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iPad Air (2022) vs. iPad Pro (2022)

Apple iPad Pro

The new Apple iPad Air and iPad Pro models are two of the most sought-after models in the Apple iPad lineup. Hence, this comparison will focus on these two, not the regular iPad or iPad Mini.

iPad Air and iPad Pro side by sideImage source: Apple

The latest iPad Air and iPad Pro devices are the new iPad Air 2022 and the iPad Pro 2021. Even though the iPad Pro 2021 was released several months before the iPad Air, it still has more premium features to justify its pricing.

Here is an in-depth comparison of the iPad Air vs iPad Pro.

Read our article on everything we know about the iPhone 14 Pro Max

Design

iPad Air (2022) PortImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Their design is the first point of contention in this iPad Air 2022 vs iPad Pro 2021 matchup. The two iPads share a similar design with flat edges.

The iPad Air 2022 is available in space gray, blue, purple, pink, and starlight colors. Quite disappointedly, the iPad Pro is only available in space gray and silver.

Display

iPad Air (2022) Main
iPad Air 5th-generation. Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Next in the iPad Air 2022 vs iPad Pro 2021 debate is their displays.

The iPad Air has a 10.9-inch screen size. As for the iPad Pro, you can choose between the 12.9-inch iPad Pro or the 11-inch iPad Pro. The 11-inch iPad Pro and 10.9-iPad Air will serve you if you need something quite portable.

Both models are also lighter than the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. But if you need a tablet with a display almost as large as a MacBook, the 12.9-inch iPad is fantastic.

The iPad Air and 11-inch iPad Pro use Apple’s Liquid Retina display, while the 12.9-inch iPad Pro uses Apple’s Liquid Retina XDR display. The iPad Air’s display has 2360 by 1640 resolution. The 11-inch iPad Pro has a display resolution of 2388 by 1668, and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro Liquid Retina XDR display has 2732 by 2048 resolution.

All iPads have a pixel density of 264 PPI.

Bigger and brighter

Apple iPad Pro
iPad Pro (2021) on a desk. Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro Liquid Retina XDR display is a mini LED display. The Mini LED display lets the 12.9-inch iPad Pro present images in their most crisp and accurate representations. Images look gorgeous on this tablet, bright or dark, and minute details are faithfully presented true-to-life. The Mini LED Display is perfect for cinematographers, photographers, and other creatives whose job nature requires world-class color accuracy. Dolby Vision and HDR video content look amazing on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which also has a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio.

The iPad Air 2022 has a maximum brightness of 500 nits, while the iPad Pro 2021 has a maximum brightness of 600 nits for regular content. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro’s Mini LED display has a maximum brightness of 600 nits for SDR content, maximum XDR brightness of 1000 nits, and a maximum brightness of 1600 nits for HDR content.

ProMotion display remains exclusive to the iPad Pro, so it supports refresh rates of up to 120Hz. This makes for a smart, smooth, and intuitive display experience. The refresh rate alternates from 10Hz to 120Hz, depending on what you are doing. This conserves the iPad Pro battery life instead of having the screen constantly on 120Hz.

If display quality is of utmost importance to you, you should go for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021.

Processor

Image source: Apple

The iPad Air 2022 and the iPad Pro 2021 both use the Apple M1 processor with desktop-class 64-bit architecture. The 8-core CPU brings desktop-class performance with machine learning capabilities to the iPads.

The M1 processor is 60% faster than the A14 processor found in the previous gen Apple iPad Air 2020.

As for RAM, the Air 2022 has 8 GB RAM, while the Pro 2021 has 8 or 16 GB of RAM, depending on the storage option you purchase.

The 1 TB and 2 TB models of the iPad Pro have 16 GB of RAM while the others have 8 GB RAM. 8 GB of RAM is more than enough for most users, but apps stay longer in the background for iPad Pro models with 16 GB RAM. The 16 GB RAM iPads also feel snappier to use.

Cameras

iPad Air (2022) CameraImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

The standout camera difference between the iPad Air and iPad Pro is the dual rear camera setup that the iPad Pro 2021 has. The new iPad Air 2022 has a single rear camera.

The back cameras of both iPads are good, and most users won’t mind using any of the two iPads for quick camera actions. But the iPad Pro has the better cameras.

The rear cameras of both iPads have the True Tone flash for taking photos in dark or low-light environments. In addition, the iPad Pro has a LiDAR scanner. The iPad Pro’s LiDAR scanner is perfect for measuring distances and improved Augmented Reality.

The Air 2022 and Pro 2021 both have 12 MP ultra-wide front cameras with 2x digital zoom capabilities. The front cameras of both tablets are perfect for video calls. Their front-facing ultra-wide cameras have the Center Stage technology that tracks you as you move around when on a FaceTime call. It then re-orientates your face to the center of the screen instead of wobbling to the screen’s side.

The Center Stage feature also uses an intuitive AI system for digital zoom in or zoom out of the camera frame as more people join in or leave during a video call. However, while the iPad Pro front camera supports animoji, memoji, portrait mode, and portrait lighting, the iPad Air front camera doesn’t have those features.

Video recording

iPad Pro
iPad Pro’s rear panel with Apple logo. Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

The back cameras of the iPad Air and the iPad Pro support video recording from low resolutions to 4k resolution. So, you can record the best quality Ultra HD resolution videos with crisp video playback on any device. The iPads cameras also support 30 fps extended dynamic range support. The iPad Air and iPad Pro have slo-mo video support so that you can capture 1080p slow-mo videos at 120 fps or 240 fps.

The iPad Air has two microphones, while the iPad Pro has five microphones (three on the left, one on top, and one by the rear camera). Apple promises a studio-quality microphone experience on the iPad Pro for those who want to make quick music or podcast recordings on their iPads.

So you will get better audio input for your videos on the iPad Pro, but the iPad Air microphones are sufficient for most users. You can also attach an external microphone to the tablets through their USB-C ports.

Software

iPadOS 15 Features
Apple unveiled iPadOS 15 at WWDC 2021. Image source: Apple

There is no software difference between the iPad Air 2022 vs iPad Pro 2021. Both tablets run on the iPadOS 15 with the same features.

iPadOS 15 brings multitasking to the iPad with an easy split screen via Split View, Slide Over, full screen, and center window switch. The new iPadOS also comes with improved and redesigned keyboard and keyboard shortcuts. iPadOS 15 also adds widgets to the iPad with impressive widget features.

The iPad now has App Library and better home screen page organization. Notes come with improved collaboration and better blending of handwritten and tags. FaceTime comes with the SharePlay feature that allows you to share movies, TV shows, music, screens, and other media with friends and family. FaceTime also has improved sound features. You can now send FaceTime meeting links to others, and FaceTime now supports web meetings for those without Apple devices (a bid to compete with Zoom and Google Meet?).

Universal Control lets you use a single mouse, trackpad, and mouse across your Mac and iPad. You can also use the feature to drag and drop content across devices easily. This lets you work efficiently with your iPad and Mac at the same time.

iPadOS15 introduces Focus Mode to the iPad, and notifications have been redesigned. Maps have been improved, and Safari comes with tab group syncing. The new Live Text feature lets you use the iPad Air and iPad Pro cameras to copy text from photos and look up information from photos.

Battery life

There is no significant battery life difference between iPad Air 2022 vs the iPad Pro 2021. Both last for about 10 hours on video and 9 hours of web surfing via a cellular network.

Biometrics

The Apple iPad Air 2022 unlocks via Touch ID, while the Apple iPad Pro uses Face ID. The Apple iPad Air Touch ID works via a fingerprint sensor fixed to the top power button. This is unlike older iPhones which had Touch ID attached to the home button at the center. The Apple iPad Pro Face ID works via Apple’s TrueDepth camera for recognizing faces.

Both biometric unlock options work fine, so this isn’t a major bone of contention in the iPad Air vs iPad Pro debate. The biometric options do a great job unlocking the tablets, verifying app purchases, and using Apple Pay.

Connectivity

There are a few connectivity differences in this iPad Air vs iPad Pro debate. Both devices come with 5G connectivity, but the iPad Air only supports sub-6GHz 5G while the iPad Pro supports both mmWave 5G and sub-6GHz 5G. mmWave 5G is faster than sub-6GHz 5G.

So, if you are in a location where you have access to sub-6GHz 5G, you might opt for the iPad Pro cellular model. The iPad Pro 5G can reach a theoretical speed of 3.5Gbps under ideal conditions.

The Apple iPad Air and iPad Pro both support Wi-Fi 6 for fast internet connectivity up to 1.2 Gbps. Both tablets have Bluetooth 5.0 technology.

Both iPad models have a USB-C port, but the iPad Pro has Thunderbolt through its USB-C port. Thunderbolt connectivity hasn’t come to the iPad Air since it was only recently introduced to the iPad Pro. Thus, the iPad Pro 2022 model is the only iPad model with Thunderbolt connectivity.

The USB-C port offers fast file transfer speeds of up to 10Gbps on the iPad Air. Meanwhile, the iPad Pro delivers an extremely fast transfer speed of up to 40GB/s, thanks to its Thunderbolt port. But you need to have Thunderbolt devices to experience this blistering speed.

Thus, the iPad Air transfer speed is sufficient for most users. But if you spend time transferring lots of files from your iPad to your computer, camera, and external drive or vice-versa, then you should consider the iPad Pro.

You can use the USB-C port to connect the iPad to computers, external displays, external storage, and cameras. Both iPads can output up to 6K HDR and SDR content to an external monitor via the USB-C port. But you need a high-speed cable to output high-resolution content. You can also connect accessories like keyboards, ethernet adapters, and Type C hubs to the iPad Air and iPad Pro USB-C port.

Image source: Apple

The iPads’ USB-C ports also support reverse charging. So if you have a USB-C to lighting cable, you can charge an iPhone and older iPad models from your new iPad Pro and iPad Air. You could also charge iPads with USB-C ports if you have a USB-C to USB-C cable.

The cellular models of both iPads support Nano-SIM and eSIM.

Speakers

The iPad Pro has a four-speaker audio system; two speakers at the top and two at the bottom (left and right). While the iPad Air 2022 has a two-speaker audio system.

Image source: Apple

The iPad Air’s two speakers audio delivers stereo sound for a better video and movie-watching experience. On the other hand, the iPad Pro four-speaker audio setup produces fuller, richer sound than the iPad Air speakers.

You can connect Bluetooth headphones to both tablets or use a 3.5mm to USB-C headphone jack adapter to use wired headphones with them.

Accessories

Image source: Apple

Both tablets support Apple Pencil 2 and the Apple Magic Keyboard. You can also use the Smart Keyboard Folio with the iPad Air 2022 and the iPad Pro. The Smart Keyboard Folio is a handy, comfortable keyboard that serves as a carry-on pouch for your iPad whenever you aren’t typing on it. It protects the front and back of the iPad.

So, you can purchase the latest Apple accessories for both the iPad Air 2022 and the iPad Pro 2021, and these accessories will work fine.

Storage options

The Apple iPad Air 2022 tablet is available in two storage options which are 64 GB and 256 GB. The iPad Pro 2021 comes with more storage tiers. They are 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB and 2 TB.

Pricing

The iPad Air 5 (2022) starting price is $599 for the 64 GB Wi-Fi only base model and goes up to $899 for the 256 GB Wi-Fi plus cellular model.

Image source: Apple

The iPad Pro starting price is $799 for the 11-inch Wi-Fi only model and $1099 for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro model, and it goes all the way up to $2399 for the Wi-FI + 5G 2 TB model. The 2 TB Wi-Fi plus cellular model is overkill for most people.

Image source: Apple

If you have a limited budget, stick to the iPad Air. But if you can afford it and you want it, you can go all out and purchase the iPad Pro. Both devices have been out for some time, so you can find great deals on both tablets that will bring down their overall price.

The iPad Air and iPad Pro are more similar than ever, thanks to Apple bringing several features from the iPad Pro to the iPad Air over the last few years. The optimal choice for those looking for high-end features in a budget iPad is the iPad air. The iPad Pro is the best of the bunch. It offers the most premium features that you can find on any iPad.

For more information, visit the Apple website.

FAQ

What is the difference between iPad Air vs iPad Pro?

There are various differences between the new iPad Air 2022 vs iPad Pro 2021.
The iPad Air has a single rear camera while the iPad Pro has a dual camera setup, so it has the best cameras of the two tablets.
iPad Pros are the only iPads with ProMotion display support for varying refresh rates up to 120Hz, while the iPad Air doesn’t have this feature.
The iPad Pro is the only iPad model that supports Face ID, while the iPad Air uses Touch ID through the button at the top.
iPad Pro 2022 uses a four-speaker audio setup, while iPad Air uses a two-speaker audio setup. The iPad Pro is available in large storage options of up 512 GB, 1 TB, and 2 TB, while the iPad Air is only available in 64 GB and 256 GB storage options.
There’s a 10.9-inch screen on the iPad Air, while the latest iPad Pro is available as the 11-inch iPad Pro and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The iPad Pro is also more expensive than the iPad Air.
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro also has world-class color accuracy thanks to its Mini LED display which Apple calls the Liquid Retina XDR display.

Is iPad Air or iPad Pro better for students?

The iPad Air is a cheaper, cost-effective tablet that will serve students of most institutions. It offers solid performance for research, studying, and note-taking. Thanks to its Apple Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio support, it can also be a portable laptop replacement. The iPad Air is arguably the best iPad for students. Get the 256 Gb model over the 64 GB model if you need extra memory for more books, apps, music, and videos.

What are the differences between iPad Air and iPad?

The iPad Air is a higher-end device compared to the base iPad.
The base iPad uses Apple’s Retina display, while the iPad Air uses Apple’s Liquid Retina display for richer colors.
The iPad has a 10.2-inch display with a resolution of 2160 by 1620, while the iPad Air has a 10.9-inch display with a resolution of 2360 by 1640.
The base iPad uses the Apple A13 Bionic processor, while the iPad Air is outfitted with the same high-end 8-core Apple M1 processor found in the iPad Pro.
The iPad has an 8 MP back camera, while the iPad Air has a 12 MP ultra-wide camera as its primary shooter. B
Both tablets have two speakers, but the iPad Air speakers support stereo playback for more immersive sounds.
The iPad has a slightly better battery life due to its less power-consuming processor.
The iPad doesn’t support the Apple Magic Keyboard, unlike the iPad Air. But you can purchase cheaper third-party keyboards that will work. The iPad supports the 1st gen Apple Pencil while the iPad Air supports the newer and more responsive Apple Pencil 2. The iPad starts at $319, while the iPad Air starts at $599.
The base iPad will do just fine if you need a cheap iPad for basic tasks like reading, surfing the web, and watching videos. But if you want a more professional iPad with premium features and longevity, the iPad Air is for you.

Can an iPad Air replace a laptop?

The iPad can perform some laptop functions and serve as a very portable laptop.
The new iPad Air 2022 has the same M1 processor that comes with the MacBook Air and the iPad Pro, so its processor is powerful. It also supports the Apple Magic Keyboard and the Apple Smart Keyboard Folio for a laptop-like typing experience. You can also attach the Apple Magic Mouse and other third-party mice to the iPad Air.
The iPad Air can also output up to 6k resolution to an external display. It also supports multitasking thanks to the new iPadOS, so you can have two side-by-side apps. The Apple iPad has some nifty video editing and photo editing tools. You can also use Google Docs and Office 365 on the iPad Air. The iPad Air can last a full work day thanks to its ten hours of battery life.
The iPad Air can perform some laptop functions, but the experience can’t fully replicate a full-fledged laptop. If you need a portable laptop for advanced tasks, the MacBook Air might be a better option. But if you already own an iPad Air, you can purchase accessories like the Apple Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse to make it more useful.

Is it worth buying the iPad Air?

Yes, it is. The iPad Air offers the right balance between pricing and premium features. It offers more features than the base iPad and iPad Mini and isn’t as expensive as the iPad Pro. The new iPad Air comes with 5G connectivity, Apple’s desktop-class M1 chip, stereo speakers, Magic Keyboard, and Apple Pencil support.

Is iPad Air or Pro better for notes?

The iPad Pro has a larger and better screen for taking notes, especially the 12.9-inch iPad Pro model. The split screen feature also looks better on the large iPad Pro screen, so you can take notes while simultaneously reading a book, slide, or watching a video. The 120Hz display is also smoother when scrolling through and taking notes. But the Air is no slouch when it comes to taking notes. It does a great job too, but the iPad Pro has the advantage.

Which iPad is the best to buy?

It depends on what you need it for and your lifestyle. The regular 9th gen 2021 iPad is affordable and okay for most people. Starting at $319, you get a brand new Apple tablet at the most affordable price. It covers the basics and works perfectly fine for basic tasks.
The iPad Mini is perfect if you want the most portable tablet for reading books. The 8.3-inch iPad Mini 6 (2017) can be held in one hand. It supports a USB-C port, Apple Pencil, and it comes with the 6-core A15 CPU.
The iPad Air 2022 offers a perfect balance between high-end features and pricing. It has the Apple M1 processor found in the Macbook Air instead of the A15 mobile chip in the iPad Mini and base iPad. It can also serve as a laptop replacement if you need one. On top of that, it offers 5G connectivity and a top-notch ultra-wide camera with center stage.
If you want the best iPad, you should get the iPad Pro 2021. It has all the best and premium features that you can get in an Apple Tablet. It also comes with large storage options, and the iPad Pro comes closest to replicating a computer experience on a tablet.
If you are a creative, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro was designed for you. It uses a Liquid Retina XDR display to accurately reproduce colors for HDR content and extended dynamic range images and videos. The iPad Pro is also great for gamers that want to experience high refresh rate gaming for games that support it.

Which iPad is best for learning?

The Air is the best iPad for learning and students. It covers all the bases while remaining reasonably priced. It comes in the right 10.9-inch with features that make it perfect for note-taking, studying, and essay writing.

Does iPad Air come with a pencil?

No, it does not. You have to purchase the Apple Pencil 2nd generation separately for the iPad Air 2022. The 2nd generation Apple Pencil comes at a starting price of $129. It offers improved precision, magnetic attachment to the iPad Air, and a touch surface for quick controls. It is excellent for annotation, note-taking, and sketching.

Is an iPad Air good for college?

Yes, it is. The iPad Air is perfect for college. It is a well-rounded iPad with premium features that do not cost as much as the iPad Pro. It is appreciable for lecture room dashes and will fulfill your average college computing needs.

Toby Grey contributes as a How To expert for BGR. Typing away like a keyboard super hero, he covers just about anything you can think of. If Toby isn't writing, he's probably reading a book or playing video games.