Although the 9th generation iPad is probably still the one you’ll want to buy for your parents who can’t live without a home button, Apple has once again delivered some compelling reasons to choose its iPad Air over the company’s pricier iPad Pros, with today’s reveal of the 5th generation of the tablet that now includes the powerful M1 processor that can also be found in the company’s laptops.
The last version of the iPad Air arrived with a complete redesign that aesthetically made the tablet look a lot more like Apple’s iPad Pro with a flat-edged design that facilitated support for accessories like the second-generation Apple Pencil, and a $US600 ($833) price tag that still made the iPad Air feel like you were shelling out for a tablet, and not a full-blown laptop replacement. But it was powered by the A14 bionic chip which has since been replaced with the A15 in Apple’s latest generation iPhones. For the new fifth generation of the tablet, Apple is skipping the A15 and upgrading the iPad Air to its M1 chip which can also be found in the Mac mini, MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and even the 24-inch iMac. With it, Apple is promising a 60% performance increase over the last generation iPad Air, and twice the graphics performance.
The new iPad Air also comes with improvements made to the front-facing camera with a new 12MP sensor (up from 7MP) and an ultrawide lens that brings the iPad OS Centre Stage feature to the tablet allowing FaceTime to track subjects to ensure they’re always properly framed during a video call.
Other improvements include the addition of 5G making the new iPad Air even more of a mobile workhorse and not just a media consumption and gaming device, and a faster USB-C port that can copy files from a connected external drive or card reader twice as fast. The new iPad Air is also still compatible with Apple’s keyboard accessories, and the second-generation Apple Pencil.
Even with the M1 bump, the iPad Air will still start at $929 (for the Wi-Fi models) and $1,159 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular models. The upgrade means that choosing between the iPad Pro and the cheaper iPad Air is much easier, although you might struggle with what colour to go with, as the new iPad Air will be available in space grey, pink, blue, starlight, and purple colours.
The new iPad Air is available to order beginning Saturday, 12 March, and will be in stores from Friday, 18 March.