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iPad Air (2024) vs. iPad Air (2022): What’s actually different?

Renders of the iPad Air (2024) and iPad Air (2022) next to each other.
The 2024 iPad Air (left) and 2022 iPad Air Digital Trends

Apple recently introduced the new iPad Air 2024 after skipping over it for two years. While the new iPad Pro models, which are slimmer and lighter, make the Air terminology less impactful, Apple is upgrading the 2024 iPad Air with an M2 chip and adding a larger 13-inch model, largely limiting the improvements to the innards.

Even though it is no longer the lightest large iPad, the iPad Air is still the best alternative to an iPad Pro. More importantly, it is still the better value for the money at $599 despite some less-pleasing (but acceptable) aesthetics than the new Pro models. Meanwhile, Apple has nuked the 2022 iPad Air, but you can still find it in stock at third-party retailers.

So, whether you are already using the 2022 iPad Air and are considering upgrading to the 2024 model or are just looking to buy the new iPad Air with M2 silicon, we will compare the two and help you decide which is better for you.

iPad Air (2024) vs. iPad Air (2022): specs

iPad Air (2024) iPad Air (2022)
  • 11-inch: 9.75 x 7.03 x 0.24 inches
  • 13-inch: 11.05 x 8.46 x 0.24 inches
9.75 x 7.03 x 0.24 inches
  • 11-inch: 462g (16.3 oz)
  • 13-inch: 618g (21.8 oz)
462g (16.3 oz)
Screen 11-inch: 2360 x 1640 pixels, 500 nits | 13-inch: 2732 x 2048 pixels, 600 nits 2360 x 1640 pixels, 500 nits
Operating system iPadOS 17 iPadOS 17 (launched with iPadOS 15)
  • 128GB
  • 256GB
  • 512GB
  • 1TB
  • 64GB
  • 256GB
Processor Apple M2
  • Octa-core CPU
  • 10-core GPU
Apple M1
  • Octa-core CPU
  • Octa-core GPU
  • Rear: 12MP, f/1.8, 1/3.0-inch
  • Front: 12MP, f/2.4, 122° wide FOV
  • Rear: 12MP, f/1.8, 1/3.0-inch
  • Front: 12MP, f/2.4, 122° wide FOV
  • Rear: Up to 4K 60fps, Slow-motion at 240fps
  • Front: Up to 1080p 60fps
  • Rear: Up to 4K 60fps, Slow-motion at 240fps
  • Front: Up to 1080p 60fps
  • Wi-Fi 6E
  • Bluetooth 5.3
  • 5G on cellular models
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • 5G on cellular models
Ports USB Type-C 3.1 Gen2 with DisplayPort support USB Type-C 3.1 Gen2 with DisplayPort support
  • 11-inch: 28.9Wh
  • 13-inch: 36.6Wh
Colors Space Gray, Starlight, Purple, Blue Space Gray, Starlight, Pink, Purple, Blue
  • 11-inch: $599
  • 13-inch: $799

iPad Air (2024) vs. iPad Air (2022): design

11-inch and 13-inch iPad Air 2024 M2 in blue color.

The 11-inch 2024 iPad Air is largely the same as the 2022 model in terms of design, with identical dimensions, weights, and displays. You wouldn’t be able to place the two apart without looking at one key aspect: the placement of the front-facing camera, which is now located along the longer edge on the 2024 model. The purpose of the new camera placement? To rectify warping and show a more balanced view in video calls.

To sprinkle some novelty over the design, Apple adds a larger model with a 13-inch display. This is not simply scaled out, but comes with different dimensions and aspect ratios. It features a wider display with a 4:3 aspect ratio, presumably to accommodate more text in the first fold while using the iPad Air in landscape orientation.

iPad Air 2024 color options.

Besides these subtle changes, there aren’t many differences to spot compared to the 2022 iPad Air. Alas, if you liked the pink color, you’ll be disappointed that Apple has discontinued it. The other options — Space Gray, Starlight, Purple, Blue — remain, but the saturation has been toned down in line with the muted iPhone 15 colors from last year. The application of aluminum for the back hasn’t changed either.

iPad Air (2024) vs. iPad Air (2022): display

Video playing on the iPad Air 5.
Andy Boxall / .Digital Trends

Like the design, Apple isn’t bringing any changes to the display on the 11-inch iPad Air. The 11-inch iPad Air (2024) has meager and ignorable differences from the 2022 model and nothing that will stand out. The large bezels around the LCD can still feel like an eyesore, but Apple remains unapologetic about them.

Meanwhile, the 13-inch iPad Air gets a 2732 x 2048 pixel LCD with 20% higher brightness than its smaller sibling. As mentioned above, this display has a broader layout than the 11-inch model, suggesting Apple expects you to use the bigger iPad Air more like a laptop and less like a tablet.

Displays of the 11-inch and 13-inch iPad Air 2024 M2 in blue color.

Apple could have upgraded the display to support a 120Hz refresh rate with ProMotion, but continues to use the same 60Hz displays as earlier. It would probably boost sales if Apple added a mini-LED display option to the iPad Air 2024 for better colors and contrast, but it hasn’t.

Apple says that both the 11-inch and 13-inch iPad Air models feature anti-reflective coating over the display, which improves visibility. However, it doesn’t mention the paper-like matte coating introduced on the latest Pro models (only on the top-end variants).

iPad Air (2024) vs. iPad Air (2022): performance

Person using 2024 iPad Air 13-inch with Apple Pencil Pro.

The most prominent change on the 2024 iPad Air compared to the 2022 model is the new M2 chip inside. The M2 chip inside the 2024 iPad Air models is the same we have seen on the iPad Pro (2022), as well as other Mac models.

Unlike Apple’s M3 and the M4 silicon, which are built on more efficient 3-nanometer nodes, the M2 still relies on a 5nm process. This makes it slightly less power-efficient than the newer chips. According to Apple’s original announcement of the M2 iPad Pro, the CPU is 15% faster than the eight-core CPU on the M1.

The GPU has 10 cores instead of eight on the M1 chip, which results in a 35% faster graphics performance.

Gaming on the iPad Air 2024 M2.

The M2 also features an incredibly powerful Neural Engine with 16 cores capable of 16 trillion operations per second (TOPS). Although it is still slower than the 38 TOPS of the new M4 silicon, it will still prove immensely useful for AI applications that Apple plans to build natively into iOS and iPadOS 18. These capabilities will be showcased at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) next month.

Another significant improvement is the available storage options on the iPad Air (2024), with the base variant now elevated to 128GB and options going up to a whopping 1TB. The RAM, however, remained untouched at 8GB and is consistent across all models. That differs from the new iPad Pro, which has different CPU configurations and RAM based on the storage options.

It’s a shame Apple didn’t upgrade the iPad Air to the M3 instead. This suggests that the chip, which Apple replaced after only six months, was either not optimized for the iPad or had issues the company doesn’t want to discuss publicly.

An official photo of the 2024 iPad Air.

For creatives who like to draw on the iPad, the new iPad Air (2024) has been upgraded to support the new Apple Pencil Pro with the squeeze gesture. It also supports the more affordable Apple Pencil, which charges using USB-C (instead of the earlier Lighting connecter) rather than connecting magnetically to the iPad Air.

If you plan to use the iPad Air as a computer, you will have to resort to using the first-gen Magic Keyboard folio case instead of the new one, which appears to be exclusive to the iPad Pro at the moment.

Lastly, as part of the upgrade to the M2, the iPad Air (2024) also gets support for faster Wi-Fi 6E and more reliable Bluetooth 5.3, while the cellular models continue to support 5G via an eSIM.

iPad Air (2024) vs. iPad Air (2022): battery and charging

13-inch iPad Air 2024 in blue color.

Like many other aspects, the battery capacity on the 11-inch 2024 iPad Air remains unchanged compared to the 2022 model. It still features a 28.6-watt-hour battery (which roughly translates to 7,700mAh). Meanwhile, the larger 13-inch iPad Air features a 36.6Wh battery (almost 9,900mAh).

Apple does not explicitly mention charging speeds, but they are likely to have remained unchanged, too. The previous iPad Air charged at 32W via the USB-C cable, and this is what we expect the 2024 models to maintain at the least. We will report any changes or anomalies we encounter while reviewing the iPad Air.

As per Apple, the battery on all of these models is good enough to last for 10 hours of video playback, presumably at middling brightness and using Wi-Fi instead of 5G.

iPad Air (2024) vs. iPad Air (2022): cameras

Camera module on the iPad Air 5.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The 2024 iPad Air continues to use the same 12MP cameras on the front and the rear. The rear camera lacks any Time of Flight (ToF) or wide-angle sensor seen on the iPad Pro, while the front camera comes with Face ID. Even without these sensors, you can still enjoy augmented reality experiences such as face filters with these cameras.

The only change, as we mentioned above, is the location of the front camera, which now allows for a horizontally symmetric image in video calls.

iPad Air (2024) vs. iPad Air (2022): software and updates

iPad Air 5 logo.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

In terms of software, both the iPad Air (2024) and the older iPad Air (2022) are identical, and Apple does not appear to reserve any features exclusively for the M2 chip. Currently, both run iPadOS 17 and should be eligible for the next few years of updates.

However, the iPad Air (2024) will receive two more years of iOS updates than the 2022 model.

iPad Air (2024) vs. iPad Air (2022): price and availability

An official photo of the 2024 iPad Air.

The 11-inch iPad Air (2024) is priced at $599, while the 13-inch iPad Air (2024) will sell for $799. These are up for preorder now across major online and offline retailers other than Apple’s own web store and will start shipping on May 15.

Meanwhile, the 2022 iPad Air has been officially discontinued, but you can still find pending stock on Amazon and other third-party retailers. The , although the prices might change based on stock and demand.

iPad Air (2024) vs. iPad Air (2022): verdict

The back of the iPad Air 5.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The iPad Air (2024) and the iPad Air (2022) are nearly identical, and the only reason for you to upgrade if you already have the 2022 model is for teh additional storage space or the larger 13-inch display. The slight performance bump that the M2 offers over the M1 is not a deal breaker, especially since the M1 itself is a fairly capable chipset. For a noticeable upgrade, you need to buy the M4 iPad Pro — but some of its features may be overkill for average users.

If you have been using an older iPad Air or any other model without the M-series chips, you would greatly benefit from the increase in performance. However, if you just fancy an iPad that doesn’t feel outdated, the 2022 iPad Air will satisfy most of your requirements.

You might also be able to grab an attractive deal with the 2022 iPad Pro, which features a superior display, better cameras, and the same powerful M2 chip. However, note that it won’t support the new Apple Pencil Pro if that is something you are looking to use to enhance your workflow.

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Tushar Mehta
Tushar has a passion for consumer tech and likes to tinker with smartphones, laptops, wearables, smart home devices, and…
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