Earlier this month, Apple announced a brand-new version of its brilliant mid-range tablet – the iPad Air.

I’m a huge fan of the iPad Air – always have been. It slots perfectly in-between the equally brilliant ‘normal’ iPad, and the Pro models. It isn’t quite the ‘everyman’ iPad, but it’s ideal for anyone with a decent budget who isn’t fussed about ProMotion, XDR workflows, or 12.9” screens.

Now, you can buy an iPad Air with an M1 chip in it. Which is completely, relentlessly, biblically pointless.

The good news? That makes this buying guide the easiest buying guide I’ve ever written.

If you want to save yourself some time (and money) and crack on with the rest of the day, just buy the iPad Air 4.

If you’ve got a bit of time to kill and want to be a fly on the wall as I get progressively and needlessly angry about a slab of glass and aluminium… let’s get into it.

Comparing the specs

The M1 iPad Air is the exact same size as the iPad Air 4. All of its buttons, speakers and cameras can be found in identical locations, too.

There are some new colours. The silver version has been dropped, and the rest look like slightly different shades of what came before. They’re all a bit pastely and nondescript, but equally non-offensive.

Storage capacity? Well, you’re stuck with either 64GB or 256GB, as before. Why on earth there isn’t a 128GB version is anyone’s guess. But, there isn’t, so… tough.

When it comes to the display, they are identical.

The rear camera is the same, too – a 12MP wide lens with an f1.8 aperture. Things get a little fruitier on the front of the M1 iPad, which now sports a 12MP ultra-wide lens with a 122° field of view, enabling the admittedly brilliant Centre Stage for FaceTime calls.

Everything else is the same (I think – to be brutally honest, I got rather bored of scrolling down the spec sheets).

You see, the big change is under the hood; the new iPad Air has an M1 chip, baby. Ooh yeah.

Who needs an M1 iPad Air?

No one.

iPad Air 4 vs M1 iPad Air: how to save some cash

The new M1 iPad Air starts at $599. On Amazon, you can pick up a fourth-generation iPad Air for around $489. If you wait a bit and shop around, I’m pretty sure you’ll find it even cheaper elsewhere.

Apple has single-handled performed the silliest and most wonderful trick with the 2022 iPad Air. On the one hand, they’ve chucked a chip into it which no user will even remotely breach in terms of performance. But on the other hand, they’ve made bargain hunting a far easier task for anyone who wants the best all-screen iPad money can buy.

This is good news. It means that if you’re in the market for a new iPad Air, you can ignore the new version and buy the outgoing model, which I promise will feel absolutely identical in terms of performance.

Thank me later.

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