The right choice varies from person to person. However, the M1 iPad Pro vs MacBook Air comparison was much needed. With the iPad getting the M1 treatment, Apple seems to be betting it all on proving that the iPad is indeed a computer.
I mean if you look at it from the design perspective, connect the keyboard case and the iPad becomes a touch screen MacBook. Of course, the MacBook still gets a superior battery and more RAM, but that doesn’t mean the iPad isn’t a worthy MacBook Air alternative. On that note, let’s dive into both these gadgets and settle the question of whether you should get an iPad Pro or a MacBook Air.
M1 iPad Pro: More For More
Keep adding sugar and the cake gets sweeter. That’s the basic principle you follow if you buy the iPad Pro. Just the tablet itself comes in 11-inch and 13-inch sizes. So you pay more, you get a mini LED panel and a bigger screen. Throw in some more money for higher storage variants or maybe cellular models. Spend some more and you get the Magic keyboard too. But once you got the setup, it is worth it.
M1 iPad Pro Price And Specifications
The M1 iPad Pro starts at $799 for the 11-inch model and $1,099 for the 12.9-inch one. The 12.9-inch model sports a mini LED panel with a Liquid Retina XDR display. You have space gray and silver colors. You can choose from 128GB to up to 2TB of storage. There’s 8GB RAM on the 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB models and 16GB RAM on the 1TB or 2TB variants.
|Specifications||iPad Pro 11-inch||iPad Pro 13-inch|
|Display||11-inch Liquid Retina display||12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR display|
|Storage||128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB||128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB|
|RAM||8GB, 16GB||8GB, 16GB|
|Cameras||12MP wide, 10MP ultra-wide cameras||12MP wide, 10MP ultra-wide cameras|
|Connectivity||WiFi, USB-C (Thunderbolt), Bluetooth, optional cellular (5G)||WiFi, USB-C (Thunderbolt), Bluetooth, optional cellular (5G)|
|Battery||Up to 10 hours of surfing the web over WiFi||Up to 10 hours of surfing the web over WiFi|
|Colors||Silver, Space gray||Silver, Space gray|
Height x width x depth in inches
|9.74 x 7.02 x 0.23||11.04 x 8.46 x 0.25|
|Weight||WiFi only: 1.03 pounds (470 grams)
WiFi + Cellular: 1.04 pounds (470 grams)
|WiFi only: 1.5 pounds (682 grams)
WiFi + Cellular: 1.51 pounds (685 grams)
|Price||Starts at $799 (without accessories)||Starts at $1,099 (without accessories)|
Both the iPad models get a 12MP wide and 10MP ultra-wide camera setup at the back and a 12MP ultra-wide camera at the front. The iPad Pro is powered by the Apple M1 chip and also packs a LiDAR scanner. Lastly, Apple claims a battery life of up to 10 hours of surfing the web on WiFi, and up to 9 hours on cellular data.
Should You Buy The iPad Pro?
After the M1 chip and 8GB RAM, the iPad Pro is absolutely unrivaled in the tablet space. In the laptop space too, if you don’t mind spending on design and added features rather than specifications, you should go for the iPad Pro.
Just to give you an idea, the maxed-out iPad Pro with the keyboard and Apple pencil is going to set you back $2,877. For this money, you’ll get a 12.9-inch mini LED display with 2TB storage, 16GB RAM, excellent cameras, and a keyboard. This makes for a powerful computer.
On the downside, iPadOS is not as powerful or versatile as macOS. Towards the end, you’ll see that the operating system is a crucial component of the iPad Pro vs MacBook Air debate.
Apps like Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro don’t work on iPad. While Logic Pro remote works, Final Cut Pro is still not there. So while the iPad remains with certain limitations, macOS Big Sur removes those same limitations from the Mac lineup.
MacBook Air: Less Is More
Your entry ticket into the Apple laptop ecosystem, the MacBook Air is a light, powerful, and tested machine. If you don’t mind giving up the touch screen capabilities of the iPad Pro, the MacBook Air makes absolute sense. If you want to get a MacBook Air, you’ll just need a USB-adapter to use your pen drives and memory cards. Other than that, you’re all set.
If you’re not into the iPad vs MacBook thing and you’re certain you want a Mac but don’t know which one, check out our Mac buying guide to get a better idea.
M1 MacBook Air Price And Specifications
The MacBook Air comes with a 13.3-inch retina display and comes in space gray, silver, and gold color options. It runs on macOS, powered by the M1 chip with up to 8-core GPU. You can get as much as 16GB RAM and choose from 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB storage.
For connectivity, you get WiFi, Bluetooth, and two Thunderbolt (USB-C) ports. The new MacBook Air also comes with Touch ID for secure log-in. It comes with up to 18 hours of battery life and the whole package weighs just 2.8 pounds (1.29 Kg).
Coming to the price, the M1 MacBook Air starts from $999 for the 7-core GPU model and $1,249 for the 8-core model. If you max out the specifications, you’ll get 16GB RAM with 2TB SSD storage at $2,049.
Should You Get The MacBook Air?
This is a question I’ve answered before and I’ll answer it again by saying definitely yes. It is one of Apple’s value-for-money devices and you’ll not regret getting a MacBook Air no matter what you do. The Intel chips had their limitation, or maybe Apple kept it that way, but with the M1 chip, the MacBook Air is almost at par with the MacBook Pro.
So much so that I even did a comprehensive comparison on the MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro. Coming to the downside now, there’s the fact that Apple still refuses to add touch screen controls to the MacBook. Sure, macOS Big Sur brings all the iOS apps to the table, but there are no note-taking capabilities like the iPad. If you go for the MacBook, you’re also missing out on the mini LED display that comes with the 13-inch iPad Pro.
M1 iPad Pro Vs MacBook Air
|Feature||iPad Pro 13-inch||MacBook Air|
|Display||12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR touchscreen display||13.3-inch Retina display|
|Storage||128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB||256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB|
|RAM||8GB, 16GB||8GB, 16GB|
|Cameras||12MP Wide, 10MP Ultra-wide, 12MP front camera||720p FaceTime HD camera|
|Battery Life||Up to 10 hours||Up to 18 hours|
|Connectivity||WiFi, Bluetooth, Magnetic connectors for accessories, Cellular (optional), Thunderbolt port (USB-C)||WiFi, Bluetooth, 2 Thunderbolt ports (USB-C)|
|Security||Face ID||Touch ID|
|OS||iPadOS||macOS (runs iOS, iPadOS apps natively)|
Height x Width x Depth in inches
|11.4 x 8.46 x 0.25||0.16-0.63 x 11.97 x 8.36|
|Weight||WiFi only: 1.5 pounds (682 grams)
WiFi + Cellular: 1.51 pounds (685 grams)
|2.8 pounds (1.29 Kg)|
|Colors||Space Gray, Silver||Space gray, Silver, Gold|
|Price||$1,099 (base model without accessories)||$999|
|Max specifications||2TB storage, 16GB RAM, WiFi + Cellular, Apple Pencil, Magic Keyboard||2TB storage, 16GB RAM, Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro|
|Price for Mac specs||$2,877||$2,548|
Now that we’ve talked about both devices in detail, let’s talk about which one is better. There have been claims that the iPad is now a computer but the MacBook Air still remains a solid computer on its own. Matter of fact, the iPad Pro is a computer if you look at it from the hardware perspective. So much so that it beats the MacBook Air at being a computer, when it comes to hardware.
Take a good look at the table above and you’ll see that in an iPad Pro vs MacBook Air comparison, the MacBook is superior in function. The iPad takes over in terms of design.
Enter software. This is where you’ll notice the sheer usage difference. The iPadOS is iOS with multitasking. If that is enough for you, sure, go get the iPad Pro. However, the ease of multitasking, intuitive usage, and even power usage favor macOS. Michael Simon from Macworld switched from his MacBook to the iPad Pro setup. His write-up proves my point all the more.
One of the deciding factors on whether you should buy an iPad or a MacBook will be the work you do. For instance, AutoCAD is iPad compatible so it’s good news if you’re an engineer in the making. You can make powerful AR presentations using Jigspace, or draw professional-quality sketches on the iPad Pro.
Think of it like this, the iPad Pro is the pretty looking slick machine that can do pretty much everything. The MacBook Air, on the other hand, is in the functionality ballpark. The MacBook boasts almost double the battery life, has function keys, and a stock calculator app. Yes, that’s right, the iPad still mises out on a stock calculator app.
Also, the MacBook Air weighs less than the iPad Pro with the keyboard case. Not just that, the MacBook Air has one more USB port and if you wish to use a second screen, you’re better off with the MacBook Air. Lastly, a fully spec’d MacBook Air will cost you roughly $800 less than the iPad Pro.1
So if you’re someone who needs touch-screen capabilities, a superb mini LED display, great cameras, and cellular connectivity, go with the iPad Pro, it won’t disappoint you. If you’re willing to trade the aforementioned features for more storage, more RAM, a bigger trackpad, more apps, and more function, go with the MacBook Air.