but a tip says it might have been upgraded to 8 GB. We probably won‘t know for sure until units start reaching users.
This is the latest iPadOS tablet with optional access to 5G cellular networks. The 2021 iPad Pro also includes this feature.
What is not changing
Apple redesigned the iPad Air line in 2020, and the 2022 model keeps that form factor. That means the iPad Air 5 has a to 10.9-inch display in a nearly edge-to-edge design.
It does not use Face ID. Instead, a Touch ID fingerprint scanner is built into the power button on the right edge.
The tablet includes a USB-C port for power and accessories, not a Lightning port. It allows it to use many peripherals designed for Mac, like external hard drives and displays.
The iPad Air 5 supports the upgraded second-generation Apple Pencil ($129) designed for the iPad Pro. This magnetically clings to the side of the tablet for storage and charging too.
Speaking of peripherals, there’s a Smart Connector on the back specifically for Apple’s Magic Keyboard or Smart Keyboard.
The tablet also packs a single rear-facing 12MP camera. And four speakers.
Price and availability
The iPad Air 5 starts at $599. This version comes with 64GB of storage. Pricing for a 256GB version has not yet been announced.
iPad Air 5 preorders begin Friday, March 11. It will reach customers exactly a week later, on March 18, according to Apple.
The tablet was announced at Apple’s “Peek Performance” event. Other highlights include the third-generation iPhone SE and the Mac Studio desktop.