You’ll need to upgrade your iPad Air to use it with Apple Studio Display

It requires a lot of bandwidth to drive the super-sharp 5K screen in Apple’s new Studio Display, and some devices just don’t cut it. Those hoping to use one with iPad Air will be disappointed to learn that a big upgrade is necessary.

Studio Display is only compatible with the fifth-generation iPad Air, announced during Apple’s big Peek Performance event on Tuesday. The fourth-generation model, released in October 2020, is left out in the cold – like iPad mini.

Only iPad Air 5 works with Apple Studio Display

With its 5120-by-2880 resolution, the 27-inch Studio Display packs a whopping 14.7 million pixels that support 1 billion colors. It also boasts True Tone technology, and features a built-in audio system and 12-megapixel camera.

Although it may not be quite as good as Pro Display XDR, then, Studio Display is a stellar desktop monitor – especially at $ 1,599. But before you buy one, you should be aware that it takes a certain kind of device to drive that 5K screen.

Studio Display compatibility

The USB 3.1 Gen 1 port built into the fourth-generation iPad Air, which is capable of transferring data at up to 5 Gbps, isn’t enough. Instead, you need the USB 3.1 Gen 2 port in the newest model, which maxes out at 10 Gbps.

iPad mini gets left out in the cold, too, because of its Gen 1 port. The only iPad models that are supported, other than the new iPad Air, are the 11-inch iPad Pro, and the third-generation (or later) 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

And here’s the lengthy list of Mac models that will work, providing they are running macOS Monterey 12.3 or later, Apple says:

  • Mac Studio
  • 16-inch MacBook Pro (2019 or later)
  • 14-inch MacBook Pro
  • 13-inch MacBook Pro (2016 or later)
  • 15-inch MacBook Pro (2016 or later)
  • MacBook Air (2018 or later)
  • Mac mini (2018 or later)
  • Mac Pro (2019 or later)
  • 24-inch iMac
  • 27-inch iMac (2017 or later)
  • 21.5-inch iMac (2017 or later)
  • iMac Pro (2017)

What about third-party devices?

It’s not yet clear what will happen if you try to use an unsupported device with Studio Display. It may work, albeit with less-than-optimal output, or Apple may have included a block of some kind that just prevents it from doing anything.

It’s also worth noting that while Studio Display should work with Windows machines that meet its connectivity requirements, its built-in camera only works on Mac – and you need a Mac to install Studio Display firmware updates.

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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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