306 'iPad Air' stories
October 2013 - April 2022
The iPad Air is “the default iPad” – the one you should buy if you’re not sure which model you need. When compared to all other iPads, this one has the Pro’s power – and chip – while costing less and keeping Touch ID.
Table of contents
The iPad Air was first introduced in 2013. With a 9.7-inch display, it was really thin and light, weighing only 469 grams – over 25% lighter than its respective predecessor, the iPad 4.
When the iPad Air 2 was announced, a year later in 2014, Apple could deliver a thinner and faster tablet than its predecessor, weighing only 437 grams. The second-generation iPad was sold until March of 2017. Although it was a great tablet, Apple was focusing on the regular model and the Pro at the time.
Surprisingly in 2019, the company introduced the third-generation iPad Air, this time with a 10.5-inch Retina display, support for the first-generation Apple Pencil, and an upgraded Apple A12 Bionic chip.
With the fourth-generation iPad Air being introduced in October of 2020, Apple finally gave this iPad a fresh look, with a bezel-less design, and a five-color option, while being the first product with the A14 chip and integrating the Touch ID sensor on the Side Button. This iPad generation also lacks the headphone jack and supports the second-generation Apple Pencil and the Magic Keyboard, previously exclusive to the iPad Pro line.
In March of 2022, Apple unveiled its fifth-generation iPad Air. This tablet got new color options, the M1 chip from the iPad Pro and new Macs, as well as a faster USB-C port. The iPad Air 5 is the latest tablet from Apple to add Center Stage support and, alongside the iPad Pro and iPad mini, it finally brings 5G to its Cellular version.
iPad Air Specs
The fifth-generation iPad Air has a 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display, with a bezel-less design. This iPad comes in five different colors: Space Gray, Pink, Purple, Blue, and Starlight. With the M1 chip, this tablet gets closer to the iPad Pro in power performance.
As it did with the previous model, Apple moved the Touch ID from the Home Button to the Side Button. Still, this tablet doesn’t feature a ProMotion display or camera flash.
Talking about the camera, it has a 12MP sensor, with ƒ/1.8 aperture, Smart HDR support, 1080p 30fps video recording, video stabilization, and more. The front camera has been revamped with an Ultra-Wide lens with 12MP that supports the Center Stage feature.
This iPad comes with 64GB or 256GB storage options and Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + Cellular versions. The fifth-generation iPad Air also has support for the second-generation Apple Pencil and the Magic Keyboard.
Accessories: Magic Keyboard and second-generation Apple Pencil
Following along with its previous model, the iPad Air 5 works with Magic Keyboard and second-generation Apple Pencil. These two accessories help this tablet feel more “Pro” than the iPad mini or even the base model iPad.
The Magic Keyboard is available in black and white and features a great typing experience, a trackpad that opens up new ways to work with iPadOS, a USB‑C port for pass-through charging, and front and back protection. The Magic Keyboard has a floating cantilever design, allowing you to attach the iPad Air magnetically and smoothly adjust it to the perfect viewing angle for you.
- Comfortable backlit keys and a scissor mechanism with 1 mm travel for quiet, responsive typing.
- Designed for Multi‑Touch gestures and the cursor in iPadOS.
- Smooth angle adjustability delivers the perfect viewing angle.
- USB-C port for charging iPad Pro and iPad Air, freeing up the port on the iPad for other accessories.
- Folds into a case to provide front and back protection.
The second-generation Apple Pencil delivers pixel-perfect precision and industry-leading low latency, making it great for drawing, sketching, coloring, taking notes, marking up PDFs, and more. It features a flat edge that attaches magnetically for automatic charging and pairing on the iPad Air.
iPadOS 15 features
The fifth-generation iPad Air features iPadOS 15. Previewed during the WWDC21 keynote, the operating system brings a redesigned Home Screen with widgets and App Library support.
On iPadOS 15, FaceTime group calls can finally appear in a grid, so it’s easier to see everyone. It’s also possible to share your screen, listen to Apple Music songs together, or watch Apple TV+, HBO Max, Disney+, and others while in a call.
In the productivity section, Apple, unfortunately, didn’t bring all the features pro users wanted to take full advantage of their new M1 iPad Pro, even though Apple made it easier to rely on multitasking features.
There’s a new multitasking menu on the top of the screen. When you click there, it’s possible to see what configurations you can use on Split View or just go to Slide Over with just a tap.
The experience with an external keyboard allows users to get more done with all-new keyboard shortcuts and a redesign of the menu bar.
With Universal Control, which will later be available on the Mac, it’ll be possible to arrange the devices together and use the same mouse and keyboard on multiple Apple devices.
With the Quick Note feature, users can use the Apple Pencil to add a quick note. They just need to slide the pencil through the bottom right corner to the center of the screen and start writing.
iPadOS 15.1 features
One month after releasing iPadOS 15, Apple released iPadOS 15.1 More notable, the company finally brought SharePlay support for the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. Unfortunately, Universal Control wasn’t one of the features added with this new version. Here’s what else is new:
- Mandarin Chinese (Taiwan) support in the Translate app and for system-wide translation
- New automation triggers based on the current reading of a HomeKit-enabled humidity, air quality, or light level sensor
- New pre-built actions let you overlay text on images or gifs, plus a new collection of games lets you pass the time with Siri
iPadOS 15.2 features
Five weeks after releasing iPadOS 15.1, Apple is releasing iPadOS 15.2. It brings more features that were expected to launch alongside iPadOS 15. Here are the top features of this version:
- Apple Music Voice Plan is a new subscription tier that gives you access to all songs, playlists, and stations in Apple Music using Siri
- App Privacy Report in Settings lets you see how often apps have accessed your location, photos, camera, microphone, contacts, and more during the last seven days, as well as their network activity
- Communication safety setting gives parents the ability to enable warnings for children when they receive or send photos that contain nudity
- Digital Legacy allows you to designate people as Legacy Contacts so they can access your iCloud account and personal information in the event of your death
- Apple TV app: Store tab lets you browse, buy, and rent movies and TV Shows all in one place
iPadOS 15.3 features
Six weeks after releasing iPadOS 15.2, Apple is releasing iPadOS 15.3. This update foregoes new features in favor of under-the-hood bug fixes and improvements. One of the most notable changes here is a fix for a Safari vulnerability that may have been leaking your browsing history and Google ID data to the websites you visited.
iPadOS 15.4 features
iPadOS 15.4 finally brings one of the most important features expected from iPadOS 15 and that got delayed: Universal Control. Here’s everything new with iPadOS 15.4:
- Universal Control: This feature allows you to control your Mac and iPad using the same keyboard and mouse/trackpad. Universal Control needs iPadOS 15.4 and macOS Monterey 12.3;
- New Siri voice: Siri has a fifth American voice. Apple says a member of the LGBTQ+ community recorded the voice and it’s non-binary;
- More emoji: iPadOS 15.4 also brings new emojis. You can discover all of the new characters here;
- Shortcuts automation: Adds support for running Personal Automations in the background without requiring a pesky banner notification.
iPadOS 15.5 features
Different from other software updates, iPadOS 15.5 only improves the Podcast app experience, as Apple focused on Wallet changes for the iPhone this time:
- Apple Podcasts includes a new setting to limit episodes stored on your iPhone and automatically delete older ones
iPadOS 15.6 features
iPadOS 15.6 is yet another small update for iPad users. Here’s what’s news:
- TV app adds the option to restart a live sports game already in progress and pause, rewind, or fast-forward.
- Fixes an issue where Settings may continue to display that device storage is full even if it is available.
- Fixes an issue that may cause Braille devices to slow down or stop responding when navigating text in Mail.
- Fixes an issue in Safari where a tab may revert to a previous page.
iPadOS 15.7 features
Apple released iPadOS 15.7 with bug fixes while the company readies iPadOS 16.
iPad Air (2022) pricing starts at $599 for the 64GB storage option with Wi-Fi only. The prices can go up to $879 with the 256GB storage option and Wi-Fi + Cellular. Here are the full prices of the fifth-generation AIr Apple sells:
- 64GB with Wi-Fi: $599
- 64GB with Wi-Fi + Cellular: $729
- 256GB with Wi-Fi: $749
- 256GB with Wi-Fi + Cellular: $899
Lower prices may be available from Apple’s official Amazon store.
iPad Air Review
In our video review of the fourth-generation iPad Air, we described it as the “default iPad to buy:”
Overall the iPad Air is a great tablet on its own. I still think anyone looking to get a new iPad for school and productivity would probably be better off with an iPad Pro, especially if you’re going to get the pencil and the keyboard. An Air 4 with a keyboard and pencil is about $200 less than what it would be for a Pro with the keyboard and pencil. And so you must decide whether the extra features you get with the iPad Pro are worth the extra $200. If not, then the Air 4 is a great steal.
As soon as we review the newest iPad Air 5, we’ll update this section.
Apple just released iPad Air 5. For a future update, some rumors believe Apple will bet on an OLED display for the tablet instead of an LCD panel.