Home Health iPad Air 2022, the test of the new Apple tablet

iPad Air 2022, the test of the new Apple tablet

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iPad Air 2022, the test of the new Apple tablet

The new fifth generation iPad Air, presented by Apple during the Peek Perfomance event and available in Italy from Friday 18 March, it is the perfect update to an already excellent product. The Cupertino company had revolutionized the Air line in October 2020, with the introduction of the first model with a design similar to that of the iPad Pro.

The intention was clear: to carry on its intermediate tablet some key features of the higher-end modelswhile maintaining a more affordable price.

Today the philosophy is the same, but one thinks that in Cupertino the designers have almost let themselves be carried away: the M1 chip arrives on the iPad Air, the same as the iPad Pro and Mac, 5G on the Cellular version, the camera front that enables Center Stage and ultra-fast 10 Gpbs USB C. All advanced features that greatly reduce the technological gap with the Pro models, especially the 11 ”one. It is a strategy that we have seen before, for example with the iPad Mini and the previous iPad Air: Apple has no problem staggering update cycles, with the result that lower-end models can be more affordable and attractive for a few months, until new, updated models arrive.


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iPad Air, yesterday and today

The design of the new iPad Air does not change: the squared lines are the same as the previous generation model. The tablet remains light and manageable, thanks to an excellent ratio between the dimensions and the weight (461 grams). The screen is also the same: it is a 10.9 “Liquid Retina (versus 11” in the base Pro model) with True Tone technology, P3 color gamut, and anti-reflective coating. It is not the most up-to-date component, but the quality is still very high. It is bright, even in bright light, and the only real flaw is the 60Hz refresh rate: the difference is only really noticeable if you are used to the variable 120 Hz of the ProMotion displays of the iPhone 13 Pro or iPad Pro M1.

One of the most important innovations is the introduction of 5G in the Wi-Fi + Cellular configuration, a feature that finally brings the iPad Air on par with the entire Apple tablet family, excluding the base model with beveled design. We tested the new Air’s 5G connection with a German SIM in Berlin. When the network offers good coverage, the speeds are higher than the home ADSL, but never exceed 280 Gpbs peak download: it could be better, but the fault lies with Telekom Deutschland and the sorry state of the German mobile networks, not the iPad Air. It should be noted that in prolonged use the effect of 5G on battery autonomy is felt, just like on the Pro models.

The remaining connectivity features remain unchanged (apart from USB C, which we will discuss later) and offer everything you need on a 2022 device: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, dual-band simultanea to connect to the web and Apple TV at the same time, eSim to activate the data plan directly from the iOS options. The Touch ID on the home button has also been confirmed, a technology that had debuted on the 2020 model of the iPad Air and then also arrived on the iPad Mini. It works great, with far fewer errors than facial recognition, and unlocking is instant. We continue to appreciate this solution very much, even if the hope that it also arrives on the iPhone has been partially mitigated by the iOS 15.4 update, which enables the use of Face ID even when wearing the mask.

Although not equipped with a depth sensor for face recognition, the front camera of the iPad Air, however, takes a leap forward compared to the previous model. It has a resolution of 12 MP and is equipped with a wide-angle lens that enables Center Stage, the function that keeps subjects in the center of the frame during video calls. Also in this case, Apple has put the new iPad Air on par with all the other models in the range, including the entry level version. Center Stagewhich we appreciate a lot here (but which according to some “makes you seasick” if you move too much) is now ubiquitous and transversal functionality: it has also arrived on the new Apple Studio Display always presented at the event of 8 March.

The design of the new iPad Air (right) is the same as the previous model

iPad Air 5: how are you doing

The most important difference between the iPad Air 2022 and the previous generation of the device is the processor. Apple surprised everyone by bringing its own on this range of tablets M1 chip, the same as the iPad Pro and Mac. It is not even the basic version found on the less expensive MacBook Air, but the one with CPU and GPU of 8 cores each and Neural Engine with 16 cores dedicated to machine learning operations.

Apple’s official numbers speak of 60% more computing power and graphics that are twice as fast. The benchmarks we made with Geekbench show a absolute parity of performance with the iPad Pro. It couldn’t be otherwise, as the chip configuration is exactly the same.

The difference compared to the iPad Air with A14 Bionic is not noticeable in the fluidity of the interface, already excellent on the previous model, but in the applications that make the most of multiple cores and GPUs. It’s a deja-vu of the transition from the iPad Pro with A14 to the first with M1 chip. The performance repeatability that the new Apple chips have guaranteed to the Cupertino engineers is impressive: unlike its competitors, Apple can guarantee absolute repeatability of the generational passages between one device and the next, to the point of being able to translate the entire update experience. hardware from one product line to another, seamlessly. An extraordinary competitive advantage, which no one in the industry is able to match in the short term.

Net of theoretical considerations and benchmarks, the difference is seen in the concrete when they are used app come Lightroom, Photoshop, LumaFusion (and iMovie too), or games with advanced three-dimensional graphics (such as Genshin Impact, which Apple promotes mainly for its popularity on the Chinese market). In Lightroom, artificial intelligence-based smart filters and functions are now lightning fast. We compared the brush to the quick selection of the subject on the fifth generation iPad Air and the 2022 model: the difference is within a couple of seconds, depending on the resolution of the image.

The same goes for Luma Fusion, where exporting and rendering 4K movies is visibly faster, and also for iMovie, Apple’s video editing app. We made some comparisons exporting the same movie in 4K: also in this case precious seconds are gained, with better performance the longer the rendering.

On Photoshop for iPad our litmus test is the so-called Spot healing Brush, the clone stamp that removes imperfections and corrects the image based on the surrounding content. Passing with the Apple Pencil over the imagethe correction is almost immediate, while on the 2020 model with A14 Bionic it is always possible to notice a slight delay.

Finally, for photographers there is a fundamental detail, which we have deliberately left for last: the USB C port of the iPad Air no longer stops at 5 Gbps, but reaches 10. Here too the difference is substantial, above all if you work with an external SSD ultra-fast to save and upload a large number of photos. Not only that: thanks to this connectivity option, the iPad Air can be connected to very high resolution screens (up to 6K), a useful feature for processing images in the studio.


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The differences with the iPad Pro

The addition of the M1 chip to the iPad Air has disrupted the natural order of the iPad range, with substantial parity in performance between this model and the iPad Pro of 2021. difference with the 12.9 “Pro model it is mainly represented by the display: it has larger dimensions and is a Liquid Retina XDR with mini-LED technology.

The features that differentiate the iPad Air from the 11 ”iPad Pro, that is, the one it shares sizethey are instead these:

  • Display: on iPad Pro 11 ”it is a Liquid Retina with Pro Motion, that is, it has variable refresh from 24Hz to 120Hz; the maximum brightness is 600 Nits, against 500 for the iPad Air

  • Face ID instead of Touch ID

  • Speaker: on the iPad Air there are two, the iPad Pro has four; the difference is most noticeable when watching movies and series (especially on Apple TV +)

  • Space of archiving: iPad Air is only available in 64 and 256 GB sizes, while iPad Pro 11 “starts at 128 and can be configured with 256, 512 and 1 or 2 TB again; the price rises dramatically as a result.

  • Thunderbolt 4 compatible USB C port

  • Double camera with 12 and 10 MP wide and ultra wide angle.

  • Lidar sensor

The question is therefore how many and which of these characteristics are necessary to ensure a significant improvement in the user experience. In our opinion very few, even in the case of a professional user. The display, especially for photographers and video editors, does not offer such an evident qualitative leap (as in the case of the 12.9 ”mini-LED model); Touch ID is neither slower nor less secure than Face ID (one could say the opposite); those who need more space can buy an external hard drive for a fraction of the price; the dual cameras are not as important as on a smartphone and the Lidar sensor is useful for a still quite small number of practical applications.

The price must also be considered: the basic version of the 64 GB Wi-Fi iPad costs 200 euros less than the iPad Pro 11 “128 GB Wi-Fi. Both the 256 GB versions of the iPad Air, both the Wi-Fi and the Wi-Fi + Cellular versions, save 30 euros on the corresponding 128 GB basic version of the Pro model.

Whereas the iPad Air also offers a wider range of color options (Space Gray, Starlight, Pink, Purple and Blue)the iPad Air is therefore the 10.9 ”Apple tablet to buy right now and at least until the next iPad Pro update, even for those who want to use it for professional applications.

iPad Air 5 (right) and iPad Air 4 compared

Prices, accessories and availability

The fifth generation iPad Air is available for purchase in four configurations:

It is available for pre-order now and will arrive in Apple and electronics stores on Friday, March 18. It is compatible with the second generation Apple Pencil (which costs 135 euros), with the cover con tastiera Magic Keyboard (339 euro) o Smart Keyboard Folio (199 euros), and with the Smart Folio Cover for iPad Air (89 euros), available in black, white, English Lavender, Electric Orange, Dark Cherry and Blue Marino.

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