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I was going to pre-order the iPad Air 2022 — but this changed my mind

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The iPad Air 2022. (Image credit: Apple)

Yesterday, as I watched the iPad Air 2022 launch as part of the Apple Peek Performance event, I found myself getting more excited than I expected for the launch of the upper-range tablet. Except then by the end of the segment, I had switched from a state of "I'm totally going to pre-order this on Friday" to "erm, maybe not." And it's essentially because Apple didn't upgrade one minor detail.

If you missed the launch, the iPad Air 2022 is a medium-sized upgrade to the current iPad Air 2020, notably swapping in the powerful M1 chip from the iPad Pro and various Mac models, and updating the front camera to a higher resolution ultrawide sensor with Center Stage tracking. While I would have been happy with just an upgrade from the A14 Bionic chipset to the A15 Bionic, these are two of the key changes I hoped Apple was going to make, and that would convince me to buy it.

iPad Air 5

The iPad Air 2022 with Magic Keyboard accessory. (Image credit: Apple)

However there were two dream upgrades that I was also hoping for that didn't appear. One was a 120Hz "ProMotion" refresh rate, which as I feared is remaining an iPad Pro-only feature. Another was Face ID unlock to replace the Touch ID power button, which also seems to be remaining Pro-exclusive. The third update I was looking for is the thing that really changed my mind on pre-ordering the iPad Air 2022: the storage options. 

Like it did with the 2020 model, Apple sells two versions of the new iPad Air: one with 64GB of storage and another with 256GB  which costs another $150/£150. Since I like keeping a decent amount of apps, games, files and photos on my iPad (my current iPad 7 is the 128GB version), 64GB wouldn't work, so the 256GB version seems to be the one for me.

So if I went to pick up an iPad Air 2022 whenever it arrived at my local Apple Store, the kindly shop assistant would end up charging me £719 (the same model is $719 in the U.S., for reference). That's a bit more than I ideally would spent, but it's still affordable for me. However, if I decide I'm happy spending over £700 for an iPad, the question then becomes: why not go for an iPad Pro?

iPad Pro 2021 (11-inch) review

The iPad Pro 2021 (11-inch). (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The 11-inch iPad Pro 2021 starts at £749/$769, £30/$50 more than the 256GB iPad Air 2022. For that little extra cash, I would lose out on some storage space (the iPad Pro starts with 128GB) but get a slightly larger and brighter display, a 120Hz refresh rate, Face ID unlocking, an ultrawide camera and LiDAR sensor on the back and quad speakers. So then my choice is either to buy the basic iPad Air that I know hasn't got enough storage for me, to pay another $150 more for more storage than I need, or to pay $200 more for some notable upgrades I do want but don't need.

Perhaps this is a trap that Apple's deliberately set, in a subtle bid to upsell me the iPad Pro when I set out knowing it was probably too powerful for my everyday usage habits. But I find it weird that I've ended up here just because I just want an average amount of storage. The flashier features of the iPad Pro have always appealed to me, but I was happy to do without them for a well-priced 128GB iPad Air that turns out doesn't exist.

Of course if I were to order an iPad Pro this Friday instead of the Air, there's the iPad Pro 2022 rumors to consider. It would be unfortunate if the iPad Pro 11 gets the mini-LED display currently exclusive to the 12.9-inch model with its next revision, just after I buy the 2021 version.

So my quest to buy the perfect tablet for my needs continues. I intend to wait a month or so for the review of the new iPad Air and for more iPad Pro rumors to appear, so I'm better informed. Apple's probably going to get my money eventually, I have accepted that. However it's not getting it now effectively because of its odd decisions around storage space.

Richard Priday
Staff Writer

Richard is a Tom's Guide staff writer based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.