Tech 

what do you gain or give up?

The iPad Air 2022 has most of the features of the iPad Pro 2021, such as the M1 chip, an ultra-wide front camera with Center Stage, 5G connectivity, and more. But now the M2 iPad Pro is here with the most advanced features and the best performance on iPad – but is that too much? Follow the details on all the similarities and differences between the iPad Pro 11″ M2 and the iPad Air to help you decide which one is best for you.

The 2022 iPad Air 5th generation blurred the line between mid-range and high-end iPads, prompting many to opt for the Air, which starts at $200 (or more) below the $799 11-inch iPad Pro.

Then this fall, the iPad 10 arrived, blurring the line even more as it takes many popular features from the iPad Air and puts them into the base $449 tablet.

If you know you want a 12.9-inch iPad, the iPad Pro is your only choice. But now you have the option of getting the latest M2 chip or saving money with the old iPad Pro M1.

But when it comes to the 11″ iPad Pro M2 and M1 vs iPad Air. For all comparison tables below, the iPad Pro 11″ M2 is on the left, the iPad Pro 11″ M1 is in the middle, and the iPad Air M1 is on the right.

iPad Pro 11″ M2 vs. iPad Air

productivity

The main difference in performance is the upgrade from an M1 to an M2 chip for the new iPad Pro.

This provides up to 18% faster CPU, 35% faster GPU (10 cores vs. 8 cores) and increased memory bandwidth from 50 GB/s to 100 GB/s.

But three other advantages the iPad Pro has over the iPad Air — in this category — are Thunderbolt support, 16GB of RAM in the 1TB and 2TB models, and more storage options.

Note: 128, 256 and 512 GB models have 8 GB RAM, 1 TB and 2 TB models have 16 GB RAM.

iPad Pro 11″ M2 iPad Pro 11″ M1 M1 iPad Air
Chip M2 M1 M1
processor cores 8 8 8
GPU cores ten 8 8
Neuronal nuclei 16 16 16
Storage 128 GB – 2 TB 128 GB – 2 TB 64 or 256 GB
RAM 8 or 16 GB 8 or 16 GB 8GB
lightning
Cellular 5G 5G 5G (but not mmWave)

However, the majority of users will likely find the iPad Air with M1 and 8GB of RAM to be more than powerful enough for years to come.

Thunderbolt and 16GB of RAM with the iPad Pro will probably only be tempting to professionals or those who aren’t price-sensitive.

Display

M2 iPad Pro screen vs. iPad Air

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

The biggest differences are that you only get ProMotion (up to 120Hz refresh rate) with the iPad Pro display and you only get Apple Pencil Hover with the iPad Pro M2.

iPad Pro 11″ M2 iPad Pro 11″ M1 M1 iPad Air
Display 11 inches 11 inches 10.9 inches
Resolution 2388×1668 2388×1668 2360×1640
PPI (pixels per inch) 264 264 264
Screen brightness 600 rivets 600 rivets 500 rivets
True tone
P3 wide color
PromotionMotion (120Hz)
anti-reflective coating
Liquid Retina display
Apple Pencil Overview

Meanwhile, HDR brightness up to 1600 nits is only available on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but not on the 11-inch iPad Pro or 10.9-inch iPad Air.

Connectivity and accessories

The iPad Air works with the same great Apple accessories as the iPad Pro. This includes the second-generation Apple Pencil, Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio.

The iPad Air uses Touch ID unlike the iPad Pro which comes with Face ID.

Two other small upgrades with the M2 iPad Pro are support for Bluetooth 5.3 and WiFi 6E.

iPad Pro 11″ M2 iPad Pro 11″ M1 M1 iPad Air
2nd generation Apple Pencil support
Magic keyboard support
5G ✅ (but no mmWave)
Wi-Fi 6
Wi-Fi 6E
Bluetooth 5.3 5.0 5.0
USB-C ✅USB 4 ✅USB 4 ✅ 3.1 generation 2
lightning
Touch ID
Face ID

Like the iPhone SE 3, the iPad Air does not support mmWave 5G with its cellular models. But since mmWave is the least common version of 5G coverage, it’s probably not a problem for most people.

color splash

M2 iPad Pro vs iPad Air colors

If the color of your next iPad is important, you have five options with the iPad Air. Available in space grey, starlight, pink, purple and blue.

iPad Pro is only available in Space Gray and Silver.

iPad Pro vs. iPad Air battery life

All iPad Pro M2/M1 and iPad Air have the same battery life:

  • 10 hours of web or video use over WiFi
  • 9 hours of cellular network usage

Storage and cost

Here’s a breakdown of the price differences (MSRP) between these tablets. It’s not exactly apples to apples, as the iPad Pro and Air have different storage options, but you can save a lot of money with the iPad Air (also thanks to the iPad Air sometimes being discounted).

iPad Pro 11″ M2 iPad Pro 11″ M1 M1 iPad Air
64 GB Wi-Fi $599
64 GB + cell $749
128 GB Wi-Fi $799 $799
128 GB + cell $999 $999
256GB Wi-Fi $899 $899 $749
256 GB + cell 1099 dollars 1099 dollars $899
512GB Wi-Fi 1099 dollars 1099 dollars
512 GB + cell 1299 dollars 1299 dollars
1 TB Wi-Fi 1499 dollars 1499 dollars
1 TB + cell 1699 dollars 1699 dollars
2 TB Wi-Fi 1899 dollars 1899 dollars
2 TB + cell 2099 dollars 2099 dollars

Cameras

M2 Camera iPad Pro vs iPad Air

You get a solid rear camera with the iPad Air, which includes the same 12MP wide lens found on the iPad Pro. It also records 4K video at the same fps as the Pro.

With the iPad Pro, however, you also get a 10MP ultra-wide lens, LiDAR scanner, and True Tone flash.

The iPad Air comes with the same 12MP ultra-wide lens with Center Stage support as the iPad Pro.

The main difference is the M2 iPad Pro’s ability to record 4K ProRes video at up to 30 fps.

iPad Pro 11″ M2 iPad Pro 11″ M1 iPad Air 2022
12MP wide lens
10MP ultra-wide lens
Smart HDR 3
Smart HDR 4
LiDAR
4K video
ProRes video up to 4K 30 fps
Wide dynamic range
Slow motion video
Rear camera flash
TrueDepth camera with Face ID
12MP ultra-wide front camera
2x optical zoom
Automatic center stage tracking
Stereo recording

A few small differences – the iPad Pro’s front-facing camera supports portrait mode, portrait lighting, and Animoji/Memoji, while the iPad Air’s front-facing camera does not.

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

Conclusion M2 iPad Pro vs iPad Air

Conclusion M2 iPad Pro vs iPad Air

Why buy an iPad Pro?

If you know you’ll often be pushing your tablet to the limit, the iPad Pro offers the most capable package with up to 16GB of RAM and 2TB of storage, a 120Hz ProMotion display, Thunderbolt support, and the ability to shoot ProRes 4K video, all of it. powered by the new M2 chip.

Pre-orders for the iPad Pro M2 are now open at Apple, Amazon and others, with shipping starting on October 26.

Why buy an iPad Air?

Considering all the similarities, the iPad Air will probably be the best choice for most people. It costs about $200 less than the iPad Pro, while still including most of the iPad Pro’s premium features.


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