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11-inch iPad Pro vs iPad Air: Which M1 Tablet Is Right For You?


Mar 12, 2022
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If you want an iPad, you have three basic choices: the standard 10.2-inch iPad, the more expensive iPad Air, or the even more expensive iPad Pro. The standard 10.2-inch iPad is the budget option, with an outdated design (large bezels, home button, Lightning port) and older processor, and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at a whopping $1,099 and targets on only the most demanding of users.

So if you want the most tablet without breaking the bank on a $1,099 12.9-inch iPad Pro, you’ve only got two options: the $599 iPad Air, which is available to pre-order now and on sale. March 18, and the $799 11-inch iPad Pro. The iPad Air has just been upgraded with an M1 processor, making it just as powerful as the iPad Pro. But a tablet is more than its processor, and the Pro model does offer a few improvements that might be worth your money. Here’s how these two tablets stack up.

11-inch iPad Pro vs iPad Air: tech specs

Before starting the matchup, let’s weigh up and see how they match up on paper.

iPad Air (2022)11-inch iPad Pro
(5th generation)Starting price$599$799Screen size 10.9-inch 11-inch Size (H x
W x D) 9.74 x 7.02 0.24 in. 9.74 x 7.02 x 0.23 in. Weight 1.02 pounds1.03 poundsColorsSpace Gray, Pink, Purple, Starlight, BlueSilver, Space GrayDisplayLiquid Retina,
True ToneLiquid retina,
True ToneProcessorM1M1Storage64/256GB128/256/512GB/1TB/2TBMemory8GB8GB/16GB (1TB and 2TB)AuthenticationTouch IDFace IDRRear Camera12MP f/1.8 Wide12MP f/1.8 Wide
10MP f/2.4 Ultra Wide Front Camera12MP f/2.2 Ultra Wide12MP f/2.4 Ultra Wide Wireless Features5G (sub-6 only), Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.05G (sub-6/mmWave), Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0

11-inch iPad Pro vs iPad Air: Design and Color

The iPad Air and 11-inch iPad Pro are essentially the same size and weight. In fact, the dimensions are so similar that they can both use most of the same cases, covers, Magic Keyboards, and so on. Only cases with specific camera cutouts for the single iPad Air camera won’t fit the iPad Pro, which has a square camera area with multiple cameras, but iPad Pro cases fit the Air just fine (they just look a little weird) .

With nearly identical shapes, they also have nearly identical designs with one important exception: color. The iPad Pro is only available in silver and space gray, while the iPad Air has a more whimsical array of colors to choose from: space gray, starlight, pink, purple, and blue. You’re also getting slightly smaller bezels on the iPad Pro, which is why Apple says there’s room for an 11-inch screen instead of 10.9 inches. You won’t really notice that tenth of an inch, though.

Our choice: when it comes to size and weight, this is a complete tie. The designs are also basically identical. So it comes down to color. If you want starlight, blue, purple or pink, you must have the Air.

iPad Air 2022 colors


11-inch iPad Pro vs iPad Air: Display

The 11-inch iPad Pro has a slightly larger screen than the iPad Air. We’re really splitting hairs here – it’s a tenth of an inch. The resolution is the same – 264 pixels per inch – but the iPad Pro has slightly slimmer bezels around the screen, leaving room for a few more pixels. Both screens also have True Tone and a wide P3 color gamut and follow Apple’s “liquid” retina design, meaning the corners of the screen are rounded to match the device itself.

However, the iPad Pro’s screen is absolutely superior. It’s brighter, with a maximum brightness of 600 nits compared to the Air’s 500 nits. But the big advantage is ProMotion, which can run the screen up to 120Hz for smoother movements and lower latency, especially when using the Apple Pencil. The difference is palpable when switching between devices, and once you’ve tried the Pro it’s very hard to go back.

Our pick: The extra brightness isn’t a big deal, but ProMotion is a lot of fun and helps justify the higher price of the iPad Pro.

11-inch iPad Pro vs iPad Air: Performance and Memory

With the latest update (available March 18, 2022), the iPad Air has the same M1 processor as the iPad Pro. It has eight CPU cores, eight GPU cores and should offer the exact same performance in almost every way.

There is only one small difference. Both tablets have 8 GB of RAM, with the exception of the 1 TB and 2 TB storage options on the iPad Pro. If you opt for one of those configurations, the iPad Pro has 16 GB of RAM. Those storage options aren’t cheap, though, and the extra RAM probably won’t make much of a difference with iPadOS.

Our choice: it’s a draw. It’s the same processor and to get 16GB of RAM you have to pay for a huge chunk of storage on the iPad Pro. You won’t notice the difference between 8GB and 16GB anyway, even with very intensive applications.

M1 iPad Pro


11-inch iPad Pro vs iPad Air: Battery

The battery capacity is almost the same in both iPads, about 29 watt-hours. Apple lists similar battery life specs: up to 10 hours of surfing the web over Wi-Fi or watching videos, nine hours on cellular (iPads rarely deviate from these numbers). ProMotion can drain the battery during use, but can conserve battery when in some cases the iPad can switch to a much lower refresh rate. On the other hand, the brighter screen of the iPad Pro is likely to drain the battery a little faster if you increase the brightness.

Our choice: both tablets last for hours and hours of use. For the most part, we expect battery life to be similar.

11-inch iPad Pro vs iPad Air: Storage

The iPad Pro gives you double the storage: 128 GB instead of 64 GB in the iPad Air. Both offer a 256GB upgrade configuration ($100 more on the iPad Pro and $150 more on the iPad Air), but while the iPad Air stops there, the iPad Pro offers options of 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB.

Our pick: With all the cloud storage and streaming these days, most users don’t need more than 256GB of storage on an iPad, but if you do a lot of work with 4K video or high-resolution photos, the higher storage option is nice. More importantly, the home storage is twice the size on the iPad Pro, and 64GB might be a bit small for all the apps and games you’ll be downloading.

11-inch iPad Pro vs iPad Air: Face ID vs Touch ID

Like the iPhone, the iPad Pro uses Face ID, which uses the TrueDepth sensors on the front to unlock the tablet and verify purchases and passwords. The iPad Air does not have a TrueDepth module; it has Touch ID built into the side button. Both are easy to set up and use in their own way, but Apple says the odds of Face ID spoofing are about 1 in 1,000,000, versus 1 in 50,000 for Touch ID.

Our pick: Touch ID is good enough, but there’s no question that Face ID is usually the faster and easier way to authenticate, enter passwords, and unlock your device.

Jason Cross/IDG

11-inch iPad Pro vs iPad Air: Cameras

On the back of the iPad Air, you’ll find a 12MP standard wide-angle camera. On the iPad Pro, you’ll find the same camera, plus a 10MP Ultra Wide camera and a LiDAR sensor for better AR positioning. We don’t think you’ll be taking too many photos with one of these slightly clunky cameras, but if you’d like, the iPad Pro has a distinctly superior array.

Apple has upgraded the iPad Air to a 12MP Ultra-Wide front camera, with support for Center Stage, which pans and zooms to keep your subject (you) in the frame. So the front camera is almost identical between the two tablets. The iPad Pro has a TrueDepth sensor for Face ID, meaning it also supports Apple’s Animoj/Memoji, but taking photos and videos should be about the same when using the front camera.

Our pick: The front-facing camera is the most important on a tablet, and the two here are virtually identical, as is the rear-facing 12MP camera. The iPad Pro has an edge with its 10MP Ultra Wide rear camera if that sort of thing is important to you.

11-inch iPad Pro vs iPad Air: Audio and Microphones

The iPad Air has decent sound from its two-speaker, two-microphone array stereo setup. It works fine, but it’s nothing special. The 11-inch iPad Pro, on the other hand, has four speakers and five microphones that Apple calls “studio quality.” We don’t know if we trust that moniker, but it’s almost certain that the iPad Pro will produce better recordings and higher-quality audio reproduction.

Our pick: The iPad Pro should offer superior sound reproduction and recording.

11-inch iPad Pro vs iPad Air: Connectivity and Accessories

We love the iPad Air’s USB-C port, and it’s blazing fast with the fifth-generation model, which supports data transfers up to 10Gbps. But the 11-inch iPad Pro goes one step further. The USB-C port supports USB4 and Thunderbolt, which means a faster maximum throughput of 40Gbit/sec. However, both support a single external display up to 6K. Both models support the new Magic Keyboard, although the camera cutouts fit slightly better on the 11-inch Pro, as well as the 2nd-gen Apple Pencil.

Our pick: Thunderbolt might not be something you need right now, but it might be worth the investment. Over the years, there’s a much higher chance that the devices you buy will use their full potential (if at all) with the iPad Pro’s Thunderbolt port instead of the iPad Air’s standard USB-C charging port. . If your main concern is connecting screens, the experience with both should be similar.

Jason Cross/IDG

11-inch iPad Pro vs iPad Air: Wi-Fi and Cellular

Both iPads have Wi-Fi 6 with MIMO, simultaneous dual-band, and speeds up to 1.6 Gbps, so they’ll work fine at home. You also get Bluetooth 5 for AirPods and other wireless devices. But if you opt for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model, there is a small difference. Both models also have 5G options, but the iPad Air only supports sub-6GHz bands, while the iPad Pro also supports the faster short-range mmWave bands. The mobile option costs more on the iPad Pro ($200) than on the iPad Air ($150).

Our pick: You should consider whether you really need cellular access on your iPad – using your iPhone as a wireless hotspot works extremely well. The iPad Pro’s ability to connect to mmWave networks is of limited use, and you’ll pay $50 more for cellular than the iPad Air.

11-inch iPad Pro vs iPad Air: Conclusion

Last year, we thought the 11-inch iPad Pro was the better buy. This year, thanks to the processor upgrade and improved front camera in the iPad Air, our opinion has been reversed. The iPad Pro is essentially the same size and performance and supports the same peripherals, but costs $200 more ($250 more if you want a mobile-equipped model). For that you get:

ProMotion displayFive microphone array and four speakers10MP ultra-wide rear camera with LiDART ThunderboltFace IDDual storageSupport for mmWave 5G bands

Our pick: Most of those improvements aren’t the kind of things you’ll feel every day. ProMotion is the biggest perk, and the extra storage is nice, but they don’t seem worth the extra $200. We think most users would be happiest with the iPad Air, perhaps with the 256GB option (which is still $50 less than the starting price of the 128GB 11-inch iPad Pro).

This post 11-inch iPad Pro vs iPad Air: Which M1 Tablet Is Right For You?

was original published at “https://www.macworld.com/article/343025/11-inch-ipad-pro-vs-air-m1-display-design-5g-price.html”

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