After almost a year and a half since its last refresh, the iPad Air is finally getting an update. And while its design hasn’t changed a ton, new features on Apple’s fifth-gen mid-range tablet include optional 5G connectivity and a huge boost in performance.

With the previous iPad Air already featuring an edge-to-edge screen, a power button with an integrated TouchID sensor and the flat-sided chassis Apple has used on subsequent iPads (e.g. the iPad Pro and iPad Mini), the device’s exterior didn’t need much of a facelift. So for 2022, Apple focused more on equipping the latest iPad Air with revamped components, both inside and out. 

The iPad Air’s front-facing ultra-wide camera has gotten a new sensor that supports Center Stage, which uses machine learning to automatically track and follow your head and keep you properly in frame during FaceTime calls. Meanwhile, for people who need fast mobile data, the new iPad Air can also be configured with optional 5G connectivity. 

But on the inside, the biggest upgrade is the addition of Apple’s M1 chip, which should give the iPad Air a major boost in performance, putting it on the same level as the more expensive iPad Pro line. Thanks to its new processor, Apple claims the new iPad Air is now twice as fast as a similarly priced Windows laptop. Unfortunately, it seems the tablet’s storage hasn’t gotten a boost in size, as the base model still comes with a relatively small 64GB SSD (or 256GB if you pay for the upgrade).

The iPad Air’s screen size will remain the same at 10.9 inches, with peak brightness also standing pat at 500 nits. And as before, Apple’s mid-range tablet still works with a range of accessories including the Apple Pencil, Magic Keyboard and the Smart Keyboard Folio.

The iPad Air will be available in five colors (space gray, starlight, pink, purple and blue) starting at the same price as the previous model: $599, with the new 5G model going for $749. Pre-orders will go live this Friday, with official sales beginning on March 18th. 

Catch up on all of the news from Apple’s Peek Performance event right here!