iPad Air (2022) review: budget-friendly, but limited-storage alternative to iPad Pro
Is Apple’s latest tablet upgrade a ‘cheap’ iPad Pro or a supercharged ‘basic’ iPad?
aving has been using it daily for the last week, it’s much closer than before.
The 11-inch iPad Air M1 looks and feels exactly like the iPad Pro of the same size in every way. It’s as powerful as the Pro (thanks to its new M1 chip), has a great new updated webcam, and – most importantly for anyone using it as a laptop – works identically to the Magic Keyboard ( purchased separately for 339 €).
The only major differences are the slightly inferior display, less storage, and the lack of Face ID.
But is that worth the extra €200?
For some, it could be. As an iPad Pro fanatic, I like the smoother 120hz display and (slightly) faster wake-up process the Pro offers. I also love having the 13-inch iPad Pro laptop-size option – the iPad Air is just 11-inches smaller. And there will be a small number of people who need the iPad Pro’s Lidar camera system for AR-friendly apps.
Otherwise, the iPad Air is easily the best, work- and student-friendly tablet you can get right now.
There are two main upgrades from the iPad Air 2020. The first is the engine. Apple has stepped up this, putting its industry-leading M1 chip under the hood. It has also boosted the Ram, to 8GB. And its graphics engine is now twice as powerful as the previous iPad Air.
My own tests with this returned zero lag time or lag for me when juggling between apps and websites, or when using the Apple Pencil. Online benchmark tests also confirm the Air to be a relative monster, on par with the iPad Pro (more powerful than most laptops) for most tasks.
That means it can handle graphics-intensive applications and processes, such as 3D modeling or relatively rich mobile games.
The other major upgrade, for me, is the ‘Central Stage’, 12-megapixel, ultra-wide webcam. This is probably the best webcam system available on a tablet or laptop. It easily adjusts the angle to ensure that you (or your team) are always in the center of the photo. There’s also a 12-megapixel rear camera, capable of 4K video recording, but I’ve never really seen much use for the iPad’s rear camera, unless you’re researching AR applications. (And for this purpose, the iPad Air doesn’t have a second Lidar camera like the Pro models have.)
There are other upgrades worth mentioning.
For anyone who needs fast ports (like photographers), the USB-C connection offers twice as fast transfer speeds (up to 10Gbps). That same port can also support displays up to 6K.
If you buy the mobile model (additional 170 €), it now connects to the 5G network.
Physically, the new iPad Air is virtually identical to its predecessor. It is quite light, weighing 461 grams (iPhone 13 Pro Max is 238 grams). Note, however, that if you use the recommended Magic Keyboard (which is essential if you’re going to rely on this for any kind of document working remotely), it will more than double the weight, up 1.06kg. That’s still in the realm of an ultralight laptop. But you will feel it in a pocket.
It comes in slightly more fun colors than the base iPad Pro or iPad – pink, purple, and blue, as well as space gray and ‘starlight’ (white).
Battery life on the Air is very good, if not excellent. With up to 10 hours of runtime (although closer to 5 or 6 for me, the way I use it when moving between apps), it’s the same as the last iPad Air and current iPad Pro.
It’s good now. But if I’m picky, we’ve all become a bit spoiled with MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros like the MacBook Pro providing comfortably more than 12 to 15 hours (and sometimes up to 20 hours) with a single charge. charging times. That extra battery life is mostly the result of it’s switch from Intel chips to Apple’s M1 chip, which the iPad Air has now also switched to. Obviously, the benefits aren’t quite the same as they move from Apple’s mobile chip design to the M1 on a tablet.
So while I have no complaints, it’s also true that the iPad hasn’t quite kept up with Apple’s laptops.
There are two main compromises the iPad Air has from the iPad Pro.
The most obvious is the screen. Reviewed separately, the 10.9-inch ‘Liquid Retina’ 60hz display with things like True Tone, P3 wide color and anti-reflective coating, is actually quite nice. It’s bright, colorful, sharp, and nice, and smooth for the likes of the Apple Pencil.
Only when compared to the iPad Pro’s gorgeous 120hz display does it feel limiting. For most people, it’s probably not a problem; The iPad Air’s display looks great for things like movies and games. The sound quality from the speakers is also good enough to play anything loud without headphones.
The other major limitation is storage. While 64GB is decent for a basic iPad or tablet from five years ago, having it as a low-end option will feel cheeky in 2022 on a 700€ machine clearly designed for many. more creative graphics, photos, videos and content. It combines with the absence of a 128GB model, which means that if I were to buy this, it would need to be the 256GB model – another 180€ at 879€. That’s roughly the same price as the iPad Pro (128GB), with its extras.
The only major difference between the Pro and the Air is the Touch ID button instead of the Face ID facial recognition.
I find Face ID to be quick and effective, whether it’s on an iPhone or an iPad. That said, Touch ID on the iPad Air is also pretty fast and reliable. It’s a bit awkward to manipulate the side of the machine, but that’s better than sacrificing screen space for a large bezel like the basic iPad still does.
Would someone buy this new iPad Air for normal use – Netflix, web browsing, social networking – instead of Apple’s ‘basic’ iPad? Only if you blush. The advantages the Air has over the basic iPad (see review on Independent.ie) for limited use is arguably not worth the €310 you’ll shell out for one.
How about Apple’s recently released iPad mini (569 €, 64GB)? In my testing of both (see our review of the mini on Independent.ie), I found them to have completely different purposes. The 8.3-inch Mini is half the size of the Air, without the keyboard accessory: it’s not designed to be used as a replacement for a laptop. It’s quite powerful and works well with Apple’s Pencil stylus, but it’s not on the same level as the Air – the mini is more focused on being a personal assistant than a regular tablet.
Overall, this is a great option for people who need a little more from their iPad but can’t justify shelling out the extra money for an iPad Pro.
https://www.independent.ie/business/technology/ipad-air-2022-review-a-budget-friendly-but-storage-shy-alternative-to-the-ipad-pro-41453595.html iPad Air (2022) review: budget-friendly, but limited-storage alternative to iPad Pro