Ever since Apple added the M1 chip to the iPad Air 5, I’ve been thinking about a very interesting question: – Will more people get the less expensive iPad Air 5 instead of the 11” iPad Pro? Or are these two iPads close enough in price, that in the long run you’ll be better off spending the extra money on the improved features of the iPad Pro? And I have to tell you – this was harder than i thought.
iPad Air 5 vs. 11″ M1 iPad Pro SIZE
On the surface, these two iPads are very similar – they’re actually exactly the same height and width, and the Air 5 is 0.01” or 0.2mm thicker. So when I look at them head on, or in one case, they are pretty much identical – However, there are some important differences. Both have rounded edges, rounded corners, and small bezels all around, but use 2 different forms of biometric authentication. The iPad Air 5 uses the new Apple touchID – which is built into the power button – and the iPad Pro has FaceID with the true depth front camera.
In terms of accuracy – both have worked very well for me – but for the way I use my iPad I prefer FaceID because it’s essentially automated – and I don’t have to think about it – like on my iPhone. At the same time, every use case is different and I’m curious which one you prefer – and hopefully with the next iteration of the iPad Pro we’ll get both.
When we continue to look around, we see 4 speaker grills on both iPads – but the iPad Air 5 only has 2 speakers, one on each side. The iPad Pro has a quad speaker system and you can adjust the sound when you change the orientation from portrait to landscape mode. In general, the sound coming from the iPad Pro is better – it’s fuller, it’s warmer, and it provides a broader soundstage – which is something we will revisit in the gaming section.
Finally, both iPads have a USB-C port for charging and connecting Accessories – that of the iPad Air 5 has a maximum transfer rate of 10 Gbps – and the Thunderbolt/USB 4 port on the iPad Pro – 40 Gbps limits.
For the vast majority of users, this difference probably won’t matter because 10 Gbps is already extremely fast – and if you need more than that – you are probably using your iPad in a demanding professional environment – and you better get the Pro.
iPad Air 5 vs. 11″ M1 iPad Pro SCREEN
Screen sizes are not exactly identical – we’re looking at 11″ on the iPad Pro vs. 10.9″ on the iPad Air 5 – but that is not the most important difference. Both are Liquid Retina displays, we have very similar resolutions – 2388 x 1668 on the iPad Pro vs. 2360 x 1640 on the Air 5. And both have a pixel density of 264 PPI. The iPad Pro has a brighter display with a peak brightness of 600 nits versus the Air 5’s 500 – But the most important difference is ProMotion.
This is the name Apple gave to its adaptive refresh rate with a maximum of 120Hz. This function is still only available on the iPad Pro and means the system can vary the refresh rate depending on what you’re doing. So if you’re reading, watching static content, or watching a lower FPS video, you can lower the refresh rate and save battery life. So if you’re scrolling, opening or closing apps, or doing anything where a higher refresh rate provides smoother animations and a more responsive experience – then it will go ahead and ramp up to 120 Hz – and you’re getting the best of both worlds.
I was really hoping we would get ProMotion on the iPad Air 5 – and I get a lot of questions about whether it makes a big difference. So the answer is yes and more or less. Because of what I do, I use tablets every day and I use many different types of tablets – so if you give me a choice, I always want 120 Hz.
At the same time, it’s not something that ruins my experience with tablets like the iPad 9, iPad Mini 6, and iPad Air 5 – I love using all those screens – because they are good 60 Hz screens – and at the same time – the iPad Pro is better. So this is one of those features that I want you to think about – long-term.
Assuming this device is going to be as powerful as you need it to be for the next 5-7 years, – Is this the kind of feature you’ll regret not having? – Is it something that will make you upgrade before you actually need – and you’ll see we’ll come back to this in a minute.
Apple’s biggest update to the iPad Air 5 was that it got the same amazing M1 chip we have in the 11″ and 12.9″ iPad Pro. The Air also comes with 8GB of RAM – which is exactly what you get with the iPad Pro, unless you get models with 1 or 2TB of internal storage – at which point you get 16GB of RAM.
What this means is that you’ll get the same level of performance with both devices for anything from the most basic to the most demanding tasks.So if the only reason you were looking to upgrade your current tablet to the iPad Pro – was the M1 chip – now you can get it. with the $599 iPad Air 5 – which is pretty amazing.
Personally – I never really looked at my iPad Air 4 and thought it didn’t have enough power – so the chip M1 wouldn’t be the reason you’d upgrade to the iPad Pro – but that’s not to say there aren’t reasons to.
iPad Air 5 fr being at 11″ M1 iPad Pro CAMERA
When we look at the camera systems, both iPads now have a 12MP Ultrawide camera with Center Stage.
It’s a feature this ultra-wide camera uses to follow a subject as it moves through the frame and then zoom in and out to make sure it’s properly framed. I’ve admitted it before, but when I first saw it at the Apple event, I thought it was some kind of gimmick. Now that I’ve been using it for a few months, I have to tell you that I really like it, and it makes video calls more engaging because you feel the other person’s movements and it’s more like being in the same room.
Most features of cafrontal mara are the same – but since the iPad Pro has a TrueDepth camera – we’re getting things like portrait mode and portrait lighting.
The rear camera modules are very different, but that may or may not be important to you – so let’s break it down quickly. The iPad Air 5 only has a 12MP wide camera.
The iPad Pro has a 12MP wide, 10MP ultrawide, flash, and lidar scanner.
Personally, I mainly use the cameras on my iPads to scan documents – So for anything else, like taking photos and recording videos, I’ll use my phone because I always have it with me and it’s much more convenient to use.
If, on the other hand, you use your iPad camera differently, or have a use case for LIDAR scanning, and want the best camera system Apple has to offer in an iPad – that’s the iPad Pro.
iPad Air 5 vs. 11″ M1 iPad Pro KEYBOARD AND PEN
When we look at the Accessories – Both iPads have a Smart Connector on the back and are compatible with the Magic Keyboard of the same size. There are also other great options from other manufacturers, like Logitech and ESR, if you’re looking for different designs or features.
When it comes to a stylus – both are compatible with the second generation Apple Pencil – that stores and charges on the side of each iPad. The actual feel of using the Pencil is exactly the same, but the iPad Pro has a faster refresh rate, so it can feel more responsive. Personally, in my day to day, and how I use it, I don’t notice any significant difference.
iPad Air 5 vs. 11″ M1 iPad Pro MULTITASK
Both iPads support the latest iPadOS so in terms of multitasking we have the exact same set of features like split view where we can use 2 apps side by side – and sliding windows for additional applications. Both iPads also work with Sidecar, which is an Apple feature that allows you to use your iPad as an additional display for your Mac, iMac, or Macbook – and it’s a feature I use all the time at home and when I travel.
Ultimately, since both iPads have the same processor and screen size – I’m going to call this section a draw – with perhaps a very, very slight advantage to the iPad Pro due to ProMotion and the brighter display.
iPad Air 5 vs. 11″ M1 iPad Pro BATTERY LIFE
With all this extra workload, it’s important that we look at battery life. Both devices are rated for up to 10 hours of web browsing on Wi-Fi or watching video, and then 9 hours when using mobile data. If you saw my iPad battery test with the older model – the iPad Air 4 – You may have been as surprised as I was by the results.
The iPad 11” has been one of the best iPads I’ve used so far – in terms of battery life – and for the most part – my experience with the iPad Air 5 has been much the same. If I’m using any of these to browse the web, work on the channel,read and respond to your comments, watch YouTube videos – things like that – so I can spend a full day without any problem.
But if I sit down and play Genshin, or a couple hours of PUBG – then I will definitely have to load – and I’m finishing my edit of the updated battery discharge test – so I’m excited to show you the results.
iPad Air 5 vs. 11″ M1 iPad Pro GAMES
Now, the gaming experience on both devices has been virtually identical – because we’re getting the same processor and the same amount of RAM. Both easily ran all the games I tried, so if you were playing COD Mobile, PUBG, Genshin, Asphalt – every game ran smoothly.
When I play PUBG, both iPads can go up to BALANCED for GRAPHICS if I want EXTREME frame rate, and I can go up to ULTRA HD graphics and ULTRA frame rate.
Because we have an extremely similar form factor – the ergonomics were the same too, but the only significant advantage I’m going to give the iPad Pro is sound. Again, we have 4 speakers instead of 2; the audio quality is better and there’s more directionality to the sound, so if you’re playing games where it’s important to detect where footsteps or other sounds are coming from – the iPad Pro has the advantage.
By connecting an Xbox controller and then streaming games with the Xbox Gamepass app – the actual gameplay was the same – and again, the only noticeable difference was the audio. None of them come with a headphone jack, so you’ll need a USB-C headset, an adapter, or use something wireless.
iPad Air 5 vs. 11″ M1 iPad Pro CONFIGURATION AND PRICE
Before I get to my Recommendation, let’s talk about price because it’s a bit tricky here. I’m going to use the official prices from the Apple store, but you can usually find better prices using the links in the description – and also, let me know in the comments section, if the prices are different where you live.
The iPad Air 5 is available with 64GB for $599 and 256GB for $749.
The 11” iPad Pro is available with 128GB for $799 – and it goes up to 2TB for $1,899. (it shows 256 for 899, 512 for 1099 and 1TB 1499 – in the middle)
iPad Air 5 vs. 11″ M1 iPad Pro FINAL THOUGHTS
Ultimately, the choice comes down to a few factors. If you only need 64GB of storage and want this form factor, the incredible processing power of the M1 chip, compatibility with some great keyboard cases, and the second-generation Apple Pencil – the $599 base model of the iPad Air 5 is hard to beat.
If you need more than 64 GB, then the question is how much more? If you only need 128, then the 128GB 11-inch iPad Pro is better value for money than the 256GB Air 5, because you get ProMotion, a better audio system, an improved camera system with a lidar scanner, and a more powerful port for an additional $50.
If we are comparing the 256 GB models of both – now it’s $749 vs. $899 and the price difference goes up to $150. Therefore,you need to decide if the features I just mentioned will provide you with enough benefit – to offset this cost – during the life of the device. And remember – Apple has excellent long-term support – and the M1 chip has enough processing power to last for years.
You know what I always say, buy it nice or buy it twice! Good luck and see you soon.
⭐️ Buy iPad 9: https://geni.us/2MPBQ (affiliate)
⭐️ Buy iPad Air 5: https://geni.us/R2Ox1j (affiliate)
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