iPad Air vs. iPad Pro: What are the differences between the new 2024 models?


Apple iPad Pro 2024 from behind

Let’s dive into an iPad Air vs. iPad Pro face-off. Apple showed off two new iPads on Tuesday at the May 7 “Let Loose” livestream, but you’re unsure which is best for you.

We’re more than happy to give you the deets to help you make a decision. The new OLED iPad Pro and the new iPad Air are different products that serve different audiences. However, the differences aren’t that self-explanatory. One is more expensive with more features, and the other is cheaper, but also has a couple of benefits of its own.

Here’s how the two new iPads compare to each other.

iPad Air vs. iPad Pro 2024: Specs and price

iPad Air 2024

The Air can do almost as much as the Pro.
Credit: Apple

As I said earlier, these two device serve slightly different audiences, so their specs are going to look a little different. Before we get to that, though, let’s talk about price. The iPad Air starts at $599 for the 11-inch model and $799 for the 13-inch model. The iPad Pro comes in the same two sizes, but at price points of $999 and $1,299, respectively.

Here are the iPad Air’s basic specs:

  • M2 processor

  • LED Liquid Retina display with 2360×1640 resolution

  • Storage options: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB

  • WiFi 6E

  • 5G LTE support (optional)

And here are the specs for the iPad Pro:

  • M4 processor

  • OLED Ultra Retina XDR display with 2420×1668 resolution

  • Up to 120Hz refresh rate

  • Storage options: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB

And interestingly, the iPad Pro has a slightly hidden difference under the hood depending on how much storage you get, per Apple’s specs page. The 256GB and 512GB variants have one fewer CPU core than the 1TB and 2TB variants. It’s hard to say what, precisely, that means in a practical sense, but hey, it’s worth noting.

Anyway, the iPad Pro clearly wins on specs, but that’s because it’s more expensive. You get what you pay for.

Winner: iPad Pro

iPad Air vs. iPad Pro 2024: Design

iPad Pro 2024 from side view to show how thin it is

Look at how thin that thing is.
Credit: Apple

There isn’t a ton to say about the designs of these two iPads. They look like iPads.

If you want to get down into the nitty-gritty, though, there are a few things to comb through. For starters, the iPad Air has a more varied and frankly better selection of colors. Here’s what’s on offer for the Air:

  • Blue

  • Purple

  • Starlight

  • Space Grey

While iPad Pro customers only get the measly choice between silver and black. Boring!

One other thing worth pointing out here is that, despite the “Air” part of the iPad Air’s name, both new versions of the Pro are actually thinner and lighter. Both new models of the Air are 6.1mm thick, while the 11-inch Pro is 5.3mm and the 13-inch Pro is even smaller at 5.1mm. The difference in weight is less than a tenth of a pound, though, so that doesn’t matter all that much.

Oh, and both iPads got a repositioned front-facing camera. It now sits on top of the device when placed in landscape mode, for more natural video calls.

Winner: iPad Air for color choices

iPad Air vs. iPad Pro 2024: Features

Apple iPad Pro with Final Cut Pro on it showing multicam feature

Multiple cameras, one tablet.
Credit: Apple

This category isn’t super fair, but let’s talk about it anyway.

Obviously, the Pro has more features than the Air. It’s more expensive and has better hardware inside of it. That doesn’t mean the Air doesn’t bring anything new or interesting to the table, though. Apple’s in-house M2 chip enables some AI features, like Live Text, which recognizes and even translates text in images.

The only problem is that the Pro can do all of that and more. A new version of the Final Cut Pro app for iPad Pro allows for seamless blending of multiple camera angles from different devices, for example. It can also use AI to more easily scan documents using the rear-facing camera. Neither of these devices blow the doors off the tech world with amazing new features, but the Pro can do a little bit more than the Air, so it wins.

Winner: iPad Pro

iPad Air vs. iPad Pro 2024: Battery life

We can’t definitively tell you which device has better practical battery life until they’re in our hands, but we can at least look at the specs. Here are the battery sizes for each new iPad model:

  • iPad Air: 28.93-watt-hour battery (11-inch model) or 36.59-watt-hour battery (13-inch model)

  • iPad Pro: 31.29-watt-hour battery (11-inch model) or 38.99-watt-hour battery (13-inch model)

Those numbers tell us what we could have already guessed, which is that the iPad Pro generally has a bigger battery than the Air. However, Apple’s specs pages rate both devices for “up to” 10 hours of general use, so it’s hard to say which has a distinct advantage right now, if any.

iPad Air vs. iPad Pro 2024: Which should you buy?

It all comes down to cash.

Do you have money to spend on a new iPad Pro? Then you should get the Pro. It has a better display, a better processor, a bigger battery, and more features. That was always going to be the case, so no surprises here.

That said, maybe you have the cash but don’t have the desire to do serious workflow stuff on an iPad. Maybe the iPad exists for doing crossword puzzles and watching YouTube videos in your life. If that’s the case, go with the Air.

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