Apple announced a new iPad Air during its “Peek Performance” event on March 8th. While the design is similar to that of the last-gen Air, Apple did introduce a few iterative changes.
For one, the iPad Air now shares the same blazing-fast M1 processor found in the most recent iPad Pro. The new Air also touts a 12MP front camera (updated from the last gen’s 7MP) equipped with Apple’s Center Stage feature, which can automatically follow you in the frame during video calls. There’s also 5G connectivity on the cellular models, a USB-C port that’s up to twice as fast as the last gen’s port, and 10Gbps of data transfer speeds.
Like the last-gen model did, the new 10.9-inch iPad Air starts at $599 — although note that the LTE models cost $20 more. While it won’t be available until March 18th, you can preorder it starting Friday, March 11th, from Apple, B&H Photo, Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T.
Yet are all of those changes worth buying the new iPad Air? After all, many of Apple’s current tablets share a lot of these features, including support for Apple’s aforementioned Center Stage feature and the same battery life. Before you buy, you might want to consider that perhaps one of the smaller, cheaper iPads — like the 10.2-inch iPad or 8.3-inch iPad Mini — might be better suited for your needs, even if neither is powered by an M1 chip or are compatible with the Magic Keyboard or Smart Keyboard Folio.
The latest entry-level iPad, for example, offers 64GB and 256GB storage options, a 3.5mm audio jack (that the new iPad Air lacks), and up to 10 hours of battery life and starts at $329. And if that iPad’s lack of 5G support, A13 Bionic chip, compatibility with only the first-gen Apple Pencil, and lack of USB-C is a turnoff, there’s also the new iPad Mini. For $499, you’ll still get a more affordable iPad but with the more powerful A15 Bionic processor — the same chip found in the newly announced iPhone SE and Apple’s current iPhone 13 lineup — as well as support for the second-gen Apple Pencil, which, unlike its predecessor, conveniently charges while magnetically docked to the side of the iPad.
At the top-end of the iPad spectrum, there’s the 2021 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which offer everything the iPad Air does and more, starting at $799 and $1,099, respectively. While only the 12.9-inch model features a Mini LED screen, both size configurations offer a maximum of 2TB of storage and faster 5G mmWave connectivity (the new iPad Air doesn’t come with mmWave support). They both also feature ProMotion support, a technology that improves display quality and minimizes power consumption by automatically adjusting refresh rates up to 120Hz. That allows for greater responsiveness while using the Apple Pencil for a more fluid experience as you draw, while a maximum 120Hz refresh rate option makes for a smoother gaming experience.
In addition, both iPad Pros offer a better megapixel front camera with a 10MP ultra-wide camera; a four-speaker system as opposed to the two found in the latest iPad Air, iPad Mini, and iPad Air; and support for Thunderbolt / USB 4 and USB-C. Plus, if you’re not a fan of Touch ID, there’s Face ID, so you can use your face to unlock your iPad Pro.
That’s just a glimpse of the current lineup. If you’re curious as to how the forthcoming Air stacks up against the last-gen model and Apple’s current slate of tablets, we’ve compiled the raw specs of each model in the chart below ahead of our upcoming review.
Apple iPad lineup
|Category||12.9-inch iPad Pro (2021)||11-inch iPad Pro (2021)||iPad Air (2022)||iPad (2021)||iPad Mini (2021)||iPad Air (2020)|
|Screen type||12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR display||11-inch Liquid Retina display||10.9‑inch Liquid Retina display||10.2-inch Retina display||8.3-inch Liquid Retina display||10.9‑inch Liquid Retina display|
|Resolution||2732 x 2048||2388 x 1668||2360 x 1640||2160 x 1620||2266 x 1488||2360 x 1640|
|Front camera||12 megapixels||12 megapixels||12 megapixels||12 megapixels||12 megapixels||7-megapixels|
|Rear camera||12 megapixels (10-megapixel ultrawide)||12 megapixels (10-megapixel ultrawide)||12 megapixels||8 megapixels||12 megapixels||12-megapixels|
|Aperture||Wide: ƒ/1.8 aperture Ultra Wide: ƒ/2.4 aperture||Wide: ƒ/1.8 aperture Ultra Wide: ƒ/2.4 aperture||ƒ/1.8 aperture||ƒ/2.4 aperture||ƒ/1.8 aperture||ƒ/1.8 aperture|
|Video recording||4K video recording at 24 fps, 25 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps||4K video recording at 24 fps, 25 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps||4K video recording at 24 fps, 25 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps||No 4K video recording||4K video recording at 24 fps, 25 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps||4K video recording at 24 fps, 25 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps|
|Stylus support||Apple Pencil (2nd-gen)||Apple Pencil (2nd-gen)||Apple Pencil (2nd-gen)||Apple Pencil (1st-gen)||Apple Pencil (2nd-gen)||Apple Pencil (2nd-gen)|
|Keyboard support||Magic Keyboard, Smart Keyboard Folio||Magic Keyboard, Smart Keyboard Folio||Magic Keyboard, Smart Keyboard Folio||Smart Keyboard||Bluetooth keyboards||Magic Keyboard, Smart Keyboard Folio, and|
|Ports||USB-C with support for Thunderbolt / USB-4||USB-C with support for Thunderbolt / USB-4||USB-C||Lightning connector, 3.5mm audio jack||USB-C||USB-C|
|Processor||Apple M1 chip||Apple M1 chip||Apple M1 chip||A13 Bionic chip||A15 Bionic chip||A14 Bionic chip|
|Storage||128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB||128GB, 256GB, 512GB,1TB, 2TB||64GB, 256GB||64GB, 256GB||64GB, 256GB||64GB, 256GB|
|Weight||1.5 pounds (Wi-Fi) / 1.51 pounds (Wi-Fi + Cellular)||1.03 pounds (Wi-Fi) / 1.04 pounds (Wi-Fi + Cellular)||1.02 pounds (Wi-Fi) / 1.02 pounds (Wi-Fi + Cellular)||1.07 pounds (Wi-Fi) / 1.09 pounds (Wi-Fi + Cellular)||0.65 pound (Wi-Fi) / 0.66 pound (Wi-Fi + Cellular)||1.02 pounds (Wi-Fi) /1.02 pounds (Wi-Fi + Cellular)|
|Price (Wi-Fi)||$1,099 / $1,199 / $1,399 / $1,799 / $2,199||$799 / $899 / $1,099 / $1,499 / $1,899||$599 / $749||$329 / $479||$499 / $649||$599 / $749|
|Price (Wi-Fi + Cellular)||$1,299 / $1,399 / $1,599 / $1,999 / $1,399||$999 / $1,099 / $1,299 / $1,699 / $2,099||$749 / $899||$459 / $609||$649 / $799||$729 / $879|
|Authentication||Face ID||Face ID||Touch ID built into the top button||Touch ID built into the Home button||Touch ID built into the top button||Touch ID built into power button|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 6, 5G (support for mmWave), Bluetooth 5.0||Wi-Fi 6, 5G (support for mmWave), Bluetooth 5.0||Wi‑Fi 6, 5G, Bluetooth 5.0||Wi-Fi, 4G LTE cellular, Bluetooth 4.2||Wi‑Fi 6, 5G, Bluetooth 5.0||Wi-Fi 6, 4G LTE cellular, Bluetooth 5.0|
|Battery life||10 hours||10 hours||10 hours||10 hours||10 hours||10 hours|
|Misc.||Lidar, ProMotion, True Tone, four-speaker system, Center Stage support||Lidar, ProMotion, True Tone, four-speaker system, Center Stage support||True Tone, two speaker audio landscape mode, Center Stage support||True Tone, two speaker audio, Center Stage support||True Tone, two speaker audio landscape mode, Center Stage support||True Tone, two speaker audio landscape mode|