iPad Air 5 (2022) vs iPad Air 4 (2020): Is It Worth The Upgrade?

There are numerous reasons to upgrade to the most recent iPad Air, including its M1 processor and 5G compatibility, but you should consider the one argument for sticking with the 2020 model first.

The iPad Air 5 was unveiled at Apple’s Peek Performance event in March 2022. The new slate resembles its predecessor, the iPad Air 4 (2020), and shares many of its features. The biggest difference between the two slates is that the 2022 iteration is powered by the powerful M1 chip, making it the second tablet to ship with M1 power (after Apple’s iPad Pro 2021). But is that enough to change the game?

The fifth generation of Apple’s lightweight and ultra-portable tablet lineup is represented by the latest iPad Air. From the outside, the 2022 entry resembles its 2020 predecessor, the iPad Air 4. I wouldn’t blame you if you mistook one generation for the other, from the thin, symmetrical bezels to the 10.9-inch display to the cool-to-the-touch aluminum body.

The differences between the iPad Air 5 and the iPad Air 4 will be discussed in this article. Is it necessary to upgrade to the new one, or is the 2020 Air still adequate? Continue reading to find out.

iPad Air 5 vs iPad Air 4 – Specifications

iPad Air (5th Gen, 2022) iPad Air (4th Gen, 2020)
Base price $599 $599
Screen Size (inches) 10.9 10.9
Resolution 2,360 x 1,640 2,360 x 1,640
Pixel Density (dpi) 264 264
Brightness (nits) 500 500
Display Type Liquid Retina,
True Tone,
Wide Color (P3),
Fully Laminated
Liquid Retina,
True Tone,
Wide Color (P3),
Fully Laminated
Processor M1 A14 Bionic
Apple Pencil Second Generation Second Generation
Smart Connector Yes Yes
Dimensions (inches) 9.74 x 7 x 0.24 9.74 x 7 x 0.24
Weight (lbs) 1.02 1
Capacities 64GB,
256GB
64GB,
256GB
Rear camera (megapixels) 12 12
Front camera (megapixels) 12 7
Video recording 4K 24/30/60fps,
1080p 240fps Slo-mo
4K 24/30/60fps,
1080p 240fps Slo-mo
Connectivity 5G (sub-6GHz),
Gigabit-class LTE,
Bluetooth 5.0,
Wi-Fi 6
Gigabit-class LTE,
Bluetooth 5.0,
Wi-Fi 6
Biometric Touch ID Touch ID
Speakers 2 2
Port USB-C USB-C

iPad Air 5 vs iPad Air 4 – Design

When Apple upgraded the third-generation iPad Air to the fourth generation, it made significant changes to the overall appearance. The design was a departure from the familiar iPad, with an almost edge-to-edge, no-chin display that was also larger, as well as an iPad Pro-inspired casing.

In terms of design, the iPad Air 5 is nearly identical to its predecessor. It would be difficult to tell them apart if they were placed side by side. Both have dimensions of 9.7 x 7 x 0.2 inches and weigh 1.02 pounds. They also have 10.9-inch displays and USB-C ports.

The newer models are slightly heavier, but only marginally.

As Apple’s thinnest and lightest tablet, it stands to reason that the company would stick with the same basic design as the 2020 model. As the adage goes, there’s no need to fix what isn’t broken.

It’s worth noting that some users are unhappy with the build quality of the iPad Air 5.

iPad Air 5 vs iPad Air 4 – Displays

The same 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display is used by both. Apple could have gone with mini LED backlighting like the iPad Pro models, but instead chose LED backlighting.

The screen on the iPad Air 5 looks similar to the 2020 model, as does the overall design. The displays on both tablets are 10.9-inch Liquid Retina with a resolution of 2360 x 1640 pixels. Apple claims that the iPad Air 5’s display can reach 500 nits of brightness. In addition, the screen has a P3 wide color gamut, True Tone, and an anti-reflective screen coating.

We mentioned in our review of the iPad Air 2020 that the screen has an average brightness of 440 nits (per our testing). If the screen on the iPad Air 5 is the same, we can expect the same results. The new slate lacks a 120Hz refresh rate, as was the case with the previous iteration.

Apple is known for producing displays with vibrant, detailed, and subtle image quality, and the iPad Air 4 (2020) more than holds its own when compared to the most recent iteration. The iPad Air 5 (2022) does offer some minor improvements, including standard HDR and SDR image quality, but if you already own an iPad Air 4, we wouldn’t rush to upgrade to the newer model.

We were impressed with the picture quality of the iPad Air 4, and we expect to be just as pleased with the iPad Air 5, even though it lacks an OLED display, as pre-release rumors suggested.

iPad Air 5 vs iPad Air 4 – Price and storage

The iPad Air 5 will be available for purchase on March 18, with pre-orders beginning on March 11. The Wi-Fi model starts at $599, while the Wi-Fi + Cellular model costs $749. It is available in 64GB and 256GB storage configurations. Space gray, starlight, pink, purple, and blue are among the available finishes.

This is the same as the iPad Air 4’s pricing, connectivity, storage, and color options. The iPad Air 4’s price is likely to fall soon at third-party retailers and resellers, as it has been replaced on the Apple website by the Air 5.

iPad Air 5 vs iPad Air 4 – Processing performance

The adage that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks does not apply to the iPad Air 5. (2022). Underneath the familiar glass and aluminum shell is Apple’s ARM-based, eight-core CPU, M1. Apple’s M1 chip, which is expected to trickle down from MacBooks and iMacs, is expected to be up to 60% faster and more powerful than its A-series counterpart, such as the A14 found in the 2020 iPad Air.

The SoC powering the two models is the most significant difference between the two generations. The fourth generation used the A14 Bionic, which featured 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.

The latest iPad Air is equipped with the M1, the same desktop-class chip found in the iPad Pro lineup. It has an eight-core CPU with performance and efficiency cores split evenly an eight-core GPU, and a 16-core “next-generation” Neural Engine.

While Apple’s newer M2 chip was not included in the 2022 iPad Air, the M1 is still a powerhouse for graphics-intensive apps like video editors, 3D racing games, augmented reality, and general multitasking.

The M1 processor, according to Apple, makes the fifth-generation iPad Air up to 60% faster than the previous model. It is also said to have twice the graphical power.

Before benchmarks for the fifth-generation iPad Pro are released, the best immediate comparison is to use GeekBench and compare the fourth-generation to the 11-inch iPad Pro.

The analogy is appropriate because the lower-capacity M1-equipped iPad Pro models have the same 8GB of memory as the fifth-generation iPad Air. For comparison, the fourth-generation iPad Air has 4GB of storage.

In Geekbench, the 11-inch iPad Pro with an M1 processor scores 1,715 single-core and 7,229 multi-core. This is with the M1’s 8-core processor.

Meanwhile, the iPad Air 4 with A14 Bionic scored 1,512 on the single-core and 4,302 on the multi-core. The A14 Bionic has a 6-core processor, which explains why the multi-core score is lower.

On the graphical front, the A14 achieves 12,480 on Geekbench’s Metal test, while the M1 achieves 21,285.

iPad Air 5 vs iPad Air 4 – Colors, Storage Options, and Prices

The fourth-generation iPad Air was available in 64GB and 256GB capacities for $599 and $749, respectively, for the Wi-Fi version. The cellular models add $130 to the price, making the 64GB model $729 and the 256GB model $879. Check out our roundup of the best iPad deals for savings on a variety of models.

Apple provided five different color options: Space Gray, Silver, Rose Gold, Green, and Sky Blue.

The new fifth-generation iPad Air is available in the same capacities and prices as the Wi-Fi models. This time around, the cellular models are $20 more expensive, at $749 and $899, respectively.

This is the same as the iPad Air 4’s pricing, connectivity, storage, and color options. The iPad Air 4’s price is likely to fall soon at third-party retailers and resellers, as it has been replaced on the Apple website by the Air 5.

The color palette for 2022 retains Space Gray but changes the rest to Starlight, Pink, Purple, and Blue.

iPad Air 5 vs iPad Air 4 – Cameras

Camera quality isn’t typically a selling point for tablets, let alone iPads. However, Apple emphasizes its new and improved front-facing camera in this year’s iPad Air.

Both the fourth and fifth-generation iPad Air’s rear cameras, as expected, have the same 12-megapixel Wide camera with an f/1.8 aperture, a 5x digital zoom, and Smart HDR 3 for Photos.

In terms of video, both are capable of 4K60 footage, 1080p 240fps Slo-mo, and a 3x zoom. The fifth generation differs in that it has an extended dynamic range for video up to 30 frames per second.

In the fifth-generation model, the 7-megapixel FaceTime HD camera has been replaced by a 12-megapixel Ultra-Wide camera. It also gains a 2x zoom-out as part of the changes.

Apple’s Center Stage feature, which automatically pans to keep you in view as you move around, is built into the Ultra-Wide camera. If you are joined by another person, the camera detects them and smoothly zooms out to include them in the shot. Given how many people are still working or socializing remotely, this is a fantastic feature to have.

The new camera has Center Stage support, which uses the viewing angle and zoom in FaceTime.

While the fourth generation has 1080p video with cinematic video stabilization, the fifth generation also expands the dynamic range for 30fps video.

iPad Air 5 vs iPad Air 4 – Sound

As far as we can tell, the speakers on the new iPad Air 5 (2022) are the same as those on the iPad Air 4 (2020), which isn’t a bad thing.

The iPad Air 4 (2020) introduced true stereo speakers at either end of the tablet, a first for the iPad Air product line. As a result, the sound spread was much wider and more convincing. It was a lot of fun watching movies, shows, or video content on the iPad Air 4 (2020), especially for a tablet the size of the iPad Air.

We had the same excellent listening experience when testing the iPad Air 5 (2022). The iPad Air 5 (2022) has a wide, open sound thanks to its true stereo speakers, and watching movies on the tablet is especially atmospheric thanks to its robust soundstage. Furthermore, there’s a lot of detail and a rich texture to the bass (by tablet standards) that rarely sounds muddy.

You won’t be able to tell the difference between the two tablets, but we’re confident that you won’t be disappointed by the sound quality of either, regardless of the content you’re listening to.

iPad Air 5 vs iPad Air 4 – Software and updates

Apple has updated the iPad Air (2020) to the latest iPadOS 15, which also runs on the iPad Air (2022). The iPadOS 15 includes a slew of new features and changes, including a redesigned home screen layout, redefined multitasking, FaceTime and iMessage feature additions, and a revamped Safari interface, among others.

Given that the iPad Air (2022) debuted roughly two years after the iPad Air (2020), it should receive Apple support and software updates for a little longer. This gives it an advantage over the predecessor, though given how long Apple’s software support typically lasts, it’s a closer result than you’d expect.

iPad Air 5 vs iPad Air 4 – Battery life

A processor upgrade may result in different usage times. This is certainly true for other devices, such as iPhones. This is not the case. Both models adhere to Apple’s general tablet standard of up to 10 hours of Wi-Fi web browsing or video viewing. For cellular work, the number drops to up to 9 hours.

The battery life on the iPad Air 4 is excellent, lasting 10 hours and 29 minutes in a web-surfing-based battery test. That’s pretty good, but the iPad 2021 (12:57) and Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 (12:52) both outlasted it.

Given that the iPad Air 5 runs on the more energy-efficient M1 chip, it will be interesting to see how long the battery lasts. Apple claims that the new slate has all-day battery life, but this could be incorrect. In our battery test, the M1-powered 11-inch iPad Pro 2021 lasted more than 13 hours before running out of juice, so we have high hopes for an M1-powered Air.

iPad Air 5 vs iPad Air 4 – Connectivity

With the latest iPad model, Apple did not leave the possibility of 5G open. Though not mmWave 5G, the iPad Air (2022)’s sub-6 GHz bands allow you to connect to the 5th generation network and access faster download speeds than the iPad Air’s 4G LTE (2020).

Both models have USB-C ports for connecting to devices and accessories, such as external displays and storage devices.

On the wireless front, both models support Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0, but things change when it comes to cellular connectivity.

Aside from M1, Apple’s second major selling point for the fifth-generation model is 5G connectivity. This is an improvement, but not necessarily as significant as you may believe.

Apple specifies that 5G support is limited to sub-6GHz bands, providing blanket coverage similar to LTE. There is no support for mmWave, the extremely fast component of 5G that is widely promoted as a benefit of the standard.

Although the 5G Apple includes in the fifth-generation iPad Air is faster than LTE, which it can also connect to, it is not the same as mmWave.

iPad Air 5 vs iPad Air 4 – Should you upgrade?

If you want to upgrade to the Apple M1 chip, have a better front camera and FaceTime experience, or want to upgrade to a 5G iPad, you should buy the iPad Air 5 (2022). If price is the most important factor, you should get the iPad Air 4 (2020). Many retailers are lowering the prices of the older iPad 4 model in order to clear inventory, making the 2020 model the more affordable iPad of the two.

The iPad Air 4 and iPad Air 5 are very similar in some ways. They have the same chassis design (albeit in different colors), and the same display, and provide roughly comparable battery life.

The iPad Air 5 is, without a doubt, the more advanced device. It outperforms the competition in terms of performance, has a faster USB-C port, and has a more feature-rich camera setup. It will cost you more, but if you truly require those extra features, it is your best bet and well worth it.

However, don’t dismiss the iPad Air 4 entirely. Its A14 Bionic chip is still excellent for all but the most demanding tasks, and the time has come to get a good deal. If you’re not a power user, it might be the better option.

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The above article was written by the BestTopReviewsOnline team, which consists of some of the most knowledgeable technical experts in the United States. Our team consists of highly regarded writers with vast experience in smartphones, computer components, technology apps, security, and photography, among other fields.

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