The sight of flashy new hardware can be a lot of fun, but there’s something respectfully honest about new product releases that are so glaringly repeated — not everything can be reinvented from the ground up every two years, as much as tech companies would claim otherwise. The 2022 iPad Air is a frequent update: Apple took the 2020 model, put new parts in it, and pushed it out for the same MSRP of $600. The result is an insanely powerful tablet at a price that seems uncharacteristically fair, but whether or not it’s right for you will get into the details.
The 2022 iPad Air is a powerful and attractive tablet at a very reasonable price, but the base storage capacity of 64GB may be too low for some, and the exorbitant cost of upgrading to 256GB makes the tablet a worse deal.
- storage: 64, 256 GB
- CPU: Apple M1
- memory: 8 GB
- The operating system: iPadOS 15.4
- battery: “28.6 watt-hours”
- Ports: USB-C 3.1
- Camera (back and front): 12 MP f / 1.8 rear; 12 MP f / 2.4 front
- Screen (size, resolution): 10.9″ 2630×1640 IPS LCD, 60Hz
- price: Starting at $599
- Measurements: 247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1 mm, 1.02 lbs
- Extremely fast performance
- Great accessory choice
- Same price as the last version
- 64GB base storage is very low and upgrade costs a lot
- All great expensive first party accessories
- Build quality may not be up to Apple’s normal standards
Design, hardware, what’s in the box
The new iPad Air looks just like any other modern iPad: It’s slim and square with rounded corners, and a selfie camera that pivots around the tablet vertically, in portrait mode. The selfie camera is one of the few upgrades from the latest iPad Air: It’s an updated 12MP sensor with a 122-degree field of view and support for tracking Apple’s center stage targets.
Physically, the 2022 model is unchanged from 2020. It’s the same exact same size design, with the same 11-inch, 60Hz LCD screen—buttons, ports, connectors, and cameras were all in place a couple of years ago. Given that the previous generation’s appearance was already modern and handsome, it’s hard to complain about any of this. You can also get the air in a beautiful blue this year.
2022 iPad Air less than 2021 iPad Mini.
Even if it’s a little dated by Android standards, the iPad Air’s LCD screen is crisp and vibrant, and Apple’s True Tone feature that aims to match the color temperature to your environment makes reading text on white backgrounds a little nicer (you can turn True Tone off if you appreciate color accuracy over comfort). Its stereo speakers, also unchanged from the previous generation, are surprisingly loud and full and excellent for such a thin device.
Touch ID is built into the power button.
However, the tablet is not as durable as I would expect it to be an Apple product. The new Air bends and squeaks slightly when folded – and with an alarming little pressure on the back, you can see some of the interior slamming into the underside of the screen. I suppose this has something to do with mixing up the guts of the tablet to absorb the updated ingredients, and I never see it as a problem in normal use. However, I shudder when I think of what would happen if you forgot you left the thing on your couch.
The iPad Air comes with a 20W and USB-C-to-C cable — along with the usual prints and Apple logo stickers.
Software, performance and battery
Coming from Android, iPadOS is a little foreign. Navigation, file management, and even notifications work the way they’re used to, and iPadOS has only become more Android-like in recent years with additions like home screen widgets and the app drawer (well, it’s not really stairs on the iPad, but it’s the same idea).
Some quirks are easier to live with than others. Gesture navigation for Android and iPadOS, for example, is pretty similar, and on any device you’d only use two hands, and not have a generic tag Back The gesture is not too bad. Other UI decisions—those that might make sense to someone who’s been using Apple software for years—are positively ambiguous from Android.
Case in point: I often like to use wallpapers from Chrome OS on other devices, so I downloaded some to my iPad. Looking at it in the Files app, I couldn’t figure out how to apply it. After a few minutes of searching, I gave up and searched Google. Turns out I had to go to the image I wanted to use in the files, click the share icon, and then select an option called save the picture to show it in the Gallery app. Once the image is in my camera roll, I can apply it as a wallpaper from there. Maybe there is some logic to doing things this way, but it’s lost – it’s just vague and frustrating.
Some of the iPad software features are fun, though. Some things, like the ability to swipe up from the bottom right corner of the screen at any time to open a floating Apple Notes window, have safe spots in my daily routine. There is also a wealth of ecosystem links, many of which are great – if you have any other Apple devices to take advantage of. My favorite right now is Universal Control, which, with very little setup required, lets you control your iPad and Mac computer running macOS 12.3 simultaneously with a single mouse and keyboard: simply move the cursor from your computer screen toward your iPad and bam-You control the tablet. You can even drag files back and forth. It’s very cool.
The most notable difference in this year’s iPad Air from the 2020 model is the inclusion of Apple’s M1 chip, which powers not only the latest iPad Pro, but a number of the company’s laptops and desktops as well. It’s not Apple’s most powerful CPU anymore – there are now several levels of the M1, and this is the lowest – but for a mobile device, it’s very fast. RAM has also doubled from four gigs in the 2020 model to eight gigs here.
The iPad Air navigates favorably through everyday tablet use cases such as gaming and web browsing, and it neglects intensive tasks such as editing large images in Adobe Lightroom. I thought mobile photo editing on the iPad Mini 2021 was fast, but boy, I didn’t know what I was missing out on.
If you thought you had no use for that much horsepower in a tablet, you probably couldn’t be wrong. Despite decent mouse support and expensive accessories like the Magic Keyboard that turn your iPad Air or Pro into a laptop, iPadOS still isn’t a replacement for the real desktop operating system: file management is awkward, multitasking is a little annoying, and you can’t use web browsers. for desktop. The previous generation iPad Air is still notably capable of doing anything the vast majority of users want to do on a tablet; For most people, this generation is not a basic upgrade from that generation.
Apple says the new iPad Air’s battery is good for “10 hours of web surfing on Wi-Fi,” and that sounds right; I have not yet seen his battery run out in a day. Obviously, heavier workloads are more taxing, but assuming you don’t explain or play big 3D games for extended periods, you’ll probably only need to top up every few days.
Should you buy it?
Yes. Google is working hard trying to debug its tablet with Android 12L, and it also looks like it’s getting back to making its own tablets. It’s all very exciting, but it doesn’t change much at the moment — and now, the 2022 iPad Air is a hell of a small machine. They’re among the fastest tablets you can buy — and at $600, they make most premium Android tablets seem a little silly.
Even if you don’t need a tablet with class-leading computing power today, Apple managed to hit the same MSRP this year as it did with the 2020 iPad Air, and the M1 chip powering this new model ensures the tablet will feel fast for years to come. Things get a little more mysterious if the paltry 64GB of storage space for the base model isn’t enough for you, though.
The iPad Air 2022 is a very small machine.
Upgrading to the next storage tier — 256GB, not 128 — will save you an extra $150. At $750, you’re a stone’s throw from the 128GB iPad Pro, which is about the same size and uses the same M1 chip, but also has a 120Hz screen, Face ID, stereo speakers in portrait or landscape orientation, and more (and better) cameras for $800. If I had to choose between the 256GB Air for $750 and the 128GB Pro for $800, I’d go for the Pro every time — if you’re used to the high refresh rate display on Android phones, 60Hz on a tablet looks a bit pedestrian.
Apple prices its products like this on purpose; He always wants to urge you to buy something a little more expensive. If you’re confident you can get your hands on 64GB, it’s not easy to find fault with the $600 iPad Air: It’s a better product than the previous generation, offered for the same price. That’s an easy win in my book.
Buy it if…
- Recent Samsung offerings like the Galaxy Tab S8+ don’t speak to you.
- You’re shaking an old tablet that’s starting to feel sluggish.
- You have an iPhone or Mac and want to take advantage of great Apple features across devices.
Don’t buy it if…
- Android 12L makes you particularly optimistic about the immediate future of Android tablets.
- Your current tablet meets your needs. The M1’s running air is very fast, but all that power won’t mean much if your workflow never uses it.
- You want to download a lot of apps and media. The $600 model comes with 64GB of storage.
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