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The new iPad Air is completely pointless (for now) — here’s why

iPad Air 5
(Image credit: Future)

The new iPad Air 5 with M1 surprised a lot of us at Apple’s Peek Performance event, but once that feeling subsided, I was left with one question: why does it even exist?

Yes, I know that headline was pretty dramatic. In reality, I’m confident the iPad Air is going to be a lovely tablet to use. But I came into Laptop Mag working as a deals writer. I care about getting each and every one of you the best value for money, and the iPad Air ain’t it

Right now, in this gap between the M1 iPad Air launching and the eventual announcement of the M2 iPad Pro, the former has no reason for being here. Let me explain.

64GB is just getting silly now

Apple Event Mar 8, 2022

(Image credit: Apple)

64GB is an incredibly limiting amount of space and Apple knows it. The company made a big stink about upping the base iPhone 13 to 128GB, so the fact that this smaller storage option still exists for the iPad is wholly inconsistent with what Apple itself has said.

And I’ve not even started talking about the impact on the end user. The best Apple Arcade games can take up to 7GB of storage, and all the most used apps on the app store easily fill up a gigabyte. Your photo library, podcasts, downloaded movies, TV shows, any creative work you do — all of this will make a dent on your iPad’s capacity that you’re regularly going into those storage options and tweaking to make room for other things.

That is why even at $599, this lower cost option is just not an acceptable choice. You don’t want to waste your time offloading and re-downloading stuff as you need it. Apple should permanently upgrade the storage to 128GB at this same price point.

2022 iPad Air vs 2021 iPad Pro: What’s the difference?

Apple iPad Pro 11 deal

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Laptop Mag’s smartphone expert, Sean Riley, has already done a detailed face-off between the new iPad Air 5 and iPad Pro with M1, and you can check it out for a deeper look

What I will highlight, though, is the improvements you get in the iPad Pro over the iPad Air:

  • Better camera system: An additional 10MP ultra-wide, a true tone flash and a LIDAR scanner
  • Face ID: A true depth camera on front to make unlocking a whole lot easier
  • A better display: Liquid Retina with 600 nit-brightness and a 120Hz variable refresh rate
  • Four-speaker audio
  • The USB-C connector has Thunderbolt support

With those features, you’d expect this to be a more pricey option, right? Well, while the list price (or RRP in the U.K.) of $799/£749 does suggest this, the reality is different.

After nearly a year out in the wild, the M1 iPad Pro (opens in new tab) is regularly discounted and you can find the 128GB model for either the same price or either cheaper than the 256GB iPad Air.

Wait… So what’s the point of the M1 iPad Air?

It’s a good question, dear reader. The point of it is not yet clear, but it will be soon. You see, this Apple Event was quite a small announcement in the grand scheme of where Apple Silicon is going. 

Apple Event Mar 8, 2022

(Image credit: Apple)

We essentially got the M1 equivalent of going Super Saiyan with the M1 Ultra: it’s final form. But there were lots of expectations to see the M2 in stuff like a new MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro. One thing we can rely on Apple to do is make common sense decisions with their device refreshes, so it should come as no surprise that when the M2 event inevitably happens, it will only be a matter of time before that new chip finds itself in the iPad Pro.

That is when the 2022 iPad Air will make sense, but right now, it exists alongside a far superior and cheaper iPad Pro.

Outlook — just get the iPad Pro

Do you want an M1 iPad? 64GB of storage is just restraining yourself and the cost of a 256GB model is right out there in no man’s land for nonsensical pricing.

iPad Pro 2021

(Image credit: Laptop mag)

At the time of writing this, the 11-inch iPad Pro with 128GB of storage is exactly the same price as the 256GB iPad Air 5 at $749/£699 at Amazon (it has been cheaper before), but it also comes with the additional benefits of a better display, better cameras, Face ID and Thunderbolt support This is a clearly superior tablet that’s worth taking the hit on storage in my opinion.

But of course, that’s just one person’s opinion. You’re well within your own right to have your own view on how important that extra 128GB of storage is to your content storing needs. All I’m saying is think about it before blindly picking the new thing, yea?

Jason England
Jason England

 Jason brings a decade of tech and gaming journalism experience to his role as a writer at Laptop Mag. He takes a particular interest in writing articles and creating videos about laptops, headphones and games. He has previously written for Kotaku, Stuff and BBC Science Focus. In his spare time, you'll find Jason looking for good dogs to pet or thinking about eating pizza if he isn't already.