iPad Pro M2 vs iPad Air: How do they compare while we wait for the M3?

The current iPad Air has most of the features of the 2021 iPad Pro, such as the M1 chip, ultra-wide front camera with Center Stage, 5G connectivity and much more. However, the 2022 iPad Pro M2 has the most advanced features and fastest performance of any iPad – but is that overkill? Keep an eye out for all the similarities and differences between the 11-inch iPad Pro M2 and iPad Air as we await the release of the 2024 iPad in March.

02/26 .24:With no new iPads released in 2023, we expect Apple to update its tablets as early as March.

  • Here are the full sizes of the new iPad Air and iPad Pro coming soon.
  • The new iPad Pro is coming: three things to expect
  • Should you buy a new iPad now? Probably not, or maybe.

In the meantime, we'll cover what's included in the current M2 iPad Pro and M1 iPad Air models, with our detailed comparison below.

The iPad 10 arrived last fall, blurring the line even further as it took many of the popular features of the iPad Air and put them into an entry-level $449 tablet.

  • iPad 10 vs 9 vs iPad Air: comparison of the new affordable iPad line

But when it comes to the mid- and high-end, you have several options with the M2 and M1 iPad Pro vs iPad Air. In all comparison charts below, the iPad Pro 11-inch M2 is on the left, the iPad Pro 11-inch M1 is in the middle, and the iPad Air M1 is on the right.

Table of Contents

  • 11-inch iPad Pro M2 vs iPad Air
    • Performance
    • Display
    • Fast Color
    • iPad Pro vs iPad Air Battery Life
    • Storage and price
    • Cameras
  • Conclusion iPad Pro M2 and iPad Air
    • Why buy an iPad Pro?
    • Why buy an iPad Air?

11″ iPad Pro M2 vs iPad Air


The main performance difference is the upgrade from the M1 chip to the M2 chip for the new iPad Pro.

This delivers an 18% faster CPU, 35% faster GPU (10-core vs. 8-core), and 2x faster increasing memory bandwidth from 50 GB/s to 100 GB/s.

But the iPad Pro has three more advantages over the iPad Air – in this category – Thunderbolt support, 16 GB of RAM in models with a capacity of 1 TB and 2 TB, plus additional storage options.

Note: 128, 256, and 512 GB models have 8 GB of RAM, 1 TB and 2 TB models. have 16 GB of RAM.

iPad Pro 11 inches 11″ iPad Pro M1 iPad M1 Air
Chip M2 M1 M1
CPU cores 8 8 8
GPU cores 10 8 8
Neural nuclei 16 16 16
Storage 128 GB – 2 TB 128 GB – 2 TB 64 or 256 GB
RAM 8 or 16 GB 8 or 16 GB 8 GB
Cellular 5G 5G 5G (but without mmWave)

However huge amount, most users will likely find the iPad Air with M1 and 8GB of RAM more than powerful enough for years to come.

Thunderbolt and 16GB of RAM with the iPad Pro will likely only be of interest to professionals or those who don't value the price.


With the iPad Air's screen, you get a 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display with True Tone support and a wide P3 color gamut. It's almost the same Liquid Retina display as the 11-inch iPad Pro (okay, technically 0.1 inches smaller 😅). Both displays are fully laminated and feature Apple's anti-glare coating.

The biggest difference is that you only get ProMotion (up to 120Hz refresh rate) with the iPad Pro display, and the Apple Pencil Hover only with the M2. iPad Pro.

  • The new iPad Pro brings a smart hover feature for the Apple Pencil, here's how it works
iPad Pro M2 11 inches iPad Pro 11″ M1 M1 iPad Air
Display 11″ 11″ 10.9″
Resolution 2388 x 1668 2388 x 1668 2360 x 1640
PPI (pixels per inch) 264 264 264
Display brightness 600 nits 600 nits 500 nits
True Tone
P3 wide color
ProMotion (120 Hz)
Anti-reflective coating
Liquid Retina display
Apple Pencil pointing

Meanwhile, HDR brightness up to 1600 nits is only available on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, not the 11-inch Pro or 10.9-inch iPad Air.

Connectivity and Accessories

iPad Air works with all the same great Apple accessories as the iPad Pro. This includes the second-generation Apple Pencil, Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio.

The iPad Air uses Touch ID rather than the iPad Pro with Face ID.

Two other small devices iPad Pro M2 updates include support for Bluetooth 5.3 and WiFi 6E.

iPad Pro 11 inch M2 11″ iPad Pro M1 iPad Air M1
2nd generation Apple Pencil support
Magic support Keyboard
5G ✅ (but no mmWave)
WiFi 6
WiFi 6E
Bluetooth 5.3 5.0 5.0
USB-C ✅ USB 4 ✅ USB 4 ✅ 3.1 Gen 2
Touch ID
Face ID

Like the iPhone SE 3, the iPad Air does not support mmWave 5G on its cellular models. But since mmWave is the rarest version of 5G coverage, it's probably not an issue for most people.

Splash colors

If the color of your next iPad is important, you have five options with iPad Air. It is available in space grey, starry, pink, purple and blue.

iPad Pro is available only in space gray and silver colors.

Battery life of iPad Pro and iPad Air

iPad Pro M2/M1 and iPad Air have the same battery life:

  • 10 hours of Internet or video use over Wi-Fi.
  • 9 hours of Internet use over a cellular network.

Storage and price

Here is the price difference (suggested retail price) between these tablets. It's not exactly apples to apples since the iPad Pro and Air have different storage options, but you can save a significant amount of money with the iPad Air (including because iPad Air is sometimes discounted).

11″ iPad Pro M2 11″ iPad Pro M1 M1 iPad Air
Wi- Fi, 64 GB $599
64 GB + cell $749
128 GB Wi-Fi $799 $799
128 GB + cell $999 $999
256 GB Wi-Fi $899 $899 $749
256 GB + cell
256 GB + cell
Strong> $1099 $1099 $899
512 GB Wi-Fi $1099 $1099
512 GB + cell $1299 $1299
1 TB Wi-Fi $1,499 $1499
1 TB + cell $1699 $1,699
2 TB Wi- Fi $1,899 $1899
2 TB + cell $2099 $2099


You get a solid rear single camera with the iPad Air, which features the same 12MP wide-angle lens as the iPad Pro. It shoots 4K video at the same frame rate as the Pro.

However, the iPad Pro has a 10MP ultra-wide-angle lens, a LiDAR scanner, and True Tone flash.

The iPad Air has the same 12MP ultra-wide-angle lens with Center Stage support as the iPad Pro.

The main difference is the iPad Pro M2's ability to shoot ProRes 4K video at up to 30 frames per second.

iPad M2 11 inch 11″ iPad Pro M1 2022 iPad Air
12 MP wide-angle lens
10 MP ultra-wide-angle lens
Smart HDR 3
Smart HDR 4
4K Video
ProRes video up to 4K, 30fps
High dynamic range
Slo -mo video
Rear camera flash
TrueDepth Camera with Face ID
12 MP ultra-wide-angle front camera
2x optical reduction
Auto-tracking Center Stage
Stereo recording

A few smaller differences: The iPad Pro's front camera supports Portrait Mode, Portrait Lighting, and Animoji/Memoji, while the iPad Air's front camera does not.

And when it comes to speakers, you get quad-speaker audio on the iPad Pro, while the iPad Air has a dual-speaker system.

Conclusion iPad Pro M2 vs iPad Air

Why buy an iPad Pro?

Best comment from BelgianWaffle

Liked by 21 peopleI feel like they are marginalizing the iPad Pro the same way they marginalized the Mac for several years between 2017 and 2019. I mean, look at how little the iPad Pro has changed between 2018 and 2022 and compare that evolution to the evolution. iPad Air lived 1.5 years less (2019-2022). The 2022 iPad Air is better in almost every way compared to the 2019 iPad Air 3. I was very disappointed to see that the 2021 iPad Pro 11″ did not get the same display as the 12.9″ model, but I couldn't see them again. Upgrading it this year is very disappointing. The iPad Pro is getting worse than Apple Watch, when it comes to updates – only an update every 4-5 years is justified (Apple Watch every 3-4 years), but this is more forgivable in the case of the Apple Watch, where innovation should certainly be much more difficult given its size and battery.See all comments

If you know you'll often push your tablet to its limits, iPad Pro offers the most powerful package yet, with up to 16GB of RAM and 2TB of storage, a 120Hz ProMotion display, and Thunderbolt support. and the ability to capture ProRes 4K video, all powered by the M2 chip.

iPad M2 iPad Pro is available at Apple, Amazon, Best Buy, BH Photo and other retailers.

Why buy an iPad Air?

Given all the similarities, the iPad Air is likely the best choice for most of people . It's priced about $200 less than the iPad Pro, but still includes most of the iPad Pro's premium features.

More on the 9to5Mac comparison:

  • iPad 10 vs 9 vs iPad Air: comparison of the new affordable iPad line
  • M2 iPad Pro vs M1 iPad Pro: what has changed?
  • iPhone 15 vs 15 Pro: All unusual and buyer's guide.

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