iPad Air vs iPad Pro: What if the best-value tablet isn’t what we thought?

On March 8, Apple introduced a new generation, the fifth, of its iPad Air† A discreet update, but focused on two essential points.

The consumer tablet, but then high-end, keeps its design very close to that of the iPad Pro. The aluminum housing has clear and pleasant edges, which facilitate handling and give a more modern look. The thin-edged 10.9-inch display is still there, with a Touch ID button moved to the Power button – where the Pro model uses Face ID.

In this case, change comes from within. The Cupertino giant is upgrading its tablet to 5G, still optional, which can make it more up-to-date and long-term. Finally, Apple provided a little surprise by equipping its tablet not with the A15 Bionic, but with the M1, the same chip as in the MacBook Air and Pro 13 inchmac mini24-inch iMacand of course iPad Pro, 11 True 12.9 inches

Therefore, it seems obvious that the iPad Air, which is getting closer to the 11-inch iPad Pro, and nibbling more and more of its prerogatives, is all a champion going to challenge the supremacy of the small pro tablet. Is it the iPad to choose? What’s left for the 11-inch iPad Pro? Our opinion, point by point.

Size and weight: minor differences

Let’s start with the outside: iPad Pro and iPad Air are almost twins. They share the same height and width. The Pro tablet is even a few millimeters thinner, but a few grams heavier. The iPad Air lives up to its name.

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Looking at the screen, of course, we see that the difference in size is small: 0.25 cm provides a very slight gain in comfort on a daily basis and for the eye. The difference is mainly in the fact that the display takes up a larger part of the front of the tablet, as indicated by the screen ratio. A few percent meaning the Pro model could get our preference at this point.

We also note that, even without claiming the mini-LED backlighting of the Retina Display XDR panel, the 11-inch iPad Pro’s screen offers better brightness (618 cd/m2 vs. 511) and a much better contrast (1873:1 vs 1343:1). The logic of the range is respected even in the colorimetric fidelity, with the iPad Pro displaying an almost perfect delta E2000.

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Almost identical ergonomics

As mentioned, the subtle screen differences make working with iPad Pro just a little more pleasant. However, this difference alone does not justify purchasing the Pro model. Working on a split screen is equally comfortable on both tablets, although the visual impression is somewhat favorable for the Pro.

As for the accessories, Apple had a good idea to put the two tablets on an equal footing. Both iPad Air and Pro are compatible with the second-generation Apple Pencil, which is very pleasant to use for drawing or taking notes, even if it can be criticized for not yet having the feel of a real pen on it. paper.

As for transforming these iPads into tiny ultraportable PCs, both are entitled to the same two types of keyboards at Apple (and Logitech for that matter). The Smart Folio Keyboard, for those who want a keyboard shell that suits a wider range of uses. It’s lighter and flexible, allowing it to be folded over the back of the iPad Air or Pro, for example to read a comic.

The Magic Keyboard is the choice if you really want to use your iPad as a PC most of the time. With its more adjustable base that includes a USB-C connection, it’s perfect for working with the iPad for a long time, typing a lot of text, even in the discomfort of a cramped chair or on your lap.

In terms of ergonomics, it’s almost a draw, with perhaps a slight advantage to the iPad Pro.

Almost double appearances

As we said, the big surprise this year is the arrival of the same chip that powers the Pro models. The M1 slips into the iPad Air and feels perfectly comfortable there.

To the point where our performance stability tests with 3Dmark Wild Life give it a much better score than the iPad Pro (96.7 vs 62%). It must be said that it seems as if Apple has slightly reduced the performance for long efforts to prevent overheating of the chip, with the difference in power score being quite significant (17,141 against 10,021 for the best walk

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However, this power adjustment has no negative effect when using the iPad Air. The fluidity of the interface is never questioned, nor are the needs when playing or running applications for graphic, video or musical creations that are a bit demanding. To be fair, it will probably be difficult to find a program that is harmful to the M1 in the App Store.

The results obtained with Geekbench 5 show that the M1 behaves very well in the iPad Air and that power is not an issue. At this point, especially at less than 1TB of storage, with the iPad Pro also having 8GB of RAM, the cheapest iPad is a good choice.

Autonomy: the Pro, a safe bet

Finally comes an essential point, that of autonomy. Since the first model launched in 2010, Apple promises its iPad will last for ten hours before being charged.

With this fifth-generation iPad Air, Apple is doing slightly less than the previous model. Autonomy remains good, but slightly less. This is undoubtedly the price to pay for the power of the M1.

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Regardless, for a comparable form factor, the iPad Pro undoubtedly outperforms the iPad Air. In this case, if endurance is what matters most, especially since you plan on moving around a lot with your tablet, the 11-inch iPad Pro has the most trump cards to tempt you.

The price: the advantage for Air…although

As you will have understood, the iPad Pro is logically superior to its younger brother, the iPad Air in many respects. The presence of the M1 in both tablets nevertheless creates a common ground that evens out the differences.

To the point that, when we look at the price, the iPad Air is of course the tablet that offers the best value for money by default. However, there is an important but. Those who want to buy the iPad Air with more than 64 GB of storage space, because that is a bit too little and in the long run they are right, will realize that the increase to 256 GB (there is no option of 128 GB) is very expensive.

Most importantly, it brings the iPad Air closer to the entry-level price of the 11-inch iPad Pro, for the Wi-Fi model only and with 128GB – which is often enough in use if you’re not sinking into the dark. all-round installation of applications.

At 869 euros (only in Wi-Fi) for the iPad Air, against 899 euros for the iPad Pro, the price is then so close that the difference of 30 euros encourages us to advise you to choose the Pro model.

You gain some comfort in use, thanks to the small differences in the panel and the sound provided by the four speakers. You will also and above all benefit from a much better autonomy, according to our two measures. You also benefit from a better photo/video experience, and even in augmented reality, thanks to lidar.

In short, if 128 GB doesn’t seem insurmountable to you – it’s not our business for non-professional use, then the iPad Pro is your best choice in this case. For once the top of the range is at a more interesting price, we will not sulk with its pleasure.

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