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iPad Air 5th Gen vs 4th Gen (2022): Is It Time To Upgrade?

Looking at the iPad Air 5th Gen specs and design shows a nearly identical tablet to 2020’s iPad Air 4th Gen. However, under the hood are a couple of hardware upgrades that should lead to performance gains over previous Apple iPad Air iterations. Are these changes enough? Or are you still better off holding onto your 4th Gen? Below, we check out how the iPad Air 5 vs 4 comparison really plays out.

iPad Air 5th Gen vs 4th Gen Comparison Chart

ModeliPad Air 5th GenerationiPad Air 4th Generation
 
Price
Display10.9″ Liquid Retina display with True Tone10.9″ Liquid Retina display with True Tone
ChipsetApple M1Apple A14 Bionic
Capacity64GB, 256GB64GB, 256GB
RAM8GB4GB
Rear Camera12MP wide, ฦ’/1.8 aperture, 5x digital zoom12MP wide, ฦ’/1.8 aperture, 5x digital zoom
Front Camera12MP ultra wide, ฦ’/2.4 aperture, 2x zoom out12MP ultra wide, ฦ’/2.2 aperture
Center StageYesNo
Video Recording4K video recording at 24 fps, 25 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps

1080p HD video recording at 25 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps
4K video recording at 24 fps, 25 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps

1080p HD video recording at 60 fps
AudioTwo speakersTwo speakers
SecurityTouch IDTouch ID
ConnectivityWi-Fi, Wi-Fi + Cellular with support for 5GWi-Fi, Wi-Fi + Cellular
SensorsGyroscope, accelerometer, ambient light sensor, barometerGyroscope, accelerometer, ambient light sensor, barometer
Apple Pencil CompatibleYes, 2nd generationYes, 2nd generation
iPad Keyboard CompatibleYesYes
ColorsSpace Gray, Starlight, Pink, Purple, BlueSpace Gray, Silver, Rose Gold, Sky Blue, Green
Year Released20222020

Design

The Apple iPad Air 5th Gen is identical to the 4th Gen, save for the new color finishes.

iPad Air 5th Gen vs 4th Gen Design comparison
Here’s a look at the dimensions and weight of the iPad Air 5th Gen (left) and 4th Gen (right).

Despite the two-year wait, 2022’s iPad Air sports the same design as its predecessor. You’re still getting a sleek 9.74 x 7.02 x 0.24-inch tablet crafted from aluminum. Following Apple’s ethos, the iPad Air 5th Gen brandishes flat sides, uniform bezels, and rounded corners. If you’re looking at the tablets from the front, it’s hard to tell the difference between the 5th and 4th gen models.

Even the physical arrangement of the speakers, buttons, and ports are the same. Held in portrait mode, you’ll find the tablets’ dual-stereo speakers at the top and bottom. Meanwhile, the volume keys are still located on the right edge, along with the magnetic connector for the Apple Pencil and a Nano-SIM tray if you’re getting the cellular model.

At the base, both the iPad Air 5th Gen and 4th Gen feature a USB-C port and a smart connector for compatible iPad accessories. Because the dimensions are the same, your 4th Gen accessories will work with the latest iPad Air. Lastly, the power button at the top comes with an integrated Touch ID sensor.

In terms of colors, you can still choose from five different finishes. However, the iPad Air 5th Gen is available in bolder options, including Purple and a darker Blue that’s similar to the Sierra Blue of the iPhone 13 lineup.

Display and Camera

Although the iPad Air 5th Gen has the same display and rear camera as the 4th Gen, its front camera gets a bit of an upgrade, including support for Center Stage.

iPad Air 5th Gen vs 4th Gen Display
Both Apple iPad Air models feature a vivid display with True Tone.

The iPad Air 5th Gen and 4th Gen are equipped with 10.9-inch Liquid Retina displays. Both enjoy a 2360 x 1640p resolution at 264 ppi and 500 nits max brightness. They’re also fully laminated and fingerprint resistant, with an anti-reflective coating for improved readability.

Compared to the iPad Pro’s XDR display, the SDR brightness of the iPad Air is more modest. However, rival Samsung’s top-of-the-line Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra only comes in at 420 nits, so the mid-range Apple tablet already has a lot going. The only downside is that the new iPad Air’s refresh rate is still stuck at 60Hz.

Unlike its Pro sibling, the Apple iPad Air uses only a single rear camera. Like with the display, the 5th Gen follows the 4th Gen’s setup โ€” a 12MP wide lens with 5x digital zoom. Its 12MP ultra-wide selfie camera, however, gets a boost with the addition of 2x Zoom Out and support for Center Stage. The latest Apple iPad Air also boasts an extended dynamic range of up to 30 fps.

Performance and Hardware

Equipped with the M1 Chip, Apple’s new iPad Air delivers a 60% boost in performance over its predecessor.

iPad Air 5th Gen vs 4th Gen Performance and Hardware
Key features of the Apple iPad Air 5th Gen (left); a closer look at the 12MP rear camera on the 4th Gen model (right)

Where the leap happens between models is under the hood. Like most recent Apple launches, the iPad Air 2022 gets the new M1 chip. The chip comes with an 8-core CPU and GPU and a next-generation 16-core Neural Engine.

According to Apple, the M1 chip will deliver a 60% boost in performance and 2x faster graphics performance compared to the iPad Air 2020. If you like to run demanding apps and workflows, the 5th Gen is expected to deliver with a new level of efficiency. Multitasking should be more seamless, too, especially with the roll-out of iPadOS 15.

In terms of capacity, you’re looking at the same setup as 2020’s iPad Air. Both devices are available in 64GB and 256GB storage configurations. However, the new iPad Air has bumped its RAM to 8GB from 4GB on the 4th Gen model.

Battery, Connectivity, and Accessories

While battery life and accessories remain the same as the iPad Air 4th Gen, the 5th Gen does come with 5G connectivity.

iPad Air 5th Gen vs 4th Gen Battery, Connectivity, and Accessories
The Apple Pencil (left) and Magic Keyboard (right) are compatible with the iPad Air.

Although the iPad Air 5th Gen is powered by an M1 Chip, its battery life is the same as the 4th Gen’s. You can use the device for up to 10 hours surfing the web on Wi-Fi and 9 hours if you’re on a cellular data network. Of course, you can still get through a workday with some juice left. However, actual battery life will be lower when running more intensive applications.

You can get the new iPad Air in Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi + Cellular models. Like its predecessor, the 5th Gen supports dual-band Wi-Fi with speeds up to 1.2 Gbps. Following the iPad Mini 6th Gen, the iPad Air 5th Gen now comes with 5G connectivity, too. This should give it the edge over the 4th when it comes to download and upload speeds over cellular.

Of course, an iPad isn’t complete without its accessories. As mentioned in the design, both models have a magnetic connector for docking the Apple Pencil (2nd generation). The tablets are also compatible with Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio.

Verdict

If speedy performance is what you need from a tablet, get the Apple iPad Air 5th Gen with M1. For most people, however, the 4th Gen is still a capable device.

The iPad Air 5th Gen is the most advanced and powerful iPad Air today. While the design is identical to the 4th Gen, there are hardware upgrades that give the 5th Gen a boost in performance. Like Apple’s recent releases, the new tablet comes with the highly touted M1 chip and supports 5G connectivity. The 5th Gen also gets an upgraded front camera with Center Stage.

Still, 2020’s iPad Air 4th Gen remains a strong and affordable alternative. First, the 5th Gen essentially follows the design and form of the 4th Gen. The 2020 model also comes with a capable A14 Bionic chipset. It may not be as speedy as the M1, but you’re still getting a seamless performance. Battery life is the same as the 5th Gen, too.

If you already own a 4th Gen model, then the new iteration of the iPad Air may not be compelling enough to upgrade. However, if you’re looking to get your hands on your first iPad Air, the 5th Gen is the way to go.

FAQs

๐Ÿ“Œ What is the difference between the Apple iPad Air 5th Gen and 4th Gen?

The iPad Air 2022 (5th Gen) is powered by Apple’s M1 Chip, while the 4th Gen is equipped with the A14 Bionic chipset. Apple’s latest iPad Air comes with 5G connectivity, too.

๐Ÿ“Œ How much is the Apple iPad Air 5th Gen?

Apple’s iPad Air 5th Gen price starts at $599 for a Wi-Fi-only, 64GB model.

๐Ÿ“Œ Are the 4th Generation and 5th Generation iPad Air the same size?

Yes, the iPad Air 4th Gen and 5th Gen have the same dimensions. Accessories compatible with the 4th Gen will also work on the 5th Gen.

๐Ÿ“Œ Does the iPad Air 4 have Center Stage?

No, the iPad Air 4 does not have Center Stage.

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Mari Bassig

Senior Editor, writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, social media, and music.