iPad Air vs iPad Pro: what if the tablet with the best quality/price ratio was not the one we thought?

On March 8, Apple introduced a new generation, the fifth, of its ipad air. A discreet update, but one that focused on two essential points.

The consumer, but high-end tablet thus retains its design very close to that of the iPad Pro. The aluminum case offers nice sharp edges, which make it easier to handle, and give it a more modern look. Its 10.9-inch screen with thin borders is still there, with a Touch ID button moved to the on/off button, where the Pro model uses Face ID.

In this case, the change comes from within. The Cupertino giant is upgrading its tablet to 5G, which is still optional, which will allow it to be more up-to-date and in the long term. Finally, Apple created a bit of a surprise by equipping its tablet not with the A15 Bionic, but with the M1, the same chip as in the MacBook Air Y 13 inch professional, mini mac, 24-inch Macand obviously iPad Pro, 11 Where 12.9 inches.

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

Size and weight: small differences

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

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When we turn to the screen, we obviously see that the difference in size is slight: 0.25 cm brings a very slight gain in day-to-day and visual comfort. The difference is mainly due to the fact that the screen covers more of the front of the tablet, as indicated by the screen ratio. A small percentage, which means that the Pro model could win our preference at this point.

We also note that even without being entitled to the Retina Display XDR panel’s mini-LED backlighting, the 11-inch iPad Pro’s screen offers better brightness (618 cd/m2 vs. 511) and much better contrast (1873:1). against 1343:1). The logic of gamut is respected, even in color fidelity, which sees the iPad Pro displaying a nearly perfect E2000 delta.

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Practically the same ergonomics

As we said, the subtle screen differences make the iPad Pro a little more pleasant to work with. However, this difference alone doesn’t justify buying the Pro model. Split-screen working is just as comfortable on either screen. two tablets, although the visual impression is slightly favorable for the Pro.

On the accessory side, Apple had the good idea to put the two tablets on an equal footing. Both the iPad Air and Pro support the second-generation Apple Pencil, which is very nice to use for drawing or taking notes, though it can be criticized for still not having the feel of a real pen on paper.

As for transforming these iPads into tiny ultraportable PCs, they’re both entitled to the same two types of keyboard at Apple (and Logitech, for that matter). The Smart Folio Keyboard, for those who want a keyboard case that will hold up to a wider variety of uses. It’s lighter and more flexible, allowing you to fold it over the back of your iPad Air or Pro, to read a comic strip, for example.

The Magic Keyboard is the choice if you really want to use your iPad like a PC most of the time. With its more adjustable foot that incorporates a USB-C socket, it’s perfect for working with iPad for a long time, typing a lot of text, even in the awkwardness of a cramped seat or on your lap.

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

Almost twin performances

As we said, the big surprise this year is the arrival of the same chip that powers the Pro models. The M1 slides 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 that Apple has slightly reduced the performance for long efforts, in order to avoid heating the chip, the difference in power score being quite significant (17,141 vs. 10,021 for the best). to run).

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

The results obtained with Geekbench 5 show that the M1 performs very well on the iPad Air and that power is not an issue. At this point, especially in the storage capacity of less than 1TB, which sees the iPad Pro also has 8GB Ram, the cheapest iPad is a good option.

Autonomy: the Pro, a safe bet

Finally comes an essential point, that of autonomy. Since the launch of the first model in 2010, Apple promises that its iPad can last ten hours before recharging.

With this fifth generation of iPad Air, Apple is slightly below the previous model. Autonomy is still good, but a little less. Without a doubt this is the price to pay for the power of the M1.

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In any case, for a similar form factor, the iPad Pro certainly does better than the iPad Air. In this case, if endurance is the most important thing, especially since you plan to move around a lot with your tablet, the 11-inch iPad Pro has the most assets to seduce you.

The price: the advantage for Air… although

As you may have understood, the iPad Pro is logically superior to its younger brother the iPad Air in many points, of course. However, the presence of the M1 on both tablets establishes a common ground that smooths out the differences.

To the point that, when you consider the price, the iPad Air is obviously the tablet that offers the best value for money by default. However, there is an important but. Those who wanted to buy the iPad Air with more than 64GB of storage, because it’s a bit short and in the long run they’re right, will find that the bump to 256GB (there’s no 128GB option) is very expensive.

Above all, it brings the iPad Air closer to the base price of the 11-inch iPad Pro, only for the Wi-Fi model and with 128 GB, which in use is usually enough if you don’t plunge into the dark. Comprehensive installation of applications.

At €869 (Wi-Fi only) for the iPad Air, versus €899 for the iPad Pro, the price is close enough that the €30 difference encourages us to recommend you go for the Pro model.

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

In short, if 128 GB does not seem prohibitive to you -it is not our case for non-professional use-, the iPad Pro is, in this case, your best option. For once the top of the range at a more attractive price, we are not going to sulk at your pleasure.

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