iPad Air (2022) v iPad Air (2020) | Which Apple Tablet Should You Buy?

If you want to buy a mid-range Apple iPad, two of your best options right now are the new iPad Air (5th generation) and its predecessor, iPad Air (4th generation).

The Air series is for anyone who finds the iPad mini too compact but doesn’t need the powerful performance of the more expensive iPad Pro. It is in the middle of the family of tablets, and serves as a great balance between these two siblings.

The fourth generation iPad Air, which was first introduced in October 2020, is still on sale although it was recently succeeded by the new fifth generation model in March 2022.

In the majority of UK retailers, the price of the fourth generation iPad Air has been slashed from £549 to £499 while stocks remain. Apple has stopped selling the Air 4 in favor of the new model – which starts at £569 – but both are still available for purchase at other stores, including Amazon, Currys, Very, Argos, AO and John Lewis.

This means that anyone shopping for a new iPad Air has a choice to choose: Old or New? The same goes for anyone who has a 2020-era iPad Air and is considering an upgrade: is it worth it? To find out, let’s compare the specifications of each model.

We’ve been hands-on with both iOS tablets, so for the sake of in-depth judgment, here’s our Apple iPad Air 5th gen review and our Apple iPad Air 4th gen review.

Want to read more about the latest Apple products? Here is our iPhone 13 review, iPhone 13 mini review, iPhone 13 Pro review, and iPhone 13 Pro Max review. Are you shopping for add-ons for smartphones? Don’t miss our guide to the best iPhone accessories, best smartphone mounts, and best portable chargers.

There are a variety of tablets that are very suitable for older users as well. If this is interesting, be sure to read our guide to The best tablets for the elderly in 2022.

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iPad Air (2022) vs. iPad Air (2020): A Glance at the Key Differences

The two iPad Air models have more in common than what separates them, especially in the looks department, but there are of course some key differences:

  • The fifth-generation iPad Air comes with the latest M1 chip, while the fourth-generation iPad Air 2020 has an A14 Bionic chip — the same chip found in the iPhone 12.
  • The iPad Air 5th Gen has an ultra-wide 12-megapixel “selfie” camera, while the fourth-generation iPad Air 4th has a 7-megapixel FaceTime HD camera.
  • The iPad Air 5th generation supports 5G connectivity for faster internet and download speeds, while the iPad Air 4th gen is 4G LTE cellular only.

iPad Air (2022) vs. iPad Air (2020): Key Differences in Details

Design

Without a doubt, the latest 2022 iPad Air is a great tablet. But it managed to win this award not by overhauling its design or specifications on a large scale, but by adding frequent updates under the hood. In other words, the fourth-generation iPad Air was really cool; The new version is now a little better. Put them side by side and it is likely that most, if not all, people will struggle to tell them apart.

Both are 247.6 mm high, 178.5 mm wide and 6.1 mm thick – although the new iPad Air is a little heavier. Both have a 10.9-inch LED-backlit display, the same build materials and are powered via the USB-C port.

The 2022 model features five colors: space grey, starlight, pink, violet and blue. The 2020 model also comes in five colors: grey, rose gold, silver, blue, and green.

Specifications and Features

The main update with the new model is the M1 chip, which boosts performance speeds by about 60 percent compared to the 2020 model, according to Apple.

Moreover, the iPad Air 5 now comes with 5G, and the USB-C port has transfer speeds of up to 2x. The majority of the features are found via iPadOS 15, which is on both models, so it makes no difference what the tablets can do on a daily basis, but a newer model might complete some tasks a little faster and more smoothly.

price

The iPad Air 5th gen is the latest tablet, so it costs more. The 2020 model isn’t what we would describe as affordable, but is now discounted at around £50-70 at many UK retailers. The new iPad Air 5 model starts at £569.

iPad Air 5th Generation Pricing:

  • 64GB WiFi: £569
  • 64GB cellular: £719
  • 256GB WiFi: £719
  • 256 GB cellular: £869

Fourth-generation iPad Air pricing:

  • 64GB WiFi: £499
  • 64GB of cell phone: £709
  • 256GB WiFi: £629
  • 256GB cellular: £749

storage

Both iPad Air models come in two storage sizes: 64GB and 256GB. It comes as Wi-Fi only or cellular Wi-Fi. The new fifth generation only supports 5G networks.

Battery life

Your iPad’s battery life will depend on how much you use the device throughout the day. As a guide, Apple measures how long the tablets can surf the web on Wi-Fi or watch videos to show roughly how each performs.

Spoiler alert: They’re the same, with the Air 5th gen, Air 4th gen, and Pro models all enjoying “up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi or watching videos” and “up to nine hours of surfing the web using a mobile data network.

camera

The two iPad Air tablets have the same rear cameras, consisting of a single 12MP wide camera array on the back with up to 5x digital zoom, along with the ability to shoot 4K video at 24fps, 25fps and 30fps second or 60 frames per second. The main difference is the front camera for selfies, which is 12 megapixels in the fifth generation and 7 megapixels in the fourth.

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Whether you’re drawing with the Apple Pencil 2 or watching a new show on Netflix, you’ll get the same screen on both tablets. It’s a 10.9-inch Liquid Retina (LED-backlit) IPS display with True Tone, which adjusts brightness based on your surroundings. They have a resolution of 2360×1640 and about 500 nits.

5G connection

The iPad Air 5th gen has 5G, while the previous model does not. In terms of broader connectivity, both devices have Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 6, and built-in GPS.

Our Verdict: Which iPad Air Should You Buy?

As you can probably tell from this comparison, the iPad Air 5th gen is similar to the iPad Air 4th gen. They have a lot in common. Both devices look the same, have the same screen, the same rear camera and compatibility with accessories including Magic Keyboard, Smart Keyboard Folio case and Apple Pencil 2.

However, there are some key differences: the new model has 5G, a better selfie camera setup, but most importantly it comes with the same M1 chip found in the more expensive iPad Pro. The slightly older iPad Air is currently priced at around £70.

So here’s the bottom line: If you can afford it, we recommend buying the new iPad Air. Performance is better than ever thanks to Apple’s M1 chip, future-proof with 5G connectivity, and the front camera gives you more clarity when making video calls. The design of the tablet remains attractive and premium, and the same for both, so if you need to save money, the iPad Air 4th remains one of the best deals.

Where to buy the 5th generation iPad Air:

Where to buy iPad Air 4th gen:

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