Should you upgrade to the 2024 iPad Air with M2 chip?


Should You Upgrade to the M2 iPad Air?
Is your iPad Air old enough to justify buying the new iPad Air?
Image: Apple/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Depending on which model of iPad you own, it might be time to upgrade to the new iPad Air with M2. Announced on May 7, 2024, the new iPad Air features a speedy Apple M2 chip. It’s a great middle-of-the-road iPad, with plenty of storage on the base model and a nice display that’s now available in a 13-inch size. It’s easily upgradable with the Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard.

However, whether it’s worth upgrading to the M2 iPad Air depends on which iPad you already own — so we put together a buying guide to help you make the decision. Check the infographic below or watch the video.

Should I buy the M2 iPad Air?

Should you buy the new M2 iPad Air? Don’t Upgrade: iPad Air (5th generation, M1) If you can afford it: iPad Air (4th generation, 2020) iPad Air (3rd generation, 2019) Time to upgrade: iPad Air (2nd generation, 2014) iPad Air (1st generation, 2013)
If you don’t have the current design with flat edges, you have a lot of reasons to upgrade.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

If your iPad Air is a first- or second-generation model — with the old design, featuring curved sides and a Home button — you have a lot of good reasons to upgrade. The new M2 iPad Air will have Touch ID on the top button, plus a significantly faster chip inside.

You also have the choice of a larger display this time around. The new iPad Air comes in 11-inch and 13-inch sizes. Plus, you can dock the iPad Air to the Magic Keyboard, which adds a full keyboard and trackpad, like a laptop. It gets even more Mac-like with Stage Manager, which has apps free-floating on the screen. You can even plug in a desktop display for real multitasking.

You should definitely upgrade to the M2 iPad Air if you’re using one of these older models.

The iPad Air lasts a long time between new models

If you own one of the iPad Air models in the middle — the third-generation model from 2019 or the fourth-generation model from 2020 — you could probably keep your iPad around for a few more years. It’ll easily still get the latest software updates.

But consider that the iPad Air isn’t updated on a very regular schedule. If you bought either of those models new in 2019 or 2020, the battery life will probably degrade by the time a seventh-generation model is likely to come out sometime in 2026.

You should upgrade to the M2 iPad Air now, but only if you can afford to.

iPad Air M2 with Apple Pencil Pro
The Apple Pencil Pro is a great add-on to the iPad Air.
Image: Apple

One downside to buying a new iPad Air is that the M2 models won’t work with first- and second-generation Apple Pencils. For one, the iPad Air no longer comes a Lightning port. It switched to USB-C, continuing a trend for Apple (and the industry at large). But it also moves the FaceTime camera to the same horizontal side where the second-generation Pencil attaches magnetically, so Apple had to revise the Pencil with different charging parts. You can choose between the low-cost Apple Pencil with USB-C or the new Apple Pencil Pro.

If you own the M1 iPad Air from 2022, and you’re wondering if you should upgrade to the M2 iPad Air, don’t worry about it. You already have Stage Manager, and you can keep using your existing accessories with no problem. The M2 iPad Air offers a big speed boost, but doesn’t add enough features worth the money.

More about the iPad Air


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