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Apple announces new iPad Air with M1 chip

Apple has just confirmed the release of a new iPad Air model with the powerful M1 chip. Read on for everything we know so far, plus pre-launch rumors.

After months of speculation, the new iPad Air has finally been unveiled at Apple’s March 8 event. Key specs include the powerful Apple M1 chipset, which gives it the same powerful processor as the top-end iPad Pro. This brand new iPad Air will also support 5G connectivity, so you’ll be able to get the best data speeds if you opt for the cellular version, though there’s also a Wi-Fi-only version.

Along with the new built-in silicon, the tablet will also have a 12-megapixel front-facing camera with Center Stage support, meaning it will use artificial intelligence to keep you and any other people with you in the frame when you use FaceTime. or other similar applications.

The new iPad Air will have a base price of $599 (for the 64GB version) and a 256GB version will also be available. Five color options will be available: Space Grey, Starlight (White), Pink, Purple and Blue.

The iPad Air will be available for pre-order starting Friday, March 11, and will be available for purchase starting March 18.

As expected, the device will run on iPad OS, Apple’s custom software for its family of tablets. The manufacturer highlighted some of the key features of this operating system in the presentation below:

Along with performance improvements, Apple has also been looking to promote its environmental certifications, as you can see from the newsletter below:

Read on for all the pre-launch rumors about this tablet, as well as a wishlist of what we wanted to see in the iPad Air 5.

Design and display

We don’t expect any major design changes to the iPad Air 5, and it’s likely to be visually indistinguishable from the previous generation.

This is by no means bad news; iPad Air 4 has been extensively redesigned to look much sleeker than its predecessors, while also being light and easy to use.

iPad Air 4
iPad Air 4

The display of the upcoming iPad Air has been the subject of much speculation, with rumors initially circulating that it would be replaced from an LCD panel to OLED.

For years, Apple has always used LCD technology in its iPads; however, OLED offers greater contrast and perfect blacks, and in some cases can also help save battery due to the way the pixels are displayed. OLED panels are also much better suited to HDR content, so this move should kick-start the media binge. Apple is currently using OLED panels in both the iPhone 12 and Apple Watch 6 lineups, so it’s no surprise that the same technology will hit other product lines.

However, despite numerous rumors that OLED will appear on the iPad Air this year; however, the latest information by Apple expert Ming-Chi Kuo actually refutes this rumor by saying that Apple has abandoned the new screen technology due to quality and cost concerns. Given that the lowest-spec variant of the iPad Pro also lacks an OLED screen, it’s no surprise that this update won’t be available for the iPad Air line just yet.

Characteristics

While there’s obviously not going to be a big change in design or display this year – at least according to rumors – we’re happy to report that the internals are likely to get a major upgrade.

iPad Air feature they say that upgraded to the A15 Bionic, the same as the latest generation of Apple smartphones, including the iPhone 13 Pro. We were extremely impressed with the performance of this silicon, which is arguably the best mobile processor ever, so this alone could be a major shake-up for the iPad Air.

However, an even more recent rumor reported by 9to5 Mac said the A15 Bionic will be skipped entirely in favor of Apple’s much more powerful M1 chip – the same silicon used in the latest iPad Pro and MacBook Air M1. This will be a huge performance boost, as much as 50% over the A15 Bionic and as much as 70% over the A14 Bionic in the iPad Air 4.

The update will also introduce a 5G modem so you can access the latest generation of mobile data. However, it’s worth noting that when this change was made to the iPad Mini last year, it was only limited to the more common sub-6GHz frequency, and not to faster mmWave networks.

Camera

According to Mark Gurman of Bloomberga very reliable source of information on what’s going on at Apple, there will also be a camera update on the way to the iPad Air.

Center Stage for FaceTime is a tool that uses machine learning to track you when you’re using the front camera during a video call, to keep you and everyone you’re with in the frame while you’re chatting. Gurman says this will carry over to the new iPad Air – and while it’s hardly a revolution, it’s still a nice minor update.

Price and availability

There haven’t been many rumors of a big price change, and given that changes this year are relatively low-key, it’s unlikely you’ll have to shell out much more money for this version than its predecessor.

The base model iPad Air 4 had a starting MSRP of £579 / $599 (and is currently £539 / $549), so we expect to see a similar price tag attached to the new model when it hits Stage 8 Martha.

Check out the full list of updates we’d like to see on the iPad Air this year, compiled by our mobile editor, Max Parker:

What do we want from the iPad Air 5?

1. Switch to the ProMotion display

The biggest reason to buy an iPad Pro over the current iPad Air is the display. And we’re not talking about resolution or display type, since they’re identical. Instead, we are talking about the refresh rate.

The iPad Pro has what Apple calls a ProMotion display. This means the bar can vary the number of updates per second, slowing down videos and speeding up scrolling without juddering and responsive gaming. As with many Android phones, the screen can run at up to 120Hz for a smooth experience that’s hard to pass up.

Adding such functionality to the next iPad Air seems ambitious, as it would remove one of the key reasons to buy Apple’s top-tier tablet. Instead, we would suggest a lighter version of ProMotion with a 90Hz refresh rate. So the iPad Pro stays on top, but the Air still benefits from a faster screen.

2. Offer more diverse storage options

We had few issues with the iPad Air 4. However, one thing that bothered me was the lack of storage options. You can choose between a 64GB or 256GB tablet, with a noticeable price difference between the two.

Opt for the 256GB model and you’ll get close to the price of the 128GB iPad Pro, while opting for the 64GB version will leave you with limited space. This is a difficult decision.

The simple answer would be to suggest the 128GB option, as we often find this to be the sweetest spot. Sure, it would be better if this version replaced the 64GB (it’s a £579 tablet, after all), but we’d settle for an addition to the two options currently available. While we make our requests, we also welcome a powerful 512 GB or even 1 TB option.

3. Add 5G to it

Cellular iPads have been around for a while, and they’re the perfect tool for those who work without Wi-Fi. Inserting a SIM card directly into a tablet for web browsing and other connected activities is easy, and one of the ways the iPad beats the MacBook.

The next logical step here is the addition of 5G – something that’s already been rumored for the iPad Pro. Apple has added 5G network support to all of its iPhone 12 models, and bringing it to the iPad seems like the next logical step.

Of course, this will be an additional addition – not everyone wants or needs it; but for a select few it would be a great upgrade.

4. Have two display size options

The iPad Air 4 is currently only available in one 10.9-inch size. If you want a larger iPad then there is a 12.9-inch Pro, but it will cost you many more.

We would love to see Apple offer a larger version of the Air, giving those who want a larger screen the option of not spending around £1,000 on a Pro.

5. Embed MagSafe technology from iPhone 12.

It’s a long way to go – but wouldn’t it be smart if Apple somehow managed to add MagSafe magnetic technology from the iPhone line to the next iPad Air? Possibly with support for wireless charging.

Imagine charging your iPhone or Apple Watch by attaching it to the back of your iPad or by attaching your MagSafe wallet to it. We’ll no doubt see third-party accessories as well, such as keyboard cases and rear-seat car mounts.


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