So the iPad Air 5 didn’t get the warm welcome that most iPads get. And that may come as a surprise considering that Apple is now offering the same M1 chip that they used in the iPad Pro but in this $600 iPad Air. So what went wrong here? I’ve been using the iPad Air 5 for two and a half months now, and I also got some interesting results when I tested the build quality and the strength of this iPad.
Please don’t try the things that I did with your own iPads.
I don’t want yours to get damaged, and I only did them for testing purposes. So here’s everything you need to know about the iPad Air 5. Overall, it’s important that we look at this iPad from two angles, the first is someone who’s a prospective iPad user, meaning that they either don’t have a tablet at all or they have a tablet from another brand and they’re thinking of buying an iPad.
The second angle is someone who already has an iPad and is thinking of upgrading. As far as the size and the design, we’re not seeing any changes from the iPad Air 4.
So we have the exact same body, the same size bezels, the same 10.9-inch display, the same button configuration with Touch ID incorporated into the power button, and the same two-speaker setup. Now the new colors are awesome, and I definitely like this more saturated blue than the muted one on the iPad Air 4.
But as far as the design and the size, if you already have an iPad Air 4, there’s really no reason to upgrade. You’re not gonna do that just for the color. But if you’re coming from an iPad Air 3 or if you’re looking to upgrade from an iPad 9 or older, then you are getting rid of the larger bezels on the top and the bottom and then, of course, getting rid of the home button. If you’re thinking of switching from a comparable Samsung Galaxy Tab S, for example, then again, there is nothing about this design that stands out, and you’re most likely moving from four speakers on something like the Tab S7 and the Tab S8 down to two speakers.
One sort of odd thing about the iPad Air 4 speakers has to do with the configuration. So we’re getting four speaker grills but only two speakers, and they’re located at the bottom instead of the top when you’re holding the iPad in landscape mode. And in terms of quality, the speakers are actually very good. And if I’m watching content or if I’m playing Xbox games using a controller, they work great. But when I play “PUBG,” for example, I’m holding the tablet with a fair amount of pressure between my two palms and my hands land right on the two speakers. Now this doesn’t completely block out the sound because it’s still coming out of the top, but it does make it more muffled. Now I could technically flip it upside down and that does work. The audio quality goes back to normal, but now the Apple Pencil is at the bottom because there are no magnets at the top.
Also, the power button is now covered by my right hand. And because the button protrudes from the iPad, it’s super easy to press it by mistake.
When we look at the display itself, it’s a good 60 hertz display. No complaints about it for the past two and a half months, but it’s the same display that we got on the iPad Air 4, same resolution, same size, same pixel density. So again, there’s no differentiation or upgrade from the iPad Air 4.
It is an upgrade from the entry-level iPad because it’s a fully laminated display, but it lacks features like 120 hertz refresh rate that we see on competing tablets from other brands. As far as the size, I think that the iPad Air 5 is right in the sweet spot. So unless you specifically want a smaller iPad like the iPad Mini 6 or a large one like the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, I think this display size is great. Now, before we get to build quality tests, there are three things that I want with every iPad.
I wanna protect the device itself from drops, I wanna protect the screen from scratching, and I wanna be able to charge the iPad faster. There are a couple of products from today’s sponsor, Spigen, that help me out. Now I’ve been using the Ultra Hybrid Pro case. It comes in colors that match the new iPad Air 5, so I got this blue one, which I absolutely love. It has a nice finish to it, and the back is clear so I can still see the actual color of my iPad. It has a tri-fold design so you can position the iPad in different orientations. The case fully protects all the sides of the iPad, has reinforced corners that absorb impact, and it has a strap that secures the Apple Pencil while it’s charging. As far as screen protector, I went with the Paper Touch Pro. I like the matte finish because it helps reduce reflections when I’m working outside.
It also adds a nice texture, which improves the feel of the Apple Pencil.
And I love the fact that it comes with an auto alignment tool to make installation easy. The iPad Air 5 does come with a charger, which is great because you don’t have to buy one, but it’s only an 18-watt charger. The ArcStation Pro is about 30% smaller, it has retractable prongs, and it’s a 30-watt GaN charger so it’s more efficient and it generates less heat. This way, when I only have a few minutes here and there throughout my day, I can get my iPad charged faster. Back to the iPad Air 5 build quality, I read some comments about several potential issues, and I decided to do some testing.
So I researched all over the web, and I put together a list of complaints and then started testing them out.
Again, I wanna ask you don’t do this with your own iPad. I would never do these things if I weren’t testing them just to show you. So the first and the simplest claim was, that you can feel the internal components when you’re just holding the iPad Air 5. Now I’ve had three different iPad Air 5s, and there’s no way that you can feel anything through the frame.
I mean, it would have to be so thin for that to actually happen, and you would constantly damage it in everyday use. So that’s a definite no for me. The second claim was about creaking and weird sound. So I was twisting my iPad Air 5 in opposite directions to see if I can get anything to make a sound. And I didn’t.
Then I went to the third claim, which was about clicking noises. I started a level one by pressing on the back with the normal amount of pressure that I would use on a tablet. And then going all the way around, I heard nothing. Level two, I started pressing even harder, and I was already getting extremely uncomfortable.
It was harder than I would ever press on the back of any tablet, but I wanted to see what would happen.
And again, nothing, no sounds, and no movement. Then came level three, and this is where I really thought that I would damage or break this iPad. And I was pressing as hard as I thought I could without breaking it, and I still got no sounds. But there were areas where I could feel the back moving a bit.
And then there was one other side effect. I wanna stress that this is above and beyond what I think is even a remotely acceptable amount of pressure. And if anyone handled my devices with level two or the level three of pressure that I applied, that would be the last time they would get to use them. Now the other sort of side effect that I noticed when pressing so hard was, that I could see rings on the display in the same area where I was pressing on the back. This was with a sort of absurd amount of pressure, but definitely something was making contact on the inside.
It would be the same as if you pressed directly on the display, but pressed too hard.
I decided to run the same test on the iPad 9, the iPad Mini 6, and the iPad Pro. And if I pressed hard enough on the back, the same thing would happen with all of them. Then I grabbed a few of my Samsung tablets, and again, I could get this to happen on all of them if I pressed hard enough.
With all that said, is it possible that there are some iPad Air 5s out there with issue? Sure, it’s possible.
Is it also very possible that I just got lucky and all three models that I had just happen to be good ones? Sure, but I’m only here to share my actual user experience with you and hope that it’s helpful. And for the third time, please don’t do this to your own iPads. When I look at the battery life, Apple doesn’t focus on milliamp per hour to describe iPad batteries.
They really only reference battery life, which like every other iPad is 10 hours of watching video or surfing the web on Wi-Fi, then nine hours if using cellular data.
So far, my experience with the iPad Air 5 has been good. It’s not quite as good as the iPad 9, but it’s about the same as the iPad Mini and the 11-inch iPad Pro. As far as everyday use, multitasking, and just overall performance, the M1 chip just crushes it. This iPad is fast, it’s responsive, and there’s nothing that I’ve tried to do over the past two and a half months that made it feel sluggish.
Don’t forget that we’re not just getting a more powerful processor with the M1, we’re also doubling the RAM from four gigabytes on the previous version to eight gigabytes on this one.
So it’ll easily be able to handle everything that most people need to do now and probably for the next five or seven years. I’ve also had no hiccups when using the iPad Air 5 as an additional display for my Macs and MacBooks with Sidecar. As long as I’m using the same Apple ID on both devices, I can wirelessly connect it and then go ahead and use both displays. If you’re not using Sidecar, you really should, it’s great. And at the end of this video, I’ll link to a short tutorial explaining how Sidecar works and why it’s such a powerful feature.
When you think of getting the M1 chip, lots of amazing apps, plus Apple’s outstanding long-term support all for 600 bucks, it sounds like a great value, but there’s still one problem, storage. You see, the $600 iPad Air 5 starts with 64 gigabytes of storage. If you’re primarily using this device just to consume content, to do some web-based work, and then play a few games, that’s not gonna be an issue for you.
But if you do any more than that, I just don’t think that 64 gigabytes is going to last you for five years. I’m already almost out of storage on mine, apps take up the majority of the storage, and then iPadOS and system data take up a little more than 11 gigabytes.
My concern is that you may end up with a device that has plenty of processing power, but you’ll need to replace it because you’ll want more storage. Yes, you can store things like photos, videos, and other files on the cloud, but these devices continue to get more and more powerful. And developers are competing to see how far they can push them, so apps and games will only continue to grow in size. If you wanna move up to the 256 gigabyte version, now you’re looking at $749, and you’re getting dangerously close to that $799 11 iPad Pro zone. I’ll also link to a more detailed comparison of the two at the end of this video.
But if you only need a little more storage, you’re kind of getting a lot by upgrading to the 128 gigabyte iPad Pro for an additional 50 bucks. And it’s definitely worth considering even for the casual user. If you actually need 256 gigabytes of storage, then the 11-inch iPad Pro jumps up to $899, and you need to prioritize your specific needs. And my dedicated video will cover everything. As far as accessories, I still love my keyboards.
I primarily use the Magic Keyboard and the Logitech Folio Touch. There are also some other great options from ESR. And if you’re trying to pick between the first two, you can find a comparison on my channel page.
Now if you plan on using a stylus, I still really enjoy the 2nd Generation Apple Pencil. I love that it’s stored and it’s charged on the side of the iPad because I always have it with me, and it’s always fully charged.
And as I mentioned earlier, the Paper Touch Pro makes the whole writing or drawing experience better because the display isn’t as slippery.
Before we get to what went wrong with the iPad Air 5, I quickly wanna mention the cameras. If you’ve been watching my channel for a while, you know that I’m a camera nerd. But at the same time, I don’t overvalue the camera systems on my tablets because I always have a phone with me that has a better camera system, and it’s more comfortable to use. Having said that, the rear-facing camera on this iPad is good enough for anything that I would ever use it for.
And I absolutely love having the new ultra-wide 12 megapixel front-facing camera because of Center Stage. Once you’re used to having the camera look like it’s following you as you move around, you start to notice that regular video calls kind of feel static and boring.
So the iPad Air 5 is actually a fantastic iPad. It’s just not that different, and it was introduced into a fairly complete product line without the announcement of a new chip, without a new design, no introduction of a new camera or a new camera features, and without a better display or better speakers. The upgrades that it did get put it on par with the iPad Pro in terms of processing power but in a world where most iPad users weren’t necessarily looking for better performance.
I’ve said this before, but with one little change with offering additional storage and going from 64 to 128 gigabytes for the base model, and then from 256 to 512 on the higher end model, the perception of the overall value would’ve dramatically increased. Apple would be giving people more of what they actually need. They would be giving them something that would have an immediate, useful, and meaningful benefit in their day-to-day use.
Now you should watch this comparison of the iPad Air 5 and the 11-inch iPad Pro or this Sidecar tutorial. Hopefully, this video was helpful.
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