The iPad Air and iPad Pro are both high-quality tablets that offer a range of features and capabilities. So, the question is, are you better off spending the extra money and getting the 11-inch M2 iPad Pro or is the M1 iPad Air 5 still a better value?
|iPad Pro||iPad Air|
|Processor||Apple M2||Apple M1|
|Memory||Up to 16GB||8GB|
|Storage||Up to 2TB||Up to 256GB|
|Front Camera||True Depth 12MP Ultra Wide||12MP Ultra Wide|
|Rear Cameras||12MP Wide, 10MP Ultra Wide||12MP Wide|
|Battery||10 hours||10 hours|
|Biometrics||Face ID||Touch ID|
|Connectivity||Thunderbolt 4, 5G, Wi-Fi||USB-C, 5G, Wi-Fi|
|Colors||Space gray, silver||Space gray, starlight, pink, purple, blue|
The iPad Air 5 starts at $599, and the iPad Pro 11 starts at $799. We’re looking at a $200 difference, but we only get 64GB of internal storage on the iPad Air 5 versus 128GB on the iPad Pro.
My personal opinion is that a lot of users need to consider whether 64GB will actually be enough for them in a device this powerful.
Both of these iPads should last at least seven years thanks to Apple’s excellent long-term support.
Design & Size
There are very minimal differences in size between these two iPads. In terms of thickness, there is a difference of 0.2 millimeters, and weight is a difference of a couple of grams.
The iPad Pro will also have an 11-inch display and the iPad Air 5 will have a 10.9-inch display, but the size of each device will remain the same for the most practical use cases or for portability as well.
There are four speaker grills on both iPads, but the iPad Pro actually has four speakers, while the iPad Air 5 actually only has two speakers.
There is also an important design difference that has to do with the biometric authentication process. In other words, the iPad Air 5 has a fingerprint sensor that is integrated into the power button of the device. There is a true depth front-facing camera on the iPad Pro that is used for face ID. Both face ID and fingerprint readers are fast and accurate, but the face ID on an iPad Pro is ready to use as soon as I pick it up.
When it comes to ports, both iPads have a USB type-C port, but the iPad Pro has a Thunderbolt/USB-4 port, which translates into a transfer speed of up to 4GBPS, compared to 10GBPS for the iPad Air 5. If part of your workflow involves transferring large video files or maybe hundreds of photos, then saving time will definitely prove to be an advantage in the long run, as you will be able to save time in the long run.
The iPad Pro has a slightly higher resolution than the iPad Air. Also, it is a bit brighter with a peak brightness of 600 nits, which is a bit more than the iPad Air 5’s peak brightness of 500 nits.
However, the most important difference between the two is the refresh rate. In comparison to the iPad Air 5, the iPad Pro comes with Apple Promotion, which is an adaptive refresh rate of up to 120 hertz, whereas the iPad Air 5 is locked at 60 hertz. This means that on the iPad Pro, we can get a higher refresh rate for smoother animation and for better scrolling and we can get a lower refresh rate when we’re looking at static content, so that way we can save on battery life.
There is no doubt that both displays are good, but I would definitely give the edge to the iPad Pro based on its display. There is nothing I like more than having a 120 hertz refresh rate and I will always prefer a brighter display when it comes to the display.
Apple Pencil & Keyboard
Both iPads support the second-generation Apple Pencil, but only the iPad Pro supports the hover feature with the Apple Pencil. This is still a relatively new feature for iPad OS, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops. In terms of Apple keyboard cases, both iPads use the same Magic Keyboard, which sells for $300 in black and white.
Both iPads feature an ultra-wide 12-megapixel front-facing camera with Center Stage support. As a result, both iPads are capable of identifying and tracking subjects as they move, and then zooming in and out to ensure that they are properly framed.
Most of the front-facing camera features are the same, but the iPad Pro has a true depth camera that allows features like portrait mode and portrait lighting.
The iPad Air 5 has a 12-megapixel ultra-wide rear camera, and the iPad Pro has a 12-megapixel wide camera, a 10-megapixel ultra-wide camera, a flash, and a LIDAR scanner.
I use my iPad cameras mainly for scanning documents, but if you use them for video or if you need a LIDAR scanner, the iPad Pro is the best Apple iPad camera system.
Performance & Software
They both run the current iPad OS, so they essentially have the same multitasking features. Split view allows you to run two apps side-by-side, and slide over windows allow for even more advanced multitasking. Sidecar is an Apple feature that allows you to use the iPad as an additional display when you have a Mac or MacBook.
As far as processing power goes, the M2 on the iPad Pro outperforms the M1 on the iPad Air 5. On the iPad Air 5, most users aren’t even close to maxing out the M1, so what they’re getting with the iPad Pro is additional headroom, which is always a good thing, but it should be kept in perspective.
Additionally, the M2 has a 10-core GPU versus the M1’s 8-core GPU, but I haven’t noticed any differences in any of the apps or games I have used so far.
If you choose the iPad Pro with one or two terabytes of storage, you’ll also get 16GB of RAM, versus the iPad Air 5’s maximum of 8GB.
As for gaming, I was able to play PUBG, Genshin, Asphalt 9, and all the other games I play without any issues. I experienced no lags or other hiccups during any of the games. With both chips, you’ll get plenty of CPU and GPU performance for a very long time.
In terms of battery life, both iPads have performed well for me. An average day of use includes watching videos, surfing the web, using productivity apps, and reading books. With both tablets, I can surf the web for 10 hours on WiFi or watch videos for 9 hours if I use cellular data.
Which One You Should Buy in 2023?
If you only need 64GB of storage, pick up the iPad Air 5 and save $200. If you’re interested, I have a comparison of the iPad Air 4 that will save you even more money.
If you need 128GB, get the 11-inch iPad Pro. While it will cost you $50 more than the 256GB iPad Air 5, you’ll get an improved display, a more powerful port, better speakers, and a better camera with face ID.
You need to ask yourself if all those advantages I just mentioned are worth $150 over the life of the device if you need 256GB. Now, personally, I think that they are a good choice, especially if it’s a device that I’ll be using for the next five or seven years.