Apple unveils fifth-gen iPad Air with M1 processor, 5G, and new colors

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Apple has debuted a new fifth-generation iPad Air that sports an M1 chip, 5G connectivity, and an array of additional colors.

The fifth-generation iPad Air, released at Apple's "Peek Performance" event on Tuesday, sports an Apple Silicon M1 chipset, which includes an 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, and Neural Engine cores. It also has a USB-C port and a 12MP Ultra Wide front camera supporting Center Stage.

Apple says that the new device is faster than its speediest tablet competitor.

"And the new iPad Air is also up to two times faster than the best-selling Windows laptop in its price range," said Angellina Kyazike, engineering program manager, iPad. "[That's a] device that is three times thicker and four times heavier than iPad Air."

The new iPad Air supports the Magic Keyboard for iPad
The new iPad Air supports the Magic Keyboard for iPad

According to Apple, bringing the M1 processor to the iPad Air means its 8-core CPU delivers up to 60% faster performance. In addition, the 8-core GPU proves up to twice the graphics performance of the previous model.

"Whether it's a college student taking elaborate notes, a content creator working on their latest project, or a gamer playing graphics-intensive titles," said Greg Joswiak, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, "users love iPad Air for its amazing performance and versatility in such a portable design."

"With the breakthrough M1 chip, Ultra Wide front camera with Center Stage, and ultra-fast 5G," he continued, "iPad Air is now more powerful, more capable, and simply more fun than ever."

As far as connectivity, the new iPad Air model also packs 5G connectivity, which Apple says can reach "peak speeds of up to 3.5Gbps in ideal conditions." The new iPad Air also has eSIM and Wi-Fi 6 support. It's available in both cellular and non-cellular models.

Like the previous model, iPad Air has a USB-C port to connect peripherals and transfer data. However, the new port is faster — Apple notes the USB-C port offers data transfers up to 10Gbps. It also means that the iPad Air can drive an external monitor up to 6K

The new colors of the iPad Air
The new colors of the iPad Air

The iPad Air 5 includes support for the second-generation Apple Pencil.

Beyond the updated specifications, the new iPad Air has the same general design as its predecessor. The iPad Air retains the 10.9-inch LCD Liquid Retina display and notably omits the sometimes rumored mini LED backlighting.

The new iPad Air is available in a range of new color options. Space Gray, Starlight, Pink, Purple, "and a stunning new blue."

Apple also says that the new iPad Air takes environmental sustainability seriously, sporting a 100% recycled aluminum enclosure, 100% recycled tin in the logic board, and 100% recycled rare earth elements.

The fifth-generation iPad Air starts at $599 for the base model — the same price as its predecessor. It will be available to pre-order on Friday. March 11. It'll ship out to customers on the following Friday, March 18.