The iPad Professional 11 Killer

The fifth-generation iPad Air is right here, and whereas it could look near-identical to its predecessor, there are key upgrades inside that make it extra of an iPad Professional competitor than ever earlier than, sporting key upgrades together with Apple’s desktop-focused M1 chipset, 5G connectivity and Apple’s Middle Stage digicam tech.

With so many similarities between it and the iPad Professional 11, is the iPad Air the candy spot in Apple’s pill assortment? Whereas it’s not excellent, there’s quite a bit to like about this yr’s iPad Air – so long as it doesn’t creak.

Design & construct

The look of the iPad Air is immediately recognisable, sporting the identical general design because the iPad mini, iPad Professional and up to date fashions of iPhone. In contrast to earlier fashions, it has angular corners, however it doesn’t really feel uncomfortable to carry within the hand.

In truth, general construct high quality feels premium, sporting an anodised aluminium physique that feels {smooth} to the contact. It’s pretty light-weight for a 10.9in pill too, weighing in at 469g (or 478g for those who go for the 5G variant) and measuring in at a powerful 6.1mm thick.

It’s out there in 5 color choices, with 4 – Area Gray, Starlight, Pink, and Purple – matching the finishes of the most recent iPad mini. The Blue color choice, however, is a very new color unique to the iPad Air – and the one we obtained despatched for evaluation.

You’ll discover quantity rockers on the top-left in portrait orientation that change performance relying on how the pill. That signifies that reasonably than the amount ‘up’ key being on the backside when held the other way up, it’ll be the amount down button as you may anticipate. It first appeared on the iPad mini, and whereas it’s not a game-changer, it’s a pleasant small contact that makes on a regular basis use somewhat simpler.

In different areas, it’s enterprise as ordinary, sporting a built-in Contact ID sensor inside the Energy button, and there are stereo audio system mounted on reverse sides. That’s flanked by a USB-C port on the underside with improved information switch speeds – however extra on that later.

One of many key variations between the iPad mini and iPad Air (apart from the dimensions) is accent assist. Each assist the second-gen Apple Pencil, which magnetically attaches to the aspect of the pill, however solely the iPad Air has the Good Connector on the rear and compatibility with the Magic Keyboard.

Although costly and weighty, Apple’s Magic Keyboard basically turns the iPad Air right into a 2-in-1 laptop computer – and with an upgraded chipset at its coronary heart and split-screen performance, it performs like one too. I’ve gone into element about why I like the Magic Keyboard up to now so I received’t focus an excessive amount of on it right here, however for those who’ve obtained the funds, it’s a worthy buy.


If there’s one grievance I’ve concerning the iPad Air pattern I’ve been supplied with, it’s the rigidity of the backplate.

Although there’s no distinction in dimensions in comparison with different fashions of iPad Air, the pattern offered for evaluation has a noticeable flex on the rear – a lot in order that I can really feel the elements contact the plate beneath with little or no strain utilized.

I discover it when dealing with the iPad day-to-day, and it’s one thing {that a} handful of (however not all) iPad Air house owners have picked up on since launch. On the flip aspect, I’ve used different samples of the fifth-gen iPad Air that don’t have this concern in any respect – it appears associated to a sure batch of Apple’s newest pill.

It’s not simply one thing I’ve observed both; a number of members of the Tech Advisor staff have dealt with my pattern and all comment that you may certainly really feel a flex and the elements inside.

It isn’t noticeable when paired with Apple’s Good Folio, however at £79/$79, it’s not an inexpensive case for customers to select up on high of a pill that begins at £569/$599.

I’ve reached out to Apple for readability on the difficulty, and I’ll replace the evaluation once I get a response.


Whereas the iPad Air comes nearer to the iPad Professional 11 than ever earlier than, there stays one distinctive distinction: the show. I’m not speaking concerning the mere 0.1in distinction between the 10.9in iPad Air and 11in iPad Professional both.

In truth, you’ll discover the identical 2360 x 1640 decision and 264ppi pixel density because the equal iPad Professional, however it’s lacking the particular sauce of Apple’s Professional vary – ProMotion adaptive refresh price know-how, offering buttery-smooth efficiency at as much as 120Hz.

The iPad Air, like the remainder of the usual iPad assortment, is proscribed to an ordinary 60Hz. The result’s that video games and apps aren’t fairly as {smooth} as they might be, however that’s pretty commonplace for all however probably the most premium tablets in the marketplace.

That’s to not say there’s a disappointing viewing expertise on supply from the pill although; I discovered the iPad Air show to be brilliant, detailed and vivid whether or not gaming, watching motion pictures on Netflix or just writing emails.

There’s additionally assist for HDR10 content material with spectacular dynamic vary, and it’s pretty brilliant with a max brightness of 471cd/m2 in testing.  

In truth, the one actual disappointment is that it’s an IPS LCD show and never the superior Mini-LED, OLED or AMOLED, that means that blacks aren’t fairly as deep and inky as these on premium tablets just like the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Extremely or the iPad Professional 12.9 – although that’s arguably higher suited to ‘professional’ customers than on a regular basis customers anyway.

Options & efficiency

Apple has designed the fifth-gen iPad Air for college students, creatives and avid gamers, all of which want the perfect efficiency at their fingertips. With that in thoughts, Apple determined to transition the iPad Air line from the A-series chipsets used within the iPhone to the M-series chipsets utilized in Apple’s iPad Professional and desktop Mac line-up.

Extra particularly, the iPad Air options the identical Apple M1 chipset as not solely the top-end iPad Professional vary, however Mac desktops together with the MacBook Air, Mac Mini and 24in iMac, with 8GB of RAM and 64/256GB of storage to play with.

Apple claims that this represents a 60% increase to the CPU and ‘as much as’ 2x efficiency within the graphics division, and that’s largely backed up by our benchmark outcomes.

In comparison with the iPad Air 4, the brand new iPad presents vital efficiency positive factors throughout the board, with the true limitation on graphics being the 60Hz refresh price of the usual Liquid Retina show. For those who need excessive framerate iOS gaming, the iPad Professional 11 could also be a greater – albeit a lot pricier – choice.

It’s additionally far more highly effective than many of the Android competitors within the CPU division, providing over double the processing energy of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S8 Extremely utilising Qualcomm’s top-end Snapdragon eight Gen 1, although the excessive refresh price show does permit the competing chipset to flex its muscular tissues within the graphics division.

Some may argue that such a robust chipset is overkill in a pill, however it’ll permit the iPad Air to proceed acting at its greatest for years to return as builders start to benefit from the desktop-level efficiency on supply.

You possibly can see how the iPad Air 5 compares to the competitors in our full benchmark breakdown beneath. Spoiler: it’s highly effective!

As you may anticipate, that interprets to a blisteringly quick pill expertise no matter what you’re as much as.

Video games run exceptionally easily, albeit at a capped 60fps, and it’s nice for picture enhancing too, with further energy translating to real-time impact previews and little or no, if any, load instances when making use of filters and different results.

It’s additionally a boon for content material creators, with a brand new iMovie replace rolling out that’ll additional assist create complicated movies with out a lot effort, and you may anticipate sooner render instances this time round too.

It may even deal with operating a number of apps directly utilizing the multi-tasking performance, full with drag-and-drop performance. That’s nice for college students – particularly when mixed with Apple’s Magic Keyboard, which basically turns the pill right into a 2-in-1 laptop computer.

Efficiency apart, there have been enhancements to the pill’s USB-C port, providing USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 information switch speeds of as much as 10Gbits per second, up from 5Gbits per second on its predecessor.

There’s additionally upgraded 5G connectivity, up from 4G LTE, for those who go for the mobile mannequin – although the value of the mobile mannequin has elevated to replicate this enchancment, so tethering stands out as the higher choice for those who don’t intend on utilizing the pill away from Wi-Fi that usually.

You’ll additionally discover Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5 assist, and safety as soon as once more focuses on the Contact ID-enabled Energy button with no Face ID in sight. That is one of many few perks left unique to the iPad Professional vary. 

Digital camera

Whereas cameras on tablets usually aren’t as fascinating as their smartphone brethren, Apple has upgraded the front-facing digicam on the iPad Air 5 to match the remainder of the iPad vary.

Meaning the most recent iPad Air sports activities a 12Mp ultra-wide front-facing digicam, making it a wonderful alternative for group selfies, however that wasn’t the primary purpose behind the improve. As a substitute, it was to facilitate Apple’s Middle Stage know-how, which makes video calling – a preferred function on tablets – a lot simpler.

The concept behind the tech is to analyse the front-facing digicam and routinely zoom into your face, permitting you to position the iPad on a floor and transfer round a room whereas chatting with out the necessity to consistently transfer the pill.

Middle Stage tech

It’s not new tech, out there on key rivals just like the Fb Portal Go and Amazon’s Echo Present 10, however it’s useful to have nonetheless.

It performs properly not solely with FaceTime however third-party apps like Zoom and Microsoft Groups too, although you possibly can’t appear to activate it inside the Digital camera app itself. The power to file movies utilizing the tech would’ve been a pleasant contact.

High quality-wise, the 12Mp digicam is surprisingly detailed in superb lighting situations, with first rate publicity and nice color accuracy permitting for nice high quality selfies, although the f/2.Four aperture means it’s not fairly as performant in low-light situations.

On the rear of the iPad Air you’ll discover the identical 12Mp f/1.eight snapper as its predecessor, with no actual change in {hardware} or software program capabilities to notice. Just like the front-facing digicam, it’ll suffice for on a regular basis snaps, however it’s not going to switch an iPhone 13 Professional Max anytime quickly.  

Battery life & charging

Battery life stays constant regardless of the uptick in efficiency, with Apple’s claimed 10-hour battery life ringing true in on a regular basis efficiency. Whereas that doesn’t sound that lengthy, extra informal customers can stretch that utilization throughout a number of days – I definitely didn’t really feel the necessity to high up the iPad Air day-after-day like my iPhone.

There’s additionally quick charging assist on supply that’ll assist cut back the period of time you spend ready for the iPad to regain cost. It’ll settle for a most of 20W of energy, however in contrast to the iPhone, you’ll get a 20W charger within the field – no have to fork out for extra chargers right here.

Utilizing Apple’s 20W charger, you possibly can anticipate 25% cost in 30 minutes. It’s not fairly as quick as some smartphones, however contemplating Samsung’s top-end Galaxy Tab S8 Extremely managed 29% in 30 minutes – the quickest in our checks up to now – it’s pretty quick for a pill.

Software program

The iPad Air ships with iPadOS 15.Four out of the field, Apple’s newest model of its tablet-optimised working system. Whereas there have been strides on the Android aspect of issues of late with the point out of Android 12L for big-screen tablets, Apple’s iPadOS continues to be comfortably probably the most succesful and most polished pill OS out there in 2022.

The primary power of iPadOS is the large library of apps and video games out there from Apple’s App Retailer, and in contrast to Android rivals that may use scaled-up cell apps, all iPad apps are optimised for the massive display screen. Meaning you’ll get a greater expertise in apps, benefiting from the display screen area out there with UI tweaks and different options.

There’s additionally a greater vary of apps out there for creatives and video editors with pro-level apps like Procreate and LumaFusion Professional out there to obtain.

There are additionally multitasking options that allow you to run a number of apps on-screen on the similar time, full with drag-and-drop performance, and new options in iPadOS 15 let you rapidly take notes from wherever on the iPad, allows the flexibility to repeat and paste textual content from photographs inside your Pictures app and far more.

Merely put, it’s a flexible little bit of software program with nice app availability and a excessive stage of polish – there’s a purpose why iPads have been so widespread for years, in any case.


The fifth-gen iPad Air begins on the similar $599 as its predecessor within the US, however it’s really £10 cheaper within the UK at a diminished £569. That’ll internet you 64GB of storage, with the value growing with bigger storage capacities and 5G connectivity. Right here’s how a lot the complete vary prices:

iPad Air (64GB, Wi-Fi): £569/$599
iPad Air (256GB, Wi-Fi): £719/$749
iPad Air (64GB, Wi-Fi & Mobile): £719/$749
iPad Air (256GB, Wi-Fi & Mobile): £869/$899

For context, the iPad Professional 11 with the identical M1 chipset because the iPad Air begins at £749/$799, representing nice worth for cash for those who do not want Face ID or ProMotion show tech.

In case you’re serious about choosing one up, the iPad Air is available for purchase from Apple alongside widespread retailers like Amazon and John Lewis within the UK and Greatest Purchase within the US.


The iPad Air stays the candy spot in Apple’s assortment; it sports activities an industrial design that appears nice and feels good within the hand, presents iPad Professional-level productiveness with the inclusion of a desktop-level M1 chipset and full compatibility with the premium Magic Keyboard – one thing that may’t be stated of some other non-Professional iPad.

The Apple Pencil 2 assist stays strong too, making for a succesful pill for college students, avid gamers and even creatives that really feel they received’t make use of the ProMotion show on supply from the (near-identical however costlier) iPad Professional 11.  

There are additionally the added advantages of 5G connectivity and Apple’s Middle Stage digicam tech, bringing the iPad Air consistent with the remainder of Apple’s pill assortment.

iPadOS 15 is one other sturdy level, providing not solely a big library of apps totally optimised for the 10.9in show however good options like split-screen multitasking, dictation and even the flexibility to repeat and paste textual content from inside photographs, making for a succesful pill that’ll do virtually something you want with out grievance.

There are points round construct high quality with my pattern, however I’m assured it is a manufacturing concern restricted to a small batch of iPads – I’ve not observed it on some other fifth-gen iPad pattern I’ve dealt with – and for those who do discover your backplate flexes, you’ll hopefully be capable to get a alternative on the Apple Retailer.

About the author: SubSellKaro

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