iPad Pro vs iPad Air: What are you getting or giving up?

The 2022 iPad Air includes most of the features found in the 2021 iPad Pro, such as an M1 chip, an ultra-wide front camera with Center Stage, 5G connectivity, and more. However, the 2022 M2 iPad Pro brings the most advanced features and greatest performance in an iPad – but is it overkill? Read on to break down all the similarities and differences between the 11″ M2 iPad Pro vs iPad Air to help you decide which is the best choice for you or a loved one.

2022’s 5th generation iPad Air has blurred the line between mid-range and high-end iPads, prompting many to settle for an Air that starts at $200 (or more) below the iPad Pro. The 11-inch model starts at $799.

Then this fall came the iPad 10 which further blurs the line as it takes many of the popular features of the iPad Air and packs them into a $449 entry level tablet.

If you know you want a 12.9-inch iPad, the iPad Pro is your only choice. But now you have the option to get the latest M2 chip or save some money with the previous M1 iPad Pro.

But when it comes to 11″ M2 and M1 iPad Pro vs iPad Air. For all comparison charts below, the 11″ M2 iPad Pro is on the left, the 11″ M1 iPad Pro is in the middle, and the M1 iPad Air is on the right.

11″ M2 iPad Pro vs iPad Air

Administration

The main performance difference is the upgrade from an M1 to an M2 chip for the new iPad Pro.

It provides 18% faster CPU, 35% faster GPU (10-core vs. 8-core), and a 2x increase in memory bandwidth from 50 GB/s to 100 GB/s.

But the other three advantages that the iPad Pro has over the iPad Air – in this category – are Thunderbolt support, 16 GB of RAM on the 1TB and 2TB models, and more storage options.

Note: 128, 256 and 512GB models have 8GB RAM, 1TB and 2TB models have 16GB RAM.

11″ M2 iPad Pro 11″ M1 iPad Pro M1 iPad Air
Pig M2 M1 M1
CPU cores 8 8 8
GPU cores 10 8 8
Nerve cells 16 16 16
Storage 128 GB – 2 TB 128 GB – 2 TB 64 or 256 GB
Aries 8 or 16 GB 8 or 16 GB 8 GB
Thunderbolt
Cellular 5G 5G 5G (but no mmWave)

However, most users will likely find the iPad Air with the M1 and 8GB of RAM to be more than powerful enough for years to come.

Thunderbolt and 16GB of RAM with the iPad Pro will probably only be tempting for professionals or the price-sensitive.

Presentation

M2 iPad Pro vs iPad Air display

With the iPad Air screen, you get a 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display with True Tone and P3 widescreen. It’s almost the same Liquid Retina display as the 11-inch iPad Pro (ok, technically 0.1″ smaller 😅). Both displays are fully laminated and have Apple’s anti-reflective coating.

The biggest differences are that you only get ProMotion (up to 120Hz refresh rates) with the iPad Pro display and you only get Apple Pencil Hover with the M2 iPad Pro.

11″ M2 iPad Pro 11″ M1 iPad Pro M1 iPad Air
Presentation 11″ 11″ 10.9″
Resolution 2388 x 1668 2388 x 1668 2360 x 1640
PPI (pixels per inch) 264 264 264
Show the light 600 nits 600 nits 500 nits
True tone
P3 wide color
ProMotion (120Hz)
Anti-reflective coating
Liquid Retina Display
Apple Pencil Hover

Meanwhile, HDR brightness up to 1600 nits is only available on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, not the 11-inch Pro or 10.9-inch iPad Air.

Connections and accessories

iPad Air works with the same great Apple accessories as the iPad Pro. It includes the second generation Apple Pencil, Magic Keyboard, and Smart Keyboard Folio.

The iPad Air uses Touch ID as opposed to the iPad Pro which comes with Face ID.

Two other minor updates with the iPad Pro M2 are Bluetooth 5.3 support and WiFi 6E.

11″ M2 iPad Pro 11″ M1 iPad Pro M1 iPad Air
2nd gen Apple Pencil support
Magic Keyboard support
5G ✅ (but not mmWave)
Wi-Fi 6
WiFi 6E
Bluetooth 5.3 5.0 5.0
USB-C ✅ USB 4 ✅ USB 4 ✅ 3.1 Gen 2
Thunderbolt
Touch ID
Facial recognition

Like the iPhone SE 3, the iPad Air does not support mmWave 5G with its cellular models. But since mmWave is the least visible version of 5G coverage, that’s probably not a problem for most people.

Color splash

M2 iPad Pro vs iPad Air colors

If the color of your iPad’s back is an important part, you have five options with the iPad Air. It comes in grey, star, pink, purple and blue.

The iPad Pro only comes in gray and silver.

iPad Pro vs iPad Air battery life

The M2/M1 iPad Pro and iPad Air all have the same battery life:

  • 10 hours of web or video use over WiFi
  • 9 hours of web usage with cellular

Storage and price

Here is a breakdown of the price differences (MSRP) between these tablets. Since the iPad Pro and Air have different storage options, it’s not exactly apples to apples, but you can save some significant money with the iPad Air (it’s also sometimes discounted thanks to the iPad Air).

11″ M2 iPad Pro 11″ M1 iPad Pro M1 iPad Air
64 GB Wi-Fi $599
64 GB + cell $749
128 GB Wi-Fi $799 $799
128 GB + cell $999 $999
256 GB Wi-Fi $899 $899 $749
256 GB + cell $1,099 $1,099 $899
512 GB Wi-Fi $1,099 $1,099
512 GB + cell $1,299 $1,299
1TB Wi-Fi $1,499 $1,499
1TB + cell $1,699 $1,699
2TB Wi-Fi $1,899 $1,899
2TB + cell $2,099 $2,099

Cameras

M2 iPad Pro vs iPad Air camera

You get a single solid rear camera with the iPad Air that includes the same 12MP wide-angle lens found on the iPad Pro. It also shoots 4K video at the same fps as the Pro.

However, with the iPad Pro, you also have a 10MP ultra wide lens and LiDAR Scanner, and True Tone flash.

The iPad Air comes with the same 12MP ultra-wide lens with Center Stage support as the iPad Pro.

The main difference is the M2 iPad Pro’s ability to shoot ProRes 4K video at 30 fps.

11″ M2 iPad Pro 11″ M1 iPad Pro 2022 iPad Air
12 MP wide lens
10MP ultra wide lens
Smart HDR 3
Smart HDR 4
LiDAR
4K video
ProRes video up to 4K 30 fps
Extended dynamic range
Slo-mo video
Rear camera flash
TrueDepth camera with Face ID
12 MP Ultra wide front camera
2x optical zoom
Center Stage auto-tracking
Stereo recording

A few minor differences – the iPad Pro’s front camera supports Portrait mode, Portrait Lighting, and Animoji / Memoji while the iPad Air’s front camera does not.

And when it comes to speakers, you get four-speaker audio with the iPad Pro while the iPad Air has a two-speaker system.

M2 iPad Pro vs iPad Air result

M2 iPad Pro vs iPad Air result

Why buy an iPad Pro?

If you know you’ll be pushing your tablet to the limits often, the iPad Pro offers the highest performance package with up to 16GB of RAM and 2TB of storage, a ProMotion 120Hz display, Thunderbolt support, and the ability to shoot ProRes 4K video. powered by the new M2 chip.

The M2 iPad Pro is available at Apple, Amazon, Best Buy, BH Photo, and more and looks great overall.

Why buy an iPad Air?

When all the similarities are considered, the iPad Air is probably the best choice for most people. It is priced about $200 less than the iPad Pro while including most of the iPad Pro’s premium features.

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