The new fifth-generation iPad Air will start arriving at customers on Friday, and in advance of this, the first practical reviews of the device have appeared. We’ve rounded up some of the reviews and unboxing videos below.
Key new features of iPad Air include the same M1 chip found in iPad Pro, 5G connectivity on cellular models, an improved 12-megapixel front camera with Center Stage support, up to 2x faster USB-C port for the data transfer, and new color options. Pricing still starts at $599 in the US for 64GB of storage.
Overall, the new iPad Air remains a great value, with performance now on par with the iPad Pro thanks to the M1 chip and other Pro-like features.
Geekbench 5 benchmark results, which surfaced earlier this week, have confirmed that the M1 chip in the new iPad Air is not downclocked, resulting in the device having virtually the same performance as the iPad Pro.
Still, several reviewers pointed out that iPad OS makes it difficult to take advantage of its capabilities.
Dan Seifert from The Verge:
If you use the iPad for things like surfing the web, reading books, watching movies or TV shows, or even light productivity, you probably won’t notice the extra headroom that the M1 chip offers. It shines when it comes to particularly demanding tasks such as editing and exporting 4K videos or managing large file transfers. The Air is capable of handling these tasks, but there are better tools out there if that’s what you intend to do that don’t have the limitations of iPad OS and a relatively small screen.
iPad Air now supports 5G networking on Wi-Fi + Cellular models, but not faster mmWave 5G like iPad Pro.
tested 5G on the new iPad Air:
This iPad does not support mmWave, only Sub-6 5G. In fact, it often feels similar to LTE: speeds at my home were around 290 megabits per second at Verizon, while speeds at Washington Square Park in New York were only around 60 Mbps to 80 Mbps.
Stage camera in focus:
With an improved 12-megapixel front camera, the new iPad Air is the last iPad to support Center Stage, a feature that keeps you and everyone else with you in the picture as you move during video calls. Center Stage is available for FaceTime calls and in supported third-party video calling apps like Zoom.
TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino:
The front camera has also received a 12-megapixel upgrade – and it’s definitely improved over the previous Air. Facetime gets that nice Center Stage improvement that we also saw on the iPad Pros last year. As I said in my review, this is a pretty big quality of life improvement for those who video chat a lot, as the auto crop and track feature mitigates the odd placement of the camera on the left when the iPad Air is in the landscape format is located . The angles feel more natural and less awkward overall. The color and contrast of the video call quality have also been improved.