– Feb. 14th 2022 9:00 am PT
Apple’s iPad Air 4 has been easy to recommend since its launch in October 2020, but that could change with the rumored iPad Air 5 looming. Apple gave us a preview of what to expect for the next-gen iPad Air when it released a beefed up iPad mini 6 last fall. So what should we expect from a new iPad Air in 2022? Here’s everything we know so far…
Update: Apple hasn’t officially announced a spring event yet, but Bloomberg reports that the company is targeting Tuesday, March 8. This likely means the iPad Air 5 will replace the current model before the end of next month.
New display type?
The iPad Air 4 will be remembered as the first tablet in Apple’s lineup to feature uniform bezels around the display and no Home button without using Face ID for biometric authentication.
Instead of using facial recognition like iPad Pro, the iPad Air 4 is the first Apple device to feature Touch ID fingerprint recognition in the sleep/wake button. This version of Touch ID later came to the iPad mini 6. New iPhones all use Face ID now, but who wouldn’t appreciate Touch ID in the power button like the iPad Air as an alternative form of biometric authentication?
OK, back to the iPad Air 5.
Should we expect the display type to change? Apple currently uses TFT-LCD for the display technology in the iPad Air and every other iPad (except the 12.9-inch iPad that uses mini-LED).
Reliable supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo forecasted in March 2021 that the iPad Air 5 would switch to an OLED display like every new iPhone sold today. However, Kuo unfortunately updated that report in October 2021 to say that Apple has chosen to drop OLED plans and stick with TFT-LCD for the iPad Air 5.
Playing catch up
The big question around the iPad Air 5 is how much will it learn from the iPad mini 6.
The iPad Air 4 started life competitive with the higher-priced and similarly sized iPad Pro. The lineup made more sense when the iPad Pro was updated with Apple’s M1 chip, 5G, and upgraded cameras.
Then came the iPad mini 6. Apple redesigned the smallest iPad to look like a smaller iPad Air 4 (great!), except it featured a newer processor and more camera features (awkward!).
This means we can be confident in looking at features the iPad mini 6 has that the iPad Air 4 lacks for a clearer picture of what to expect from the iPad Air 5.
What to expect
So what exactly are those growth opportunities for iPad Air? Here’s a list:
- Replace A14 processor with A15 or (if released after iPhone 14) A16
- Increase cellular performance from LTE to 5G capable
- Enhance the front-facing camera from 7MP to 12MP
- Introduce Center Stage support for subject tracking with automatic panning and zooming during video calls
- Upgrade the rear camera flash to Quad-LED True Tone flash
Other upgrades due include support for 1080p video recording in 25 fps and 30 fps versus just 60 fps, extended dynamic range for video up to 30 fps, and possibly new color options.
iPad mini comes in four shades of aluminum (space gray, pink, purple, and starlight) compared to iPad Air in five shades (silver, space gray, rose gold, green, and blue).
iPad Air 5 might not just play catch up with the iPad mini this year. The reliable Japanese site MacOtakara cited a Chinese supplier last year in suggesting the new iPad Air would be more like the current 11-inch iPad Pro.
This is to say that the iPad Air 5 will upgrade the rear camera system to feature dual lenses for standard wide angle shots and ultra wide angle shots like the iPhone 13. The 11-inch iPad Pro does include a LiDAR scanner as well, but the source is less certain on that being included on the iPad Air 5.
Another change includes doubling the number of speakers from two to four on the iPad Air 5. This would match the iPad Pro speaker system and put the iPad Air above the iPad mini once again.
Hopefully, the iPad Air 5 retains the same $599 starting price with these upgrades. A fall release would see it debut two years after the iPad Air 4, but no one would complain about a spring release and an 18-month upgrade cycle. In the meantime, it may be wise to take advantage of discounted prices on the very capable iPad Air 4 before it’s gone.