2020 iPad Air vs. iPad Pro: Hands-On Comparison

Apple announced the new 2020 fourth-generation iPad Air in September, but the new tablets just started shipping out to customers last Friday. We picked one up and thought we'd do a hands-on comparison with the iPad Pro, which was last updated in March, because both tablets are about as powerful and share many similarities.

Design and Size

When it comes to design, the 11-inch ‌iPad Pro‌ and the 10.9-inch ‌iPad Air‌ look quite similar with flat edges like the iPhone 12, a camera bump at the back, and an edge-to-edge display with no Home button. Note that in the video, we're comparing the ‌iPad Air‌ to a 12.9-inch ‌iPad Pro‌ because we don't have an 11-inch model on hand, but aside from size, it too is identical to the ‌iPad Air‌.

ipadairdesign
The ‌iPad Pro‌ models come in silver and space gray, but Apple added fun new colors with the ‌iPad Air‌. It comes in silver, space gray, rose gold, blue, and green.

Display

The ‌iPad Air‌ is just a bit smaller than the 11-inch ‌iPad Pro‌, and the bezels around the display are a bit thicker. It's not a huge difference, but with both tablets side by side, it's noticeable. Other than that, display quality is similar, with one notable exception: the ‌iPad Pro‌ supports 120Hz ProMotion refresh rates for smoother scrolling and a better overall experience.

ipadairdisplay
Is it worth shelling out more for an ‌iPad Pro‌ over an ‌iPad Air‌ just for ProMotion? Probably not, but it's a noticeable omission that's one of the bigger ‌iPad Air‌ downsides.

ipadairapplepencil
Both the ‌iPad Air‌ and ‌iPad Pro‌ support the Apple Pencil 2, and it's worth noting that writing and sketching is somewhat smoother with the ProMotion display.

Biometric Authentication

The ‌iPad Pro‌ is equipped with a TrueDepth Camera System that works with Face ID to unlock the iPad through facial recognition, while the ‌iPad Air‌ returns to an old favorite: Touch ID.

ipadairtouchid
There's no ‌Touch ID‌ Home button, but there is ‌Touch ID‌ built into the power button at the top of the device. It's fast and effortless, but you do need to reach up to the top of the ‌iPad‌ to unlock it, and it's not as seamless of an experience as ‌Face ID‌, especially when you're using accessories like the Magic Keyboard. On ‌iPad Pro‌, you can wake it with the keyboard and then it instantly unlocks after scanning your face, but on ‌iPad Air‌, this is a two-step process.

Cameras

The ‌iPad Air‌ has a single-lens wide-angle rear camera and no LiDAR Scanner, while the ‌iPad Pro‌ has a dual-lens camera with wide-angle and ultra wide-angle lens options, along with the LiDAR Scanner for enhanced AR capabilities.

ipadaircamera
If you don't use your ‌iPad‌ for pictures this should be no big deal, and the same goes for those who aren't into augmented reality apps. Both have the same front-facing 7-megapixel camera, but the ‌iPad Pro‌ has TrueDepth camera features too.

Speakers

The ‌iPad Air‌ has four speaker cutouts like the ‌iPad Pro‌, but there are only two stereo speakers instead of four. There's a definite difference in sound, and the ‌iPad Pro‌ comes out ahead.

A12Z vs. A14

The ‌iPad Air‌ has the same A14 chip that's in the ‌iPhone 12‌, while the ‌iPad Pro‌ is using the older A12Z chip. In our Geekbench tests, the ‌iPad Air‌'s A14 came out on top, but the A12Z has an extra GPU core that gives it the edge when it comes to GPU performance. We haven't noticed differences in photo or video editing, though, and both are capable devices.

geekbenchcomparison
As for RAM, the ‌iPad Air‌ has 4GB and the ‌iPad Pro‌ has 6GB RAM.

Battery Life

Battery life seems to be about the same between the ‌iPad Air‌ and the ‌iPad Pro‌. Apple advertises 10 hours of surfing the web and video playback for both.

Pricing and Storage

The 10.9-inch ‌iPad Air‌ starts at $599 for 64GB storage, while the 11-inch ‌iPad Pro‌ starts at $799 for 128GB of storage. There is no 128GB ‌iPad Air‌, and the 256GB model costs $749. The 256GB 11-inch ‌iPad Pro‌ is $899, and upgrading to the larger 12.9-inch screen is also expensive with that model starting at $999.

ipadairvsipadpro
The ‌iPad Air‌ is much more affordable than the ‌iPad Pro‌ if you can work with 64GB storage, but that may not be enough for some people. $799 for the 128GB ‌iPad Pro‌ vs. $749 for the 256GB ‌iPad Air‌ is a smaller price differential and something to keep in mind if 64GB storage isn't enough.

Bottom Line

For most people, the ‌iPad Air‌ is the ‌iPad‌ to choose. It's more powerful with the A14 chip and offers many of the same features, plus it has ‌Touch ID‌ for those ‌Touch ID‌ fans out there. It lacks when it comes to the display because it doesn't have ProMotion, but it's more affordable, faster, and available in better colors, all of which give it an edge over the ‌iPad Pro‌ at this time.

The ‌iPad Pro‌ still wins out if you want the more advanced LiDAR Scanner and camera features and the ProMotion display, or if you need the larger 12.9-inch form factor which is not available with the ‌iPad Air‌.

Related Roundups: iPad Pro, iPad Air
Related Forum: iPad

Top Rated Comments

puggsly Avatar
20 months ago
A number of people pointed out that now may not be the best time to purchase a PRO seeing as performance is nearly a wash or in some cases a plus for the Air and Apple has to know this is an issue so look for an update in early 2021 and I total get and agree with that, but it doesn't change the math in one area if you have to purchase now. So if you have to purchase today you have to ask a simple question is 64gb enough storage? If it is then you are good, get an Air. But for many people 64 on an iPad is not just light it is very light and 128 is very much fine! If that is you the price difference is $50 and you get:

pro
Pro Motion
FaceID
Lidar
Better Speakers
Wide angle Lens
Slightly Bigger screen

con
128GB instead of 256GB

So unless you can live with the lower 64gb of storage or need the higher 256gb of storage the PRO is still probably the better choice.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheDailyApple Avatar
20 months ago
Since I need the bigger 12.9” for my purposes, I’m waiting for the 2021 update. I figure if I’m going to pay for the pro, I want it to be significantly better than the air.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheDailyApple Avatar
20 months ago
My thoughts for new iPad buyers right now is either buy an air now or wait for the pros to refresh.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
PBMB Avatar
20 months ago
iPad Air more than 40% higher in single-core score than iPad Pro!? :eek:
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Lerten Avatar
20 months ago
”better colors”? Seems like poor wording.

all in all - iPad Air is less technically advanced device (lack of promotion, lidar, worse speakers, less ram, storage and size options etc), but as a consumer, mid-tier device its wonderful.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Chompineer Avatar
20 months ago

iPad Air more than 40% higher in single-core score than iPad Pro!? :eek:
2 generations of development and a process shrink will do that
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

ipad air 4 video

New iPad Air Rumored to Launch This Spring With A15 Chip, 5G, Center Stage Camera, and More

Saturday January 15, 2022 8:05 pm PST by
Apple is planning to release a fifth-generation iPad Air with similar features as the sixth-generation iPad mini, including an A15 Bionic chip, 12-megapixel Ultra Wide front camera with Center Stage support, 5G for cellular models, and Quad-LED True Tone flash, according to Japanese blog Mac Otakara. Citing reliables sources in China, the report claims that the new iPad Air could be...
iPad Air Feature 2 green

Buyer's Guide: Don't Buy an iPad Air Right Now – New Model Imminent

Monday February 21, 2022 2:16 am PST by
The fifth-generation iPad Air is expected to arrive in less than a week with a number of notable features and improvements, so prospective customers should now hold off on buying an iPad Air until the new model arrives. According to Japanese blog Mac Otakara, Apple is planning to give the fifth-generation iPad Air features from the sixth-generation iPad mini. This seems plausible since the...
iPhone SE 3

Apple Now Accepting Pre-Orders for New iPhone SE and iPad Air

Friday March 11, 2022 5:01 am PST by
At Tuesday's "Peek Performance" event, Apple introduced refreshed versions of the iPhone SE and iPad Air. Both devices are available for pre-order from today, along with Apple's new Green and Alpine Green color options for the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro. The new iPhone SE, which replaces the second-generation version, starts at $429, up from $399 on the 2020 model. It features the same...
iPad Pro Big Ol Logo

11-Inch iPad Pro No Longer Expected to Gain Mini-LED Display in 2022

Thursday March 10, 2022 2:13 am PST by
The updated 11-inch iPad Pro expected to launch sometime this year can no longer be expected to feature a mini-LED display like its larger 12.9-inch sibling, display analyst Ross Young said today on Twitter. Earlier rumors indicated that after keeping mini-LED exclusive to just the 12.9-inch iPad Pro in 2021, Apple would expand the newer display technology to the smaller 11-inch form...
iPad Air Feature 2

iPad Air 5 Rumored to Feature M1 Chip, 8GB RAM, and 128GB Base Storage

Tuesday March 8, 2022 3:52 am PST by
The fifth-generation iPad Air will feature a range of significantly upgraded internals, according to an unverified but increasingly plausible report coming out of Asia. According to a post from the account "yeux1122" on the Korean blog Naver, the fifth-generation iPad Air will feature the M1 chip. As a result, the iPad Air is also destined to be paired with 8GB of memory, the post claims. ...
ipad air m1 1

Hands-On With the New M1 iPad Air

Friday March 18, 2022 12:27 pm PDT by
Apple last week introduced an updated iPad Air with an M1 chip, and now the new tablet is available for purchase. We picked one up to see how it compares to the iPad Pro, which also has an M1 chip, to give you an idea of which of Apple's iPads is right for you. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Design wise, the fifth-generation iPad Air looks just like the...
iPad Air Feature 2 teal

iPad Air 5 to Offer Long-Overdue Features

Monday January 31, 2022 2:25 am PST by
Apple is poised to launch the fifth-generation iPad Air in the spring, offering an array of features that have largely already come to other iPad models, according to recent reports. According to Japanese blog Mac Otakara, Apple is planning to give the fifth-generation iPad Air features from the sixth-generation iPad mini, including the A15 Bionic chip, a 12-megapixel Ultra Wide front camera ...
new m1 chip

Upcoming iPad Air Rumored to Feature M1 Chip

Monday March 7, 2022 2:20 pm PST by
The updated iPad Air that Apple is expected to unveil at tomorrow's "Peek Performance" event could include the same M1 chip that's featured in the 2021 iPad Pro, according to information shared by 9to5Mac. Last year's iPad Pro was the first iPad to get Apple's M-series chip, and adding the M1 to the iPad Air would put iPad Air performance on par with the current iPad Pro models and the 2020...

Popular Stories

Prosser Series 8 3

Apple Watch Series 8 Rumored to Feature New Design With Flat Display

Wednesday May 18, 2022 6:21 am PDT by
The Apple Watch Series 8 could feature an all-new design with a flat display, according to the leaker known as "ShrimpApplePro." In his latest video on the YouTube channel Front Page Tech, Jon Prosser highlighted information from ShrimpApplePro that suggests the Apple Watch Series 8 could feature a flat display in what seems to be a design originally rumored for the Apple Watch Series 7. ...
anker 563 dock ports

Anker's Latest USB-C Docking Station Brings Triple-Display Support to M1 Macs

Wednesday May 18, 2022 7:06 am PDT by
While Apple's early M1-based Macs can only officially support a single external display, there are ways around the limitation. Anker is launching a new 10-in-1 USB-C docking station today which delivers just that. The Anker 563 USB-C dock includes two HDMI ports and a DisplayPort port, and it leverages DisplayLink to carry multiple video signals over a single connection. Given that this hub...
macOS Monterey 2

Apple Releases macOS Monterey 12.4 With Support for Studio Display Webcam Update

Monday May 16, 2022 10:10 am PDT by
Apple today released macOS Monterey 12.4, the fourth major update to the macOS Monterey operating system that launched in October 2021. macOS Monterey 12.4 comes over two months after the launch of macOS Monterey 12.3, an update that added Universal Control. The ‌‌‌‌‌macOS Monterey‌‌ 12.4 update can be downloaded on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System...
Whatsapp Feature

WhatsApp to Let Users Leave Group Chats 'Silently' and View Rich Link Previews in Status Updates

Tuesday May 17, 2022 3:07 am PDT by
WhatsApp is working on a new feature that will allow users to "silently" leave group chats hosted by the messaging platform instead of all members of the group being notified when they do. As it stands, when someone leaves a group chat, WhatsApp announces their exit to the entire group, making the act of leaving very public. It's not possible right now to leave a group quietly, but WhatsApp...
apple data auction iphone privacy ad

Apple Highlights iPhone's Latest Privacy Features in New 'Data Auction' Ad

Wednesday May 18, 2022 9:00 am PDT by
Apple today shared a new ad highlighting iPhone privacy features like App Tracking Transparency and Mail Privacy Protection that are designed to give users more transparency and control when it comes to their personal data being collected. The ad revolves around a young woman named Ellie who discovers that her personal data is being sold at an auction house, with bids being placed on her...
airpodsproinear

Apple Facing Lawsuit After AirPods Allegedly Ruptured Child's Eardrums With Amber Alert

Tuesday May 17, 2022 11:40 am PDT by
Apple's AirPods ruptured the eardrums of a 12-year-old boy in 2020 when a loud Amber Alert was issued, according to a lawsuit filed against Apple in California (via Law360). The child, identified as B.G. in the filing, was watching a movie on Netflix on his iPhone in 2020 while wearing AirPods Pro. The AirPods Pro were allegedly set at a low volume, but an Amber Alert sounded without warning ...
apple store palo alto

Apple Reinstating Employee Mask Mandate at Approximately 100 U.S. Retail Stores

Tuesday May 17, 2022 11:11 am PDT by
Apple retail employees at around 100 stores will need to go back to wearing a mask while working, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Apple is mandating masks for employees again due to a rising number of COVID cases across the United States. Customers who visit an Apple Store are not required to wear a mask at this time, but Apple is continuing to recommend masks for all Apple Store...