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(Pocket-lint) - At the Peek Performance event in March 2022, Apple announced a fifth-generation iPad Air, also called iPad Air (2022).

Here is how that tablet compares to the old version, the fourth-generation iPad Air (2020). We looked at their size, display, processor, connectivity, and more to see which one is worth your hard-earned cash.

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What's the same on the iPad Air models?

Dimensions 

The fifth-generation iPad Air only received new internal upgrades, which means there's nothing new about the outside of the tablet. It has the same general appearance, even the physical dimensions remain mostly the same.

Both the fourth and fifth-generation models measure 247.6mm tall and 178.5mm wide, and they each are just 6.1mm in thickness. Both Wi-Fi and cellular versions of the newer model are a gram heavier though. Still, you'd be hard-pressed to look at these and be able to tell the difference.

Display

The fourth-generation iPad Air (2020) and fifth-generation model (2022) both pack a 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display with LED backlighting.

The resolutions are also the same for both models (2360 x 1640 with a pixel density of 264ppi and a brightness at 500nits). Both also support True Tone for a more natural viewing experience.

Apple Pencil

As for the Apple Pencil, the second-generation stylus is supported on the new model as well as the last one.

Battery

The fourth-generation iPad Air (2020) and the fifth-generation iPad Air (2022) both use Apple's general tablet standard of up to 10 hours of web surfing on Wi-Fi or watching video.

Power is supplied via USB-C, and Apple includes a 20W USB-C power adapter for each.

Touch ID

Both models continue to use Touch ID for biometric security.

Smart Connector

Both models include Smart Connector, so they can take advantage of the Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio.

What's different on the iPad Air models?

Processor

The latest iPad Air is up to 60 per cent faster than the previous model and has twice the graphics due the M1 processor, according to Apple.

The latest iPad Air comes with the M1, the same desktop-class chip used in the iPad Pro range. It features an eight-core CPU, an 8-core GPU, and a 16-core "next-generation" Neural Engine.

The fourth-generation iPad Air (2020) uses the A14 Bionic, featuring a six-core CPU with two high-performance cores and four energy-efficient cores, a four-core Apple-designed GPU, and a 16-core Neural Engine. 

Cameras

Both rear cameras for the fourth-generation iPad Air (2020) and fifth-generation iPad Air (2022) have the same 12-megapixel wide camera - complete with an f/1.8 aperture, 5x digital zoom, and 4K60 video footage.

However, on the front, the 7-megapixel FaceTime HD camera has been replaced by a 12-megapixel Ultra-Wide version on the fifth-generation iPad Air (2022). As part of this upgrade, it also offers 2x zoom out. Better yet, the new camera supports Center Stage, so video calls and conferences can be more engaging. 

Connectivity

Both models have USB-C for physical connections such as video output to an external display and storage devices. Each tablet also supports Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0. The fifth-generation model introduces connectivity over 5G, although Apple specifies that the 5G support is for sub-6GHz bands, which have similar coverage to LTE.

On the new model, there is no support for mmWave - the most high-speed part of 5G.

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What colours are available for the iPad Air models?

Apple originally offered five colour options for the fourth-generation iPad Air (2020), though it is no longer available through Apple:

  • Space Grey
  • Silver
  • Rose Gold
  • Green
  • Sky Blue

Apple offers five colour options for the fifth-generation iPad Air (2022):

  • Space Grey
  • Starlight
  • Pink
  • Purple
  • Blue

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Conclusion

The fifth-generation iPad Air launched with an upgrade to M1 and 5G support, but it will be a tough sell for those who already own the fourth-generation model.

Sitting between the standard iPad and the iPad Pro, the new iPad Air has the same size and display as the previous model. But the massive processor and speed improvement, plus upgraded cameras, is plenty enough to woo would-be buyers.

Both are compelling tablets, but one is clearly far superior for basically the same price. 

Writing by Maggie Tillman. Editing by Britta O'Boyle.