Unchanged since the end of 2020, the Apple iPad Air is finally renewed. This fifth generation takes a lot from the old one, with one major change: like the iPad Pro, it now incorporates the M1 chip designed by the Apple brand.
A year and a half after the presentation of the renovated version of the iPad Air, Apple launches, alongside the iPhone SE 2022, its heir, soberly named iPad Air. The 2022 model does not revolutionize the proposal of the 2020 model. The only big change is on the inside, as Apple has decided to integrate the Apple M1 chip, the one used in computers and the recent iPad Pro; the promise of a burst of power in a much thinner and lighter device.
There's no revolution in terms of design and ergonomics on this 5th generation iPad Air, as Apple has redesigned the aesthetics of its tablet on its previous model. This is a very good thing, since this iPad Air keeps a design close to the one of the iPad Pro - with wider edges though. All in all, what we explained about the 2020 iPad Air still holds true.
Note the appearance of 5G connectivity this year, as well as a second-generation USB-C 3.2 port, which also acts as a DisplayPort. It's a shame, however, that the American firm didn't opt for a USB-C 4, as on the iPad Pro.
Still no 3.5 mm mini-jack plug on the Apple tablets, but very good speakers. There are two of them here and they deliver an excellent sound. Exactly as on the previous model. A consistency that we find on other points throughout this test.
Apple could have surprised us by offering a new screen technology for its new iPad, but it is not the case. This model 5 retains the LCD panel of its predecessor with its 60 Hz refresh rate and its definition of 2360 x 1640 pixels.
We keep repeating it, the displays of Apple products are very well calibrated by default. A chance, since it is impossible to change any setting. We found a color temperature of 6679 Kelvin and a Delta E of 1.3. Values more or less identical to those of the previous iPad Air.
The maximum brightness of our tablet is slightly up compared to its version 4, with a peak at 512 cd/m² (when Apple promises 500 cd/m²). At minimum, the screen can be lowered to 0.1 cd/m² by changing the white point in the accessibility settings. The reflectance rate is 24.3%, one of the lowest on a tablet. This is a very good point that improves its readability. The contrast ratio (1364:1) is almost identical to that of 2020. The touch delay is unchanged (47 ms), as well as the remanence time (15 ms).
It's in the performance that we find the main novelty this year. As with the 2021 iPad Pro, Apple is taking advantage of its range renewal to introduce its Apple M1 chip in this new iPad Air; the same SoC that appeared in the MacBook Pro and Air in late 2020. This gives a new dimension to the iPad Air 5 - even if we must admit that an Apple A15 chip would have been more than enough for this tablet. The amount of RAM has doubled this year, from 4 to 8 GB.
I don't need to tell you how powerful the M1 chip is. It has worked wonders in computers and in the iPad Pro. And it's still the case with our iPad Air 5. Apple takes advantage of this to allow even more uses, thanks to new applications like SketchUp for 3D modeling, for example. Software that runs without any slowdown and, above all, without overheating the device. The iPad Air 5 becomes a perfectly feasible tool for the most creative minds, using heavy applications like Lightroom, Photoshop, or even ProCreate, and which allows you to use more layers on your projects thanks to the M1.
The tablet is also quite nice to play with. Obviously, the power of its Apple M1 chip allows you to run any title available on the App Store, whether it's Genshin Impact or Divinity Orignal Sin 2. Two very resource-intensive games, and they don't manage to catch the tablet off guard.
The photo section does not change from last year. Apple keeps the one and only wide-angle module with a definition of 12 megapixels.
Compared to the previous model, we note a nice improvement in the quality of day and night photos. The daytime image is better exposed, the rendering of colors more natural and more pleasant. And especially, the sharpness is much better.
Compared to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+, the iPad Air 5 offers a slightly higher-contrast shot as well as a better-managed exposure. The Korean model is nevertheless a little more detailed. Here, your choice will mainly be based on your preference in terms of image rendering.
In low light, however, the Samsung tablet does better. The digital noise present on the iPad Air 5 photo is not present on the S8+. The image is a little smoother and lacks contrast, but the final result is above what the iPad Air can produce.
The iPad Air 5 swaps the 7-megapixel sensor with a wide-angle lens from its predecessor for a 12-megapixel front-facing sensor with an ultra-wide angle lens. This allows Apple to offer Center Stage on its device, on the iPad Pro and the latest iPad Mini. With this feature, the tablet tracks your face when you're FaceTime or video conferencing, so you always look good in front of the other person.
The quality of selfies has not really changed. The shots are good, but the camera will be used mainly for video, so don't expect wonders, especially when the lighting is poor. For video, the iPad Air 5 can shoot up to 4K at 60 fps with its rear module. On the front, it will be limited to 1080p, at 60 fps all the same.
The new Apple tablet has the same battery capacity as its predecessor. The usual promise of the American company is 10 hours of autonomy, since the very first iPad. Not surprisingly, the 5th generation iPad Air doesn't change this and, according to our protocol, still achieves 15 hours and 02 minutes of autonomy. This is very close to what we found with the iPad Air 4 and the iPad Pro 11" of 2021.
But if the tablet holds the charge for a long time, the recharging is still slow at Apple. It does not exceed 20 W with the block provided, which means that you have to wait about 2 hours to reach 100%; which, you will agree, is quite long.
Interface and OS
The iPad Air is the first Apple product to be released with iPadOS 15.4, the latest version of the American company's operating system. The latter brings two new features:
The first is called Universal Control and allows, thanks to Continuity, you to use a mouse or keyboard on all your devices simultaneously. This works in the same way as with your AirPods, when they automatically change the audio source depending on the device you are on. Also, Universal Control lets you drag and drop between your Mac and your iPad, and vice versa.
The second new feature is a small change to the volume controls. Both buttons now adapt to the way you hold your iPad. If you hold it horizontally, the volume will be raised with the button on the left and lowered with the one on the right. It was the opposite before.
When the iPad Air 4 was released, we wondered if the 11-inch iPad Pro still had a place in Apple's catalog. This question is even more relevant this year with the 5th generation iPad Air. The Apple M1 chip alone is a strong argument when choosing a high-end tablet. And by integrating it into the Air lineup, Apple is making a big splash. Unless you swear by the 120Hz ProMotion technology on the iPad Pro, this iPad Air 5 is an excellent choice, even more so if you don't need more than 64GB of storage.