The new iPad Air has an Apple M1 chip, 5G, and Center Stage

The new iPad Air comes in five colors and will start at $599 when it goes on sale March 18th.

A rumor that’s run absolutely rampant in the past few months has finally come to fruition: Apple’s new iPad Air is here. After remaining the same since it received a redesign in 2020, the iPad Air is finally being upgraded with modern specifications, including the best performance you can get on an iPad.

Meet the fifth-generation iPad Air

  • Apple’s latest iPad Air feels familiar thanks to the design, but it’s much more powerful with the M1 chip and 5G.
  • New colors are being offered so people from afar can tell that, yes, you have the *new* Air: gray, starlight, pink, purple, and blue.
  • The tablet still comes with 64GB of base storage which is a bit unfortunate, but it still starts at $599.

More power

The biggest upgrade to the iPad Air is by far the processor. Apple is going from the A14 Bionic chip to the M1, found in the higher-end iPad Pros as well as a number of Macs. According to the company, users can expect a 60 percent performance improvement over the A14, as well as twice the graphics performance. A 16-core Neural Engine is also included to power machine learning-centric tasks.

Another big update involves cellular connectivity. Apple includes 5G on its latest iPad Air, but you’ll only be able to connect to sub-6GHz spectrum and not the much faster but incredibly rare mmWave. Regardless, it’ll still cost you extra since Apple is continuing to sell separate Wi-Fi and cellular-equipped models.

The front camera on the iPad Air is also getting updated with a new ultra-wide 12MP sensor, enabling Apple’s Center Stage feature which can automatically keep your face in frame during video calls. The rear 12MP remains unchanged.

In addition, the USB-C port on the iPad Air is improved with up to 2x the data speeds of the previous model, resulting in up to 10Gbps performance.

A familiar design

The rest of the iPad Air remains familiar. It still features a 10.9-inch Liquid Retina (read: LCD) display with up to 500 nits of brightness, support for the P3 wide color gamut, True Tone, an anti-reflective screen coating, and slim bezels. Touch ID is found in the power button, and there are stereo speakers on either side. It remains compatible with the Apple Pencil 2 and Magic Keyboard, and the battery life is quoted as lasting “all-day.”

In order to distinguish the old iPad Air from the new one, Apple is shipping five new colors with the updated model: gray, starlight, pink, purple, and blue. I’m definitely into the new blue finish the most.

Pricing and availability

Apple says the iPad Air will launch on March 18th, with preorders going live this Friday, March 11th. It’ll be available in 64GB and 256GB configurations starting at $599. 5G models will start at $749 and go up to $899.