Skip to main content

iPad Air 5: All the power, none of the storage

The new iPad Air is powered by the same in-house M1 chip that powers the iPad Pro, MacBook Air, Mac Mini, and 13-inch MacBook Pro — making it on par with some of the most powerful machines for creatives in the field. But does it make the base iPad Air 5 a good alternative if you are getting started as a creator and want to edit images or videos in the creative suite of Apple or Adobe apps? If your answer is yes, you might want to re-think your decision, here’s why.

The storage conundrum

A top-down view of 2022 Apple iPad Apple showing the Apple M1 graphic on the screen. Two hands flank the iPad, with the left hand holding an Apple pencil.

Apple introduced the M1 chip on the MacBook Air and bumped the base storage from 128GB to 256GB. It approached the iPad Pro series in the same way. The iPad Pro now starts at 128GB instead of 64GB and goes up to 2TB of storage. Apple knows to make the most of the M1 chip, having plenty of storage is a must.

Related Videos

On the other hand, the iPad Air 5 is still stuck with 64GB of storage on the base model, which costs $599. it might be attractive to creative professionals getting started in the field or someone looking for a cheap iPad Pro alternative, but I suggest you don’t go for the base variant.

If you are a creative who is editing images in Photoshop with several layers or creating something in Procreate, 64GB is not going to be enough for your use case. More so if you are editing videos in Final Cut Pro X or Premiere Pro.

For instance, a 10 minute 4K video with a few layers can go up to 10GB. That means you’ll be able to store a maximum of four fully edited videos on the base iPad Air 5 (assuming you also need storage for the apps). You are likely not going to be able to work on several projects without the dongles and external storage if you opt for the 64GB option.

The 256GB variant is the way to go

As in past years, Apple has decided to skip the most popular storage variant on the iPad Air — there is no 128GB option. And the 256GB variant costs $150 more than the 64GB model, setting you back $749. A 128GB model at $674 would have made so much more sense. As things stand, you have two options, get 64GB storage for $599 or the 256GB variant for $749.

You are going to find yourself at an awkward spot if you choose to go with the 64GB iPad Air 5 variant for work that would make the most of that new M1 chip. If you are telling yourself that 64GB is going to be enough for you, then you are likely not going to make use of the M1 processor.

What are the options?

Six Apple iPad Air 5s fanned out in a circle, showing off the various colors of the chassis.

If you are a creative who is looking to make the most of the M1 processor and don’t want to go with the iPad Pro, we strongly recommend you go with the 256GB iPad Air 5. The 64GB model will just won’t make the cut for you.

If you are someone who thinks 64GB is going to be enough, believe me, you are never going to make use of that firepower on the new chipset. You are better off buying the iPad mini or the base iPad with 64GB storage and saving some bucks for consuming media.

If you want your iPad to unlock as soon as you look at it after picking it up, without reaching for the power button, the 11-inch iPad Pro with Face ID is your best bet. It will cost you an extra $50 (though you can often find it on sale) and you’ll get 128GB of storage compared to the $749 iPad Air 5 with 256GB.

Who should buy the 64GB iPad Air 5?

You can go with the iPad Air 5 if:

  • You have $599 and need a bigger display than the iPad mini to use your device for entertainment purposes/consuming media, researching stuff
  • You are really uncomfortable with the design language of the base iPad and need thin bezels with Touch ID in the power button

Put simply, there is no reason to go with the 64GB iPad Air 5 variant purely on the basis of the M1 chip. The storage will either be too little to make use of all the power, or you don’t need that M1 chip and will be well-served by the A-series processors on the base iPad or the iPad mini.

Editors' Recommendations

The iPad is no laptop, but this neat software trick brings it close
The iPad (2022) in its Magic Keyboard Folio accessory.

The 10th Gen iPad is no longer just the iPad. It is now an expensive Apple tablet with loads of power under the hood and some bold computing dreams. Bold, because those computing accessories don’t come cheap, and neither does the tablet itself. Plus, a bunch of cool capabilities like Stage Manager are exclusive to the iPads with the M-series processors, because Apple says the A14 Bionic is not powerful enough.
I somewhat disagree, but that’s a debate for another day. If you bit the Apple this holiday season and purchased an iPad, with all those keyboard and stylus accessories, you better push the machine to its computing limits.

But is iPadOS 16 any good at computing? Well, it depends on whether the apps you need are native to iPadOS. For a blogger like me, Chrome and a free image-editing app are all I need. My iPad can absolutely crush it all. But there’s more to the iPad’s computing chops than a few dozen Chrome browsers, a sketching or drawing app, heavy emailing, or any such web-based task.

Read more
5 ways Apple needs to turbocharge the next iPad Pro
The iPad Pro (2022) sitting in the Magic Keyboard.

The 2022 iPad Pro is quite a fascinating device. It’s got more firepower than a majority of Apple’s own computers. It offers arguably the best stylus experience of any mainstream tablet. The build quality is amazing, the screen is stunning, and the keyboard is fantastic.

Yet, I haven’t met a single person who can wholeheartedly recommend this tablet, especially after looking at the price tag. But that’s not the only reason to avoid dropping north of a thousand dollars on this sleek machine. Yes, the M2 chip inside the 2022 iPad Pro breathes fire, and Apple also claims some notable on-paper improvements.

Read more
Tablets at CES 2023 are beating the iPad in big and unexpected ways
Holding the Lenovo Smart Paper.

CES 2023 happened this week, and it’s usually when we see a bunch of interesting new tech — like Withing’s new health tracker that you pee on, and L’Oreal’s eyebrow printer for your face. Tablets aren’t a huge part of the show, but we still got some interesting options coming from TCL and Lenovo later this year.

Though Apple’s iPad is still the dominant choice in the tablet market, some of the coolest tablets at CES 2023 offer something that Apple doesn’t yet make itself. And that got me thinking; perhaps it’s time for Apple to consider branching out with its tablet lineup to do something new.
Paper-like displays are the way to go

Read more