Compared: Apple iPad Air (2022) vs iPad Pro (2021)

Simon Chen | May 09,2022 8 min read

On 8 March, Apple announced an update to its excellent iPad Air from 2020 and made it available on 18 March. Apple's iPad Air 5th generation was already starting to creep into iPad Pro territory with its design, but now its internals are catching up.

Below is a comparison of the 2022 iPad Air (5th generation) and the iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation). Additionally, we've mentioned the larger iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation) for comparison in case you're trying to decide between all three.

Table of Contents

Design

Displays

Storage options

Cameras

USB-C transfer speeds

Accessories

Design

ipad air 2022 vs pro 2021

The fresh new Apple iPad Air (5th generation) features the same design as its predecessor, though it comes with a couple of new color options. 

There's a slim aluminum build with uniformed bezels surrounding the display, and Touch ID is built into the power button.
The new iPad Air (5th generation) comes in Space Grey, Starlight, Pink, Purple, and Blue, and it is identical in size to the iPad Pro 11-inch model, though very slightly thicker. A single-camera lens is located at the top right of the device, and the edges are squared off, as is the case with most of Apple's newer devices.

Although the iPad Pro 11 and iPad Pro 12.9 share the same design, they differ in measurements. Unlike the iPad Air (2022), both of these devices feature an aluminum body with a notch at the top rather than a Touch ID. The iPad Pro models also house a dual-camera system on the back within a square housing at the top left corner.

The iPad Pro models come in Space Grey and Silver, which are less exciting options than the iPad Air, but it depends on what you're looking for.

All models feature a Smart Connector and are compatible with the second-generation Apple Pencil and Magic Folio Keyboard. For charging and data transfer, the iPad Pro models have Thunderbolt/USB 4, while the iPad Air has USB-C.

Displays

ipad air 2022 vs pro 2021

Apple's iPad Air (2022) features a 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display with a resolution of 2360 x 1640 pixels and a pixel density of 264 pixels per inch. With a maximum brightness of 500nits, it is very similar to the iPad Pro 11 (2021).
The iPad Pro 11 owns a slightly larger display at 11-inches, though it is still a Liquid Retina display. Compared with the iPad Air, the resolution is higher at 2388 x 1668 pixels, though the pixel density remains the same at 264ppi. A maximum brightness of 600nits is slightly brighter than the iPad Air (2022), but not the same bright as the iPad Pro 12.9.
The Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) comes with a 12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR display. It also owns a pixel density of 264ppi though so there are still as many pixels per inch on the whole model.

The whole three models come with an anti-reflective, P3 wide color display, True Tone technology and an utterly laminated display.
The iPad Pro models have Apple's ProMotion technology, providing users with a 120Hz variable refresh rate. However, the iPad Air doesn't have this on board, which is the biggest difference between the iPad Pro 11 and iPad Air when it comes to the display.

Storage Options

The iPad Air that costs you $600 might seem like a steal compared with the $800 iPad Pro coming with the same performance, yet there's a good reason why the iPad Air is less expensive other than the lack of ProMotion screen tech. 

The basic, $600 iPad Air has 64GB of storage while the entry-level, $800 iPad Pro has 128GB of storage. If you use an iPad just to browse the web or run standard apps, you can directly go with a 64GB iPad Air. 

Cameras

ipad air 2022 vs pro 2021

iPad Air (2022): 12MP (f/1.8), 12MP front
iPad Pro 11 (2021): 12MP (f/1.8) +10MP (f/2.4) rear, 12MP front
iPad Pro 12.9 (2021): 12MP (f/1.8) +10MP (f/2.4) rear, 12MP front

The Apple iPad Air (2022) comes with a single rear 12-megapixel wide camera  with an f/1.8 aperture. It can provide you with  5x digital zoom and Smart HDR 3 for photos.

Both the iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) and the iPad Pro 11 (2021) have a 12-megapixel wide (f/1.8) and 10-megapixel ultra-wide (f/2.4) camera on their back. They also come with 2x optical zoom out together with Smart HDR 3 for photos.

As for the front, the iPad Air (2022) has a 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera with an f/2.4 aperture.

The iPad Pro 12.9 and the iPad Pro 11 meanwhile, come with a 12-megapixel TrueDepth camera with ultra wide camera. It offers an f/2.4 aperture with 2x optical zoom out and a number of features including Centre Stage, Portrait mode, Portrait Lighting, Animoji and Memoji and extended dynamic range for video up to 30fps, so they offer a couple of extra features in this department. 

USB-C transfer speeds

ipad air 2022 vs pro 2021

In my opinion, this is also a niche feature that only really appeals to professionals who frequently transfer big projects between iPads and external storage devices.

With the iPad Air, data can be transferred up to 10 gigabits per second (Gbps), while with the iPad Pros, data can be transferred up to 40 gigabits per second (Gbps). Technically, the iPad Pro models can theoretically transfer data four times as fast as the iPad Air. That means that big files or projects will transfer faster on the iPad Pros.

Even so, the iPad Air's 10Gbps transfers are very fast, and transfer speeds depend on whether the connected storage device - whether an external drive or a drive inside a computer -offers the same transfer speeds as your iPad.

Accessories

ipad air 2022 vs pro 2021

Apple's Smart Keyboard Folio and Magic Keyboard, along with the Apple Pencil 2, are compatible with both iPad Air and iPad Pro. When it comes to keyboards and trackpads, there is no reason to choose one model over the other since both models support the same accessories.

The iPad, however, will have to be purchased separately from accessories such as the Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard, increasing the overall price. 

Conclusion

Despite maintaining the same great design as its predecessor, Apple's iPad Air (2022) is now much more comparable to its iPad Pro counterparts thanks to the upgrade in hardware. As you would expect, the Pro models also come with a few extra features, such as Face ID over Touch ID, Thunderbolt 4, a choice of RAM, more storage options, and a second camera.

Despite that, the iPad Air is now powered by the same powerful processor, has features like Center Stage and 5G, and runs the same software - iPadOS - as the iPad Pro models, ensuring a similar user experience.

While the iPad Pro models are naturally more expensive, some users may find that the extra features are worth it, but the iPad Air (2022) has really stepped up its game this time around. With that boost in power and its lovely design, it's a very appealing choice.

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