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Apple supercharges the iPad Air 5 with an M1 chip and 5G

Apple finally announced the iPad Air (5th generation) at its Peek Performance virtual event today. Arriving alongside the iPhone SE (2022), this iPad represents Apple’s first upgrade to the midrange iPad since 2020.

It’s not just a small update with new color choices, Apple is also adding in some substantial improvements that will see users gaining a better day-to-day experience.

The new iPad Air in all its colors at Apple's Peek Performance event.

Design-wise, There’s little to differentiate this visually other than color. Apple has perfected the iPad Air’s look, with few changes coming down the line this year. It’s an iPad, and it looks like one. There’s little on the front other than its 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display, and the back is similarly clean aside from the Apple logo and camera setup.

There is no notch here — instead, Apple continues to use Touch ID integrated into the power button on its iPads, and the new Air isn’t deviating from that formula.

A man stand on the stage at Apple's Peek Performance event, with an M1 logo behind him.

Enough about what’s the same,  let’s talk more about what is different. This new iPad Air is a lot more powerful inside. The company is equipping this device with the same M1 chip you’ll find in the iPad Pro. This means that you’ll find little in the App Store that the iPad can’t handle with aplomb.

Apple is also powering up the front-facing camera with a 12MP ultrawide camera (the same from the newest iPad Mini that brings Center Stage functionality). If you’re using your iPad to take Zoom, Teams, or Facetime calls, it’s going to get so much better.

Apple is also bringing 5G to the iPad Air line. It came to the iPad Pro with the 2021 models, and the company’s now making its most portable iPad even more portable for those who want it for work on the go. You’ll need to pay the cellular premium of course, but that’s usually been the case.

Finally, Apple is adding a few little extras. There’s compatibility for the second-generation Apple Pencil, as well as a new iMovie release to take advantage of the more powerful processor.

The new iPad Air will be available in space gray, starlight, pink, purple, and a new blue shade. It’ll start from $599 for the 64GB model, with a 256GB model also available. It will be available for pre-order as of Friday, and the company will ship it starting March 18.

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Michael Allison
A UK-based tech journalist for Digital Trends, helping keep track and make sense of the fast-paced world of tech with a…
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