Apple has a new iPad Air in the works. The latest iteration of the ultra-slim tablet is rumoured for release in the coming months, possibly at the same event as Apple's next iPhone, the iPhone SE (2022).
So what can we expect from the iPad Air 5? Will it be a radical departure, or more of the same? And – crucially – how much will it cost? It's early days, but rumours are already circulating. Let's see what's in store.
New iPad Air: release date
As yet, there's no word on an exact release date for the 5th-generation iPad Air. But we do have some rather large hints as to when it might be.
Most years, Apple holds an event in the spring. Last year's saw the launch of a slew of new devices, including a new Apple TV 4K, new iPad Pro, the iPhone 12 in a new purple hue, AirTag and a new iMac. So there's every reason to expect a new iPad Air will debut at it this year.
As you might expect, it won't be the only new device Apple launches. It's also expected to announce the iPhone SE (2022) at the same event.
According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, the spring event is "likely" to take place in March or April. Going on past form, that seems likely. Let's take a look back over the last 10 years and see when Apple's past spring events took place, and what devices launched.
Note: Apple didn't hold a spring event in 2020, 2017, 2014 or 2013.
- Apple Special Event 20th April 2021: iMac, iPad Pro (2021), iPhone 12 in purple, AirTag, Apple TV 4K (2021)
- No event in spring 2020 due to coronavirus pandemic, online announcements only. 18th March 2020: iPad Pro (2020), MacBook Air (2020); 15th April 2020: iPhone SE (2020)
- Apple Special Event 25th March 2019: Apple News+, Apple Card, Apple Arcade and Apple TV+
- Apple Special Event 27th March 2018: iPad (2018)
- Apple Special Event 21st March 2016: iPad Pro (9.7-in), iPhone SE (2016)
- Apple Special Event 9th March 2015: Apple Watch (price and release date announced), MacBook (4th Gen)
- Apple Special Event 7th March 2012: Apple TV (3rd Gen), iPad (3rd Gen)
One date that's been mooted by MacWorld for the spring 2022 event is Tuesday 28th March 2022. Going on past dates, that could well be on the money.
New iPad Air: price
It's too early for any price rumours to surface, but we can take an educated guess.
The last iPad Air launched at £579 ($599, AU$899). It currently sits below the iPad Pro in Apple's tablet line-up, above the iPad Mini and standard model. Let's see how the prices compare.
- iPad Pro 12.9: From £999 ($1099, AU$1649)
- iPad Pro 11: From £749 ($799, AU$1199)
- iPad Air: From £579 ($599, AU$899)
- iPad Mini: From £479 ($499, AU$749)
- iPad: From £319 ($329, AU$499)
So, will the new model cost the same as the old? Not necessarily. We're currently in the midst of a global chip shortage that's affecting everything from computers and smartphones to tablets and cars (it's also the reason you still can't find a PS5).
Production delays caused by the pandemic are driving up prices, which most companies are passing on to consumers. (In the UK, inflation recently hit a 30-year high, pushing up the cost of living.) Which means devices are getting more expensive.
We would wager the price tag of the new iPad Air will be closer to £600 (around $649, AU$1099), though whether it will also rise in other countries remains to be seen.
New iPad Air (2022): screen
The big news? The next iPad Air won't have an OLED screen. That's according to revered Apple analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo.
Apple was reportedly planning on kitting out the new iPad Air with an OLED panel, but changed its plans due to the hight cost and sub-par performance.
In fact, Apple seems to have pushed back plans to release any iPad with an OLED screen. The firm reportedly had to can a deal with Samsung to produce the necessary panels, due to high costs. An OLED-toting iPad now won't debut before 2024, sources say.
Apple's biggest iPad Pro features a Mini LED screen, and the 11-inch version is also rumoured to come with a Mini LED display this year. So will Apple equip the new Air with the same screen tech? Unlikely. A Mini LED Air would probably cannibalise sales of the pricier Pro models, by pinching one of their key selling points. So Apple is likely to stick with a standard LED-lit LCD for now.
New iPad Air: specs
The front camera should be a 12-megapixel Ultra Wide shooter with support for Center Stage – this means it can pan to keep you in shot if you're moving around during video calls. There should also be a Quad-LED True Tone flash, for lighting up your dark shots.
Rumours say the cellular models will have 5G support for faster web browsing where 5G is available.
iPad Air 2022: design
In terms of looks, there's said to be not a lot new about the new iPad Air. In fact, you might struggle to tell it apart from the 2020 model.
That's according to sources talking to Japanese Apple blog, Mac Otakara. The site claims that the new model will retain the same overall look, complete with the same single-lens rear camera.
We haven't see any renders or leaked hardware photos to back this up, so we'll have to take that with a pinch of salt for now.
Even if there are no drastic design changes, that won't necessarily be a bad thing. The current iPad Air was the first Air to ditch the home button, meaning it can be practically all screen with ultra-thin bezels. With a 10.9-inch screen (slightly bigger than the previous model) that has a resolution of 2360 x 1640 pixels, it's a sight to behold.
That, along with its superb performance and excellent user interface led to it winning a 2021 What Hi-Fi? Award. So the sequel has big shoes to fill.
New iPad Air: early verdict
The next iPad Air is shaping up nicely. There's a while to go before Apple's spring event is due, and there's still plenty we don't know. But going on what we do know, we're sure the new model will be another credit to the iPad family.
That's not to say it's guaranteed success. The tablet market is tougher than ever, and Samsung is expected to launch its Galaxy Tab S8 range in early February – this should include the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra, a 14.6-inch monster which features a notch to house the front-facing camera tech.
The new Air could command a higher price too, and with households squeezed more than ever thanks to rising living costs, could that deter some potential purchasers and stop it from being a runaway success? We'll have to see.
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