At its Peek Performance event, Apple unveiled a new 5th-generation iPad Air that leap-frogs the iPad mini and brings it closer than ever to the iPad Pro.
While the new iPad Air looks identical to the previous version, there are some meaningful differences. Most notably, it now has a much faster processor, the M1 found in the iPad Pro and 24-inch iMac.
The new iPad Air also has 5G cellular support for the first time. The faster connectivity comes with a slight $20 price hike for the Wi-Fi + Cellular models ($149 versus $129), which is in line with the other 5G tablets Apple sells. The entry level iPad is now the only LTE tablet Apple makes.
Also new is the iPad Air’s front camera, which gets the same 12MP ultra-wide lens introduced with the iPad Pro in April 2021. The new camera brings support for Apple’s Center Stage feature for video calls that uses machine learning to pan to keep the user centered as they move. The 4th-generation iPad Air had been the only iPad to feature a 7MP front camera following updates to the entry level iPad and iPad mini last year.
Otherwise, the new iPad Air is identical to the old model. It has a 10.9-inch “all-screen” design with a. Liquid Retina display, Touch ID built into the power button, and a single 12MP rear camera. Like the iPad Pro, it supports the second-generation Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard, and uses a USB-C port for charging. It comes in several new colors, including purple, pink, and a new deeper blue.
The upgrades here are compelling for a $599 tablet. The main differences between the 10.9-inch iPad Air and 11-inch iPad Pro are ProMotion, Thunderbolt, and higher 1TB and 2TB storage options for $799.
The iPad Air will be available for preorder beginning March 11, with availability beginning March 18.