The M1 chip has less than 64GB of storage on the $599 model

iPad Air 2022

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Apple’s new $599 iPad Air launches Friday. I’ve been testing it for the past several days and I think it’s the best iPad for most people. It’s more powerful and better than the regular $329 iPad in every respect, and it’s the best combination of features and price for people who like to play the latest games and do some video and photo editing. But power users may be disappointed with the base model’s meager 64GB of storage and could find the entry-level $799 iPad Pro a better deal.

Apple’s Apple sales fell 14% year-over-year during the quarter, generating $7.25 billion in revenue, while Mac sales rose 25% over the same period to $10.85 billion. Apple has been experiencing some supply constraints, but it has also spent most of the past year ramping up the volume of new M1-powered Macs, which has helped drive sales in the segment.

This M1 chip is available in Apple’s more expensive iPad Pro. Now it’s the iPad Air, giving Apple’s mid-range tablets the same power as some of the more expensive Macs and iPads.

Here’s what you need to know about it.

what is good

I dig the new blue for the iPad Air 2022

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Three things stand out to me about the iPad Air: the new front camera for Center Stage video chat, support for faster 5G cellular networks if you want it and the new, faster M1 processor.

Well, four things: The new blue is cool, too. It’s a deeper color than Apple used in 2020 and gives it a unique look that stands out against most gray and black tablets. Apple has been lighting up its products with new colors over recent years, and I hope this trend will continue in its MacBook laptops.

The M1 chip gives you the option to do more than you can with the average iPad. You can edit photos and videos faster in apps like Adobe Photoshop or LumaFusion or play all the latest games, including some that don’t work on the regular iPad, like “Divinity: Original Sin 2.” I own the regular iPad Pro and haven’t noticed any difference in performance using the less expensive iPad Air. I think the M1 chip is more future-proof than anything else, although there’s been enough power here to power the latest applications for years.

The Center Stage was first introduced on the iPad Pro last year and has since made its way onto the regular iPad, but it’s one of my favorite new features in Apple tablets. This helps keep you in frame during video calls, which means you can move back and forth around the room while chatting on FaceTime and the camera will follow you. I love using it to video chat with my little one and his grandparents because it helps keep him in the frame as he hops around the room.

iPad Air 2022

Todd Haselton | CNBC

It’s good to have 5G if you care about using your iPad outside of Wi-Fi, like a bus or train. I usually buy the cellular model because I love having that option. But 5G doesn’t offer consumers that much yet over older 4G LTE networks, other than for faster downloads, which can come in handy if you need to download some movies quickly before going on a trip. Just expect to pay around $150 extra for the cellular version.

iPad Air 2022

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Finally, I’m a huge fan of the $299 Apple Magic Keyboard. I know it’s pricey, but it allows you to turn your iPad Air into a more traditional laptop-like computer. I love sitting on the couch at night browsing the web with my keyboard and trackpad, texting with friends or working on a story. I still turn to my Mac when I need to run a lot of windowed apps to work, but the iPad Air is a great secondary computer.

iPad Air 2022 with Apple Pencil

Todd Haselton | CNBC

You might also consider the $129 Apple Pencil, which charges with magnets on the side of the iPad Air. It’s one of those easy things to get when you need it, like signing documents on the go. Others may find it more useful for fine-tuning photos and videos, drawing or taking notes, but I rarely use it for that.

What’s bad

My biggest challenge against the new iPad Air is that the entry model only gives you 64GB of storage. This is probably fine for people who don’t install a lot of apps and games or would rather stream movies than download them. But you can fill it up quickly. Therefore, you should consider the 256GB model for $749. But at this point, $50 shy away from the entry-level iPad Pro, which has a better screen, twice the storage and more camera options. Apple was supposed to have put 128GB in the entry-level iPad Air.

The screen has great colors and is beautiful and bright but it lacks the high refresh rate that you’ll get on the iPad Pro. I understand that Apple wants to keep the feature on the more expensive iPads, but I think all consumers can benefit from the higher refresh rates, from simply scrolling through websites and long photo albums to playing games more smoothly. Apple only offers high refresh rate displays in its professional products, though, including the new iPhone 13 Pro and MacBook Pro.

You also don’t get Face ID like you do on the iPad Pro. Instead, you unlock your iPad using a fingerprint reader hidden in the power button. It works fine, but I like that my iPad Pro unlocks completely when I start using it.

Should you buy it?

iPad Air 2022 with Magic Keyboard

Todd Haselton | CNBC

I think it’s the best iPad for most people. You probably don’t need to upgrade from the 2020 model, but it’s a big bump from anything before that. And you’ll get a lot more power than the entry-level $329 iPad with a better screen, better speakers and cameras, and better Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil support. However, if you need more than 64GB of storage, you should consider the $799 iPad Pro, which gives you a better screen, Face ID, more cameras, and better speakers.

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