iPad Air (2024) vs iPad Pro (2024): What’s the difference?

Apple has just announced two powerful tablet ranges for 2024, the iPad Air and the iPad Pro. The question is, what’s the difference between the two?

It’s arguable that with the introduction of the iPad Air 11 and iPad Air 13, the iPad Air and iPad Pro ranges are closer together than ever – but there are still crucial differences between the two that’ll sway your opinion one way or the other. 

Before slapping down your hard-earned cash, here are a few crucial differences between the new iPad Air and the new iPad Pro. 

The iPad Pro is more powerful

The iPad Pro range is Apple’s all-singing-all-dancing tablet, and to further cement its position, it’s one of few Apple tablets to utilise the desktop-level M-series chipsets. It started with the inclusion of the M1 in 2021, before the M2 made its debut in 2022, and that trend continues with the use of the brand-new M4 in this year’s iPad Pro range.

That top-end chipset is the most powerful you’ll find on any tablet at the moment, boasting a 50% boost to CPU performance compared to the M2, complete with elements like ray-tracing support, that make it the ideal tablet for serious creative work like editing and exporting video, working with large files and even animation.

That doesn’t mean the iPad Air should be sniffed at, however; it’s the only other tablet range to sport the M-series chipset, with the 2022 iPad Air boasting the (slightly older) M1 chipset, and the 2024 range has seen a boost to the M2, cementing its place as a true powerhouse of tablet processing power – it’s just not quite as powerful as the iPad Pro.  

The iPad Pro is more lightweight

One of the key differentiators between the iPad Air and iPad Pro has, traditionally, been heft. The Air branding of the iPad Air signifies the focus on a lightweight design, an element that’s not quite as important with the pro-level tablets in Apple’s collection – until this year, that is.

Editing on the iPad Air 2024

While the iPad Air has traditionally been thinner and lighter than the Pro models, the redesigned iPad Pro range is impressively thin and lightweight; in fact, it’s the thinnest product in Apple’s product collection ever.

More specifically, the iPad Air 11 measures in at just 5.3mm and 444g, while the iPad Pro 12.9 measures in at 5.1mm and 580g– the latter is truly impressive considering the size. We don’t yet know exactly how thick and heavy the new iPad Air is in comparison, but Apple has stated that the new iPad Pro range is the thinnest and lightest yet, so expect some extra heft from the ironically-named iPad Air. 

The iPad Pro has a way better screen

The iPad Pro has always had a top-end screen, but the 2024 range takes that to the next level by switching from LCD (or miniLED in the case of the previous 12.9in model) to OLED, a first in Apple’s iPad range. 

It’s not just your regular OLED panel either, instead using two layers of OLED sheets to deliver top-end brightness of 1600nits, deeper blacks and more vibrant colours than the Liquid Retina LCD display of the iPad Air. 

The iPad Pro range also enjoys new options like NanoTexture glass, a matte-finish display that helps negate reflections, and like previous entries, it sports 120Hz ProMotion support for buttery-smooth animations. That’s just as true of the new slightly larger 13-inch model as the 11-inch model, with no difference between the two.

The iPad Air’s Super Retina XDR display is still very much a great LCD display, also available in 11- and 13-inches for the first time, with a pixel-packed resolution and support for multiple HDR formats to make viewing a great experience, but it misses out not only on the OLED tech but the 120Hz refresh rate and matte-finish display option. 

The iPad Pro has more advanced accessories

The iPad Air (2022) was a particularly tempting tablet for Apple fans as it shared the same support for the same high-end Apple Pencil 2 and Apple Magic Keyboard as the top-end Pro collection. That meant you could get much of the Pro functionality at a much cheaper price point.

While the new iPad Air still supports the Apple Pencil 2 and the original Magic Keyboard, the iPad Pro has new accessories in the form of a refreshed Magic Keyboard and the Apple Pencil Pro. 

iPad Pro Magic Keyboard

The new Magic Keyboard has an aluminium trackpad for better performance, combined with the same haptic feedback from Macs for a more aligned trackpad experience, and there are new shortcut keys to better control elements of your tablet like brightness with a press. 

The Apple Pencil Pro, on the other hand, sports a new squeeze interaction (similar to that of the AirPods Pro) that’ll bring up a new tool palette for quick brush/pen selection, and the new haptic engine should add interesting feedback to the drawing experience. There’s also a new gyroscope to change orientation for shaped pens and brushes, and Find My support. 

The iPad Air is much cheaper

It’s clear to see that the new iPad Pro range is much more capable than the new iPad Air range – even the large 12.9-inch model – but there’s a reason for that; the iPad Pro is Apple’s top-end tablet with all the latest features, while the iPad Air likes to strike a middle ground between high-end features and a more affordable nature.

That said, it shouldn’t be much surprise to learn that the iPad Air is way more affordable than its Pro sibling, with the 11-inch iPad Air starting at $599, going up to $799 for the 13-inch model, while the 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $1199, going up to $1299 if you want the 13-inch iPad Pro experience.

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