When Apple revealed its latest iPad, the iPad (10th generation), the first thing that shot through the minds of many users was its uncanny resemblance to the iPad Air (5th generation), which had been released earlier this year. So much so that many have been referring to the new iPad as the “iPad Air Lite.”

ipad 10 vs ipad air 5

But beneath that common beauty lie two very different beasts, with very different price tags too – the iPad starts at Rs 44,900 while the Air has a more princely price of Rs 59,900. However, their strong similarities can confuse many as to which to go. Are those extra bucks for the iPad Air worth it, or would the new iPad suffice for most needs? Let us try and work that out for you.

We will be using iPad (10th generation) and iPad 10 interchangeably through the article. Same with iPad Air (5th generation) and iPad Air 5.

iPad 10 vs iPad Air 5: Main Differences

The main difference between the iPad 10 and iPad Air 5 is the processor. While the new iPad (10th generation) uses a capable Apple A14 Bionic chip, the iPad Air (5th generation) is powered by the M1 chip, which is the second-most powerful chipset on tablets today. The other major difference is in the price. While the iPad 10 starts at $449, the iPad Air 5 starts at $599. Now, let us take a deeper look at the comparison between the iPad (10th generation) and iPad Air (5th generation).

Appearance: Like two peas in a Pad…er…Pod

The iPad (10th generation) and the iPad Air (5th generation) are impossible to tell apart when it comes to design and appearance. That’s because they both follow the exact same design language – a 10.9-inch display with slim bezels and no home button in front, straight sides, and a flat back.

It is only when you start looking very closely that you will notice that the iPad Air is slightly less tall (247.6 mm as compared to 248.6 mm), marginally slimmer (6.1 mm as compared to 7.0 mm), and lighter (461 grams against 477 grams) than the new iPad. But these differences are too tiny to really catch the eye.

Both iPads also come in colors that go beyond the silver and grey of most iPads – the new iPad comes in silver, pink, blue, and yellow, while the iPad Air comes in space gray, starlight, pink, purple, and blue. We are calling this round a tie.

Warning: there are going to be a fair number of ties in this contest.

Winner: Tie

Display: Pretty much the same

ipad air 5 vs ipad 10

The displays on the new iPad and the iPad Air are also extremely alike. Both devices have a 10.9-inch Liquid Retina True Tone display, with a resolution of 2360 x 1640px and a brightness of 500 nits. The viewing experience is very much the same on both. Apple says that the iPad Air’s display is fully laminated and has an anti-reflective coating, which is not mentioned for the new iPad. Still, we do not consider these to be significant differences, especially as most users tend to place a display protector on their devices. Another tie here.

Winner: Tie

Processor: Dial M1 for max power

The biggest difference between the two iPads comes in terms of professor. The iPad 10 runs on the A14 Bionic, similar to the one seen on the iPhone 12 series. It is a formidable processor that is considered close to (some even say better than) the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888. However, it is no match to the M1 chip on the iPad Air 5, which is the second most powerful chip on a tablet today, beaten only by the M2 on the latest iPads Pros. This is a hands-down win for the iPad Air.

Winner: iPad Air (5th generation)

Gaming and multimedia: The M1 chips in again

As we highlighted earlier, the iPad (10th generation) and the iPad Air (5th generation) have very similar displays. They also have identical Landscape two-speaker audio for stereo sound, although neither tablet has a 3.5 mm audio jack.

Given this scenario, it is hardly surprising that the two tablets are equally matched when it comes to casual gaming and watching multimedia content, be it shows or videos.

Move into high-end gaming with titles like Genshin Impact and Call of Duty, however, and you will notice subtle differences. Games tend to load a little faster on the iPad Air 5 and seem to run a little more smoothly on maxed-out settings. The difference is not going to be evident unless you keep the two tablets next to each other, but it clearly exists. Differences in performance also become apparent when you get into multimedia editing territory, with the iPad Air being the superior in this zone too.

Winner: iPad Air 5

Cameras: Landscape edge tilt

ipad 10th gen

Both the iPad 10 and the iPad Air 5 come with a similar set of cameras – a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera on the back and a 12-megapixel selfie camera in front. Both are exactly the same in terms of specs and features, with support for shooting 4K video on both front and back cameras and for Centre Stage (keeping a moving subject in focus) on the front camera.

A big point of difference, however, is that the front-facing camera on the new iPad is on the landscape edge (the longer side) of the iPad, whereas it is on the top edge of the iPad Air.

In simple terms, this means that if you are using the tablet in landscape mode for video calls or recording selfie videos, the new iPad will be a better option to use. A win for the iPad (10th generation) here – it is the better tablet for video calls for most of us.

Winner: iPad (10th generation)

Battery: Same awesome hours

There is very little to separate iPads when it comes to battery life. And this is the case with the iPad 10 and the iPad Air 5 as well – both deliver about ten hours of Web surfing on Wi-Fi and 10 hours of video. In simple terms, they will easily see off a day of heavy usage—a tie.

Winner: Tie

Software: Stage Management skills win

ipad air 2022 review

On paper, both the iPad Air (5th generation) and the iPad (10th generation) run on iPadOS in general and iPadOS 16 in particular. But there are some differences.

As the iPad Air runs on the M1 processor, it can use the new Stage Manager multi-tasking tool, which is unavailable to the new iPad. We are also expecting more such M1 exclusive features to be coming to the Air in the coming days as it comes with a newer processor. The Air will also likely get more software updates than the new iPad. This round is for the iPad Air, although it needs to be pointed out that iPadOS runs smoothly on the new iPad too.

Winner: iPad Air (5th generation)

Apple Pencil Support: A new generation means no dongle

Both the iPad (10th generation) and the iPad Air (5th generation) come with Apple Pencil support. But while the new iPad supports the first-generation Apple Pencil, the iPad Air supports the second generation of Apple stylus. Not only is the second-generation Apple Pencil better to use, but it is also easier to charge, as it can charge wirelessly off the side of the iPad Air. Those wanting to use the Apple Pencil with the iPad (10th generation) will have to invest in Type C for the Lightning dongle, as that stylus needs to be plugged into a Lightning port to charge. A clear win for the iPad Air here.

A note for those interested in using keyboards: the new iPad 10 supports Apple’s Magic Keyboard Folio, while the iPad Air 5 supports the Magic Keyboard and the Smart Keyboard Folio. Both support Bluetooth keyboards. Not much to choose between the two in this ‘key’ area.

Winner: iPad Air 5

General performance: Day-to-day brilliance

ipad air 5 review

There is nothing to separate the two iPads in terms of everyday performance. Be it browsing the web, staying in touch with social networks, swapping messages and emails, watching videos, or doing some quick word processing and image editing, both the iPad (10th generation) and the iPad Air (5th generation) sail through them with ease.

Both have exactly the same fingerprint scanner on top of the power/home button, and it works smoothly. Both come with USB Type C ports for connecting other devices and for charging and with a 20W charger in the box.

And it is here that a difference creeps in – while the iPad Air 5 can support data transfers over USB Type C of up to 10Gbps, the iPad 10 maxes out at 480 Mbps. It is a difference that will not be too evident on smaller files but get into the Gig zone, and it certainly makes a difference. And it is this data difference that lets the iPad Air sneak this round. Just about.

Winner: iPad Air (5th generation)

Price: Want Air? Pay extra!

There is a significant price difference between the iPad 10 and the iPad Air 5. The new iPad starts at Rs 44,900 (USD 449) for the base 64 GB Wi-Fi edition, while a similar variant of the iPad Air starts at Rs 59,900 (USD 599). In simple terms, you can get a 256 GB variant of the new iPad for the price of the base variant of the iPad Air. Even though the iPad Air is often available at prices in the range of Rs 52,000 (USD 520) at special sales festivals, the iPad (10th generation) still has a very distinct price edge over it.

Winner: iPad (10th generation)

iPad 10 vs iPad Air 5: So, which should you go for?

Image: Tech Gear Talk (YouTube)

As can be seen, the new iPad and iPad Air tie in several parameters. Which one you need in your tablet life is really going to boil down to the biggest point of difference between the two devices – the processor. Suppose you are looking for near Pro-level performance and plan to use your iPad almost like a notebook for heavy-duty tasks like video editing and also want the convenience of the second-gen Apple Pencil. In that case, the iPad Air is definitely the tablet for you.

The iPad (10th generation), however, is the better option if you are basically looking for a superb, portable large display experience and only occasionally wish to dabble in very high-definition gaming waters. It will not only do most of your basic tasks but can even handle high-end work, although not as smoothly as the iPad Air. And that is really going to be the deciding factor between which of these beauties you should choose – the beast that lies within them. You will be paying those extra bucks for power, not polish.

Buy 2022 iPad (10th generation) – USA
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Buy iPad Air (5th generation) – USA
Buy iPad Air (5th generation) – India

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