iPad Air 2022 vs. iPad Pro 2021: Both M1, but Which One’s Better?

Apple introduced an updated iPad Air for the first time since 2020 at its “Peek Performance” event last weekoutfitting the new tablet with 5G support, an M1 processor and a Center Stage front-facing camera. We also have our eyes on a new iPad Pro possibly coming this yearbut for now, the iPad Pro 2021 is the 2022 Air’s closest rival.


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Do you get the Air or the 11-inch iPad Pro? The two iPads are more similar than ever, but there are advantages to the Pro model. Apple upcharges $ 200 for the entry-level iPad Pro over the iPad Air, but adds more storage, better cameras, a slightly better display, Face ID (instead of Touch ID), lidar depth sensing, faster USB / Thunderbolt 4 data transfer, extra speakers, more storage and RAM on higher-end configurations and mmWave 5G support (if you care).

iPad Air M1 announcement

Apple’s latest iPad Air gains an M1 chip and 5G, but still has one rear camera.

Apple / Screenshot by Sarah Tew / CNET

Those differences could still add up to a reason to pick the Pro. But right now, I’d recommend going with the Air and its specs (which on paper are a lot better than the entry-level iPad), or waiting for a possible iPad Pro to refresh later this year.

You can compare the key spec differences below. The iPad Air is on sale for preorders now and will be available Friday.

Apple

The newest iPad Air has the same starting price ($ 599) and starting storage (64GB) as it did a year and a half ago, but adds an M1 processor similar to the iPad Pro from 2021. It looks fast, and it’s sure to be welcome power upgrade from the 2020 model, but it leaves off a bunch of little perks that the iPad Pro has.

Scott Stein / CNET

The smaller version of Apple’s two 2021 iPad Pro models has an M1 chip and optional 5G, and adds a smoother refresh-rate ProMotion display, more speakers, faster Thunderbolt data throughput via the USB-C port, lidar, more storage tiers and extra front and rear camera features. The 11-inch version does not have Mini LED like the 12-inch model, so the display lacks that extra bit of pop (but is still very, very good). A year later, you’re better off waiting for the next version if you can.

Read our iPad Pro 11-inch review.

iPad Air 2022 vs 11-inch iPad Pro: specs

iPad Air (2022)

iPad Pro 11-inch (2021)

Display size, resolution

10.9-inch Liquid Retina, 500 nits, 2,360×1,640

11-inch Liquid Retina, 600 nits, 2,388×1,668, 120Hz ProMotion

Processor

M1

M1

Storage

64GB, 256GB

128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB

RAM

8GB

8GB / 16GB

Face ID

No

Yes

Touch ID

Yes (side button)

No

Rear camera

12MP wide camera

12MP wide camera, 10MP ultra-wide camera, lidar depth sensing

Front camera

12MP, ultrawide, Center Stage

12MP, ultrawide, Center Stage, TrueDepth camera with portrait mode

Speakers

Two

Four

USB-C

Yes

Yes (Thunderbolt 4)

Cellular option

5G (Sub 6)

5G (Sub 6, mmWave)

Price (USD)

$ 599, $ 749

$ 799 and up

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