iPad Air 2022 vs. iPad Pro 2021: Which M1 Tablet Is Worth a Buy?

iPad Air 2022 vs. iPad Pro 2021: Which M1 Tablet Is Worth a Buy?

Apple introduced an updated iPad Air for the first time since 2020 at its “Peek Performance” event this week, outfitting 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 year, but for now, the iPad Pro 2021 is the newly announced Air’s closest rival.

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).

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

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 refresh later this year.

You can compare the key spec differences below. The iPad Air goes on sale today and is available March 18.

iPad Air (2022)

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.

iPad Pro 11-inch (2021)

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 doesn’t 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.


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, ultra-wide, Center Stage 12MP, ultra-wide, 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