2020 was a big year for the iPad Air, with the fourth-gen tablet offering a complete redesign, a boost in screen size and a price hike to match. Price increase aside, the iPad Air 4 offers a premium tablet experience with the same full-screen design as Apple’s iPad Pro range, and it’s the first Apple product to feature a Touch ID sensor within the Power button.
With such big changes on offer from the fourth generation tablet, what can we expect from the iPad Air 5? We break down all the rumours and expectations of the next-gen iPad Air right here.
When will the new iPad Air be released?
While the iPhone and Apple Watch tend to get yearly updates, the same can’t be said of the iPad Air. In fact, compared to the rest of the current range, the iPad Air release history is fairly sporadic:
- iPad Air (first gen): November 2013
- iPad Air (second gen): October 2014
- iPad Air (third gen): March 2018
- iPad Air (fourth gen): October 2020
With that in mind, it looks unlikely that Apple will follow a yearly release cycle, so the chances of an iPad Air 5 appearing in 2021 are slim – though it could get an update in October 2021, a year after the release of the iPad Air 4. However, given the updated iPad and iPad Mini were revealed alongside the iPhone 13 in September, the chances of another tablet appearing this month is slim.
What’s more likely is a release sometime in 2022, with Ming-Chi Kuo predicting a 2022 release for the iPad Air. That’s backed up by a May 2021 ETNews report, also pointing towards a 2022 release date for an OLED-enabled iPad Air.
So, while you might be holding out hope for a new iPad Air in 2021, it looks like you might have to wait a little longer. If you can’t wait that long, take a look at our choice of the best iPads available right now.
How much will the new iPad Air cost?
The iPad Air saw a noticeable price hike when the redesigned model was introduced in October 2020, going from a starting price of £479/$499 to £579/$599, representing an increase of £100/$100. Here’s how much the current iPad Air range costs:
- iPad Air (64GB, Wi-Fi): £579/$599
- iPad Air (256GB, Wi-Fi): £729/$749
- iPad Air (64GB, Wi-Fi & Cellular)
- iPad Air (256GB, Wi-Fi & Cellular)
With the price hike still fresh in the minds of consumers, and with Apple being careful not to blur the lines between the iPad Air and iPad Pro 11 any further, it’s likely that Apple will stick to its current pricing with the next-gen iPad Air, so expect to pay around £579/$599 when it eventually makes an appearance.
What will the iPad Air 5 offer?
While there haven’t been any significant leaks surrounding the next-gen iPad Air, online whispers and analyst predictions give us a vague idea of what to expect.
The key upgrade of the fifth-gen iPad Air might be an improved OLED display, offering a more vivid experience with deeper blacks than the LCD tech currently used in the iPad Air range.
According to ETNews, Samsung and LG will provide the OLED panels for iPad as well as iPhone and Apple Watch from 2022, with the iPad Air the most likely candidate for the upgrade.
Ming-Chi Kuo also claimed the next iPad Air will ship with an OLED display, explaining that even though OLED tech is more expensive to produce than the Mini LED used in the Pro range, the risk of OLED burn-in over hours of using a single app for work is too great.
iPad Air owners, in comparison, generally won’t use a single app for hours on end, making OLED burn-in less of a risk and a prime candidate for the tech.
However, Kuo updated his prediction months later, suggesting in October 2021 that OLED technology isn't coming to the iPad Air in 2022 after all, citing issues with performance and cost not meeting the company's expectations.
Instead, the analyst predicts the updated tablet will likely ship with the same LCD tech as the existing model.
Upgraded 3nm chipset
While it’s a given that the next iPad Air will feature a more powerful chipset, a Nikkei Asia report suggests that an iPad being released in 2022 will feature an upgraded 3nm chipset, with release expected in the latter half of the year.
While it’s probable that Apple will first launch the 3nm chipset on the iPad Pro, Apple tends to refresh its Pro tablet range in the first half of the year, leading to suggestions that the chipset could actually appear on the iPad Air first.
According to TSMC, 3nm technology offers a 10% to 15% increase in performance compared to a 5nm chipset like the A14 Bionic, while improving battery efficiency by 25% to 30%. Considering the impressive performance on offer from the current iPad Air, it’ll likely be an impressive performance jump – if there’s any truth to the claim, anyway.
It could even beat the chipset of the 2022 iPhone range, with the same report suggesting it’ll sport an intermediary 4nm chipset.
Improvements to iPadOS
While we might not know much about the upgrades on offer from the next-gen iPad Air, we are confident that it’ll run iPadOS 15.
The latest iPad-focused update, released in September 2021, introduced a number of long-awaited features including the ability to place widgets anywhere on the home screen like you can on an iPhone. The widgets take advantage of the larger display too, packing more info on-screen than their iPhone counterparts.
App Library, another feature Apple introduced in iOS 14, also made its way to iPadOS 15. Accessible via a new icon in your dock, it provides an overview of all installed apps intelligently categorised into different folders.
There’s also an update to Swift Playgrounds, the app that teaches kids to code in Swift, with keen coders able to fully build, test and submit iPhone and iPad apps to the App Store from the iPad itself.