With the addition of 5G and the M1 chip to the new iPad Air, the midrange tablet has gotten even more competitive. Here's how it compares to Apple's other iPads.
In recent years, the iPad Air 5 has become something of a cheaper version of the 11-inch iPad Pro. They share a similar body style and feature set, and with the M1 chip on the 2022 iPad Air, a similar level of performance.
Because of that, choosing between the iPad models could be difficult. To help you out, here's how the 2022 iPad Air stacks up against the 11-inch iPad Pro, as well as the entry-level 2021 iPad.
2021 iPad vs 2022 iPad Air vs 11-inch iPad Pro - Specifications
|iPad (2021)||iPad Air (2022)||11-inch iPad Pro|
|Screen Size (inches)||10.2||10.9||11|
|Resolution||2160 x 1,620||2,360 x 1,640||2388 x 1667|
|Pixel Density (dpi)||264||264||264|
|Display Type||Retina, |
True Tone, sRGB
|Liquid Retina, |
Wide Color (P3),
Wide Color (P3),
|Apple Pencil||First Generation||Second Generation||Second Generation|
|Smart Connector||Yes||Yes||Yes (Back)|
|Dimensions (inches)||9.8 x 6.8 x 0.29||9.74 x 7.02 x 0.24||9.74 x 7.02 x 0.23|
|128GB, 256GB, 512GB,|
|Rear camera (megapixels)||8 Wide||12 Wide||12 Wide|
10 Ultra Wide
|Front camera (megapixels)||12||12||12|
|Video recording||1080p HD 25/30fps|
720p 120fps Slo-mo
|4K 24/30/60fps, |
1080p 240fps Slo-mo
|4K 24/30/60fps, |
1080p 240fps Slo-mo
|Battery life (video)||Up to 10 hours||Up to 10 hours||Up to 10 hours|
|5G (sub-6GHz and mmWave)|
|Biometric||Touch ID (Home button)||Touch ID (Power button)||Face ID|
2021 iPad vs 2022 iPad Air vs 11-inch iPad Pro - Physical Dimensions
Despite the differences in features and pricing, all three iPads are around the same size and weight. In fact, the iPad Air and iPad Pro are nearly identical.
Apple's 2021 iPad measures 9.8 by 6.8 by 0.29 inches and weighs 1.07 pounds for the Wi-Fi version. The Wi-Fi + Cellular model weighs a couple of grams more at 1.09 pounds.
The iPad Air measures 9.74 x 7.02 x 0.24 inches, which is basically the same as the iPad Pro's 9.74 x 7.02 x 0.23 inches. The iPad Air is a hair thicker.
When it comes to weight, the iPad Pro is only slighter heavier. The iPad Air 5 weights 1.02 pounds for both the Wi-Fi and Cellular models, while the Wi-Fi iPad Pro weighs 1.03 pounds and the Cellular model weighs 1.04 pounds.
iPad (9th gen) vs iPad Air (5th gen) vs 11-inch iPad Pro - Processor & RAM
There's really only one outlier in this comparison when it comes to processor.
The 2021 iPad runs on an A13 Bionic chipset, which is already a couple of years old. It still packs a performance punch despite its age, but it isn't Apple's latest-and-greatest.
Both the iPad Air and the iPad Pro run on Apple's M1 chip. Originally aimed at the Mac, the M1 is a piece of silicon that can put many Windows laptops to shame.
The M1 chip in both the iPad Air and iPad Pro has an eight-core CPU, eight-core GPU, and next-generation neural engine.
All variants differ on RAM. Apple doesn't list the 2021 iPad's memory specifications, but the device is said to have 3GB of RAM. The iPad Air has 8GB of RAM, while the iPad Pro comes in 8GB and 16GB RAM configurations.
2021 iPad vs 2022 iPad Air vs 11-inch iPad Pro - Displays
The differences between all three models become a bit more apparent when it comes to their displays and their display technologies.
Apple's 2021 iPad retains a Retina display that measures 10.2 inches on the diagonal. It has a 2160 x 1620 resolution at 264 pixels-per-inch and sports a maximum brightness of 500 nits. Unlike its counterparts, it has sRGB color support.
The 2022 iPad Air has an upgraded Liquid Retina display that's 10.9 inches. Its resolution clocks in at 2360 x 1640 at 264 pixels-per-inch. Apple says it also has a fully laminated and antireflective coating, and it supports P3 wide color. Its max brightness tops out at 500 nits, same as the iPad.
The 11-inch iPad Pro, true to its name, has an 11-inch Liquid Retina display. Its resolution is 2388 x 1668 at 264 pixels-per-inch with a maximum brightness of 600 nits. Unlike the iPad and iPad Air, the iPad Pro packs ProMotion technology with a 120Hz refresh rate.
2021 iPad vs 2022 iPad Air vs 11-inch iPad Pro - Cameras & Microphones
The cameras on the iPad models differ wildly, and could be a good tiebreaker for anyone considering the three Apple tablets.
The ninth-gen iPad has an 8MP Wide camera on its rear with an f/2.4 aperture. It only supports 1080p HD video recording and digital zoom up to 5x.
On the front, the iPad has an upgraded 12MP Ultra Wide camera with Center Stage support. It's a better camera than on the rear, and is tailor-made for video calls.
The iPad Air has a better 12MP rear camera. It supports Smart HDR3, 4K video recording up to 60 fps, and extended dynamic range for video up to 30 fps.
On the front, the iPad Air sports the same Center Stage 12MP Ultra Wide camera as its cheaper counterpart.
The 11-inch iPad Pro packs a dual-lens camera setup with a 12MP Wide and 10MP Ultra Wide camera, which allows its 2x optical zoom. It also has a brighter True Tone flash on the rear and support s4K video recording up to 60fps, audio zoom, and stereo recording. That camera also enables the iPad Pro's LiDAR sensor for AR.
On the front, the iPad Pro's camera is a TrueDepth-enabled system. It's 12MP and supports Portrait Mode and Portrait Lighting effects, as well as Animoji and Memoji.
When it comes to audio, the 2021 iPad has a two-speaker system, the iPad Air has a two-speaker audio landscape system, and the iPad Pro has a four-speaker system.
2021 iPad vs 2022 iPad Air vs 11-inch iPad Pro - Connectivity & Accessories
All three iPads here support the Apple Pencil — the only difference is which one.
The 2021 iPad supports the first-generation Apple Pencil, while the iPad Air and iPad Pro support the second-generation Apple Pencil.
The entry-level iPad has 4G LTE Cellular and Bluetooth 4.2. The iPad Air and iPad Pro both support 5G and Bluetooth 5.0, although only the iPad Pro has mmWave.
The 2021 iPad sports a Lightning port like an iPhone. The iPad Air has a USB-C connection, while the iPad Pro has a Thunderbolt/USB4 port.
While all three devices have an Apple Smart Connector, the iPad Pro is the only one with the connection point on the back.
The iPad also only supports the Smart Keyboard, while the other two tablets work with Apple's Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio.
2021 iPad vs 2022 iPad Air vs 11-inch iPad Pro - Battery, Charging & Other Details
Battery life across all three models is basically the same, according to Apple. Your own mileage may vary in real life.
All three iPad models are rated to support up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi or watching video. They can also last up to 9 hours of surfing the web using cellular data.
Biometrics differ between the three models. The entry-level iPad has a Home button with Touch ID, while the iPad Air has Touch ID in the power button. The iPad Pro is the only model with Face ID.
When it comes to colors, the iPad Pro and 2021 iPad come in Space Gray and Silver.
The iPad Air has a wider selection of color options with Space Gray, Starlight, Pink, Purple, and Blue variants available.
2021 iPad vs 2022 iPad Air vs 11-inch iPad Pro - Pricing & Capacity
The 2021 iPad is the cheapest on the list, starting at just $329 for the Wi-Fi only model with 64GB of internal storage. It's also available in a 256GB configuration.
Cellular iPad models start at $459 for the 64GB variant, and $609 for the 256GB variant. Discounts are available, though, when you compare prices in our iPad 9th Gen Price Guide.
The iPad Air is also available in 64GB and 256GB storage variants. The Wi-Fi only models start at $599, while the Cellular-enabled models cost $749.
Apple's iPad Pro has the widest range of storage configurations, with 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB models available.
It also has the widest range in price. A Wi-Fi only iPad Pro starts at $799 for 128GB and tops out at $1,899 for 2TB. Adding cellular into the mix changes those prices to $999 for 128GB and up to $2,099 for 2TB. Discounts are available knocking up to $150 off in our 11-inch iPad Pro Price Guide.
2021 iPad vs 2022 iPad Air vs 11-inch iPad Pro - What one to buy for your needs
Each iPad here fulfills a different role in Apple's lineup. On paper, they may seem incredibly similar, but they definitely have best use cases.
The 2021 iPad, with its limited feature set and $329 starting price, is the best device for the entry-level. It's perfect for the education market and it's an excellent choice for parents looking to buy an iPad for younger users.
If you only use your iPad for occasional video calling, then the 2021 model is also a good choice.
The 2022 iPad Air might be the best all-around tablet for the average user. It packs a punch with its M1 chip, and while its rear cameras are lacking compared to the iPad Pro, most people aren't shooting many images on their tablets.
If you need a good iPad that will last you some time as far as performance, then the iPad Air strikes the perfect middle ground between the entry-level and the Pro.
Those who would benefit the most from an 11-inch iPad Pro already know who they are. The device has a few features, including a LiDAR Scanner and a 120Hz ProMotion display, aimed at professional users and other high-end use cases.
If you're using the iPad as a computer replacement, then the iPad Pro could do a better job in that role than other devices. It can be configured with up to 2TB of storage space, and its Thunderbolt 4 / USB4 allows for a wider range of accessories.