iPad Air M1 vs iPad Pro M2: Which Should You Buy

iPad Air M1 vs iPad Pro M2 Which Should You Buy

The new iPad Pro upgrades the M2 chip. It is also the first model equipped with the M2 chip after the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 13.3, especially a tablet pc. What changes does the M2 chip bring? How does it help with productivity? Can it really be used to replace MacBook this time? Or are there no other surprises besides the M2 chip?

These two devices may look similar and have a similar price point, but there are key differences that set them apart. If you are considering purchasing either of these iPads, it is important to understand their similarities and differences. Let’s explore together.


Visually, the iPad Air M1 and the iPad Pro M2 are almost indistinguishable. They have the same form factor and dimensions, and both feature a single USB-C port at the bottom. In terms of color options, the iPad Air offers Silver, Starlight, Pink, Purple, and Blue, while the iPad Pro only offers Silver and Space Gray. The iPad Pro is slightly thinner than the iPad Air, but the difference is hardly noticeable.


Both iPads have laminated screens with anti-reflective coatings and IPS panels with a density of 264 pixels per inch. The iPad Pro has a slightly larger display at 11 inches compared to the iPad Air’s 10.9 inches. While the iPad Pro has a peak brightness of 600 nits, the iPad Air has a peak brightness of 500 nits. The Pro also offers promotion, which allows for a 120Hz refresh rate, making it feel smoother compared to the Air’s 60Hz refresh rate.

iPad Pro and iPad Air with M-series chips

The iPad Pro is the top-tier model. In 2022, the fifth-generation iPad Air is unexpectedly equipped with an M1 chip, making its specs similar to the iPad Pro. The iPad Pro 2022 upgraded to the M2 chip after six months. Only the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 13.3 inches had the M2 chip, which made the iPad Pro stand out.

In the iPad Pro 2022 version the M2 chip is an important specification feature and there are also 11 inch and 12.9 inch options
In the iPad Pro 2022 version, the M2 chip is an important specification feature, and there are also 11-inch and 12.9-inch options.


2022 iPad Air 52022 M2 iPad Pro
Screen10.9” inch11” or 12.9.”
DisplayLiquid RetinaLiquid Retina XDR
Back Camera12MP Wide12MP Wide; 10MP Ultra Wide
Front Camera12MP Ultra Wide12MP TrueDepth + Ultra-Wide
PortUSB-CUSB-C & Thunderbolt/USB4 Support
Internet Connectivity5G5G
Maximum Storage256GB2TB
ID VerificationTouch IDFace ID
Apple Pencil2nd Generation2nd Generation

5 Key features of iPad Pro 2022

Although the iPad Pro has the highest hardware specifications in the iPad series, when the iPad Pro 2022 was released, there were almost no major changes in appearance, screen, or hardware specifications, and two sizes of 11-inch and 12.9-inch were also launched. The biggest feature was upgrading the M2 chip. At the time of publication, only the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 13.3 inches used the M2 chip, so the iPad Pro 2022 was the first to use it, setting it apart from other iPads. A 12.9-inch iPad Pro review follows.

1. Upgraded M2 chip, excellent GPU performance

When it comes to the features of the new iPad Pro, there is no doubt that it must be an upgraded M2 chip.

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Whether it is an 11 inch or 12.9 inch iPad Pro the M2 chip is upgraded which is also the biggest feature in terms of specifications.

Whether it is an 11-inch or 12.9-inch iPad Pro, the M2 chip is upgraded, which is also the biggest feature in terms of specifications.

The M2 chip uses second-generation 5nm process technology and improves on the M1 chip. It has a maximum 10-core GPU, 16-core neural network engine, and 8-core CPU with 4 high-performance and 4 energy-saving cores.

The introduction on Apple’s official website states that the M2 chip’s CPU performance will be 15% faster than the M1 chip, the GPU’s graphics processing performance will be 35% faster, and the neural network engine’s speed will be 40% faster. Thus, it improves 3D design, AR models, and high-performance games.

The number of transistors in the M2 chip is 20 billion which is more than the 16 billion in M1 and it is an 8 core CPU a 10 core GPU and a 16 core neural network engine.

The number of transistors in the M2 chip is 20 billion, which is more than the 16 billion in M1, and it is an 8-core CPU, a 10-core GPU, and a 16-core neural network engine.

iPad Pro has 16GB memory and 1TB storage.  Geekbench 5 shows that the M2 has 8% better single-core and 14% better multi-core performance than the M1. GPU growth is greater than 38%. The GPU has grown significantly in AnTuTu, and 3DMark Wild Life Extreme tests game performance, which is 26% higher than M1. Graphics-intensive apps and games will run smoother on the new iPad Pro.

According to Apples official information under the highest power consumption the GPU performance of the M2 chip will be 35 higher than that of the M1 chip.

According to Apple’s official information, under the highest power consumption, the GPU performance of the M2 chip will be 35% higher than that of the M1 chip.

Geekbench 5

iPad Pro 2022 (M2 )iPad Pro 2021 (M1 )


Total score1,455,053944,102

3DMark Wild Life Extreme

Overall score6,8005,035
Average frame rate40.7fpsa30.8fps

Both iPad Pro 2022 (M2) and iPad Pro 2021 (M1) are 16GB memory plus 1TB storage capacity versions.

2. M2 chip built-in ProRes hardware accelerator

Due to the needs of audio and video creation, when Apple launched the iPad series in recent years, it also emphasized the high degree of support for video editing, which is even more prominent on the flagship iPad Pro. In the M2 chip, the addition of a ProRes hardware accelerator is also an important feature, which means that the new iPad Pro can accelerate the startup when executing ProRes and ProRes Raw files, making the software calculation smoother, and this is the same as the previous generation of iPad equipped with the M1 chip. Specs that the Pro doesn’t have.

Media engine

In addition to supporting 8K H.264 and HEVC videos, the M2 chip incorporates a ProRes hardware accelerator, which can speed up startup when executing ProRes and ProRes Raw files, making software operations smoother.

3. Support Wi-Fi 6E specification

In addition to upgrading the M2 chip, the new iPad Pro has also upgraded its wireless network specifications to the latest Wi-Fi 6E. This is Apple’s first product that supports Wi-Fi 6E. The download speed reaches 2.4Gb/s, which is 2 times faster than the previous generation. times.

Wi-Fi 6E is based on the Wi-Fi 6 architecture, where E stands for Extension. It can also be said that Wi-Fi 6E is an extension of Wi-Fi 6. It also uses 802.11ax technology for wireless connection, but new available channels are added by Wi-Fi -Fi 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands are extended to Wi-Fi 6GHz frequency bands to solve the problem of frequency band congestion and provide more stable wireless network connection quality.

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Wifi 6E
Source: Wi-Fi Alliance

However, although the new iPad Pro supports the Wi-Fi 6E wireless network specification, Taiwan has not yet opened the Wi-Fi 6GHz frequency band. It can only be said that the new iPad Pro has the corresponding specifications. After the frequency band is opened in the future, it can be upgraded painlessly. 

4. Liquid Retina Display XDR (mini LED) display

Although the screen specifications of the new iPad Pro are the same as the previous generation, the Liquid Retina Display XDR display is a unique 12.9-inch specification.

Liquid Retina Display XDR display, that is, mini LED display technology. According to the introduction on Apple’s official website, the Liquid Retina Display XDR display uses more than 10,000 mini LEDs and is divided into 2,596 local dimming LED arrays, which can precisely adjust the brightness according to the screen, so it can present a contrast ratio of 1,000,000: 1, 1,000 Ni Unique screen brightness, even up to 1,600 nits peak brightness. 

To put it simply, the application of the characteristics of mini LED display technology can make the bright part of the screen brighter and the dark part darker, and the contrast is more obvious. At the same time, the picture retains more details and can be seen clearly in the sun. It will also be more beautiful than the iPad Pro with Liquid Retina display.

Liquid retina

Although the color performance of the Liquid Retina display is not bad, the color saturation of the Liquid Retina Display XDR display is higher.

Using mini LED display technology, the brightness and contrast are better and more prominent, the layers in the picture are clear, and more details are retained in the dark part.

As far as the author’s visual experience is concerned, under the normal light source environment, the color performance is not much different, but under the weak light source environment, the difference can be seen on the screen. The following pictures are also provided for reference, but the screen has been reproduced by the camera And after printing, the color performance cannot be fully presented. It is only for reference. For the actual viewing experience, it is recommended to go to the Apple Store to see it.

5. Apple Pencil suspension function

The new iPad Pro also supports the second-generation Apple Pencil, but the new Apple Pencil suspension function is also a unique function of the new iPad Pro. When the Apple Pencil is 12 mm away from the iPad Pro display, the screen can detect the pen tip. The electromagnetic signals sent out allow the M2 chip to interpret these signals to confirm the 3D position of the Apple Pencil and provide a preview function.

Apple pencil

The second-generation Apple Pencil is also supported by the new iPad Pro. When you place your Apple Pencil on top of your iPad (in landscape mode), you’ll see a notification indicating that the Apple Pencil is charging. You’ll also see the battery percentage.

When using the handwriting function in the built-in memo, through the floating function of Apple Pencil, you can preview the currently selected color and the stacking changes of different colors without actually drawing.

Currently, the Apple Pencil floating function is less supported in third-party apps, but when you open the YouTube page in Safari, you can use the Apple Pencil floating function to zoom in and preview, or preview video clips.

6. LiDAR Scanner with Dual lens

Among the current iPad series, only the iPad Pro is equipped with dual cameras, coupled with the LiDAR optical radar scanning system, which can be used for distance, environment detection, and drawing. It is also very helpful for the construction of AR environments. It’s just that the camera specifications haven’t changed much since 2020, and this year, under the M2 chip, it supports the ProRes video format more.

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In terms of camera specifications, like the iPhone 11 series, it has a rectangular design, with 12-megapixel wide-angle lens and 10-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens, supporting 4K video, smart HDR and other shooting functions. More importantly, configure the LiDAR optical radar scanning system to measure the time it takes for light to touch an object and reflect back, as a distance judgment, and it can measure the distance of surrounding objects about five meters away to strengthen the AR Operating experience, using the built-in rangefinder App to measure objects, you can measure without accurately aligning the position, and the speed and accuracy are quite good.

A combination of 12 million pixels plus 10 million pixels, plus a LiDAR optical radar scanning system.

It’s just that there are still few AR-related applications at present, and most of them are specific work requirements. Therefore, for most users, LiDAR is not necessary. However, if it is a worker who often needs environmental detection and drawing, such as indoor Designers can quickly scan the environment through LiDAR.

Lidar scanner
Image: apple.com

Through using Canvas App with camera and LiDAR system, 3D scanning and measurement results can be recorded, and accurate CAD models and floor plans can be regenerated.

Is it worth getting M2 iPad Pro

The iPad Pro, the flagship product in the iPad series, is even more expensive than the MacBook and has the highest specifications and price. The market naturally has high expectations for it. The 2022 iPad Pro will be slightly upgraded. Worth upgrading? Who should buy it? Can it replace a MacBook? These are common pre-purchase questions.

The new iPad Pro looks similar to its predecessor. Despite Apple’s recent introduction of many new colours, the iPad Pro is still only available in silver and space grey. If you really want to find out the difference, you may see the words “iPad Pro” on the back.

Ipad PRO background

The upgraded M2 chip is the biggest feature of all the upgrades, but others also support the Wi-Fi 6E wireless network specification and Bluetooth version 5.3, which are all upgrades in specifications, but Taiwan still has the frequency band closed, so this upgrade has no real use.

The floating function of the Apple Pencil is unique to the new iPad Pro, but it is calculated by the M2 chip and not necessary. It lacks three-dimensional direction detection, and third-party App Upgrades are less beneficial due to less support.

Can the iPad Replace Your MacBook in 2023

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is equipped with a smart keyboard, which is almost a laptop mode, but to replace the MacBook, you have to consider the differences in system operation logic, hardware configuration, and usage habits.

Battery Life and Connectivity

Both the iPad Air M1 and the iPad Pro M2 have a battery life of up to 10 hours when surfing the web on Wi-Fi. However, real-world battery life may vary depending on usage. In terms of connectivity, the iPad Pro offers Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3, while the iPad Air offers Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0. While these differences may not be significant for most users, they can impact transfer speeds and connection quality.

Which is Better: 2022 iPad Air M1 vs iPad Pro M2

iPad Pro 2021 (M1), iPad Air 2022, and iPad Pro 2022 are the three iPad models with M-series chips (M2). There are also differences, like memory, screen, camera, etc. Also, there is a big price difference between the three models.

The cheapest is naturally the iPad Air starting at $599, while the iPad Pro 2021 (M1) has been removed from the official website. The current retail price of the 12.9-inch is about $799 lower than the recommended price.

iPad Air11-inch iPad Pro12.9-inch iPad Pro
Wi-Fi Only