iPad Air vs. iPad Pro: What if the best value tablet wasn’t what we thought it was?

On March 8th, Apple introduced a new generation, the fifth, of its iPad Air. A subtle update that focuses on two main points.

The consumer tablet, but high-end, remains very close to the iPad Pro in terms of design. The aluminum body offers distinctive and pleasing edges that make it easier to handle and give it a more modern look. Its thin-bezel 10.9-inch screen is still there, with a Touch ID button moved to the power button – where the Pro model uses Face ID.

In this case, the change comes from within. The Cupertino giant upgrades its tablet to 5G, still optional, making it more up-to-date and long-lasting. Finally, Apple made a little surprise by equipping its tablet not with the A15 Bionic but with the M1, the same chip found in the 13-inch MacBook Air and Pro, Mac mini, 24-inch iMac and of course iPad Pro , 11 or 12.9 inches.

So it seems obvious that the iPad Air, which is getting closer and closer to the 11-inch iPad Pro and eroding more and more of its prerogatives, is a champion for everyone, challenging the small Pro tablet for supremacy. Is it the iPad to choose from? What’s left for the 11-inch iPad Pro? Our opinion point by point.

Size and weight: small differences

Let’s start with the outside: iPad Pro and iPad Air are almost twins. They are the same height and width. The Pro tablet can even be a few millimeters thinner, but it is a few grams heavier. The iPad Air lives up to its name.

If you don’t see the infographic above, click here.

Of course, if we turn to the screen, we see that the difference in size is small: 0.25 cm brings a very slight gain in comfort in everyday life and for the eye. The difference is mainly due to the display covering more of the front of the tablet, which is indicated by the screen ratio. A few percent, meaning the Pro model might win our preference on this point.

We also note that the 11-inch iPad Pro’s screen has better brightness (618 cd/m2 vs. 511) and much better contrast (1873: 1 versus 1343:1). The logic of the range is respected, even with the colorimetric fidelity that the iPad Pro displays with an almost perfect Delta E2000.

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Almost the same ergonomics

As I said, the subtle screen differences make the iPad Pro a little more comfortable to work with. However, this difference alone does not justify the purchase of the Pro model. Split-screen work is equally comfortable on both tablets, although the Pro’s visual impression is a bit more favorable.

On the accessories side, Apple had the good idea of ​​putting the two tablets on an equal footing. Both iPad Air and Pro are compatible with the second generation Apple Pencil, which is very pleasant to draw or take notes with, although one can criticize that it still doesn’t bring the feeling of a real pen to paper.

To turn those iPads into small ultraportable PCs, both at Apple (and Logitech, by the way) claim the same two types of keyboards. The Smart Folio Keyboard, for those looking for a keyboard case suitable for a wider range of uses. It’s lighter and more flexible, which means it can be folded over the back of the iPad Air or Pro to read a comic strip, for example.

The Magic Keyboard is the choice if you really want to use your iPad like a PC most of the time. With its more adjustable stand that features a USB-C socket, it’s perfect for working long hours on the iPad and writing a lot of text, even in the awkwardness of a cramped seat or on your lap.

It’s almost a tie in terms of ergonomics, with perhaps a small edge over the iPad Pro.

Almost twin performances

As said, the big surprise this year is the arrival of the same chip that powers the Pro models. The M1 slips into the iPad Air and feels in good hands there.

To the point that our performance stability tests using 3Dmark Wild Life give it a much better score than the iPad Pro (96.7 vs. 62%). It must be said that Apple seems to have slightly reduced the performance for long efforts to avoid heating the chip, the difference in the performance rating being quite significant (17,141 vs. 10,021 for the best). run).

If you don’t see the table below, click here.

However, this performance adjustment does not have a negative effect when using the iPad Air. The fluidity of the user interface is never questioned, nor are the demands of playing or running applications for graphics, video or music creations that are somewhat demanding. To be honest, it will probably be difficult to find a program that harms the M1 in the App Store.

The results obtained with Geekbench 5 show that the M1 performs very well in the iPad Air and that performance is not an issue. In this regard, the cheapest iPad is a good choice, especially with a storage capacity of less than 1 TB, which the iPad Pro also has 8 GB of RAM.

Autonomy: the Pro, a safe bet

Finally, there is an essential point, that of autonomy. Ever since the first model launched in 2010, Apple has been promising its iPad can last ten hours before recharging.

With this fifth generation of the iPad Air, Apple is slightly behind the previous model. Autonomy remains good, but a little less. Undoubtedly, this is the price paid for the M1’s performance.

If you don’t see the table above, click here.

In any case, with a similar form factor, the iPad Pro undoubtedly performs better than the iPad Air. If endurance is what matters most in this case, especially if you plan to move around a lot with your tablet, the 11-inch iPad Pro has it most virtues to seduce you.

The price: the advantage over air… although

As I’m sure you understood, the iPad Pro is logically superior to its younger brother, the iPad Air, in many ways – logically. However, the presence of the M1 in both tablets creates a common ground that levels out the differences.

To the point that when we look at the price, the iPad Air is obviously the tablet that offers the best value for money by default. However, there is one important but. Those who would like to buy the iPad Air with more than 64 GB of storage, because that is a bit too little and is right in the long run, will find that going up to 256 GB (there is no 128 GB option) is really expensive.

Above all, it brings the iPad Air closer to the entry-level price of the 11-inch iPad Pro, only in the WLAN variant and with 128 GB – which is often sufficient in operation if you don’t sink in the dark. All-around installation of applications.

At €869 (in Wi-Fi only) for the iPad Air versus €899 for the iPad Pro, the price is then close enough that the €30 difference encourages us to advise you to go for the Pro model .

Thanks to the small differences in the panel and the sound delivered by the four speakers, you gain a little in ease of use. You will also and above all benefit from a much better autonomy, according to our two measures. Thanks to lidar, you will also benefit from a better photo/video experience and even in augmented reality.

In short, if 128GB doesn’t seem prohibitive to you – that’s not our case for non-professional use – the iPad Pro is your best bet in that case. Because as soon as the top model is offered at a more interesting price, we will not shy away from its delight.

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