iPad Air 2022 vs iPad Pro: In March, Apple introduced the iPad Air M1 2022, a new tablet that relies on the Cupertino-based company’s high-quality ARM chip and is much more powerful than the previous generation. Can the new Air model outperform the iPad Pro 2021? Where are the differences? We’ll tell you.
iPad Air 2022 vs iPad Pro: Similarities
Those who are currently flirting with the purchase of a new iPad are spoiled for choice. With the new edition of the Air model, which Apple released in March 2022, the tablet is getting closer to the iPad Pro from 2021. Despite many similarities, there are a few notable differences. But let’s first take a look at the areas where the tablets are on par.
Commonalities of iPad Air and iPad Pro 11 inches:
- Processor: iPad Air (2022) and iPad Pro (2021) rely on the M1 chip
- Memory: Both tablets are equipped with 8 GB RAM
- Main camera: 12 megapixels, wide-angle, f/1.8 aperture
- Selfie camera: 12 megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera, 122° field of view, f/2.4
- Battery (nearly identical): 28.6 watt-hours (Air), 28.65 Wh (iPad Pro 11-inch)
- Dimensions (nearly identical): 247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1 mm (iPad Air 2022), 247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9 mm (iPad Pro)
- Weight (nearly identical): iPad Air 461g (WiFi), 462g (WiFi + Cellular), iPad Pro 11 inch 466g (WiFi), 468g (WiFi + Cellular)
- Connectivity: WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
- Connectors: 1x USB Type-C
- Support for Apple Pay, Siri
- Compatible with Apple Pencil, Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio
So you can see for yourself that Apple has brought the iPad Air 2022 in line with the 2021 iPad Pro in the 11-inch variant when it comes to many features. Above all, the high-performance M1 chip, which is also used in the current MacBooks or the Mac Mini, results in a significant performance increase compared to the predecessor, which still relied on the Apple A14 chip.
The new Liquid Retina display in the Air also improves noticeably with a resolution of 2360 x 1640 pixels at 264 ppi, while the selfie camera finally supports the intelligent follow mode Center Stage. Among other things, it ensures that you always remain in the center of the picture, even during movements in ongoing video transmissions.
Other important innovations of the iPad Air 2022 are the faster USB-C port, thanks to which USB hubs or external hard drives can be used without problems, the improved cameras and the support of the second generation of the Apple Pencil. Quite “pro” then, the new iPad Air.
Most important differences between iPad Air 2022 and iPad Pro 2021
And yet there are some important differences between the tablet models from Apple, which could tip the scales in the purchase decision. Here, we mainly use the 11-inch iPad Pro from the 2021 model year for comparison. Apple also offers a 12.9-inch model, which, among other things, has an even better (and larger) display.
Differences in the display
The display is also where one of the biggest differences between the new Air and the Pro variant can be found. This is because the iPad Air 2022 is limited to a refresh rate of 60 Hz, while the Pro offers double the frame rate of up to 120 Hz. Apple calls this ProMotion technology and enables a dynamic adjustment depending on the displayed content.
In practice, this not only ensures smoother scrolling on the iPad Pro 2021, but should also result in longer battery life. This is because the Air always calls up the full 60 Hz, while the Pro adaptively downsamples static content or videos, which saves battery power when viewing pictures or videos, for example. Additionally, the iPad Pro’s display will be brighter than the current Air model (600 nits compared to 500 nits).
Differences in the cameras
iPad Air 2022 and the 11-inch iPad Pro 2021 also differ from each other in terms of camera setup. On the one hand, the Pro model still has a second rear-facing camera available. This is a 10-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens.
The Pro also comes with a LiDAR scanner that collects depth information from the room. This in turn results in faster auto-focus, better photos in low-light conditions, and additional AR (augmented reality) options. Nice-to-have, but not really a reason to buy, especially for a tablet.
The iPad Pro offers another small advantage with the front-facing camera. Unlike the iPad Air 2022, this offers a dedicated portrait mode including portrait effects (Natural, Studio, Contour, Stage, Stage Mono, High-Key Mono).
Loudspeakers and microphones
Those who like to consume media content with their iPad and do not rely on headphones will also benefit from better and additional speakers on the Pro model. The iPad Pro offers four studio-level speakers including Dolby Atmos. The iPad Air 2022 on the other hand only has two speakers.
The speakers of both tablets sound excellent and get very loud. However, the Pro model is once again ahead in terms of sound quality. And that even clearly. Another advantage: If you hold the iPad Air in landscape mode, your hands cover the two speaker outlets, whereas the two additional outlets are still free in the Pro.
For calls, video and audio recording, the iPad Pro 2021 also features a full five studio-quality microphones. The iPad Air also sounds pretty good, but only has two microphones.
USB-C port: The iPad Pro is significantly faster
On paper, the iPad Air 2022 and iPad Pro 2021 offer a USB-C port, which initially looks the same to the layman and, in the case of the Air, offers a clear advantage over the previous Lightning port.
In practice, however, this is one of the biggest advantages of the Pro model, because it is a Thunderbolt 4 port that is a whole four times faster than the port of the iPad Air. Specifically, the Air model realizes data speeds of 10 Gbit/s, while the Pro achieves up to 40 Gbit/s.
This also allows the Pro to connect additional Thunderbolt peripherals like external hard drives, hubs or monitors. An advantage that should only be important to some professional users, though.
iPad Air vs iPad Pro: Touch ID or Face ID?
There is another difference between the two tablets in terms of the authentication method. The iPad Air 2022 relies on Touch ID, i.e. unlocking via fingerprint. The iPad Pro, on the other hand, is unlocked via Face ID, i.e. with the help of facial recognition. Face ID tends to be slightly faster than its touch counterpart, but both methods work securely and reliably.
Differences in storage
However, there is a big difference between the iPad Air and the iPad Pro in terms of storage capacity. While the Air model is offered in the cheapest configuration with a scant 64 GB of internal storage, the iPad Pro 2021 starts with at least 128 GB.
Depending on the tablet’s purpose, the 64 GB of storage can be full pretty quickly. You are already on the safer side with double the capacity. Optionally, the internal storage in the iPad Air will have a maximum of 256 GB, while the Pro is available with up to 2 terabytes of storage. Then even with twice the amount of working memory (16 GB RAM).
You have to carefully consider this before buying a tablet, because the internal storage cannot be expanded afterwards. The use of an external hard drive, on the other hand, is possible without any problems.
Price difference: iPad Air 2022 vs. iPad Pro 2021
Let’s get to the most important point: the price. The recommended retail price issued by Apple for the iPad Air 2022 with 64 GB of storage is 679.00 euros. The iPad Pro with 128 GB of storage is priced at 879.00 euros. If this storage is enough for you and if the other advantages of the Pro model are not important to you, the Air is the better choice.
However, the situation is different if you need more storage space. The 2022 Apple iPad Air currently costs 819.99 euros in the free trade. The Pro with identical memory equipment, on the other hand, is currently listed for 909.00 euros.
The price difference thus shrinks to less than 100 euros. For the additional features we Thunderbolt 4, ProMotion display, more (and better) speakers and microphones or the LiDAR scanner a fair premium.
Conclusion: iPad Air 2022 vs iPad Pro 2021
With the update of the iPad Air 2022, Apple has brought the mid-range tablet model in its own portfolio much closer to the Pro model and given it some important innovations. For the majority of users, the Air will probably offer the better price-performance ratio. At least if the specifications are sufficient for you.
Many of the features of the iPad Pro are more aimed at professional users, but there are also features that could tip the scales for power users. The (factory) double system memory, Thunderbolt 4 and the 120 Hz display, for example.
64 GB of internal storage is extremely tight by today’s standards. If 128 GB is your sweet spot, the iPad Air 2022 (but with 256 GB of storage) and iPad Pro 2021 (11 inch) are currently almost on par in terms of price. The decision should be clear by then at the latest. However, both current Apple models are high-performance and versatile tablets that you cannot go wrong with.