If Apple’s iPad Pro models are way out of the budget for your needs, then you have the standard iPad as well as the iPad Air to look at. Specifically, it means the choice you make is between the 2021 iPad vs the 2022 iPad Air.
The standard iPad starts at $330, while, the iPad Air is nearly twice as expensive at $600.
Simple answers first, the standard iPad is recommended to most people who want a simple, effective tablet to use on the couch or in bed to stream videos, run basic, normal apps, along with light productivity, for example writing emails.
I am not saying that the iPad Air is a bad tablet, rather, its place is closer to Apple’s iPad Pro. Why so you may wonder, that is because the iPad Air offers the same processor as the iPad Pro models, however, it doesn’t come with frivolous features that some creative professionals might not need, for example a dual-lens camera system or Apple’s super-smooth ProMotion display tech. Note – The iPad Air’s price is also closer to the iPad Pro than it is to the standard iPad.
The iPad Air might be sounding like a more premium version of the standard iPad, and it can just be. However, spending the $270 extra on the iPad Air provides rapidly diminishing returns, because casual iPad users do not necessarily require the power of the M1 processor. It could also be argued that the screen as well as the design upgrades the iPad Air offers are not “$270” better for casual users, as well.
2021 iPad vs iPad Air 2022 specifications
|Specification||2021 iPad||2022 iPad Air|
|Display||10.2-inch (2,160 x 1,620) Retina LED||10.9-inch (2,360 x 1,640) Liquid Retina LED|
|Processor||Apple A13 Bionic||Apple M1|
|Memory and storage||3GB RAM (estimated) / 64GB, 256GB storage||8GB RAM / 64GB, 256GB storage|
|Battery and charging||32.4 Wh, 20W charger included||28.6 Wh, 20W charger included|
|Cameras||8MP main camera||12MP main camera|
|Front camera||12MP FaceTime HD camera with Center Stage||12MP FaceTime HD camera with Center Stage|
|Audio||Two speakers||Stereo speakers|
|Authentication||Touch ID||Touch ID (on power button)|
|Price||Starting at $330||Starting at $600|
The Design and Display
The standard iPad comes with Apple’s classic iPad design, the rounded edges along with the large borders on the top as well as the bottom. Whereas, the iPad Air has a sleeker, more modern look with sharper, squared-off edges along with a flat back, which is nearly identical to the iPad Pro design.
The seemingly obvious difference between the standard iPad and iPad Air’s display is their sizes. The iPad Air’s 10.9-inch display is a bit bigger than the standard iPad’s 10.2-inch display. Though there is a difference it is hard doesn’t make much of a change, even, if you switch between both iPads.
Other than size, the iPad has Apple‘s Retina display, whereas the Air boasts a Liquid Retina display. To be told simply, the iPad Air essentially has slightly richer colors. Otherwise, both the iPads have the same sharpness relative to the display sizes.
The iPad Air as mentioned above does not come with Apple’s ProMotion display tech, which runs the display at a 120Hz refresh rate. That refreshes the screen 120 times per second so that the results appear in super-smooth animations. Both the iPad as well as the iPad Air displays run at 60Hz, which is slightly disappointing, but still looks fine.
Performance and the Battery life
This is where the difference between them becomes clear, the iPad Air differentiates itself here. As it runs on Apple’s computer-grade M1 processor, the 2022 iPad Air is backed by the same power as the 2021 iPad Pro, 13-inch MacBook Air/MacBook Pro, as well as the Mac Mini.
That is some huge amount of power for a tablet, however, casual users are not likely to notice it when using normal apps, or even with graphics-heavy games. Say you play a little “Call of Duty Mobile” on both tablets, the experience will practically be identical.
Though, the standard iPad’s A13 Bionic processor from the iPhone 11 series offers less power, it still is perfectly capable of running normal apps, games, along with streaming video.
Future-proofing is one of the benefits of buying a device that packs tremendous power, could even say overpowered for your needs now, like the iPad Air. Yes, the iPad Air has the potential to run apps as well as games smoothly for longer than the standard iPad due to the M1 chip providing extra power. Despite that, it is still unclear how long Apple’s M1 processor will remain powerful as well as relevant, as it is still a comparatively new processor.
|Benchmark||2021 iPad||2022 iPad Air|
|Geekbench 5 single-core||1,331||1,721|
|Geekbench 5 multi-core||3,476||7,333|
The 2021 iPad as well as the 2022 iPad Air have similar battery life.
The standard iPad lasts around five hours and 25 minutes, with continuous heavy battery draining usage. For example, continuous streaming of a YouTube video at full brightness and at the closest resolution that matches the iPad’s display.
While, the iPad Air, lasted around four hours and 53 minutes.
The battery test results should always be taken with a grain of salt as, each iPad lasts much longer in real-world usage, where the display as well as settings are not set to maximum. Say, battery life is a primary concern for you, then the standard iPad generally lasts longer, thanks to its smaller display.
|iPad Model||Battery Life|
|2021 iPad||5 hours, 25 minutes|
|2022 iPad Air||4 hours, 53 minutes|
The standard iPad is compatible with the standard first-generation Apple Pencil, whereas the iPad Air is compatible with the second-generation Apple Pencil. If you wish to take notes and doodle, the standard Apple Pencil is sufficient, it works just fine. If you want a more precise as well as responsive experience, the second-generation Apple Pencil is your option.
The standard iPad as well as the iPad Air support mouse input. Indeed, if you are navigating around iOS and apps often as well as quickly, lifting your arm and tapping the screen can prove to be tiring, so you could just use a mouse.
You can also get keyboard/trackpad combo cases for both iPads. Sadly, Apple does not make a keyboard/trackpad combo case for the standard iPad, so you will have to search for a third-party case, for example, the Logitech Combo Touch Keyboard Case with Trackpad.
For the iPad Air, Apple’s ultra-premium, as well as ultra-expensive Magic Keyboard, adds a keyboard along with trackpad functionality. There are cheaper options for the keyboard/trackpad combo for the Air, for example, the Logitech Folio Touch Keyboard Case with Trackpad and Smart Connector. The accessories designed for the 2020 iPad as well as the 2020 iPad Air will fit snugly with the 2021 iPad as well as the 2022 iPad Air.
The Final Verdict
The standard iPad is truly impressive for its price point, and spending twice as much for the iPad Air doesn’t seem a great option for casual users, or gamers. You can buy the iPad Air if you wish, however, the benefits are not immediately obvious, excluding the sleeker, larger design.
Yes, the iPad Air is likely to outlast the standard iPad before it turns obsolete, however, if it will last twice as long to match its price tag is up for debate.
If you are a creative professional looking for a powerhouse tablet, go for the iPad Air, not only for its power but also for its likely longevity over the standard iPad for tasks like editing photos and videos.
Additionally, the creative professionals can benefit from the iPad Air’s speedy 10 Gigabit-per-second (Gbps) USB-C port for quick transfer of work files as well as data from an external SSD drive that supports 10Gbps.
If you liked this article (or if it helped at all), leave a comment below or share it with friends, so they can also iPad vs iPad Air – Which is Best?