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The fifth-generation iPad Air launched with an upgrade to M1 and 5G support, but that may be a tough choice for people who already own the fourth-generation model. Here’s how the two stack up.
Apple’s “Peek Performance” special event saw the company reveal an update to the iPad Air, bringing it to the fifth generation. Sitting between the standard iPad and the iPad Pro, the iPad Air offered the style of the top model, but at a more affordable price. For the fifth-generation model, Apple is closing the gap between the Air line and the iPad Pro line a bit more, at least in terms of specs.
Depending on how you look at it, there may be enough for fourth-generation owners to make the jump to the new model.
|iPad Air (5th generation, 2022)||iPad Air (4th generation, 2020)|
|Screen size (inches)||10.9||10.9|
|Pixel density (dpi)||264||264|
|Display Type||liquid retina,
Wide color (P3),
Wide color (P3),
|apple pencil||Second generation||Second generation|
|weight in pounds)||1.02||1|
|Rear camera (megapixels)||12||12|
|Front camera (megapixels)||12||7|
|Video recording||4K 24/30/60fps,
Slow motion 1080p 240fps
Slow motion 1080p 240fps
|Biometric||Touch ID||Touch ID|
iPad Air Gen 5 vs iPad Air Gen 4 – Physical Dimensions
When Apple updated the third-generation iPad Air to the fourth, it made massive changes to the overall appearance. The styling shifted from the familiar iPad in favor of a nearly edge-to-edge chinless display that was also larger, as well as an iPad Pro-inspired case.
Since the fifth-generation iPad Air is a special edition, there’s nothing new outside of the tablet. It has the same general appearance, down to its physical dimensions.
The fourth and fifth generation models measure 9.74 inches tall and 7.02 inches wide, and an equally thin 0.24 inches thick. There is a small variation in weight, however.
The fourth-generation Wi-Fi edition weighs exactly 1 pound, while the cellular is just a bit heavier at 1.01 pounds. For the fifth generation, the Wi-Fi and Cellular models are listed at 1.02 pounds, with only one gram difference.
The new models are heavier, but by so little that it is insignificant.
iPad Air Gen 5 vs iPad Air Gen 4 – Display
Both use the same 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display. Although Apple could have switched to miniLED backlighting like the iPad Pro models, it has kept the LED backlighting instead.
Resolutions are the same for both models at 2,360 by 1,640, giving each a pixel density of 264ppi. You also get identical brightnesses at 500 nits, full screen lamination, wide color support (P3), and True Tone.
As for the Apple Pencil, Apple maintains the use of the second generation stylus for the new model, just like the previous one.
iPad Air Gen 5 vs iPad Air Gen 4 – Processing Performance
The most significant change between the two generations is the SoC driving both models. While the fourth generation used the A14 Bionic, which featured a six-core processor with two high-performance cores and four power-efficient cores, an Apple-designed quad-core GPU, and a 16-core neural engine, Apple made a leap forward. for the fifth.
The latest iPad Air sports the M1, the same desktop chip used in the iPad Pro line. It consists of an evenly distributed eight-core processor with performance and efficiency cores, an 8-core GPU, and a 16-core “next-gen” neural engine.
Apple claims the 5th generation iPad Air is up to 60% faster than the previous model thanks to the M1 processor. It is also claimed to have twice the graphics capabilities.
Before publishing benchmarks for the fifth-generation iPad Pro, the best immediate comparison is to turn to GeekBench and compare the fourth generation to the 11-inch iPad Pro.
The comparison makes sense because the lower-capacity M1-equipped iPad Pro models have the same 8GB of memory as the fifth-generation iPad Air. For reference, the fourth-generation iPad Air has 4GB.
The 11-inch iPad Pro with an M1 processor runs a Geekbench score of 1,706 single-core and 7,219 multi-core. It is with the 8-core M1 processor.
Meanwhile, the iPad Air 4 with A14 Bionic scored 1,583 single-core and 4,210 multi-core. The A14 Bionic has a 6-core processor, which explains the lower multi-core score.
Graphics-wise, the A14 can manage 12,450 on Geekbench’s Metal test, while the M1 hits 21,199.
iPad Air Gen 5 vs iPad Air Gen 4 – Cameras
As you’d expect, the dual rear cameras of the fourth and fifth generation iPad Air have the same 12-megapixel wide camera with an f/1.8 aperture, 5x digital zoom and Smart HDR 3 for photos.
For video it’s a similar story, with both 4K60, 1080p 240fps Slo-mo footage and 3x zoom. The fifth generation differs in that it has an extended dynamic range for video up to 30 fps.
On the front, the 7-megapixel FaceTime HD camera has been replaced by a 12-megapixel Ultra-Wide version in the fifth-generation model. As part of the modifications, it also gets a 2x zoom out.
The new camera includes Center Stage support that takes advantage of the viewing angle and zoom in FaceTime.
In video, while the fourth generation has 1080p video with cinematic video stabilization, the fifth also extends the dynamic range for 30fps video.
iPad Air Gen 5 vs iPad Air Gen 4 – Connectivity
Both models feature a USB-C port for physical connections to devices and accessories, including video output to an external display and storage devices.
On wireless, both models also support Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0, although things change when it comes to the cellular side.
Aside from M1, Apple’s second big promotional point for the fifth-generation model is connectivity over 5G. It’s an improvement, but not necessarily as good as you might think.
Apple clarifies that 5G support is for bands below 6 GHz, which provides overall coverage similar to LTE. There’s no support for mmWave, the extremely high-speed element of 5G that’s widely marketed as a benefit of the standard.
The 5G that Apple includes in the fifth-generation iPad Air is certainly faster than LTE, which it can also connect to, but it’s not the same as mmWave.
iPad Air Gen 5 vs iPad Air Gen 4 – Battery and Charging
A change of processor can sometimes equate to changed usage times. This can certainly be the case for other devices, such as iPhones. It’s not happening here.
Both models meet Apple’s general tablet standard for up to 10 hours of web browsing on Wi-Fi or watching videos. The number decreases a bit for cell work, up to 9 hours.
Power is supplied via USB-C, with Apple including a 20W USB-C power adapter for each, which charges identical 28.6-inch batteries.
iPad Air Gen 5 vs iPad Air Gen 4 – Other Features
Both models continue to use Touch ID for biometric security.
The included Smart Connector can take advantage of the Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio on each device without issue.
Audio support hasn’t changed either, with both having dual speakers that work in landscape mode.
iPad Air Gen 5 vs iPad Air Gen 4 – Capacity and Price
For the Wi-Fi version, the fourth-generation iPad Air was available in 64GB and 256GB capacities, for $599 and $749, respectively. Cellular models cost an additional $130, making the 64GB model $729 and the 256GB $879. Check out our roundup of the best iPad deals for discounts on dozens of models.
Apple offered five color variants: Space Gray, Silver, Rose Gold, Green, and Sky Blue.
The new fifth-generation iPad Air comes in the same capacities with the same price for Wi-Fi models. Cellular models are $20 more expensive this time around, at $749 and $899 respectively.
For 2022, the color variety retains Space Gray but instead changes the rest to Starlight, Pink, Purple and Blue.
An iPad Pro at a low price
The modern iPad Air seemed like a compromise, offering iPad Pro looks but with concessions to make it cheaper. This combination made it popular in its own right, especially for those who didn’t need the full iPad Pro experience.
This time around, Apple has kept the impressive appearance on the outside, but brought the internals up to snuff. It’s not quite an iPad Pro, but it certainly has the same chip running the whole show.
Add the term 5G, and it becomes even more appealing, despite the lack of mmWave.
It is very plausible that this spec-bump update could offer enough improvements to perform a fourth generation user upgrade. The performance matches the iPad Pro-like design, which is a very attractive combination for anyone who really needs that power.
This is a spec-bump upgrade, but bumps in exactly the right way.