Should I buy the new iPad Air 2022?

We explore the pros and cons of buying Apple's most powerful Air to date

iPad Air (2022)
(Image credit: Apple)

The iPad Air 2022 is a bit of a beast. It has the same M1 processor as the entry-level MacBook Pro and the most expensive MacBook Air, you can buy one with an integrated 5G radio and it comes in lots of nice colours. It's the best, most powerful and most useful iPad Air yet. 

In our iPad Air 5 vs iPad Pro 11-inch comparison, we discovered that the new iPad Air 2022 is the better buy for most people: the iPad Pro is a brilliant tablet, but it's overkill for the vast majority of us. But does that mean you should rush out and buy the new Air? The short answer: that depends.

The longer answer? Here are the reasons to buy it, and the reasons not to.

Why you should buy the iPad Air 2022

It's ridiculously powerful. The new iPad Air has the same M1 processor that powers the iPad Pro, the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) and the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020). With 8 processor cores, 8 GPU cores and 8GB of RAM the new iPad Air can handle even the toughest tasks.

It's incredibly portable. The iPad Air is very light, and as someone who has the fourth-generation model I can testify to its portability: it's eminently chuckable, fits in even very modest bags and is just the right size for using when you're short of space.

It's got a vastly improved front camera, which delivers Centre Stage for better video conferencing.

It's available with 5G, and it also has Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0.

And it can also be a genuine laptop alternative if you add a keyboard cover. You can also use it as an external display with one of the best monitors, and thanks to Universal Control (added today) you can control it with the same input devices as your Mac. As before you can also use it as a second display for your Mac too.

Why you shouldn't buy the iPad Air 2022

It's overkill for most. The M1 processor in the iPad Air 5 is a heavyweight processor that delivers more power than most apps know what to do with, and unless you're doing really demanding stuff like video editing you're effectively paying for power you won't be using.

It's no Pro. The iPad Pro's USB-C port is also a Thunderbolt port for high-speed devices, and the Pro's display is smoother thanks to its ProMotion technology, brighter and slightly higher resolution. It's also much nicer to draw on with the Apple Pencil. 

It gets expensive. That Magic Keyboard that looks so nice in the press pics is £279/AU$549, and if you want to up the base storage from 64GB to 256GB – the only other storage option – or get the 5G model the price of your iPad goes up by a fifth. A fully specced iPad Air is only slightly cheaper than the MacBook Air.

The base iPad is really good. As we point out in our best iPad guide, that iPad works with the Apple Pencil (the cheaper first-generation one) and external keyboards, runs impressively smoothly and costs a lot less. And it does the same Universal Control, Centre Stage and second display features as the iPad Air.

I think that if I were in the market for a new tablet, the Air is the one I'd want – but if my budget dictated a more modest option, I'd be quite happy with the entry-level iPad too. As a fourth-generation iPad Air 2020 owner I don't really think there's a compelling reason to upgrade unless you really, really need that M1 power, but if you're moving up from an older iPad or Air then the improvements it delivers will knock your socks off.

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written thirteen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote another seven books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com).