The iPad Air 5 is a great new tablet with hardware that rivals even Apple‘s most expensive tablets. Powered by an M1 processor, the fifth-generation iPad Air is just as fast as the latest iPad Pro and shares compatibility with Apple Pencil 2 and keyboard covers as well. That makes the iPad Air a great option at a more affordable price, suggesting there are other significant differences. LiDAR and a second rear camera distinguish the iPad Pro from the iPad Air 5, but what about the screen, and do they all get a 120-hertz display?
The iPad Pro is the very best tablet on the market, and it can also be used as a laptop replacement in some cases. By attaching the Magic Keyboard or a Bluetooth keyboard and a mouse or trackpad, the on-screen keyboard is hidden from view and the entire screen becomes available for use. With the iPad Pro 12.9, the screen size is larger by area than the 13.3-inch MacBook display. While the iPad Air 5 is a bit smaller, it is just as fast and works with these accessories as well.
Related: iPad Air 5 Vs iPad Air 4: What’s New & Is It Worth Upgrading?
The iPad Pro 11-inch and 12.9-inch are the only Apple tablets with ProMotion displays that can refresh the screen at up to 120-hertz. More frequent updates make the on-screen movement appear smoother, particularly for computer-generated content that lacks the natural motion blur that produces videos that run at 30 frames per second look natural. The eye even accepts the 24-hertz rate of film as long as the camera doesn’t pan too quickly. Most mobile devices use a 60-hertz refresh rate, although 120-hertz is becoming more common on expensive devices. Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t state the actual display refresh rate of the iPad Air 5 or any earlier models. However, some Apple developer documentation references 60-hertz as standard for most iPad models, and it’s generally accepted that an iPad refreshes its screen 60 times each second.
iPad Air Video At 120Hz
While the display refresh rate of the fifth-generation iPad Air is 60-hertz, it can record slow-motion video at 120 frames per second, which is a very different technology. Incidentally, 240 FPS is also possible, and slow-motion video is captured at a reduced resolution of 1080p instead of the full 4K resolution of standard video. Regardless of the capture speed, playback is slower, which is what creates the time-stretching effect, and the actual content seen on the iPad Air 5’s screen can happen no faster than 60 times each second.
In the end, 60-hertz isn’t bad and may not even be noticeable since the maximum delay or lag would be less than two-hundredths of a second. This is not to say a 120-hertz screen refresh is irrelevant, which is an advantage of the iPad Pro models. Faster display updates are easy on the eyes, particularly when quickly scrolling through a long page of information scanning for a particular section. However, when reading at a more leisurely pace or watching a video, it’s hard to see the difference, and in almost every other way, the iPad Air 5 is a great option, nearly matching the iPad Pro at a lower price.