The newly released iPad Air is an exceptional mid-tier iPad, but I believe Apple has drawn the line on what constitutes a “Pro” iPad and an iPad Air. Much like the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro, there are distinct similarities and differences to the design, spec options, etc. I want to talk about some of them today, but before I do, I created a table for you to look at showcasing the differences between the iPad Pro and iPad Air.
Aside from a similar design, the iPad Pro is still more powerful and offers more capabilities than the iPad Air. Things like a bigger screen, more speakers, and better performance with apps like Ferrite and LumaFusion, to name a few.
Apple is very good at making your current machines seem obsolete as soon as a new and shiny version of your computer is released, but after seeing the iPad Air get released and thinking about the differences it has compared to the Pro, I can honestly say that the FOMO isn’t there for me and I am still pleased with my decision to get the Pro. I truthfully would do it all over again today if given the chance today.
As someone that made the switch to the iPad Pro full time, I was initially upset about the new processor announced in the iPad Air until I realized that it’s still inferior to the iPad Pro. The iPad Air’s A14 chip has only a 6 Core GPU and 4 Core CPU. The A12Z processor in the iPad Pro offers an eight-core CPU and an eight-core GPU. It is also worth noting that the ARM Mac Minis sent out to developers for the upcoming switch to Apple Silicon has the A12Z processor in them, not the A14 Bionic chips. One could argue that those chips may not have been available at the time of WWDC, but I still think Apple knows that the chips in the iPad Pros fair better for an ARM Mac over the A14 chips.
With some of the main differences mentioned, let’s talk about what similarities these two iPads offer.
Apple Pencil 2 Support
Magic Keyboard Compatible
The things listed above were the main selling points to me about the iPad Pro when the newly refreshed 2020 version came out. The big one for me was the Magic Keyboard, honestly. Seeing that the new iPad Air also supports this keyboard was a shock to me, but I have to say it does keep an incentive for Apple to continue offering it for future models. Apple Pencil 2 was also interesting to me but wasn’t a shock like the Magic Keyboard. I am happy to see that the first-generation Apple Pencil is slowly being phased out. The iPad 8 still supports it for now, but I can see the iPad 9 or 10 moving away from that first-generation Pencil entirely.
Displays with TrueTone also seems to be a reasonably sensible move as it is becoming cheaper and cheaper to make screens that offer these features. ProMotion seems to still only be a Pro feature, but I feel like that shoe will also drop in time.
Finally, USB-C seems to be a possible indicator that the iPhone 12 will have USB-C as well. If I don’t see USB-C offered on some version of the iPhone 12 this year, I will be disappointed with Apple, much like many others. This post isn’t about USB-C, but it has to be said that if the iPad Air can offer USB-C, it is a no-brainer that the iPhones can as well. Lighting was a significant change when it came out in 2012 with the iPhone 4. Since then, we have come a long way, and I want Apple to bring the USB-C connection across all devices and begin the move to phasing out the antiquated Lightning Connector.
Should I get the iPad Pro or the iPad Air?
This is quickly becoming the latest question that is being asked in the iPad communities, and I think that the answer is very similar to that of the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro buying guides.
The Case for the iPad Air
I believe that the iPad Air will be an excellent device for almost everyone. It offers a decent amount of storage (256GB max), cellular options, great colors, and supports the latest Apple accessories (Apple Pencil 2, Magic Keyboard, etc.). If you want a machine that is a workhorse for day-to-day office tasks like emails, light image editing, Zoom Calls, a digital notebook, and a great media consumption device, the iPad Air is the way to go.
The Case for the iPad Pro
If you find yourself wanting all of the things I mentioned for the Air but also handle things like audio or video editing, high-end image editing, design work in apps like Affinity Designer, or Adobe Photoshop, the iPad Pro might be a better fit. Also, if you want a screen bigger than 10.9” the iPad Pro is the only option for you.
I personally feel that if you are considering buying an iPad Pro or an iPad Air, now is the time to make a decision and buy one. Both of these machines offer terrific hardware and can be replacements for you computer if you want it to be.
I have more thoughts about the Apple Event yesterday, and I hope to share them with you over the next few issues of Tablet Habit. Until then, have a great day!
If you have any thoughts or opinions on what I have to say leave a comment or tweet me @iamJeffPerry.