While the previous-generation iPad Air stood toe to toe with the iPhone 12 series with the A14 Bionic chip, the new iPad Air (5th generation) leapt over the iPhone 13 series and now stands shoulder to shoulder with the iPad Pro series and some Macs.
For the past few weeks, the iPad Air has slowly crept into my daily workflow and hedged out my laptop. When I want to write, edit a video, or touch up a photo, I tend to reach for it instead.
That Gorgeous Marine Blue
The design of the new iPad Air is similar to the previous iPad Air which means they can share accessories, like the Folio Cover, the Apple Pencil (2nd Generation), Smart Keyboard Folio, and the Magic Keyboard.
Here Apple has perfected the design of a practical everyday tablet. In contrast, most Android tablets favour the longer 16:10 aspect ratio which, at larger sizes, makes it cumbersome and only practical when held horizontally.
The iPad Air’s 10.9in display has a comfortable 4:3 ratio that I find far more versatile and usable in a tablet.
It also comes in four finishes, Space Grey, Starlight, Pink, Purple, and Blue.
For this review, I got the blue iPad Air and a matching folio cover.
If you’ve seen the colours on the Apple website, it is actually more saturated and vibrant in person. The blue looks gorgeous and I hope Apple continues with these bold colours in the future.
The Do It All
Right out of the box, the iPad Air has a full suite of native apps that can do almost everything you need. From a word processor to a video editor to a streaming service, it is all there and has no duplicates.
What makes working on the iPad Air better is that most apps are designed for the iPad. They are made to work with the aspect ratio, features, and workflow of the iPad and not just blown up phone apps. Trust me, it makes a huge difference.
In my daily use, the power of the M1 chip in the new iPad Air is most apparent when I use iMovie to edit videos. The M1 chip readily handles the 4K video from the iPhone 13 Pro Max. Render times are faster and it handles transparency better too.
Most games just scale, so the difference is not that apparent.
Another internal upgrade that the new iPad Air got is 5G support for the cellular version. A boon for those who need a portable productivity device that is always connected.
Other than the usual productivity stuff, like writing this review, I also use the iPad Air as my screen for Apple Fitness+. Sure it’s larger than an iPad mini, but I don’t mind sacrificing a pinch of portability for a bigger display when I’m working out.
On The Other Hand
While this reads like a glowing review, there are some features that I wish that the iPad Air has, like a better display, a four-speaker setup, and a microphone array – which would pair great with Centre Stage.
But if it has all that, it would be an 11in iPad Pro instead.
Also, turning the iPad Air into a creative or productivity machine is not cheap.
The price for the iPad Air starts at RM2,699 which is excellent value for what you’re getting. But the price of the Magic Keyboard — the best keyboard for a tablet I have tried so far — is about half of that. Together, they are about the price of an 11in iPad Pro.
For creatives, things are a bit more affordable as the price of the fan favourite Apple Pencil (2nd generation) is about a-fifth of the starting price of the iPad Air.
If you’re wondering about the price difference between the new iPad Air and the previous one, it’s about RM100.
To Buy Or Not To Buy
If you’re looking for a versatile everyday tablet with power to spare, the iPad Air (5th Generation) is it. Even if it is your only Apple device there is no contest.
For productivity applications, the iPad Air is an excellent secondary, and sometimes a primary if you can afford the Magic Keyboard or an equivalent. It’s easier to take around and whip out than a laptop. With that M1 chip, it’s just as capable.
For creative applications, the iPad Air is the device you want, if it fits your budget. Got a little more? Check out the iPad Pro. If money is a bit tight, check out the iPad mini.
To me, the iPad Air with iMovie is the perfect combo for an aspiring videographer. Add an Apple Pencil (2nd Generation) and it is the dream machine for any visual artist.
Read why iMovie is excellent for amateur videographers here.
Also, check out my first impressions of the iPad Air (2022) here.