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Home / Features / iPad Pro M4 (2024) vs iPad Air M2 (2024): which should you pick?

iPad Pro M4 (2024) vs iPad Air M2 (2024): which should you pick?

Apple's newest iPads are out, but which should you go for? If you go Pro you get a new chipset, but the Air is more affordable

2024 iPad Pro vs iPad Air

After a whole year without iPads, Apple has come out swinging with upgrades to the Air and Pro offerings. The iPad line-up features two new models, but which should you pick? One focuses on cramming as many cutting-edge features in as possible, while the other packs some upgrades in a more affordable package. And, the biggest difference is the chipsets inside – with one 50% more powerful than the other.

Sound like an easy pick, right? But not so much. For once, both come in two size offerings – 11-inch and 13-inch. And that’s far from the only similarity that they share. Both support the new Apple Pencil Pro, along with a bunch of other similarities.

But does any of that matter to you? And which should you go for? While we’ll need to wait to get our hands on the new slates to give our full opinion, here’s our guide to which you should pick so far.

Design & build: it all comes down to slim

iPad Pro 2024 thickness

Available in the redesigned 11-inch and new 13-inch models, the new iPad Air aims to appeal to those who want a stylish yet functional tablet. It comes in fresh, youthful colours like blue and purple alongside starlight and space grey. With a solid aluminium build, it’s robust enough to survive the daily grind while remaining lightweight and portable. The 11-inch model measures 6.1mm thick and weighs just over a pound, while the 13-inch model tips the scales a bit more but still remains easy to carry.

Meanwhile, the iPad Pro comes in a sleeker, more refined silver and space black. The size options are exactly the same: 11-inch and 13-inch. But, it’s so much thinner. In fact, it’s the thinnest device Apple has ever made, even trumping the iPod Nano. The 13-inch version measures a wafer-thin 5.1mm, and the 11-inch model is slightly thicker at 5.3mm. It’ll make the new slates easy to slip into a backpack. Just avoid sitting on it, or you might find a bend.

The build quality is nothing short of premium, featuring an aerospace-grade aluminium enclosure and offering a new nano-texture glass option to tackle screen glare. You’ll have to pay extra for this, but it’s a nice option.

Screen & sound: eyes on the prize

iPad Pro 2024 screen

Both sizes of the iPad Air feature a Liquid Retina display with anti-reflective coating, True Tone technology, and support for P3 wide colour, giving you vibrant and rich images. The 13-inch display offers 30% more screen real estate than the 11-inch model. It’s ideal for multitasking with Split View in iPadOS or letting your creativity flow with the Apple Pencil Pro.

However, the iPad Pro leaves the Air in the dust with its Ultra Retina XDR display. It squeezes in tandem OLED technology (two OLED panels stacked on top of each other), and reaches a blinding 1000 nits full-screen brightness or a peak of 1600 nits for HDR content. Apple reckons it’s the most advanced display on any tablet. Expect razor-sharp visuals and precise colours, especially with the optional nano-texture glass for working under bright lights. That’ll be much more effective than the coating on the Air, mind you.

Both models come with landscape stereo speakers, but the Pro packs four studio-quality microphones that work in unison with its upgraded cameras to deliver clearer audio and video. Things are almost identical here, except for the extra microphones. While a nice addition, they’re unlikely to be the reason you buy one over the other.

Cameras: look down the side

iPad Pro 2024 cameras

The new iPad Air offers a 12MP Ultra Wide front camera with Center Stage for following you during video calls. Its 12MP Wide rear camera captures sharp photos and 4K video with slo-mo and high-resolution Smart HDR. It also includes dual microphones to reduce background noise.

Meanwhile, the Pro steps up the camera game with a TrueDepth front camera system for Face ID unlocking and improved Centre Stage. Its 12MP Wide rear camera gets an adaptive True Tone flash for clearer document scanning and better Smart HDR performance. On top of that, the Pro’s AI algorithms enhance colour fidelity and detail, especially in low light.

Performance and battery: the real difference

M4 chipset specs

The Air features Apple’s M2 chip, an 8-core CPU, and a 10-core GPU for up to 50% faster performance than its A14 Bionic-powered predecessor. You’ll find productivity and creative tasks run smoothly, whether you’re managing massive spreadsheets or editing photos. Plus, it delivers all-day battery life even with demanding apps and multitasking. Apple never tells you quite how big the battery is, but expect at least 10 hours of browsing.

If you thought that was impressive, the new Pro takes performance to a whole new level with the new M4 chip. This one is leaps and bounds above M2, skipping M3 entirely for the iPad range. Apple claims it’s 50% faster than M2… which is the chipset powering the new iPad Air. If you want performance, there’s only one real contender.

M4’s 10-core GPU and 6-core efficiency CPU offer blistering speeds and hardware-accelerated ray tracing. Meanwhile, its Neural Engine is capable of 38 trillion operations per second for intensive AI tasks like video background removal. Despite the power, the Pro’s second-generation 3-nanometre technology ensures it uses less energy, stretching out that all-day battery life. Again, no exact figures have been given.

Price: your wallet will prefer one

The 11-inch iPad Air starts at $599/£599 for the Wi-Fi model and $749/£749 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model. The larger 13-inch starts at $799/£799 for Wi-Fi and $949/£949 for Wi-Fi + Cellular. It’s available in four storage options, ranging from 128GB to 1TB.

And the 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $999/£999 for Wi-Fi and $1199/£1199 for Wi-Fi + Cellular, while the 13-inch starts at $1299/£1299 for Wi-Fi and $1499/£1499 for Wi-Fi + Cellular. It offers configurations ranging from 256GB to a whopping 2TB.

This is another of the most obvious differences between the two Apple tablets. The new iPad Pro is almost twice the price of the new iPad Air. Given that the chipset alone is 50% faster, the price difference is probably justified here. That said, this will be the biggest factor in deciding which you need. M2 is still more than powerful enough for everyday users, so don’t pay more if you don’t need to.

iPad Pro M4 (2024) vs iPad Air M2 (2024) initial verdict

2024 iPad Pro vs iPad Air

The iPad Air is a versatile powerhouse that will appeal to students, creatives, and anyone looking for a capable tablet without paying Pro prices. The powerful M2 chip, vibrant display, and wide colour options make it a sensible choice. While the iPad Pro is for the hardcore users who demand the best performance and display. Its new Ultra Retina XDR screen, adaptive flash, and advanced M4 chip ensure it can handle high-end workflows like 4K video editing and graphic design without breaking a sweat.

Ultimately, it comes down to what you value most. Performance is the biggest difference here, so keep that in mind. But there are other factors as well. Need the best display and don’t mind shelling out more? Go Pro. But if you want to save a few quid while still getting a top-notch iPad, the Air’s your ticket.

Profile image of Connor Jewiss Connor Jewiss


Connor is a writer for Stuff, working across the magazine and the Stuff.tv website. He has been writing for around seven years now, with writing across the web and in print too. Connor has experience on most major platforms, though does hold a place in his heart for macOS, iOS/iPadOS, electric vehicles, and smartphone tech. Just like everyone else around here, he’s a fan of gadgets of all sorts! Aside from writing, Connor is involved in the startup scene. This exciting involvement puts him at the front of new and exciting tech, always on the lookout for innovating products.

Areas of expertise

Mobile, macOS, EVs, smart home

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