Exclusive: iPad Air 5 to match iPad Pro performance with M1

There are only a few hours left until Apple’s next special event, where the company is expected to announce the 3rd generation iPhone SE, new Mac models, and also a new iPad Air. Rumors had already predicted that this new iPad will feature 5G support, but 9to5Mac has now learned from sources that the iPad Air 5 will be powered by the M1 chip.

Previous rumors about the new iPad Air suggested that it would feature the A15 Bionic chip – the same one found in the iPhone 13 and the 6th generation iPad mini. However, it seems that Apple wants to close the gap between the iPad Air and iPad Pro even further, this time with the addition of a more powerful chip.

iPad Air 5 with M1

Based on information seen by 9to5MaciPad Air 5 (codenamed J408) will have the same M1 chip that Apple uses in the 2021 models of the iPad Pro and also in the first generation of Apple Silicon Macs, which includes the 24-inch iMac and 2020 MacBook Air.

In terms of performance, the M1 chip is about 50% faster than the A15 Bionic and 70% more powerful than the A14 Bionic (which is the one in the 4th generation iPad Air). While A15 Bionic has a 6-core CPU and 5-core GPU, the M1 chip comes with an 8-core CPU and 7-core GPU, plus 8GB of RAM in its lowest configuration.

But why would Apple use the M1 chip in the iPad Air when it already has an iPad Pro with the same chip? First of all, it’s important to keep in mind that there are other aspects that differentiate the iPad Pro from the rest of the lineup – such as having a ProMotion display with XDR technology.

However, as Apple wants to sell both the iPad Pro and iPad Air as computer replacements (since both work with the Magic Keyboard), it’s no surprise that the iPad Air will be equipped with a desktop-level chip. Take the Mac lineup as an example, since both the entry-level MacBook Air and MacBook Pro rely on M1.

At the same time, iPad Pro is expected to be updated later this year with a new chip, which will probably deliver better performance than the current M1 chip.

What else to expect?

Our sources have also corroborated other rumors about the iPad Air 5. Support for 5G networks, which was added to the 2021 iPad Pro and iPad mini 6 last year, will be available on the new iPad Air.

We can also confirm that the iPad Air 5 will keep the same display resolution as the current 4th generation iPad Air. An updated front camera with Center Stage support is also expected for the new iPad. Multiple sources have reported that the new iPad Air will be announced tomorrow.

The March 8 event will kick off at 10:00 am PT / 1: 00pm ET. It will be live-streamed across Apple’s website, the company’s YouTube channel, and directly in the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV.

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