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Apple iPad Air 5 (2022) vs. iPad Air 4 (2020)

Apple has pulled the wraps off the fifth-generation iPad Air (2022), an upgrade to the fourth-generation iPad Air (2020). It packs a bunch of improvements compared to its predecessor, the most notable being the M1 chip that also powers the iPad Pro and a few MacBooks. There are some other noteworthy upgrades as well, including a better front camera with Center Stage support and an optional 5G connectivity.

Both these iPads also share some similarities, which brings us to the question: Is it worth upgrading to the new iPad Air 5 (2022), if you already own the iPad Air 4 (2020)?

We take both these tablets head-to-head, comparing their display, design, performance, cameras, battery, and other features, to find out which one’s better overall.

Specs

iPad Air (2022) iPad Air (2020)
Size 247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1mm (9.75 x 7.03 x 0.24 inches) 247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1mm (9.74 x 7.02 x 0.24 inches)
Weight Wi-Fi: 461 grams (16.26 ounces)

Cellular: 462 grams (16.30 ounces)

Wi-Fi: 458 grams (16.15 ounces)

Cellular: 460 grams (16.23 ounces)

Screen size and refresh rate 10.9-inch Liquid Retina LCD

60Hz

10.9-inch Liquid Retina LCD

60Hz

Screen resolution 2360×1640 pixels (264 pixels-per-inch) 2360 x 1640 pixels (264 ppi)
Operating system iPadOS 15 iPadOS 15
Storage 64GB, 256GB 64GB, 256GB
MicroSD card slot No No
Processor Apple M1 Apple A14 Bionic
RAM 8GB 4GB
Camera 12-megapixel rear, 12MP ultra-wide front 12MP rear, 7MP front
Video 4K at 24, 30, 60 fps; 1080p at 30, 60, 120, 240 fps 4K at 24, 30, 60 frames per second, 1080p at 30, 60 fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
Ports USB-C USB-C
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes
Water resistance No No
Battery and charging 10 hours on Wi-Fi, 9 hours on cellular

20W wired fast charging support

10 hours on Wi-Fi, 9 hours on cellular

20W wired charging

App marketplace Apple App Store Apple App Store
Network support AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon (cellular models only) AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon (cellular models only)
Colors Silver, space gray, rose gold, green, and sky blue Silver, Space Gray, Rose Gold, green, Sky Blue
Price Starting at $599 (Wi-Fi), $729 (cellular) Starting at $599 (Wi-Fi), $729 (cellular)
Buy from Apple Apple
Review score News 4.5 out of 5 stars

Design, display, and durability

A person's arm holding an Apple iPad Air 2020.

The iPad Air (2020) brought some noticeable design changes, as Apple ditched the home button in favor of smaller bezels. Following such a big change, it’s probably not surprising the company has settled for a similar design for the 2022 iPad Air, albeit with different colorways. The dimensions of both the iPads are similar, and they’re basically the same weight too. As they’re tablets, you’re unlikely to be waving them about, but they’re still both very light and easy to handle.

The displays of these tablets are also identical — both sport a 10.9-inch IPS Retina panel with a resolution of 2360 x 1640 pixels. The screen promises a wide color gamut, and the peak brightness reaches up to 500 nits, which means it’s bright and colorful — exactly what you want from a display. You even get a couple of coatings on top, an oleophobic coating for fingerprint resistance, and an anti-reflective coating to help reduce reflections.

The similarities don’t finish just yet; Both these iPads lack an IP rating, so taking either of them to the pool might not be a good idea. Since they rock similar design and build, they should be equally durable.

There’s a lot to love here, but they’re functionally the same design. This is a tie.

Winner: Tie

Performance, battery life, and charging

Apple M1 inside iPad Air 5 concept image.

The biggest upgrade that the new iPad Air (2022) has to offer is its CPU. Thanks to the powerful Apple M1 chip under the hood, it now equals the more-expensive iPad Pros in terms of raw performance. The coupled 8GB of RAM is the cherry on top, and the tablet should run almost any task you throw at it quite easily. According to Apple, the iPad Air (2022) offers up to 60% better performance than its predecessor. What it’s likely to mean, though, is a real boost to those who tackle high-power tasks, like video editing or 3D modeling.

That said, the 2020 iPad Air’s performance isn’t disappointing either. It’s powered by the A14 Bionic, the same chipset in Apple’s iPhone 12 lineup. Speaking of memory options, both these tablets come with either 64GB or 256GB of internal storage. If you’re a regular user, the iPad Air 2020 should just be fine for you. But, if you want a tablet capable enough to handle the heaviest of tasks, like video editing, the new iPad Air (2022) should be the one to go for.

Moving to yet another important factor, we expect similar battery life on the new iPad Air 5 (2022) to its predecessor. While Apple doesn’t like sharing the exact battery capacity, it says that both these tablets should last up to 10 hours when surfing the web on Wi-Fi, and up to nine hours when on a mobile network. During our testing of the iPad Air (2020), we found the battery life to be more than suitable for a day’s use, and expect the iPad Air (2022) will perform similarly.

While battery life is so similar, performance is likely to be a massive advantage for the new iPad Air.

Winner: iPad Air (2022)

Cameras

The Logitech Folio Touch keyboard case for iPad Air.

The list of similarities continues with the rear camera department, as Apple’s iPad Air (2022) and iPad Air (2020) rock identical optics. Both come equipped with a 12-megapixel camera with an f/1.8 aperture and offer up to 5X digital zoom. On either of these, you can record 4K videos at 24, 25, 30, or 60 frames per second, and 1080p videos at 60 fps. In addition, the newer 2022 iPad Air also allows shooting 1080p videos at 25 fps or 30 fps, and offers an extended dynamic range.

Since these are tablets, quite a few people would consider the front camera’s quality over the rear. The 2022 iPad Air’s selfie shooter has been upgraded to a 12MP sensor with an f/2.4 aperture, 2X zoom, and an extended dynamic range. Like all the recent iPads, it also gets the Center Stage feature. For those unfamiliar, it automatically pans the camera to keep you in the middle if you move around during video calls.

If you use your device for video calls and selfies quite often, the iPad Air (2022) should be better for you. Its predecessor, the iPad Air (2020), has a 7MP camera with an f/2.2 aperture and lacks the Center Stage feature. The camera isn’t bad, but the one on the 2022 iPad Air is better.

Winner: iPad Air (2022)

Software and updates

Fifth generation Apple iPad Air.

Apple has updated the iPad Air (2020) to the latest iPadOS 15, which the iPad Air (2022) runs out of the box. The iPadOS 15 comes with a host of new features and changes — a redesigned home screen layout, redefined multitasking, feature additions to FaceTime and iMessage, and revamped Safari interface, among others.

Considering that the iPad Air (2022) debuted about two years after the iPad Air (2020), it should receive support and software updates from Apple for a bit longer. This gives it an advantage over the forerunner, though given how long Apple’s software support generally runs, it’s a tighter result than you’d expect.

Winner: iPad Air (2022)

Special features

iPad Air with a white keyboard.
Daniel Romero/Unsplash

There aren’t any notable differences in the special features these iPads have to offer, except one. The iPad Air (2022) gets 5G support if you buy the cellular version, but with the iPad Air (2020), you’ll have to settle for 4G and LTE networks. The faster internet surfing and download speeds make the iPad Air (2022) a winner.

Besides, both these iPads support the second-gen Apple Pencil, the Magic Keyboard, and the Smart Keyboard Folio. However, buying any of these will cost you extra money.

Winner: iPad Air (2022)

Price and availability

The new iPad Air (2022) starts at $599 for the 64GB Wi-Fi-only variant and goes up to $899 for the 256GB version with Wi-Fi and cellular support. You can get it from Apple’s online store, along with other major electronic stores and retailers online or offline.

Apple has discontinued the iPad Air (2020), but you should be able to purchase it online through several sellers. It was priced at $599 when it launched in 2020, but nowadays, you might be able to find it for a bit cheaper. If you want to save some extra bucks, you can also look for refurbished/renewed models.

Overall winner: Apple iPad Air (2022)

The 2022 iPad Air boasts various improvements over the 2020 iPad Air, and we can safely say that it’s a better device. You get better performance thanks to the M1 chipset, faster internet with 5G support (on the cellular version), and an improved selfie camera.

However, if you already own an iPad Air (2020), or manage to find it for a good discount, you don’t necessarily need to go for the newer iPad Air (2022). The older tablet still holds up as a powerful device overall, and it should do just fine for a couple of more years.

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