Apple iPad Air 2022 Review – More of the same, but is that bad?

The iPad Air 2022 resembles the 2020 version in many ways and that’s not bad at all. The old model did a lot of good and the 2022 version does even better in many areas. Especially the powerful M1 processor and the improved front camera are welcome changes, bringing the tablet closer to the iPad Pro. The fact that you can use the same accessories, such as the Apple Pencil 2 and the Magic Keyboard, on this tablet is also a nice side effect. If you don’t mind the slightly lesser color adjustment of the screen, the very thin housing and the weak battery, this is a very nice tablet to work with.

Pros

  • Powerful soc
  • Compatible with the same accessories as iPad Pro
  • A small difference in the feature set with iPad Pro

Cons

  • Short battery life
  • Weak housing

Apple recently released the fifth iteration of the iPad Air, the iPad Air 2022. This tablet still fills the gap between the cheapest iPad and the expensive iPad Pro. Does the device still have a right to exist as a middle engine between the other two iPad models? You can read it in this review.

Casing and features

The iPad Air 2022 looks the same as its predecessor. The tablet has the same symmetrical narrow bezel and the same rounded screen with thin bezels. The side and back are made of one piece of aluminum and look the same as those of the iPhone 13 and iPad mini devices. The agreements don’t stop there. If we look at the further specifications, we see that the tablet is exactly the same length and width as its predecessor. The screen is also identical at first glance and on paper, with exactly the same resolution and size. Only the weight has increased by a few grams, but this is negligible. Unfortunately, the housing of the new iPad Air, like that of its predecessor, is not very sturdy. When twisting the tablet, you can clearly feel that the device gives way and you can even hear it crack. Still, the tablet is sturdy enough to prevent you from easily breaking it in two. In the table below we have listed all specifications of the 2020 and 2022 versions.

Apple iPad Air 2022 Apple iPad Air 2020
Dimensions hxwxd 247.6×178.5×6.1mm 247.6×178.5×6.1mm
Weight 461g (Wi-Fi)

465g (5G)

458g (Wi-Fi)

460G (4G)

Screen diagonal 10.9″ 10.9″
Screen resolution 2360×1640, 264ppi 2360×1640, 264ppi
Refresh rate 60Hz 60Hz
Color range DCI-P3 DCI-P3
Rear camera 12 megapixels (primary) 12 megapixels (primary)
Front camera 12 megapixels 7 megapixel
Authentication Touch ID
(side)
Touch ID
(side)
social Apple M1 Apple A14
Random access memory 8GB 4GB
Storage 64GB
256GB
64GB
256GB
Price from € 678,- € 669,-
Connections USB-C
Smart Connector
USB-C
Smart Connector
accessories Magic Keyboard
Apple Pencil 2
Magic Keyboard
Apple Pencil 2

Apple seems to stick to the philosophy of not deviating from a winning formula. Like the previous model, the new iPad Air has a fingerprint scanner in the power button, and that scanner seems to work just as well. Because the front is symmetrical, you may sometimes have to look for the power button at first glance, but the iPad helps you by indicating on the screen where the button is.

The camera setup also looks the same as that of the previous model, but appearances are deceiving. The iPad Air 2022 has a newer front camera, which performs a lot better than the previous version. The rear camera has remained the same and sticks out just as far as that of the predecessor. Laying the device flat on the table results in the same wobble as the 2020 model. The ultra-wide-angle camera, flash and lidar depth camera are not found on this model; you’ll still have to turn to the iPad Pro for that. Despite the absence of these extras, it is still possible to use AR apps. The 3d image will be projected less stably over the scene. In addition, some AR apps already have additional functionality that only works on devices with lidar. We do not expect that people who get started with augmented reality or who like to use their tablet as a photo camera will go for this model. The chances of missing these features are slim.

The sides of the iPad Air 2022, like those of the iPad Air 2020 and iPad Pro 2020, have holes for the speakers in four places, but two of the four actually contain speakers. In addition, the iPad Air still has stereo sound in landscape mode, which cannot be said of all iPads. Still, the other holes are not for show and they transmit the sound well if the holes are covered with speakers behind them. It should come as no surprise that the sound quality of the iPad is very good.

Like the previous version, the new tablet is not equipped with a Lightning, but with a USB-C connection. Apple also says that the connection on this tablet works twice as fast, with 10Gb/s instead of 5Gb/s. This would come in handy if a lot of media is transferred at once. For example, you can directly plug in memory card readers or external displays, where you need a separate adapter for models with Lightning, such as the iPad 2020 and iPad Air 2019. In addition, the iPad Air 2022 has a magnetic connector on the back for the Magic Keyboard. This special Apple keyboard case attaches magnetically to the iPad Air and features a keyboard and trackpad. This allows you to control iPadOS with a pointing cursor instead of always having to touch the screen. Unique to the Magic Keyboard is the hinge construction, which makes the tablet seem to ‘float’ above the keys. This is a very nice extension that makes the tablet appear more professional, but it is an expensive extra: at the time of writing, the cover costs about 290 euros.

Screen and pen

At the risk of repeating ourselves: the laminated IPS panel of the iPad Air 2022 looks like two drops of water on the screen of the previous iPad Air. The screens are the same size (10.9″), have the same resolution (2360×1640 pixels) and are equally bright on paper. The pixel density is 264ppi and the screen can show much of the wide DCI-P3 color gamut. The only two points where the iPad Air loses out compared to the Pro in this area are the refresh rate and HDR display. The Air does not go above 60Hz and the Pro reaches 120Hz. In addition, the mini LED screen has a higher contrast and higher peak brightness, making it suitable for HDR display. The previous iPad Air does not have this capability.

What about in practice; are the screens really identical? Using the SpectraCal C6 colorimeter and Portrait Displays Calman Ultimate analysis software, we checked whether the values ​​claimed by Apple are actually met and whether they are equal to those of the iPad Air from 2020.

If we look at the brightness, we can indeed say that the iPad Air 2022 is exactly as bright as the iPad Air from 2020. Both tablets have a brightness of 514cd/m 2. That is by the way the only value that is identical. The screen of the new iPad Air 2022 seems to be better adjusted than the iPad Air 2020. With an ΔE of 1.30, the gray deviation is much better than the iPad Air 2020, which achieves an ΔE of 4.50. The color deviation is also less severe than with the predecessor. The iPad Air from 2022 has an ΔE of 0.9 and the Air from 2020 an ΔE of 1.60. The contrast of the new iPad has also been improved. With a ratio of 1453:1, the tablet does a bit better than the 2020 model, which reaches 1213:1. The color temperature of the iPad Air 2022 is 6732 Kelvin. That is slightly better than the 7000 kelvin that the predecessor had. As for the overall color coverage, practically nothing has changed.

The iPad Air 2022 also supports the Apple Pencil. Like the iPad 2020, the device can handle the second generation of pens. The tablet has a special marking on the long side, to which the pen can be attached magnetically and charged wirelessly. The Pencil works very smoothly, but with a price of about 131 euros it is a pricey accessory.

Hardware and battery life

Two of the few aspects where the difference between the iPad 2020 and iPad 2022 is clearly visible are the battery and the processor. The A14 Bionic soc from the 2020 version has been replaced by the powerful M1 soc. That’s the same soc that was already in the iPad Pro and is also used in the MacBook Air. This makes the iPad Air 2022 a lot more powerful and the gap between this tablet and the iPad Pro a lot smaller. The chip has eight CPU cores, eight GPU cores and 8GB RAM on board, and can therefore keep up very well with the more powerful iPads. In any case, it is becoming increasingly difficult to see how powerful the processor is from the performance of the average app. Everything runs quickly and smoothly. Only with the heaviest games, such as Genshin Impact, you regularly experience frame drops at the highest settings. This is easily solved by choosing the second highest setting. With regard to the storage space, nothing has changed at all. The cheapest model still has 64GB and the most expensive model 256GB. For more storage space, you’ll have to turn to the iPad Pro.

In terms of wireless connectivity, once again, the iPad Air 2020 and iPad Air 2022 are pretty much the same. Both devices have Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi 6 on board. The Wifi+Cellular version of the iPad Air 2022 also has the ability to connect to 5G networks, where the previous model could only handle 4G.

The new iPad Air is equipped with a 28.6Wh battery, a slightly smaller version than that of its predecessor. Still, Apple has managed to get more out of the battery. The more efficient M1 chip uses less energy and ensures that the battery is charged faster. At least, on paper. In practice, the two tablets seem to always take over from each other. During our browsing test, the iPad Air 2022 is an hour shorter than the copy from 2020 at 7 hours and 44 minutes. That makes the iPad Air 2022 one of the worst-scoring iPads in that area. Fortunately, the tablet manages to score slightly better during our video test. The device lasts almost three hours longer than its predecessor: 10 hours and 25 minutes compared to 7 hours and 57 minutes. A score with which the device finishes just below average.

As you can see in the table above, the real innovation is in the charging mechanism. The iPad Air 2022 easily leaves all other iPads behind. After half an hour of charging, the device is already more than half filled, while the other models do not even reach 20 percent. Only the iPad Air of 2020 manages to do a lot better than the rest at 26 percent, but that performance is still dwarfed by the 55 percent that the model will get from 2022. So it’s no surprise that the iPad Air 2022 only takes an hour and a half to be fully charged. The 2020 iPad Air takes an hour longer; the rest need more than three, four or even five hours.

Conclusion

The iPad Air 2022 has a lot in common with the iPad Air from 2020 and therefore seems to be a ‘more of the same’ tablet. That’s not bad at all. Everything the iPad Air from 2020 did well, the iPad Air 2022 does just as well or slightly better. That’s because the new iPad has the more powerful M1 processor and twice as much RAM on board. That not only makes this tablet very fast; the more efficient chip also ensures that the slightly smaller battery lasts longer and can be charged faster. In addition, the front camera has been updated and it shoots better pictures than its predecessor. These improvements narrow the gap between the iPad Pro and the iPad Air 2022, which is a plus. The same form factor also allows your existing peripherals,

Is the iPad Air 2022 therefore the best tablet you can buy? Unfortunately not. The housing gives a little when you grip it firmly and it even cracks during twisting. In addition, the battery life is in some cases shorter than that of other iPads.

Fortunately, these disadvantages do not outweigh the many advantages and you can safely go for this tablet. We can imagine that you are inclined to choose the copy from 2020 because there are not that many differences between the two devices, especially because the old model is 50 to 100 euros cheaper. Still, we think the new model gives you just a little more bang for your buck because the M1 processor is a lot more powerful and there is enough overhead if you have to work with heavier applications in the future. You could even see the purchase of the iPad Air 2022 as a nice saving if you previously thought about purchasing the iPad Pro. That consideration certainly applies if you can do without the lidar camera, FaceID functionality and 120Hz refresh rate.