iPad Air vs iPad Pro: Which Should You Buy?

While the 2020 iPad Air already packs many of the great features of the 11-inch iPad Pro, the new 2022 iPad Air narrows the gap even further with the M1 chip, an ultra-wide front camera with Center Stage, 5G connectivity, and more. However, the iPad Pro still offers the most features and the best performance. Below we’ll break down all the similarities and differences between the iPad Air and the iPad Pro to help you decide which one to buy.

In 2021, the 11-inch iPad Pro arrives with the powerful M1 chip, Thunderbolt connectivity, 5G for cellular models, new camera features like Center Stage, and more. It all sets it apart from the 2020 iPad Air, justifying the $200 price difference (and up).

However, with the iPad Air 2022, Apple has already blurred the line between the Air and Pro models, giving the majority of people the incentive to go with the Air that starts at $200 less than the $799 11-inch iPad Pro.

There are still some aspects in which the 11-inch iPad Pro stands out from the new iPad Air, but fewer people will be willing to pay for those differences than ever.

Of course, if you know you want a 12.9-inch iPad, the iPad Pro is your only option. But read on below for a detailed look at the 11-inch iPad Air vs. the iPad Pro.

iPad Air and iPad Pro


Notably, the new 2022 iPad Air is powered by the M1 chip just like the iPad Pro. This means that they both have eight-core CPUs, eight-core GPUs, and 16-core neural engines.

The main advantage that the iPad Pro has over the iPad Air – in this category – is Thunderbolt support and 16GB of RAM on the 1TB and 2TB models.

2022 iPad Air 2021 iPad Pro 2020 iPad Air
chip m 1 m 1 A 14
CPU cores 8 8 6
GPU cores 8 8 4
storage 64 or 256 GB 128 GB – 2 TB 64 or 256
RAM 8 GB 8 or 16 GB 4GB
lightning strike
cellular 5G network 5G network 4G

But for the vast majority of users, the M1 with 8GB of RAM will be more powerful enough for years to come. Thunderbolt and 16GB of RAM with the iPad Pro will likely be tempting only for professionals.


iPad Air vs iPad Pro - Display

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

However, the biggest difference is that you only get ProMotion with refresh rates of up to 120Hz with the iPad Pro display.

2022 iPad Air 2021 iPad Pro 2020 iPad Air
Show 10.9 11″ 10.9
Precision 2360 x 1640 2388 x 1668 2360 x 1640
PPI (pixels per inch) 264 264 264
Screen brightness 500 net 600 net 500 net
real tune
Wide color P3
ProMotion (120 Hz)
anti-reflective coating
Liquid Retina display

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

Delivery and accessories

iPad Air works with all the great Apple accessories like the iPad Pro. This includes the second generation Apple Pencil, Magic Keyboard, and Smart Keyboard Folio.

One notable difference in connectivity and I/O is that the new iPad Air uses Touch ID like its predecessor unlike the iPad Pro that comes with Face ID.

2022 iPad Air 2021 iPad Pro 2020 iPad Air
Apple Pencil Support
Magic Keyboard support
5G network ✅ (but without mmWave)
Wifi 6
USB-C . port ✅ 3.1 second generation ✅ USB4.0 ✅ 3.1 first generation
lightning strike
Connection ID
Face ID

As mentioned earlier, the iPad Pro is the only iPad that gets Thunderbolt support, but the new iPad Air gets an increase in data transfer speeds to 10Gbps with USB 3.1 Gen 2 (vs. 5Gbps with 3.1 Gen 1 on the 2020 iPad Air). ) .

This is actually the reason why the new iPad Air works with the new Apple Studio Display, but the iPad Air 2020 doesn’t.

Like the iPhone SE 3, the new iPad Air doesn’t get mmWave 5G support with its cellular models. But since mmWave is the rarest version of 5G coverage to be found, that probably isn’t a problem for most people.

splash of color

iPad Air vs iPad Pro - Colors

If the color of your next iPad is an important factor, you have more options with the iPad Air. The new model comes in space gray, starlight, pink, purple and blue.

iPad Pro is available in space gray and silver only.

Battery life

iPad Air 2022 has the same battery life as the 11-inch iPad Pro and the previous generation iPad Air:

  • 10 hours of using web or video on WiFi
  • 9 hours of web use with a cell phone

Storage and price

Below is a breakdown of the price difference (MSRP) between the iPad Air and the 11-inch iPad Pro. It’s not exactly apples versus apples because the two iPads have different storage options, but you can save some big cash with the iPad Air.

The new iPad Air with 5G technology is $20 more than the 4G version of the iPad Air 2020.

2022 iPad Air 2021 iPad Pro 2020 iPad Air
64 GB WiFi $599 $599
64 GB + Cell $749 $729
128 GB Wi-Fi $799
128 GB + Cell $999
256 GB Wi-Fi $749 $899 $749
256 GB + Cell $899 $1099 $879
512 GB Wi-Fi $1099
512 GB + Cell 1299 USD
1 TB WiFi 1499 USD
1 TB + cell $1,699
2 TB WiFi 1899 USD
2 TB + cell $2,099


iPad Air vs iPad Pro - Camera
2021 iPad Pro rear camera

You get a single, solid rear camera with the iPad Air that includes the same 12MP wide-angle lens found in the iPad Pro. It shoots 4K video at the same frames per second as the Pro too.

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

But the new iPad Air 2022 comes with a nice upgrade for the front camera, the same 12MP ultra-wide lens with Center Stage support as the iPad Pro.

2022 iPad Air 2021 iPad Pro 2020 iPad Air
12MP Wide Lens
10 MP Ultra Wide Lens
4K video
Extended Dynamic Range
slow motion video
Back camera flash
TrueDepth camera with Face ID
7MP FaceTime front camera
12MP Ultra Wide Front Camera
2x optical zoom
Automatic stage center tracking
Stereo recording

There are two differences – the front camera of the iPad Pro has support for Portrait Mode, Portrait Lighting, and Animoji/Memoji while the front camera of the iPad Air does not.

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

iPad Air vs iPad Pro finale

Why buy an iPad Air?

When you consider all the similarities and differences, the iPad Air is likely to be the best option for most people. It’s about $200 less than the iPad Pro with almost all the best high-end iPad features included.

Orders for the new iPad Air begin on March 11th with shipments arriving from March 18th. Meanwhile, discounts are available on iPad Air 2020.

Why buy an iPad Pro?

If you know you’ll be pushing your tablet to the limit regularly, the iPad Pro still offers the best-performing package with up to 16GB of RAM, up to 2TB of storage, a 120Hz ProMotion display, and Thunderbolt support.

Read more in-depth 9to5Mac comparisons:

FTC: We use affiliate links to earn income. more.

Check out 9to5Mac on YouTube for more Apple news: