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iPad Air 2022 vs. iPad Pro 2021: Which M1 Tablet Is Best?

Apple's iPad Air and iPad Pro are similar, but here are the differences you should note.

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR, gaming, metaverse technologies, wearable tech, tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Scott Stein
2 min read

For the first time since 2020, Apple unveiled an updated iPad Air. (Read our full review of the 2022 iPad Air here.) Introduced at the company's "Peek Performance" event last week, the new, nearly 11-inch tablet is outfitted with 5G support, an M1 processor and a Center Stage front-facing camera. For now, the iPad Pro 2021 is the 2022 Air's closest rival, although we're on the lookout for a new iPad Pro possibly coming this year.

Watch this: iPad Air 2022 vs. iPad Pro: Making Sense of Apple's iPad Lineup

Do you get the Air or the 11-inch iPad Pro? The two iPads are more similar than ever, but there are advantages to the Pro model. Apple upcharges $200 for the entry-level iPad Pro over the iPad Air, but adds more storage, better cameras, a slightly better display, Face ID (instead of Touch ID), lidar depth sensing, faster USB/Thunderbolt 4 data transfer, extra speakers, more storage and RAM on higher-end configurations and mmWave 5G support (if you care). 

iPad Air M1 announcement

Apple's latest iPad Air gains an M1 chip and 5G, but still has one rear camera.

Apple/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

Those differences could still add up to a reason to pick the Pro. But right now, I'd recommend going with the Air and its specs (which on paper are a lot better than the entry-level iPad), or waiting for a possible iPad Pro refresh later this year.

You can compare the key spec differences below. The iPad Air is on sale for preorders now and will be available Friday. 


The all-new iPad Air is the first upgrade to the Air lineup since 2020, which brings Apple's powerful M1 chip, a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera on the front, 5G connectivity and more, all in a similar design to the fourth-gen iPad Air.

Pricing for the new iPad Air starts at $599 and preorders are now open.

Read our iPad Air 2022 review.

Scott Stein/CNET

The smaller version of Apple's two 2021 iPad Pro models has an M1 chip and optional 5G, and adds a smoother refresh-rate ProMotion display, more speakers, faster Thunderbolt data throughput via the USB-C port, lidar, more storage tiers and extra front and rear camera features. The 11-inch version doesn't have Mini LED like the 12-inch model, so the display lacks that extra bit of pop (but is still very, very good). A year later, you're better off waiting for the next version if you can.

Read our iPad Pro 11-inch review.

iPad Air 2022 vs 11-inch iPad Pro: specs

iPad Air (2022)iPad Pro 11-inch (2021)
Display size, resolution 10.9-inch Liquid Retina, 500 nits, 2,360x1,64011-inch Liquid Retina, 600 nits, 2,388x1,668, 120Hz ProMotion
Processor M1M1
Storage 64GB, 256GB128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB
Face ID NoYes
Touch ID Yes (side button)No
Rear camera 12MP wide camera12MP wide camera, 10MP ultra-wide camera, lidar depth sensing
Front camera 12MP, ultrawide, Center Stage12MP, ultrawide, Center Stage, TrueDepth camera with portrait mode
Speakers TwoFour
USB-C YesYes (Thunderbolt 4)
Cellular option 5G (Sub 6)5G (Sub 6, mmWave)
Price (USD) $599, $749$799 and up
Watch this: iPad Air in 2022, Reviewed: Apple's Powerful Middle Child Tablet