Apple iPad Air (2024) vs. iPad Air (2022): Which model should you buy?

Jason Hiner/ZDNET

Apple’s new iPad Air is here, complete with two distinct sizes, beefed-up performance, and a tweaked design to help it stand out against the previous model. Apple didn’t go as crazy with its upgrades to the iPad Air as it did with the latest iPad Pro lineup, but that’s easily forgiven considering the new iPad Air looks to be the go-to tablet for most people.

Also: I’ve used every iPad since the original. Here’s my buying advice for the new 2024 models

That said, there are reasons to consider your alternatives. Namely, Apple’s previous-generation iPad Air from 2022 is sticking around at various retailers, and its price will meaningfully drop as time progresses. It’s also still a very capable device, even though you won’t hear Apple bragging about it.

So, which iPad Air is right for you: the one from 2024, or the slightly older one from 2022? Let’s find out.

Specifications

iPad Air (2024)

iPad Air (2022)

Display

10.9-inch or 13-inch Liquid Retina IPS, 60Hz

10.9-inch Liquid Retina IPS, 2360 x 1640, 500 nits, 60Hz

Processor

Apple M2

Apple M1

Storage

128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB

64GB or 256GB

Cameras

12MP rear camera, 12MP webcam (landscape-oriented)

12MP rear camera, 12MP webcam (portrait-oriented)

Connectivity

Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.0, optional 5G

Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, optional 5G

Battery

10 hours of web browsing or video watching on W-Fi

10 hours of web browsing or video watching on Wi-Fi

Apple Pencil support

Works with Apple Pencil Pro or Apple Pencil (USB-C)

Works with Apple Pencil (2nd gen) or Apple Pencil (USB-C)

Colors

Space Gray, Starlight, Purple, Blue

Space Gray, Starlight, Pink, Purple, Blue

Price

Starts at $599 (11-inch) and $799 (13-inch)

Starts at $499


You should buy the iPad Air (2024) if…

Apple iPad Air

Apple

1. You need a bigger screen

For the first time ever, Apple is offering two different screen sizes for the iPad Air. There’s the conventional 11-inch size (which is up 0.1 inches from last year) alongside a much larger 13-inch size. That means those who want the iPad Pro’s bigger screen can now get one for a lower price, albeit with a less impressive display.

Also: iPad Pro (2024) vs. iPad Air (2024): Which Apple tablet should you buy?

Regardless, it’s a huge win for anyone who just wants an iPad to do iPad things. If you do any sort of serious work on an 11-inch iPad, I can tell you from first-hand experience that you’ll feel cramped sooner than you might think. Having that extra screen real estate will come in handy for most people.

2. You want better performance and more storage

Speaking of doing a lot of stuff on your iPad, chances are you’ll want extra performance if you tend to spend a lot of time on it. The new iPad Air should give you that courtesy of the M2 chip, which replaces the M1 from the previous Air.

Apple says you’ll get up to 50% better performance than in the previous model and much faster graphics performance for gaming or video editing. This is a nice bonus for those of us (myself included) who always chase the best specs in their tech purchases.

You also get a lot more storage in the updated iPad Air. Apple doubled the base storage to 128GB while maxing things out at 1TB. With the old model, you could only pick between 64GB or 256GB.

3. You use the iPad all the time in landscape mode

For years, there’s been an outcry from reviewers and users alike for Apple to reposition the iPad’s front-facing camera. Nowadays, practically everyone uses the tablet in landscape mode for a majority of tasks, so it only makes sense to move it to the side bezel so it can look at you straight on.

Also: Everything Apple unveiled at its ‘Let Loose’ event: iPad Pro, Air, Pencil, M4, and more

That’s just what Apple finally did with the new iPad Air. The camera is now located on the right side of the tablet instead of the top, which means you’ll look a lot better during FaceTime calls. You also won’t need to worry about smudging up the camera or blocking it while holding your iPad in landscape mode.

You should buy the iPad Air (2022) if…

ipad-air-with-apple-magic-keyboard

Kayla Solino/ZDNET

1. You want to save money

The 2022 iPad Air isn’t going to be sold directly by Apple anymore, but other retailers will still offer it to clear out inventory at lower prices.

I’ve already spotted the old Air discounted for $100 at some online stores, which makes the tablet a decent value and lowers the barrier of entry if you’re set on buying an Air over any other iPad. (The 10th-generation iPad is a great deal at $350.) If you want an iPad Air and don’t feel like shelling out upwards of $800, the older Air model is the way to go.

2. You’re okay with a slightly older chip

With the old Air, you won’t be missing out on much. You’ll still get an 11-inch Liquid Retina display, Touch ID, USB-C, and up to 10 hours of battery life. The only real downside regarding specs is the processor; the old Air includes the M1, which originally debuted in 2020.

Also: iPad Air 2024: These 4 best new features make for one tempting tablet

Despite its age, the chip manages to keep up well with everyday tasks, and some heavier workloads like photo editing. Granted, the chip will start to show its age much faster than the new iPad Air’s M2, but you’ll have at least a few years before it starts to noticeably slow down.

3. You don’t want to upgrade your Apple Pencil

The new iPad Air works with Apple’s new haptic-equipped Apple Pencil Pro as well as the USB-C-equipped Apple Pencil. If you have the older second-generation Apple Pencil (which works perfectly fine for most people), you’ll be out of luck when upgrading to the new Air, which isn’t incompatible.

Meanwhile, the older Air works fine with the older accessory, so you won’t need to worry about shelling out another $130 for the newer model.

Alternative to consider

View at Best Buy

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