Our review

The newest Apple iPad Air blurs the lines between phone, tablet and laptop more than expected. It’s got that legendary Apple quality and, aside from the price point, which can get pretty high if you need the cellular model with 5G or more storage, there’s little to complain about with this latest slate. In fact, there’s a lot to love.


  • Fantastic 10.9-inch display
  • Contains Apple’s M1 chip
  • Design remains premium


  • No Face ID biometrics
  • Yes, it’s still pretty expensive
  • No 120Hz refresh rate

Stylish and powerful, the iPad Air 5th generation may be the best option for most tablet fans out of the entire 2022 Apple iPad line-up so far.


It’s actually pretty shocking to see how far the iPad series has come in recent years. In 2022, with a multitude of customisable widgets, Apple Pencil 2 stylus support and the Magic Keyboard you can effectively use the tablet for work, entertainment and creative projects without suffering too many major compromises.

While Apple’s “What’s a computer?” iPad TV ad from a couple of years ago was widely mocked (and is still strangely irritating, to be fair), the company has continued to improve the iOS tablet experience. Last year, Apple updated the base iPad (9th generation) and the significantly more compact iPad mini (6th generation), too.

Let’s be clear: the iPad Air 5th Gen won’t replace your laptop or desktop, but the tablet is now much more than a way to watch Netflix while under the covers. For those who can afford it, it is likely to become your go-to device for video calling, reading news, browsing the internet, iOS gaming and some working while on the go.

There are some spec downsides, but these are only really apparent if you compare it head-to-head to the even pricier 12.9-inch iPad Pro, particularly the 120Hz refresh rate, known as ProMotion technology, and the ability to sign in via Face ID.

We used the iPad Air (5th Gen) over the course of a week to get a feel for its design, gesture controls, battery life, performance, stylus support, keyboard support and much more. So keep reading to find out our final verdict on the latest iPad.

For more 2022 tablet coverage, be sure to read our breakdown of the best Android tablet, best tablet for kids and our verdict on the best tablet of the year so far.

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Apple iPad Air (5th Gen) review: summary

The iPad Air 5th Gen is for someone who doesn’t need the power of the iPad Pro, prefers a bigger display than the iPad mini and better specs than the base iPad 9th Gen. It is the all-rounder in the series: portable, lightweight and thanks to the addition of Apple’s M1 chip, performance and speed are better than ever before.

Price: Like other models, the Air 5th Gen has two variants: Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi/Cellular. The cost goes up in correlation with your chosen storage size - coming in 64GB or 256GB. Here is a breakdown of the iPad Air (5th generation) UK pricing:

  • Wi-Fi: 64GB: £569 | 256GB: £719
  • Wi-Fi + Cellular: 64GB: £719 | 256GB: £869

Key features:

  • Has a crisp 10.9″ Liquid Retina display
  • Powered by the Apple M1 chip
  • 12MP ultra-wide front camera with Centre Stage
  • 5G connectivity (cellular model)
  • Works with Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio
  • Compatible with the Apple Pencil (2nd generation)
  • Touch ID fingerprint authentication
  • Charges via USB-C instead of Lightning


  • Fantastic 10.9-inch display
  • Speedy software performance
  • Has Apple’s M1 chip


  • No Face ID biometrics
  • Yes, it’s still pretty expensive
  • No 120Hz refresh rate

What is the iPad Air (5th Gen)?

The Apple iPad Air (5th generation) was released on 18th March 2022. Powered by the speedy M1 chip and running iPadOS 15.4, the slate sits under the iPad Pro in the most recent line-up of tablets in terms of pricing and performance. It is thin and portable, with compatibility with a range of accessories including the Magic Keyboard, the Smart Keyboard Folio and the Apple Pencil (2nd generation). The design hasn’t changed since the predecessor, so anyone who owns the iPad Air (4th generation) should think twice if the new specs are actually needed before upgrading.

How much is the iPad Air (5th Gen)?

The iPad Air (5th Gen) with 64GB of storage and Wi-Fi is priced from £569 in the UK. The Wi-Fi model with 256GB of storage is priced from £719. There are also two cellular models that have support for 5G. They are priced at £719 for 64GB of storage and £719 for 256GB of storage. There are no higher storage models.

It is certainly not what we would classify as an affordable tablet (check out the best budget tablets for those) but it’s in line with what you expect for the Apple brand and the specs it comes with. One of its main competitors will be the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 slate series, which is priced between £649 and £999 in the UK.

iPad Air (5th Gen) features

When it comes to software features on its tablets, Apple likes to share. The Air 5th gen runs iPadOS 15, so it will be a familiar experience if you have ever used a Pro, mini or base iPad model. You mostly pay for size and hardware differences, but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to shout about. It should be noted that despite them not being unique, the feature-set on here is still very impressive.

One of the biggest changes with the new iPad Air isn’t visible to the eye. Inside the frame is Apple’s M1 chip – the same as the Pro model.

This results in around 60% faster performance and 2x faster graphics performance compared to the previous iPad Air 4th gen. Essentially, it’s more powerful than ever, able to run tasks such as video editing and mobile gaming with ease. We had no issues with stutters or lag during tests – and all software was silky smooth.

Thanks to the software, the iPad Air 5th Gen supports Universal Control that can make it become a secondary display to your Mac computer, even dragging and dropping content between the two devices. This is a welcome feature for many Apple users, as are the adaptive volume controls. If you rotate the tablet, this feature (which can be turned off) makes sure that the volume control layout always feels natural.

The audio that comes from the quad-speaker set-up is also solid, handling all types of genres and giving off a generally pleasing sound profile that’s more than loud enough for indoor use. The synth on Flume’s “Insane” was pulsing, the guitars on Metallica’s “Battery” were chugging, and Nirvana was suitably distorted. If you are using this as a media device, it will handle audiobooks and Netflix with ease.

Also at the top of our favourite feature list is compatibility with the Apple Pencil (2nd generation) and cases including the Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio, which attach magnetically. The keyboard is a game-changer for anyone who views these devices as little more than a big phone. It’s bulky and weighty, but transforms the Air 5th Gen into a mini Apple laptop – with a fully working trackpad and keys that have nice travel and overall usability once you get used to their smaller sizing.

The trackpad shows a cursor as you move around the display but you will run into difficulties if you attempt to use this as a fully-fledged computer. It works best as an add-on for notes and document editing, with some navigation still done via touch. But this was a pleasant surprise and we see it being great for anyone who travels.

The split view multitasking remains easy to use and speedy to control. Tapping the three-button icon at the top of an open app lets you choose multiple modes, such as having multiple apps open at once and opening one on top of the others.

And all of the apps you expect to see are back, including Photo Booth, Facetime GarageBand, iMovie, Stocks, Pages, Find My, iTunes Store and Keynote. The big warning for anyone moving from Android is that you will definitely need to make an Apple ID to have a decent experience. Apple is pretty strict about that, and you won’t be able to download new apps from the store without one.

The Apple Pencil 2nd Gen sits magnetically on the top or side of the iPad, depending on how it's rotated. It's a shame that, unlike Samsung, Apple doesn’t provide a stylus in the box. This is an extra that costs an additional £119, and while it's definitely nice to use, we don’t think that it feels necessary unless you are a creative type.

While the iPad Air 5th Gen is our choice as an all-rounder, it’s not an iPad Pro killer. It lacks some features that exist to set the two apart. Specifically, it has a 60Hz display (the Pro has up to 120Hz), there’s one rear camera (the Pro has two) and there’s no support for Face ID, only offering you Touch ID for the biometric login.

iPad Air (5th Gen) display

Whether you want to browse the internet or watch a couple of hours of Netflix on a flight, the Air 5th Gen display has you covered. It’s a lovely panel. The 10.9 inches is a sweet spot between the Pro’s 12.9-inches and the mini’s 8.3-inches and has more than enough brightness (500 nits max) for all types of content. It’s responsive to use and scrolling with your fingers feels smooth, even without the high refresh rate found on the Pro. The display has not had a drastic upgrade from earlier models in the series – but will be pretty noticeable for anyone who is coming from an older iPad.

While the brightness is more that enough for indoor use, the Air 5 display is noticeably reflective when brought outside. Everything is still more than readable and image quality is solid, but you will definitely see some reflections and irritating glare from the sun and other objects in your surroundings, especially on brighter days.

iPad Air (5th Gen) camera

While you probably won’t be taking this out as your main camera (we hope), there is still a solid 12MP wide lens included on the back of the iPad Air 5th Gen, and a 12MP ultra-wide lens on the front. We found that results on both to be perfectly usable when taken in bright conditions, although we could still much prefer reaching for an iPhone 13 or Pixel 6 Pro for taking snaps on the go. One aspect that is great to have is Centre Stage, which is Apple’s auto-tracking technology for video calls.

When using FaceTime, this automatically follows your head as your move around and we found it to be consistently responsive during testing. What is slightly less fun is the positioning of the selfie camera itself, which is on the “top” of the iPad when it’s in a vertical position. That means when you rotate the iPad Air for a video call you can find yourself often awkwardly gazing to one side by mistake and with an angle that’s not as flattering as if it was placed in the middle of the “side”. It has a digital zoom up to 5x and shoots 4K video at 24 fps, 25 fps, 30 fps or 60 fps (frames per second).

iPad Air (5th Gen) design

The Apple iPad Air 5th Gen looks like, well, an Apple iPad Air 4th Gen. That said, while its look hasn’t been given an overhaul with this model, the overall build quality is still spectacular and fitting for the price tag. From the glass-covered front to the metal covered back, it has a premium vibe. And perhaps unsurprisingly due to the name, the frame is thin (6.1 mm/0.24 inches) and lightweight (462 grams max).

The bezels around the edges of the display were roughly the size of our fingertips and, like the Pro and mini, means that you can grip the sides of the tablet without obstructing too much of the screen. When in vertical positioning, the Touch ID sensor is on the power top at the top right, while the right side contains a small magnetic strip that’s used to hold the Apple Pencil 2nd Gen. On the bottom are two of the four speakers (the other two are up top) alongside the USB-C port for charging.

It’s not new, but we still love the design of the Air 5th Gen. Sleek, premium and portable (at least when it’s not in the bulkier keyboard case), it ticks all of our boxes. There are five colour options: space grey, starlight (white), pink, purple and blue. We tested the grey model and it was not only premium and sleek but pleasingly minimalist.

The minimalistic approach extends to the port selection. As in, there’s only one. That’s the USB-C port on the bottom of the tablet (no Thunderbolt support). Sorry for anyone with wired headphones, the Apple iPad Air 5th Gen is a Bluetooth only deal.

iPad Air (5th Gen) set-up

Like pretty much all iOS products, the ease of set-up depends on whether you are already in the ecosystem. If you already have an Apple ID, the process is the most simple: just connect to your home Wi-Fi and enter your ID and password to begin pulling in your chosen apps, content and settings that are stored in the cloud.

If you want to go the manual route, there are a series of on-screen prompts that will run you through data and privacy policies, Touch ID scanning, creating a passcode, selecting a voice for the Siri voice assistant and the colour mode. If you are moving over from an Android tablet, you will have to create a new Apple ID. To pull in your data, follow the “Move Data from Android” prompt during the initial set-up.

iPad Air (5th Gen) battery life

Apple promises around 10 hours of battery life when using the iPad Air 5th Gen for tasks such as browsing the internet on Wi‑Fi or watching video. We found that number to be broadly accurate when testing the longevity using YouTube videos, watching some Twitch content and checking Reddit multiple times at mid-brightness.

It’s not too surprising. Apple has kept battery performance similar across its iPad models, and that 10-hour figure seems consistent in the recent line-up.

That doesn’t mean the battery will die every 10 hours. Far from it. That number is only used to test continuous use, and while it's dependent on usage the tablet will last for multiple days if you are just picking it up for shorter bursts.

In one charging test playing a looping YouTube video at full brightness, the Air 5th Gen battery depleted from 20% to dead in one hour and 10 minutes. When powering back up with the mains (included in the box), it charged from dead to 100% full in two hours and 44 minutes. Unlike the recent iPhones, there’s no wireless charging.

iPad Air (5th Gen) sustainability

Apple has said the new iPad Air is made from a “100 percent recycled aluminium enclosure” and “100 per cent recycled tin in the solder of the main logic board and 100 per cent recycled rare earth elements in the enclosure and audio magnets.”

Based on its promotional materials, sustainability does seem to be at the forefront of Apple’s approach to making the tablets. It says that today it is “carbon neutral for global corporate operations” and claims it is aiming to have “net-zero climate impact across the entire business” by the year 2030, including supply chains.

The Apple website reads: “All iPad models meet Apple’s high standards for energy efficiency, remain free of numerous harmful substances, and use wood fibre in the packaging that comes from recycled sources or responsibly managed forests.”

Our verdict: should you buy iPad Air (5th Gen)?

The iPad Air 5th Gen is, in our opinion, the best Apple tablet for most people. It may sit in between a few other models, but this is no awkward middle child.

With a lovely display, thin frame and Pro-level performance, the Air 5 gives you a taste of the high-end without having to pay around £1000 for the luxury.

Priced from £569, the iPad Air 5th Gen doesn’t have everything offered by the Pro, such as the 120Hz refresh rate, Face ID, dual camera set-up and more storage – but it provides a fantastic iOS experience and has great compatibility with accessories such as the Pencil 2 and Magic Keyboard. It boasts the same M1 chip as the Pro.

While it never made us forget about the concept of a computer, the keyboard case add-on was a specific highlight. With the M1, the tablet is more than capable of being used for work tasks that require typing, multitasking and editing, although there are still some limitations with using a tablet operating system for productivity.

Air 4 users can probably skip this model and there are Android tablet alternatives available – including the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 and the Xiaomi Pad 5 – but if you want to upgrade to an iPad with a bigger screen than the mini and you don’t need the flagship-level powers of the Pro, the Apple Air 5th generation is the one for you.

Our rating:

  • Features: 4/5
  • Screen quality: 4/5
  • Design: 5/5
  • Set-up: 5/5
  • Battery/performance: 4.5/5

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Where to buy the iPad Air (5th Gen)

The iPad Air (5th Gen) starts at £569 in the UK. The cellular model starts at £719.

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