Comparing Apple’s iPad Air 5 to My 12.9-Inch iPad Pro
Reader, I’ve started writing this review about five times. And that’s because I’m finding the iPad Air 5 to be a bit of a conundrum for me to review.
With each attempted start, I’ve found myself comparing Apple’s latest tablet to all the various iPads that I’ve used, from the logical choices of the previous-gen iPad Air 4 and the similarly powered 11-inch M1 iPad Pro to the less obvious iPad mini and 12.9-inch M1 iPad Pro (because those are the ones that I personally own at the present). But each time, I’m just as lost at the end of the review as I was at the beginning, not knowing which device I prefer.
Ultimately, I have decided against comparing the Air 5 to its predecessor because A) every other review has already done so, and B) the new one has the M1 chip, so yeah, it’s better. And while I think the comparison to the 11-inch iPad Pro is more interesting since they now share the same processor and form factor with only a few minor differences, this too has already been done by countless other reviews; the only thing I really think I can add to that conversation is that I personally think spending $749 on the 256GB model of the iPad Air 5 is a better deal than spending $799 on the 128GB model of the iPad Pro. The Pro does have some nice features like 120-hertz ProMotion, Thunderbolt 4, and an extra camera and LiDAR sensor, and I think those will matter to some people (and those people have probably written off the iPad Air before clicking on this story), but I’m not a power user and these features don’t make a difference to me, not in the same way that double the storage would in the long run.
So now I’m left comparing the iPad Air 5 to the two tablets that I already own. Aside from size, the iPad Air 5 and the iPad mini are very similar. Both are light and portable, both have a 60-hertz LCD screen and the same flat-backed, flat-edged, rounded corner design that originated with the iPad Pro, both charge via USB-C and use the Apple Pencil 2. In fact, the only real differences here are the size (8 inches versus 10.9), the processor (A15 versus M1), and the fact that Apple left off the smart connector on the iPad mini, a decision that still baffles me to this day (seriously, I don’t need a miniature Magic Keyboard for the mini, but a…