Apple’s newest iPad features a redesigned chassis, a bigger 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display and faster internals. Thanks to these changes, the iPad 10 carries a significantly higher starting price tag of $449.
Meanwhile, Apple sells the M1 iPad Air, with more powerful internals, for $599. So, should you spring for the Air and pay that additional $150, or save your money and buy the new 10th-gen iPad?
Comparing the iPad 10 and M1 iPad Air
True to leaks, Apple’s newest “regular” iPad features a squarish chassis akin to the iPad Air and iPad Pro lineup. It also brings a faster A14 chip, a USB-C connector and Touch ID.
Barring the faster chip, the iPad 10 might look similar to the M1 iPad Air. But that’s not true, as there are quite a few other differences. Check out our iPad 10 versus M1 iPad Air comparison below to find out which is the better iPad for you.
- iPad 10: 248.6 x 179.5 x 7 mm, 477 grams (Wi-Fi)/481 grams (Cellular), Touch ID
- M1 iPad Air: 247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1 mm, 461 grams (Wi-Fi)/462 grams (Cellular), Touch ID
Apple uses the same design language on the iPad 10 and M1 iPad Air, but there are some compromises on the former. The iPad 10 has slightly bigger bezels and weighs a bit more, but you are unlikely to notice the difference.
The most important difference is that the iPad 10 houses a 12MP landscape front camera, while on iPad Air, the camera is placed for use in portrait orientation. Users have been clamoring for a landscape camera for years, and the iPad 10 finally delivers. Both cameras support Center Stage for automatic framing on video calls.
In other aspects, both tablets are the same. Both feature a Touch ID-integrated top button, a USB-C port, two landscape speakers, and a single rear camera.
Regarding accessory compatibility, the iPad 10 only supports Apple’s newest Magic Keyboard Folio via its Smart Connector. As for the iPad Air, it works with the Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio.
- iPad 10: 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display, 2360 x 1640 resolution, 500 nits SDR brightness, True Tone, Oleophobic coating, Apple Pencil (1st gen)
- M1 iPad Air: 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display, 2360 x 1640 resolution, 500 nits SDR brightness, True Tone, Fully laminated display, Antireflective coating, Wide color P3 support. Apple Pencil (2nd gen)
Both iPads sport a 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display with 264 PPI. However, the M1 iPad Air uses a superior panel that’s fully laminated and has an anti-reflective coating. This will provide an excellent viewing experience, mainly if you use the tablet outside in harsh lighting or under direct sunlight.
More importantly, buying the iPad Air makes a lot more sense if you intend to pair your iPad purchase with an Apple Pencil. The iPad Air is compatible with the 2nd gen Apple Pencil, which offers lower latency and packs more features. In all its wisdom, Apple decided to only support the first-gen Apple Pencil on the iPad 10. Worse, since the tablet has a USB-C port, you must use a USB-C to Apple Pencil adapter to charge the accessory.
- iPad 10: A14 Bionic chip, 6-core CPU with 2 performance cores, 4-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine
- M1 iPad Air: M1 chip, 8-core CPU with 4 performance cores, 8-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine, 8/16GB RAM, H.264 and HEVC video encode/decode engine
From a performance viewpoint, there’s a big difference between the iPad 10 and the 2022 iPad Air. The iPad Air packs a more powerful M1 chip—the same processor also does duty inside the 2020 MacBook Air and iMac. Additionally, it has a media encode/decode engine and up to 16GB RAM. This makes the M1 iPad Air an absolute powerhouse.
You can use the iPad Air for the most demanding photo and video editing tasks. The extra horsepower also means that you can connect the iPad Air 5 to external displays, including Apple’s own Studio Display and Pro Display XDR. And if you care about Stage Manager, that’s only available on the M1 iPad Air.
The iPad 10’s A14 Bionic is still a decently powerful chip but pales compared to the M1. If you intend to use your iPad as a MacBook replacement, the iPad Air will perform much better than the iPad 10.
- iPad 10: Rear – 12MP wide camera, f/1.8 aperture, Smart HDR 3, 4k 60fps recording; Front – 12MP Landscape Ultra Wide camera, f/2.4 aperture, Center Stage, Retina Flash
- M1 iPad Air: Rear – 12MP wide camera, f/1.8 aperture, Smart HDR 3, 4k 60fps recording; Front – 12MP Ultra Wide camera, f/2.4 aperture, Center Stage, Retina Flash
Both iPads are the same in the camera department. They sport 12MP snappers at the front and back. The only difference is that on the iPad 10, the Ultra Wide camera is intended for use in portrait mode. On the 2022 iPad Air, the camera is housed in the portrait bezel.
- iPad 10: Wi-Fi 6, MIMO, Bluetooth 5.2, 5G, Gigabit LTE (27 bands)
- M1 iPad Air: Wi-Fi 6, MIMO, Bluetooth 5.2, 5G, Gigabit LTE (32 bands)
The M1 iPad Air and iPad 10 provide similar connectivity options. You can also get both iPads with 5G connectivity. The only other notable difference is the iPad 10 features Bluetooth 5.2, while the iPad Air supports the older Bluetooth 5.0 standard.
- iPad 10: Up to 10 hours of video playback or Wi-Fi surfing, 9 hours of web surfing on mobile data
- M1 iPad Air: Up to 10 hours of video playback or Wi-Fi surfing, 9 hours of web surfing on mobile data
Despite the 2022 iPad Air featuring a faster chip and a better display, Apple claims that both tablets have the same battery life. Both iPads should provide you with about 7-8 hours of continuous usage on a single charge. You can top them up through the USB-C port, with charging speeds topping at 27W.
iPad 10 vs. M1 iPad Air: Which one should you buy?
At $449, the iPad 10 feels overpriced for what it offers. The tablet packs the same specs as the 2020 iPad Air but with an inferior display. Instead, you should spend a little extra money and get the 2022 iPad Air. It is frequently discounted by around $50-60 across various retailers, so you will only have to spend an extra $100 or so to get your hands on it.
If you only need an iPad for casual use, save some money and get the $329 iPad 9. It has the older A13 Bionic chip but still packs enough grunt to handle web browsing, YouTube and Netflix streaming without issues.